Started to bite perching finger!!

phoenix76x

Regular Member
Registered
Hi, I have a 10 month old parent reared Jardine and have had him for 3 months straight from the breeder. Training was going well and he was perching on my finger and I was just working on increasing the time with me between treats(he is very food motivated), loves to play with his toys while out and had even started stepping from my wife's finger to mine.
As in the title he has started to bite the finger he is perched on, I collect him from the top of his cage as usual and give him a treat after I am seated, he usually stays there and I will slowly give him more treats increasing the time between them. but over the last 3 days as soon as he has finished his first treat he goes straight for the finger this started out as him just feeling it but has gradually increased to a very hard bite but not a lunge. I am trying not to react(the first day I was saying no) but when it becomes too uncomfortable I rotate my hand to put him off balance and he immediately flies off. This has now turned into a little bit of insecurity with my finger for him(and a little for me).

Sorry for the drone, I was just trying to give all the info needed for the following questions.

  • Am I doing right by rotating my finger as opposed to saying NO! and reinforcing the behaviour?
  • I have read online that a lot of people still use a hand held perch, would this be a step back or a more practical way forwards?
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
I would just put him down on the floor and ignore him for a few minutes. he will get to understand that his action of biting will not get the response he is looking for, twisting your finger in this case is not helping as your bird is reacting as if your finger is not a safe or stable place to perch, many young birds will go through a stage of testing there beaks but they also have to learn what is acceptable.
 

Roz

Regular Member
Hi Phoenix! That's wonderful he is so food motivated! Is his name Phoenix? You are right in wanting to address this now before it becomes a habit. I wonder what he gets from biting? Maybe he is not comfortable sitting on your finger for periods of time? Maybe it is fun to bite a squishy finger or to get a reaction from you? Regardless of the reason, we know the behaviour is being reinforced because it keeps happening. And we know that you rotating your finger is punishing (in behaviour terms) as he is becoming wary of your finger. So lets see if we can address this unwanted behaviour another way.

It doesn't really matter if the reason isn't clear right now. Let's work with what we can see. We DO know he bites your finger immediately after he finishes eating the treat. So I would put him down BEFORE this can happen. I'd have him step up since he does it so well. Carry him over to where you are sitting and see if you can set him down either beside you on the arm of the sofa/chair or on your knee whilst giving him the treat. That way your finger is completely out of the picture. There is nothing to bite. Have some foot toys nearby too to give him something to do whilst he's sitting with you. I have foot toys on the sofa beside me and my birds either play with them or sit on my knee or sit on the back of the sofa. Make it reinforcing for him to hang out with you.

It would also be a good idea to teach him to step up on a hand held perch so that you can easily move him later should he become aggressive at any time. For example, the door bell ringing sets Kobe (my Pionus) into over excitement... and when he is over excited he bites! I wouldn't dream of asking him to step up on my finger at such a time, instead I have him step up on a folded rope perch (he doesn't like sticks) and I can easily put him into his cage temporarily so that I can answer the door.
 

phoenix76x

Regular Member
Registered
Hi, thanks for your replies. his name is Jax and I think it is just the fact he's realized there is something squishy to chew on.

I don't think putting him on the floor would be an option, this is somewhere he is yet to venture. he only really goes on top of his cage and has just started going on the arm of the sofa to play with toys so I will go with this for now to avoid the bites, but should he bite would I be better off blowing on him as opposed to rotating my hand?

I did start with a handheld perch to get him hand tame and slowly shortened the length bringing him closer to my hand, I will start using this on occasion to keep him used to it.

Thanks again and I will keep you all posted, and no doubt have more questions!!
 

JackAndRob

Regular Member
I probably let 10 month old Jardine Jessie play-bite a lot more than I should, but for her it is just boisterous fun and it's fair to say that I let her get away with it more than I should. If she gets too rough, I just gently push her away or distract her with a toy. It rarely hurts as she bites with a full beak rather than just the tip. I get a few scratches, but she's never drawn blood in this way. She loves rolling around in the palm of my hand and hanging from my fingers, and often uses her beak to pull herself up. She has tonnes of energy and letting her play like this helps to wear her out.

She was a little rougher when younger but like a puppy that bites at play, she has learned to control it.

Jessie only does this with me. She'll happily ride my wife's shoulder or arm, but she never attempts to play with her in the same way. My wife says that I let Jessie get away with murder, which is probably true!

Our first Jardine, Jack, was the same. Perhaps it's a Jardine thing.
 

Roz

Regular Member
Hi, thanks for your replies. his name is Jax and I think it is just the fact he's realized there is something squishy to chew on.

I don't think putting him on the floor would be an option, this is somewhere he is yet to venture. he only really goes on top of his cage and has just started going on the arm of the sofa to play with toys so I will go with this for now to avoid the bites, but should he bite would I be better off blowing on him as opposed to rotating my hand?

I did start with a handheld perch to get him hand tame and slowly shortened the length bringing him closer to my hand, I will start using this on occasion to keep him used to it.

Thanks again and I will keep you all posted, and no doubt have more questions!!
Blowing on him, as rotating your hand, are both forms of aversives. Trouble with aversives is that you (and your fingers) also get paired with them... so it erodes the trust you are hoping to build with him. With a bird who has has a rich history of positive reinforcement with you, they are more able to quickly bounce back from punishment. However with a newish bird or one that isn't tame, using aversives can be a big set back to them.

Much better to use positive reinforcement instead, which pairs you and your fingers with good experiences. Jax will therefore look forward to hanging out with you. So yes, bringing him over to play on the sofa arm would be a wonderful example of positive reinforcement.

Try not to let the bite happen in the first place because the more he bites the more he is learning to bite. If he does happen to bite, the best thing is to use Differential Reinforcement - immediately remove the reinforcement for the unwanted behaviour - ie. put him down pronto (removing access to your finger) and ignore him for a few seconds, before then positively reinforcing a behaviour you want to see more of. You could also offer a foot toy to bite instead (ie. redirect the unwanted behaviour before it happens)... which would provide the same reinforcement as biting a squishy finger!
 

phoenix76x

Regular Member
Registered
Hi, many thanks for all your replies. I have been doing what i can to avoid the bite as Roz suggested and he has been quite happy to sit on the arm of the sofa with my wife and I and just play, and playful he is!! Everything is going much better and he hasn't really attempted to bite but when he does I will be ready with the differential and then positive reinforcement.
 

Wendy Cooper-Wolfe

Regular Member
I probably let 10 month old Jardine Jessie play-bite a lot more than I should, but for her it is just boisterous fun and it's fair to say that I let her get away with it more than I should. If she gets too rough, I just gently push her away or distract her with a toy. It rarely hurts as she bites with a full beak rather than just the tip. I get a few scratches, but she's never drawn blood in this way. She loves rolling around in the palm of my hand and hanging from my fingers, and often uses her beak to pull herself up. She has tonnes of energy and letting her play like this helps to wear her out.

She was a little rougher when younger but like a puppy that bites at play, she has learned to control it.

Jessie only does this with me. She'll happily ride my wife's shoulder or arm, but she never attempts to play with her in the same way. My wife says that I let Jessie get away with murder, which is probably true!

Our first Jardine, Jack, was the same. Perhaps it's a Jardine thing.
Dora our Senegal will "play fight" with my husband but not with me - its as if I just dont do or say the right things to get her to want to play like that. But she is usually attached to me ike velcro and not to him unless she wants something from him or I am not around (at which times she is happy on and around her cage).
 

JackAndRob

Regular Member
Jardines are known to be strong willed, so they will push the boundaries if they feel that they can get away with it. They quickly learn where those boundaries are though and I am sure that you will be able to stop Jax's bad/unwanted behaviour using Roz's advice.

I don't want to train all of the natural behaviour out of Jessie. She loves a bit of rough and tumble, and the exercise is great for her, but she can be very gentle and cuddly too.
 
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