Conure aggression problems: Advice and tips

Dear Goldie’s Owner,

This is very useful information. Thank you for posting it! I also have a question for you, if you know how to answer it. I have a male green-cheek Conure who is only 2 years old but has been acting extremely angry and violent. Nothing new has changed in my house hold, I let him out at the same time I always do and he always had the opportunity to sit on my shoulder and do everything from doing the dishes to folding clothes. Suddenly he has started literally mauling me. He will go for my neck first and bite very hard, enough to draw blood. When I try to pull back he just continues to bite whatever skin he can. He purposefully tries to bite skin to draw blood. He has bitten my eye, and almost the eyeball, as well as my ear badly enough to cause almost serious damage. I am covered in little bite marks now, and it is simply getting out of hand. He won’t even step up for me without biting. When he starts biting I pull out a shirt or coat and he’ll step up onto it and I’ll put him in his cage and let him calm down.

But whatever I do, it doesn’t seem to help. One minute he’ll be absolutely happy and content with me, then the next he’s ripping open my lower lip. I truly do not want to send him to another owner, but I feel helpless and confused and I do love him. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you so much. Kara.

Dear Kara,

First of all your Green-cheek Conure should be checked out by an avian vet to make sure that nothing is medically wrong because excess agression is not normal and should not be allowed to continue. Be sure to discuss diet with the vet also. For conures a pellet based diet is recommended. I also recommend for you an organic pellet diet that is free of coloring such as Harrison’s Bird Food. Goldie enjoys Roudybush Daily Maintenance Diet.

Also make sure that your bird is getting enough sleep, and perhaps try some full spectrum lighting. Chew toys are helpful as well- I like BiteMe Pet Toys. It’s possible that your bird is going through a hormonal stage. Goldie is particularly cranky and slightly more aggressive during these periods usually when she is about to lay eggs. Do you know for sure that your conure is a boy?

Another thing that struck me is that you said that the aggression sometimes occurs when you are folding towels. Goldie gets really aggressive about folding laundry clothes for some reason and will lunge and bite as well. Some of these chores may be aggressive triggers now that the hormones have started. It might be wise to keep your conure in the cage while doing the type of chores that really seem to trigger the aggression.

Goldie for instance doesn’t like spoons, scissors, money, opening up a can of cat food, in addition to doing the laundry. She also can’t stand when anyone touches her favorite coffee cups or glasses that she likes to tap on. Prevention is key to preventing the agression.

Allowing a  parrot to ride on the shoulder during hormonal periods is asking for it. I keep Goldie at eye level when I can and if I see her about to lunge I can get her to stop by saying no and stop most of the time.  Observing the body language helps you catch the little anger episodes and prevent biting.

The most important thing to remember is that it is not you. For instance if I bring the laundry up from downstairs and Goldie sees me and happens to be out well she will fly after me, lunge and bite the most sensitive part of my ear. Needless to say she loves me; it’s the laundry that she doesn’t like. So if I am going to do laundry it’s in the cage for her.

Also be careful as to your reaction to the bite. Sometimes it’s the reaction that they are after. Be calm and just like you are doing wrap the bird up and promptly put the bird in the cage until he calms down. It seems like that he is otherwise a good bird, so don’t give up.

If the vet gives you a clean bill of health, then work on balancing out the hormones, and getting a bit extra amount of sleep. That and some attention to any aggressive triggers should help. If you are still having problems then do consult a parrot behavior expert to give you some specific training advice.

Goldie’s Owner

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