Tips to minimize sun conure cage aggression biting

Parrot stick trainingSun conure cage aggression and biting happen when you put your hand inside the cage and the bird bites or when you come near the cage and the bird lunges. The bird is basically protecting its nest or roosting place from an intruder-you. This is a normal instinct allowed to go too far. The bird is biting to protect and show dominance. The owner is considered a predator and not a flock member. Fear of the owner has turned into cage aggression.

What can you do about cage aggression?

First of all you can begin slowly by sitting by the bird’s cage with the cage open. Wait till the bird comes out. Perch should be near the exit. Talk to the bird, read to it. Leave the cage open while you relax and watch TV. Do this every day over the course of several weeks if need be depending on how socialized, fearful, or aggressive your bird is. Never punish, never yell. When the parrot shows progress, offer lots of praise or a treat or both as a reward. If they lunge, step back and don’t react for a while. Then start again.

The parrot also needs foraging toys, plenty of sleep, full spectrum lighting, TV, music. Also change the toys and perches around too so that they don’t get bored or overly attached to one toy.

If you feel you need remove the bird from the cage forcibly to clean, etc (last resort) you can use a glove such as an oven mitt and a small towel. Try not to chase the bird as they will begin to think of you as a predator. Don’t overreact if they try to bite and gently hold the beak if necessary while you towel the bird. Take the bird to the training area and reward. I really prefer not to use a glove because if you use it too much there is a real risk of the bird losing trust.

I towel Goldie only when she has a bad temper tantrum. Conures are normally easy to towel because they love being in a cozy place and then your hands are protected by the towel and you can give them head rubs. Toweling Goldie really calms her down and it actually establishes trust because it is done calmly, and she is softly talked to and petted on the head until she calms down. She rarely has tantrums anymore.

When the parrot comes out of the cage and appears comfortable, you can start step up training. Remove the bird from the cage area to a different location. A training stand is preferable but it is possible to use your lap or the floor even in some circumstances. You can use a stick or long perch at first and then progress to just using your hand.

Work with the sun conure every day even for just a few minutes even. Stick training, getting them to move to both sides of the stand, up and down; consistently, really helps minimize aggression. I do this with Goldie on a daily basis as a game. She looks out the window, gets praise, walks up and down the stick and is placed back on the stand. Then in the end she steps up on the stand from my hand and steps down. She is taken to her cage, back from her cage and so on. Just a few minutes a day can help calm her mood and helps make a fun way to go back into the cage.

Find any opportunity to reward good parrot behavior

Always make training a good experience so that the bird is motivated to perform the behavior. Offer lots of love, treats, and praise during the whole process. If the parrot shows aggression or fear proceed slowly until more trust is apparent. Also Goldie was started with stick training when her wings were clipped. She is now flighted. It should be noted that it is more difficult to stick train a parrot that has not been socialized and one that is flighted.

When the bird is comfortable going up and down from the stick, make sure that you start working on removing the bird from the cage with the stick, gradually moving to removing the bird from the cage with your hand. Also when the bird is comfortable stepping up and down from the stick and being removed from the cage, you can have another family member remove the bird with the stick too. This is important in case the main caretaker is not home or there is an emergency.

You can practice going from arm to stick, hand to arm, lap to stick, shoulder to stick etc. Then if you need to clean the cage or change food bowls you can easily remove the parrot and get them back in the cage.

Goldie loves being told that she is a good girl and will bob her head up and down as she is going on and off a stick. She is hugged and petted aft wards also and given a treat. Working with her just a few minutes, talking to her, and praising her builds trust. Don’t get me wrong, it can take time. But if you look at this time spent as a bonding time, a time to look for changes in the bird’s mood, as a time to learn body language, act silly, and to enrich the bird’s existence, then it is time well spent. Gradually sun conure cage aggression is minimized as well too.

Goldie’s owner is not a profession bird trainer. These basic tips however work for Goldie to help minimize aggression, teach skills, bond with her owner, and establish a more grounded relationship with her owner. If your parrot has severe behavioral problems or your birds were breeders that were never socialized, these methods may only offer limited help, so it may be best to consult with a professional trainer.

Basic examples of parrot stick training



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