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Parrots/Aggressive cockatiel female

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Question
I have a male and a female cockatiel in the same cage. I do not want them to breed, but she has laid 2 eggs. I took the real eggs out and replaced them with dummy eggs.

After she laid the second egg, she began to be very territorial and pecks at the male cockatiel. He remains sweet-natured and just tries to get away. She does not draw blood, but pecks at his back and sides of wings. He has to spend most of his time outside the cage. At night she seems okay, I cover them up.

What can I do to stop her from being so mean to him? They have been together for 7 years and she never did this before to this extent (she only fussed at him before - she has laid eggs about once or twice a year (I always put dummy ones). I hate to see her peck at him. He is 19 years old and very healthy. She is 8 or 9.

Answer
-- First:  Separate them.   Two different cages, but keep them next to each other


Aggression to Mate


In some paired birds there will be aggression between them that seems unexplainable.  Usually itís a young male trying to intimidate the female.  It could be due to not enough room in the cage or the presence of other birds (they donít have to share the same cage to be intimidating to the young male).   
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Itís also something that happens in nature.  Birds that reportedly ďmate for lifeĒ havenít all received the memo.  There is unfaithfulness and bickering, separations and reunions.  Sometimes the reasons can be traced to environmental standards, food and territory, even how many other birds are in the area.   Other times, researchers are just as perplexed as we are when it happens in our own little environments.
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I hear a lot of this in love birds, cockatiels and other smaller species that have been together for many years and one day just can't take it anymore.   Quite frequently it's because the cage is too small and one or both of the birds just have a melt down after a long, long build up.

Can BOTH birds perching on the same perch in the center of the cage FULLY open their wings at the same time and totally turn around and upside down without coming close to touching each other or any part of the cage?   

If not - the cage is too small.
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Whatever the reason is, itís something that can end up pretty serious when the male causes injuries (pecking) or prevents her from eating, drinking normally.
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The stress of an aggressive partner can be enough to lower immune response and make the other bird prone to infections, usually bacterial or fungal (yeast).

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When this happens itís important to separate them.  This might be difficult on the female if sheís laying (or already has a clutch), but necessary.

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Keep the male in a nearby cage and try reintroducing him regularly, but watch the interactions carefully.  If he begins his aggression again, take him out again.  This behavior should reduce as he gets older and more secure, or once the environment is changed and heís not feeling so territorial.
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Finally, you might be surprised to learn that even if they are the same sex, in a situation like they've been in it's not unusual for one to assume a male role while the other assumes the less dominant role. I see this far more blatantly in smaller birds like finches - to the point where they even go through the mating behavior and nesting; however, wildlife researchers, preserves and zoos worldwide have seen it in all sorts of birds. It's a self-preservation instinct with many of them since paired up birds have a better chance at survival with a mate watching out for each other.
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If you have two same sex birds the aggression may have been the result of one of them not wanting to maintain the role they had and the other one (the aggressor) not wanting things to change.  

Parrots

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Rev. Dr. S.August Abbott

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Certified Avian Specialist; Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council member; Own animal rescue org; National Wildlife habitat #66378; bird care, nutrition & behavior consultant; International Assoc. of Animal Behavior Consultants Associate; National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club member; published bird care, info and behavior articles and guides. Ongoing education in exotic bird behavior and nutrition I can answer behavioral, nutritional, environmental, characteristic/personality questions as well as general health and health care. No animal emergency can ever be addressed on the internet. We cannot see your animal, perform an examination, provide necessary care or medication. Please value your companion for the priceless, living creature they are; not for what you might have paid for them.

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Certified Avian Specialist. For more than 30 years I've worked with veterinarians, protective facilities, nature centers, preserves and on my own in providing care and education with regard to multiple animal species, including raptors (hawks, kestrals, owls, etc) and marsupials. In recent years I've focused on parrots, usually rescued from abusive or less than ideal situations and helping educate owners as to proper care. Expert in behavior studies and modification of problem behavior.

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4AnimalCare is the organization I run as an animal ministry; World Wildlife Association, Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club and more

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Bird Talk Magazine articles about rescued and problem macaws.

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Doctorate, Ordained Minister

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