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Parrots/Sun conure

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Question
My sweet Sun Conure of now 6 years. Has suddenly become a little monster!  lol  He is dna tested.  Just had his wings, beak and nails done at the vets. He also got the all clear on being a healthy bird.  Well that night after the vet visit.  He wouldnt let me take him out of his cage at all. He came to the door. He let me kiss him and kissed me back.  If I put my finger up for him to step up. He attacked me!!  I was shocked. Never in 6 years has he done this to me.  Nothing has changed in the house at all.  Its just me and him.  He even says about 14 words that I am very proud of.  I can go into his cage and clean it yet every day with him in it. He seems to avoid my hands tho at all cost.  He has been pulling up the paper thorugh the bottom grate.  I finally laid some paper on top of the grate for him. Now, he goes and hides under it all the time.  He seems to be showing off doing all sorts of goofy things that are making me laugh.  However, I am wonder what the heck is going on with him.  All of a sudden I cant remeove him from the cage. Even when he comes half way out of the door. Like I said I can pet him, and kiss him and he kisses back. But dont try to take him out or even put your his beak. He even lunges at my finger and hand right now.  So, can anyone tell me what is up with him?? I called my vet and told him my issues with him.  He just laughed and said it will pass.  Well, its been two weeks and its the ecact same behavior.  6 years and never this.  Any ideas anyone???

Answer
----What seems like sudden acts of aggression by many birds isnít necessarily  unusual and you can probably change it.  No matter what started it, your bird is enjoying a sense of power and control at this point.  They have discovered that these actions are getting a response.  Parrots are remarkably smart and learn quickly despite how we might perceive it.  Your bird is seeing how far they can go.  The trouble with this is that many birds end up cage bound as a result of owners becoming afraid of them and that encourages even more behavioral problems.  
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Itís very important to keep in mind that when a bird suddenly changes in personality and becomes aggressive or reclusive, itís imperative to have a vet evaluation to rule out a variety of possibilities in the way of illness.  Remember, a bird thatís weak or injured is at risk for predation. Even though your bird is perfectly safe, their instincts donít know this and will perhaps overcompensate by becoming defensive.
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Once a full blood panel, crop and vent swab/cultures are done on top of a good physical exam and illness or injury is ruled out, approaching it as a behavior issue is your next move.
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When the bird lunges or bites, issue a ďdonít biteĒ order in a firm, but not raised voice and then turn your back.   Give silence a minute and then turn and with a firm voice and no-nonsense face, take the bird out of their cage.

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If youíre concerned about biting, keep reminding yourself that once the bird is up on your arm, if they bite you can provide an Ďearthquakeí, a sudden vibration of your arm enough to distract them from the bite, but never enough to throw them off balance. Remember, scaring them isnít a good thing.  They are not likely to go back to biting your arm and you can probably carry them around for some time like this.
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We also donít discourage the use of padding. Just not the use of gloves. Gloves donít encourage the respect of human hands and this is one of the things youíre aiming for.  
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However, cutting the toe end out of a clean pair of old, thick socks and sliding them up on your forearm or under shirt sleeves can certainly take the sting out of a bite by a larger bird and give you more confidence.  When you stop reacting to the biting, the bird is more likely to stop using it as a control method.
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Carry your bird around to different rooms, which gives you even more control because theyíre not used to the surroundings and become dependent on you to take care of them.

Always hold your bird below your own eye level.  A bird at your eye level is a bird who thinks they can gain the upper hand (or upper perch).
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A regular changing the inside of  their cage around will give them less to be so protective over.  Move the perches, the dishes, change out the toys, make it different.  We do this with all of our birds to prevent the females from wanting to egg lay and to prevent all birds from ending up cage bound.
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Be aware too.  We canít possibly know what the bird sees all day or how it perceives it. One client couldnít understand why her entire aviary suddenly became afraid to leave their cage and often huddled in the far end.  With an on-site inspection we noticed this very good and caring owner had set up a t.v. to play a loop of video for their entertainment while she was away for the day.  She even went so far as to find nature videos.  Upon closer examination we found the source of the problem. The videos were all laden with predators!  From sharks to lions Ė snakes and raptors (meat eating birds of prey) Ė her birds were terrified.
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Once the videos stopped (she eventually opted for non violent childrenís cartoons), it took a while, but the birds returned to their normal, friendly personalities.
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We also have to consider that a bird might have seen something we didnít see outside the window. Hawks? Neighborhood cats? Even airplanes can be intimidating.
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During molting season a bird may become a bit more aggressive and self-protective as well. They lose some important feathers at this time and their flight (if they were fully flighted and in a natural environment) would be slightly impaired.  During a molt they donít travel as far from their immediate home territory as they might otherwise (in the wild). This instinct remains and can effect their behavior in their human home. Even in a bird that is clipped and perhaps has never been fully flighted.
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Extra gentleness, patience and insistence on getting them out of their cage and keeping with routine are very important.  Itís far too easy for a bird to become cage-bound if the human allows it.
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Respect this life.  Honor them as the intelligent, inquisitive and feeling creatures they are.  
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For more overall bird care tips, guidelines and feeding info take a look here
       www.4AnimalCare.org/birds


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Parrots

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Rev. Dr. S.August Abbott

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
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

Publications
Bird Talk Magazine articles about rescued and problem macaws.

Education/Credentials
Doctorate, Ordained Minister

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