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Parrots/Suddenly aggressive Timneh African Grey

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Question
I got my 7 yr. old male TAG 6 mouths ago and he was a very nice bird, although very loud and rude. I got use to the loud and rude. He developed a dislike of my son about 3 mos. ago, but has always liked me. I spend time with him, play with him and am the sole feeder, because he bites my son. I was told by the person I got him from that he liked to be outside in the summer. So thinking I was doing him a favor, I moved his whole cage from the front window (which he loved) outside to our porch that is shaded and safe. 3 days ago as I fed him, he 'stepped up' like I asked on my finger and promptly bit me very hard on the fleshy part of my hand, to which I shook him off onto the floor. He walked around puffed up and when I placed my hand down for him again, he bit me again on the other hand. After getting him in his cage, I finish and walked away. Yesterday I got too close to the cage and he bit me through the bars twice. I have bite wounds on both hands and don't trust him at all and he acts like nothing is wrong. What happen to my good bird, why did he go bad? He sings, whistles and talks out on the porch, so I know he is enjoying it. Can you help me, before I choke him to death?

Answer
-- When your bird screams and you react, even if you're red in the face, yelling and flailing your arms in the air, the bird is getting a reward for the scream - your attention.  The worst thing you can do to a bird is deny them your attention. So, when there's screaming going on, stop and silence everything.  Put the t.v. on mute, put the kids on mute and everybody freeze, turning your back to the bird or even leaving the room.

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Sure, this is an effort on your part, but think about it. If it stops the screaming, isn't a few days of effort going to be worth it?  There are no quick solutions, no magic or secret tricks.  
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Once the bird stops screaming - and your timing needs to be impeccable to catch them during those few seconds as they catch their breath - turn or re enter the room, face them, quietly praise them and interact.  The moment they start again, turn your back and hit all those mute buttons again.
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Set aside a couple times a day for the bird to be a bird.  Usually in the morning and just before going to roost in the evening most birds will chatter and call out to touch base with everyone else in their flock, which under domestic conditions is you and your family.
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 Prepare the neighborhood and remind them that at least it's not loud music, annoying boom-cars, screaming  children, barking dogs or fighting spouses (although you want to be careful about what you say and to whom) - this is just a few minutes a couple times a day of a bird exercising their vocal chords.

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When screaming is out of control, the bird can upset itself, sort of like a child having a tantrum.   You may need to break the pattern and get their attention, so using a water bottle set on stream, aimed at their feet or tail might be an option.   
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 Always plain, clean water; never - ever at their body or head and do not do this repeatedly.  You want it to be a surprise that distracts them from the screaming, not something that terrifies them of  the bottle, the water or you!

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This is far more effective if done just once  - when the screaming seems out of control and there is no calming your bird with other measures such as silence, leaving the room or whispering.  A squirt should be used just to break the pattern.

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It doesn’t take too many times before you'll find you don't need to squirt at all, just point the bottle in their direction., or in some cases, just aim your finger when they start getting out of control with the screaming.   
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What people need to do is look at things not from a human point of view, which makes perfect sense to us since we're human; but, look at things from the parrot's point of view.  This is really much harder because we're not parrots.

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Once you understand why they do something it's much, much easier to be understanding and patient.  Give them time, let them learn at their own pace and never be harsh.  You see, since most of them have many, many years to live, they don't see what the hurry is.  If you keep in mind that this bird will probably be around to see you go through significant life changes, it helps put it in perspective for you too.

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More great tips and pics here: www.4animalcare.com/birds

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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