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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All....
My Rio, now 17 months old, in addition to pulling out his feathers has truly begun to get out-of-hand.
He has been biting, but now he is drawing blood. Not just "tasting"! I can no longer change his food or water without him trying to take a chunk out of my hand. He throws his little tent around and yells at me.
His new thing is "dive bombing" my head. When out of his cage, he often goes to the highest spot he can get to, and the flies very fast at my head. It can be rather scary.
I have been told he is hormonal...can anyone tell me how long this might last?
He gets 12 hours of sleep, in a covered cage in his tent. His cage has more than enough room.
He also no longer plays with toys, takes baths, or does anything he used to do.
I'm at my wits end. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
 

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Hi Kitty. You are definitely having a rough go of it, not all that different from what I went through with Kiwi. Anya recently posted some good suggestions in response to another post - I will have a look for it so you can read it. I don’t recall how long it took Kiwi to get through her phase, but we did survive it. It was so similar - biting constantly and drawing blood sometimes (driving me to tears), dive bombing me and the family - my oldest daughter was a teenager at the time and she would shriek when Kiwi flew at her, emboldening Kiwi. Then when I would put Kiwi away, she would literally yell at me from her cage for what seemed like a lifetime. It can be a really tough time. But they do get through it. Let me find that post for you…Anya’s suggestions really do help.
 

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Here we go: Bald spot and hormonal behaviour

It is really important for Rio to get good quality sleep as well. If you can have him in a quiet place like a spare bedroom, that is best. Covering him will also help him sleep a bit longer. You’re already giving him a good amount of sleep, maybe consider an extra hour and see if that helps. Try stuffing a paper towel between the bars of his cage. Kiwi would ferociously tear it apart during that time - now she enjoys just shredding it and chewing on it - at the time, it seemed to be an outlet for her rage.

Also, do try not to be hard on yourself. This is a very frustrating time and it’s not like this is the only thing in your life. If you are not in a calm place, don’t take him out. If you’re like I was, you will dread taking him out so it is best to not approach it when you are feeling emotional yourself. I used to plan times to take her out so I could prepare myself better. It wasn’t perfect but it helped me to know I had specific time periods that I had to deal with rather than sweating it out all day long debating when to do it and building up the tension in myself.

Do also try stuffing s tissue in your clenched hand with a bit sticking out and let him sit on your hand and shred it. It is still a favourite of Kiwi’s today.

Keep coming back to us, Kitty. We will help you through it.

Edit: wear gloves for the time being when you have your hands in his cage if he is attacking you. You may also want to consider changing his cage set up - move his perches and toys around. It apparently makes them less dominant when someone changes their territory. I did that with Kiwi and if I recall correctly, it would settle her down a bit for a few days anyway.

another edit: do a search of the forum using “hormonal” - you will get a lot of hits and there is some great advice out there as well as stories that will help you to realize you’re not alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi My New Friend to the North!
As always, you respond quickly and kindly! I only wish Rio did! I know you do not remember how long this "phase" lasted...that might help knowing it's temporary.
I bring him to CT often when I go up to visit my daughter. I am deathly afraid that he could hurt my Granddaughter! He was not out of his cage 5 minutes this morning and he bit my face! My Granddaughter is a big animal fan and she is rather upset that Rio doesn't like her any longer!
I will keep trying, it's just getting a little bit harder. As I am not a well person, there are mornings that I just cannot deal with his drama!
Thank you, as always! Kitty
 

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Oh, dear. I can just imagine how difficult this all is for you. Hormonal periods can get ugly. The good news is that it should pass with time. There may not be a set time for how long hormonal periods last – it depends on the bird. The Terrible Two’s, however, (when they go through puberty) generally last around 4-6 weeks but with parrotlets, this usually occurs within their first year. Did Rio go through the Terrible Two’s? (Which I think should be changed to the Truly Terrible Two’s). ;) How long has he been like this for?

Rio has a tent? I would suggest that you remove it from his cage. Tents and things like Happy Huts can make both male and female birds’ hormonal and cause cage aggression. Again, it depends on the bird. I am not a fan of them. They can become lethal if your bird pulls the threads loose and ingests them. Some birds have strangled themselves or caught their foot in a loose thread. Others have digested the fibers from the material they are made of.

Do you feed Rio pellets? Most pellets contain soy which can be a contributor to hormonal behavior. Pellets with high protein and processed soy are not recommended during hormonal periods. Soy is a hormone disrupter that creates something like the hormone estrogen. if you give Rio pellets, you may want to cut back or stop giving them entirely for a while to see if that makes a difference. It boils down to the bird. Some may not be affected, and some makes them hormonal and aggressive.

I would not give him any tissues or paper during hormonal periods. Females mostly, but males too, will also shred paper during hormonal periods for nesting material. And if the attacks continue, especially if you are not feeling well, do not take him out of his cage, A couple of days in his cage is not going to hurt him. If this aggression last for a long period of time, you may want to take Rio to the vets to get checked out. It could be something else causing his aggression.

Just in case it is not hormones, have you changed anything recently? So many things can trigger a parrot to become aggressive. They are sensitive creatures, even the smallest thing can upset them.

Hopefully, this all stops soon. Just try to be patient with him. If it is hormones, he has no control over it. It is not his fault. Try giving him little treats though the cage bars – get him used to be being near his cage. Sit next to him and sing and talk to him. I would keep him away from children until this is all over. I would try to explain to your granddaughter, as simply as possible, why Rio is acting this way. I know this is not an easy thing to go through. We are here if you need us. Hang in there! And keep us updated on how Rio is doing. Be sure to give him extra sleep (darkness) to help curb those hormones!
 

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I did not think about the shredding paper contributing to nesting behaviour. Interesting! Kiwi never showed any nesting behaviour - she just literally ripped the offending paper towel to shreds and threw it everywhere. Maybe she was saying, “The heck with you! I am not bending to traditional roles and dealing with babies!” LOL! I have heard that shredding paper helps with over-plucking, which I think Rio is suffering with. I guess it’s a balance.

I am so sorry to hear that you are not well, Kitty. For sure you don’t need this in your life right now! It’s hard enough when everything else is in order. Puberty is the most difficult of the hormonal periods they go through usually, so there is some hope there. They are hormonal when they molt and can be cranky but not to the extent they are during puberty…again, usually. I agree with keeping Rio away from your granddaughter. My grandsons adore Kiwi but I rarely take her out when they’re here (never when the 3 year old is here). Their little fingers are just too tender and I am always concerned about their reactions and her safety if she does bite suddenly. My 7 year old grandson is notoriously calm so I let Kiwi sit on his finger once but not before telling him that he could not react at all if she did bite him and that I would take her off him right away if she did. He asked if it would hurt (LOL) and then did such an excellent job when she gave his little finger a bit of a test. Had this been during her puberty - I would NEVER have done that.

I am quite concerned about the face biting. How is Rio getting close to your face? For now, I wouldn’t let him anywhere near your head or shoulders. Just as a precaution. He needs to calm way the heck down first. Being above you is also an act of dominance. Keep him below your shoulders as much as possible. Feisty little stinker needs to know his place!

maybe instead of paper towels, give him a big piece of broccoli or a chunk of corn on the cob and let him attack that. I am thinking of something to unleash his beak on and take out his angst. And to leave your flesh alone. If it think of other things, I will let you know.

I am glad you know you have a friend in the North! Haha! That made me smile!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks again Jackie for posting... actually, for EVERYONE who posts in an effort to help and educate!
My normal routine is, as mornings are the roughest for me, is to bring Rio's cage into my room where we hang out together. That's how he got to my face, he's used to hanging out on my shoulders and chest. Then he goes back into his cage about 1pm and into the other room. He doesn't show any interest in making a nest, he just likes to chew a bit and move on to something else, he's gone through a couple of remotes, which I keep hidden now!
He does the "wiggle"a lot, so I no longer pet him at all.
I did try gloves, ha, he has no fear and tried to bite through those
...I just change his food and water now when he is not in the cage.
I can't be sure when he got so nasty, he bit my nephew in the beginning of March.
He was such a fun and loving bird, but he is making it difficult. I keep repeating, it's not his fault, but it's so hard to remember.
I will nit give up on him yet, I have been keeping him in the cage longer, but he is not happy about it, but it helps me!
I will keep you posted on our progress!!!!
Thanks to all...
Kitty
 

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You are definitely at the worst stage for the bird! You can do this.

To make you feel better, Monty always bites me if I put my hand in his cage, and he's usually lovely. He still draws blood and he has bitten my parents and partner hard before too. They are difficult sometimes. That's why I do not let young children interact with him because they don't quite understand and he moves fast. They can look but no touch lol. I second removing anything "nesty" from the cage, even if he's not making nests. And change the food and water when he's out, as you are doing.

We give hagen pellets, which do have soybean but were a better choice for us than Zupreem, which is higher in sugar. During hormone season, I lowered the number of fruits and seeds I fed (I feed Monty 2 small scoops of seeds each morning and I lowered to 1 until the season passed). You can try limiting "squishy" and warm veggies too.

My best advice is in this time, keep a STRICT routine. E.g., wake up same time, same amount of out of cage time at the same time of day, same food times. It's not possible 100% of the time, but I find it really curbs the behaviour when they know what to expect.

If they calm down a little bit, trick training is a good avenue to get some energy out productively.

Are they clipped?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for your suggestions...
I have not had Rio reclipped. I will be i
on the road beginning this week with family. My Granddaughter's dog is blind, and I believe the noise Rio makes make him sound like he needs to protect himself, so I usually keep him flying before I go there. If I clip him, he walks in the floor too much and would perhaps make a feathery snack. This also will change our routine, so that could be trouble!
I will clip him when I return home in July. I do find he is a bit, just a bit more timid when he is clipped.
Just this morning, I brought his cage into my room. He happily flew onto my bed, started running around in a circle, found a finger and bit it! He was not out of his cage 5 minutes before drawing blood. I'm sitting here trying to hold back the tears, it is SO frustrating.
He does not eat pellets. Nor have i been able to get him to eat any vegetables lately, of any kind.
I keep trying all of the suggestions. I just hope I last longer than the hormones!!! The only sign that he is somewhere in that little body of his, is he still loves to dance and sing with me.
My most sincere thanks.
Kitty
 

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Thank you for your suggestions...
I have not had Rio reclipped. I will be i
on the road beginning this week with family. My Granddaughter's dog is blind, and I believe the noise Rio makes make him sound like he needs to protect himself, so I usually keep him flying before I go there. If I clip him, he walks in the floor too much and would perhaps make a feathery snack. This also will change our routine, so that could be trouble!
I will clip him when I return home in July. I do find he is a bit, just a bit more timid when he is clipped.
Just this morning, I brought his cage into my room. He happily flew onto my bed, started running around in a circle, found a finger and bit it! He was not out of his cage 5 minutes before drawing blood. I'm sitting here trying to hold back the tears, it is SO frustrating.
He does not eat pellets. Nor have i been able to get him to eat any vegetables lately, of any kind.
I keep trying all of the suggestions. I just hope I last longer than the hormones!!! The only sign that he is somewhere in that little body of his, is he still loves to dance and sing with me.
My most sincere thanks.
Kitty
Hi Kitty, just read your post.
I just went through this with Chumley. He went through a long , hard molt and was extremely grumpy. This group helped me a lot. His molt was about 3 months and what was worse was he his molt was during his hormonal stage.
I took him to the vets for a regular check up and the Vet wanted to see his cage set up - pictures on my phone, what I was feeding,what I lined his cage with, what kind of toys I had in his cage , bowls, etc. Anyhoo the Vet was looking for things Chumley could get hooked up on , trapped or break a leg or wing on. He was very detailed. He saw I has a little tent like you said you had for Rio in your first discussion starter. He told me get rid of that, it encourages nesting, he will protect that and be possessive of it . No tents,small boxes or nesting material.. I took the tent out and most of his toys because he became so territorial of his things and cage. I had to move everything around in his cage. I actually moved his cage to another room. That helped quite a bit. Also making sure he went to bed when the sun went down helped tremendously I could pet him through the bars but if I let him out he didn't want to go back in. I had to get a hand towel and pick him up and put him in his sleep cage. I have two small dogs so I cannot leave him out. Chumley only made me bleed 2 times but not a lot, just a drop He did bite me a few more times and anytime he did he went right back in his cages. He would actually get really pissed because I picked up a plastic bottle . He would fly to my arm run like a mad man up to my neck and bite me! Little buzzard.
Now he goes to bed at 6pm because the sun stays out a lot later. His breeder told me limit the egg food at that time because it encourages nesting, so I fed him Chick pea or Garbanzo beans. This is what I read helped during a hormonal stage.
BTW, the vet also stressed to take off his leg band. He told me he would get so many broken legs from the leg bands getting caught on things in the cage. so I now have his leg band in a bag in his vet files.
As Chumley's breeder said, " be patient, he still loves you, he is just frustrated and he will be back to his old self soon". She said hormones can last from two weeks or longer.
Chums still hates plastic bottles and loves when we do training. He is much easier to live with and a little love but now I know every summer he will have his hormone time but it should not last as long- thank goodness!
Lisa and Chumley
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you so much for getting back to me Lisa and Chumley. I read everything anyone posts, it's such a help.
He does not seem to bother with his tent, unless he is angry with me, then he picks it up with his beak and slams it around. If I take it out, and see improvement with him I will keep it out. He has only one toy, but he has never played with it, but that can go too! He does not have a band, do that is not a worry.
He usually under-cover between 8-9pm. I keep him in the most quiet room in the apartment.
Did you keep Chumley in his cage longer? I let Rio out about 11am until 2pm. Then back out at 500pm-untll 8pm bedtime. He drives me nuts when he's out, I no longer pet him, but the only time he is not yelling at me is when he's on or near me. But...that is when he will bite! I'm at a loss.
This behavior has been going on since Easter, I will hope that I see a little of the old Rio soon! I am trying.
Thank you again, Kitty
 

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Thank you so much for getting back to me Lisa and Chumley. I read everything anyone posts, it's such a help.
He does not seem to bother with his tent, unless he is angry with me, then he picks it up with his beak and slams it around. If I take it out, and see improvement with him I will keep it out. He has only one toy, but he has never played with it, but that can go too! He does not have a band, do that is not a worry.
He usually under-cover between 8-9pm. I keep him in the most quiet room in the apartment.
Did you keep Chumley in his cage longer? I let Rio out about 11am until 2pm. Then back out at 500pm-untll 8pm bedtime. He drives me nuts when he's out, I no longer pet him, but the only time he is not yelling at me is when he's on or near me. But...that is when he will bite! I'm at a loss.
This behavior has been going on since Easter, I will hope that I see a little of the old Rio soon! I am trying.
Thank you again, Kitty
That is about the same schedule I kept with Chumley only he is uncovered around 6-7am and goes to bed at 6pm. My vet scolded me when I told him I put Chum to bed about 8 - 9 pm. He said you are making him think it is summer all year around and he gets tired and they get very grumpy when they are tired. Ill tell you that made a huge difference in his attitude! So I take Chums out around 10am-ish for a couple hours and again around 4-5pm -ish. I have to split his house time with my two dogs who will never be in the same room while Chumley is out of his cage. Either they go out to hunt or chew a bone or they are in a totally separate room in the house.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Oh, dear, this could never work with me. Mornings are rather rough for me, as I am not well. That's why Rio gets covered at 8pm'ish. I do not think it is at all possible to get him uncovered, in the morning, earlier. So even if I get him covered at 6-7pm he would not be uncovered before 9-10am. He would surely voice his displeasure if I left him in that long. Which would not be good for either of us!
Do you think I am making the situation worse???? I would hate to have to re-home Rio because I cannot keep to his schedule?!? I am trying so hard.
Your thoughts are appreciated!
 

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I think the important thing is for them to have 12-14 hours of sleep. I don’t think you’re making the situation worse for him. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable schedule. Kiwi’s schedule is 7 pm to 8 am. You’re not far off from that at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My Friend to the North....I was truly thinking that I was making the situation so much worse. Rio is getting as much as Kiwi! That info helps.
I did see a little glimmer is the old Rio for a few minutes the other day, he came to where I was sitting and started doing his singing and started his little dance I taught him. Maybe there is hope after all!?! Does Kiwi get too clingy with you? Rio seems to want to spend every minute on me or near me. Is that normal behavior or does he think I'm his partner???
As always, thanks!
 

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My Friend to the South (I like that you call me your friend to the North)! Kiwi would spend every second of every day on me if she could. She and I have a very close bond but she does not display any “mate” behaviour with me (doesn’t wiggle neck or anything like that). While she would like to be out with me all the time and will call to me if she knows I am around but can’t see me, that is just not a reality for us, especially when I had to be physically at work. When she was young, I would take her out and we would play or she would fly around (we played hide and seek) but she mostly enjoyed climbing up and down my body and snoozing in my hair. I had many, many holes in many, many shirts which shows you what a jungle gym I was to her. I never was able to have a routine with her other than getting up and going to bed - I took her out when I could and she had a nice big cage when she needed to entertain herself. Now that she is an old lady (and I am not far behind), she pretty much sleeps in my hair when she’s out and she snoozes in her cage when she’s not. But she still calls to me (incessantly sometimes) even if she has been out for a few hours. So yes, she’s clingy. They do call them Velcro birds for a reason.

You can not imagine my delight to hear you say you saw a glimmer of Rio’s old self! I think the extra sleep is helping him. You are doing great but your health is so important, Kitty. Please try not to stress yourself over giving him everything he wants when he wants it. You have to create harmony in your relationship and that also means you taking care of you sometimes. He will be fine in his cage if you need some time to yourself or if he’s being particularly obnoxious.

When Kiwi was really awful, back she went to her cage and she could holler at me all she wanted. I waited until she calmed down and was quiet before I ventured back over, in part to reinforce her being calm if she wanted to see me and in part because I couldn’t take anymore. Some people never experience this with their birds but I sure did. I know that it was because I had some things to work on myself and she became part of my life for that exact reason. She sure showed me how unappealing a temper tantrum could be (emotional roller coasters were my thing as a young woman - groan) but she also showed me how beautiful life could be when you worked through the worst together and accepted all the good and the bad this life has to offer. I feel that to my very core when she is cuddled in the cup of my hand with her eyes closed while I rub her cheeks and head. Pure trust. It’s so beautiful.

I can tell that you are an amazing mama to Rio so please try not to fret that you are ruining him somehow. You are doing your absolute best and that is all you can do - and that’s ok. We will get through this difficult period together and if the time comes that you are not able to do it anymore, I will be here to support you through that too. But for now, let’s keep up that good quality sleep he’s getting and see if he comes back to himself a little more.
 
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