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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, my name is Luke and i adopted a parrotlet called Tiny last week after months of research. He's 8 months old.
Things started well with him being affectionate, accepting pats and beak scratches, but a week into owning him (or him owning us?) and he's becoming a real nightmare. So just after some advice on some things:
  • Lately he'll fly to my shoulder, sit there for a bit and then bite me on the back of the neck, and i cant get him off my shoulder.
  • He'll fly to the ground and then try and bite my shoes
  • He'll be on my shoulder and then fly to my work desk and try biting my fingers (even when i havent moved them) I try and put toys on the desk to distract him, but he's not interested.
Just feeling disheartened, and that everything i'm doing is making it worse.
I make the time to target train and flight train with him. Make him fresh meals. Making sure he has enough sleep. But i don't know what to do.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated :)

Luke and Tiny 馃惁
 

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Hello Luke and Tiny! Welcome to the forum! There is a possibility that Tiny is going through the "Terrible Two's" which is when a bird goes through puberty. They become hormonal which turns them into little biting demons! (exactly what you are describing). The good news is that is does not last. My bird went through hers at eight months old and I think it lasted about a month. Just try to be understanding and if he gets too crazy put him in his cage for time out. You can do things to curb hormonal behavior - give him an additional two added hours of darkness each night and try to avoid giving him carbs, high fat and high calories foods. Any high energy foods are not good for him right now. So no bread, corn, wheat pasta or any human snacks, etc. Instead give them more veggies/dark green leafy vegs. Good quality seeds. Fruit and nuts just sparingly. No warm food. Sprouts are good. The first year owning a bird is the most challenging and the Terrible Two's is something we as bird owners have to go through having young birds. It is a tough time for the bird and us! Once this period is over, Tiny should go back to being a better behaved birdie again! Hang in there! If you want to share some pictures of Tiny, we would love to see him! We never get tired of looking at pretty birdies around here! Keep in touch and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask! We will do our best to help you and Tiny out! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh thanks so much for your response Anya!
So much good info. You've helped me feel optimistic. I'm giving everyone a collective hug who've had to go through hormonal birds.

In regards to food, i've been giving him a mix of pellets and seeds with some veggies. Are pellets something to be avoided if they're hormonal? And i guess i can continue to do training with him with millet?

Tableware Plant Flower Food Broccoli


This is Tiny blissing out on food. Back when we understood each other better ;)
 

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Tiny is gorgeous! He is a beautiful greenie! 馃挌 Regarding pellets - I would cut back on them some. some pellets can have a lot of protein. Breeders give their birds food high in protein and fat to get them into condition, so yeah, go easy on the pellets, but still provide Tiny with some. Protein is necessary for a healthy diet.
 

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Hi Luke and Tiny! Apologies for being late to the discussion - I had my grandson Luke here for a couple of days and was dealing with 9-year old energy. Wish I had that again!

Apart from Anya鈥檚 good advice as usual, I also note that you have only had Tiny for a week or so. It is extremely early in your relationship so don鈥檛 despair! The fact that you are able to handle him at all, that he is out of his cage and that he is eating so well is HUGE. many birds this early on don鈥檛 yet interact with their human and won鈥檛 venture out of their cages. You certainly have a bold little fellow there but you have alot to work with. Anya is indeed right that he may be hormonal and they can be little beasts at this time. My greenie, Kiwi, was terrible. And I mean terrible! Biting me until I was in tears, essentially yelling at me from her cage - it was really difficult. She was soooo grumpy! But it did pass (I am pretty sure it was longer than a month but that could be because I handled it all wrong - I had not discovered the forum at that time unfortunately). She will still land a good bite on me from time to time but we have a wonderful relationship and is a wonder to me to this day. It is all worth it in the long run.

Back to the fact that you have only had him for a week or so, now is a great time to do a few things to get his biting in some control. I say some control because parrotlets are notorious biters and use their beaks to communicate many of their feelings. Beak grinding means they are content, they will affectionately nibble your fingers or preen your hair when they鈥檙e content as well, but if they don鈥檛 want to do something or want you to do something, they bite. Kiwi used to regularly fly at my husband and bite his ear in an attempt to make him leave, which was often successful. To this day, Kiwi will climb down between my shoulder blades and attack My fingers if she doesn鈥檛 want to go back into her cage. But it is a long way away from the constant biting that went on when she was young.

Have a look at the post on 鈥済entle beak鈥 on the forum. Many members have had success with it as a way to reach their birds how to use their beaks to communicate in a way that doesn鈥檛 cause fear or tears. For Kiwi, i had success with the 鈥渆arthquake鈥 approach which is to give your finger a shake, just enough to unbalance them a little and redirect their attention to balancing themselves. I always coupled this action with a 鈥渘o biting鈥 command. You obviously don鈥檛 want to shake hard, just enough so they flutter a little.

I also have had limited success with toys - inside and out of the cage. Which is really disappointing as I have visions of this beautiful little bird on a jungle gym enjoying all these brightly coloured toys. Some birds love them. Kiwi was not one of those birds. But Kiwi loves to shred paper towel stuffed in the bars of her cage and used to love to chase crumpled up paper balls. That being said, some members have warned that shredding material can stimulate hormonal behaviours such as nesting so if Tiny is hormonal, this may not be what you want to do.

Anya is so right about the importance of good quality sleep. Kiwi always had 10-12 hours of sleep in a covered cage in the spare bedroom with the door closed. Now that she鈥檚 an old lady, she has 13 hours. You will notice a significant difference in your bird鈥檚 attitude with the right amount of good quality sleep. Extra sleep during a hormonal time is excellent.

Tiny is absolutely gorgeous and I am sure you will enjoy each other for many years to come. You are doing an excellent job already and it is really encouraging to read that you did your research first. They are all different, though, so we are happy to have you here asking questions and telling us about your experiences. Keep us posted on what is working and what isn鈥檛! Take some time to peruse the forum too - there鈥檚 a wealth of info here. We are always happy to give you our two cents if you have questions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Tiny is gorgeous! He is a beautiful greenie! 馃挌 Regarding pellets - I would cut back on them some. some pellets can have a lot of protein. Breeders give their birds food high in protein and fat to get them into condition, so yeah, go easy on the pellets, but still provide Tiny with some. Protein is necessary for a healthy diet.
Thanks Anya - have cut way back on the pellets and given him more leafy greens along with a couple hours more sleep last night. Fingers / claws crossed for some improvement!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi Luke and Tiny! Apologies for being late to the discussion - I had my grandson Luke here for a couple of days and was dealing with 9-year old energy. Wish I had that again!

Apart from Anya鈥檚 good advice as usual, I also note that you have only had Tiny for a week or so. It is extremely early in your relationship so don鈥檛 despair! The fact that you are able to handle him at all, that he is out of his cage and that he is eating so well is HUGE. many birds this early on don鈥檛 yet interact with their human and won鈥檛 venture out of their cages. You certainly have a bold little fellow there but you have alot to work with. Anya is indeed right that he may be hormonal and they can be little beasts at this time. My greenie, Kiwi, was terrible. And I mean terrible! Biting me until I was in tears, essentially yelling at me from her cage - it was really difficult. She was soooo grumpy! But it did pass (I am pretty sure it was longer than a month but that could be because I handled it all wrong - I had not discovered the forum at that time unfortunately). She will still land a good bite on me from time to time but we have a wonderful relationship and is a wonder to me to this day. It is all worth it in the long run.

Back to the fact that you have only had him for a week or so, now is a great time to do a few things to get his biting in some control. I say some control because parrotlets are notorious biters and use their beaks to communicate many of their feelings. Beak grinding means they are content, they will affectionately nibble your fingers or preen your hair when they鈥檙e content as well, but if they don鈥檛 want to do something or want you to do something, they bite. Kiwi used to regularly fly at my husband and bite his ear in an attempt to make him leave, which was often successful. To this day, Kiwi will climb down between my shoulder blades and attack My fingers if she doesn鈥檛 want to go back into her cage. But it is a long way away from the constant biting that went on when she was young.

Have a look at the post on 鈥済entle beak鈥 on the forum. Many members have had success with it as a way to reach their birds how to use their beaks to communicate in a way that doesn鈥檛 cause fear or tears. For Kiwi, i had success with the 鈥渆arthquake鈥 approach which is to give your finger a shake, just enough to unbalance them a little and redirect their attention to balancing themselves. I always coupled this action with a 鈥渘o biting鈥 command. You obviously don鈥檛 want to shake hard, just enough so they flutter a little.

I also have had limited success with toys - inside and out of the cage. Which is really disappointing as I have visions of this beautiful little bird on a jungle gym enjoying all these brightly coloured toys. Some birds love them. Kiwi was not one of those birds. But Kiwi loves to shred paper towel stuffed in the bars of her cage and used to love to chase crumpled up paper balls. That being said, some members have warned that shredding material can stimulate hormonal behaviours such as nesting so if Tiny is hormonal, this may not be what you want to do.

Anya is so right about the importance of good quality sleep. Kiwi always had 10-12 hours of sleep in a covered cage in the spare bedroom with the door closed. Now that she鈥檚 an old lady, she has 13 hours. You will notice a significant difference in your bird鈥檚 attitude with the right amount of good quality sleep. Extra sleep during a hormonal time is excellent.

Tiny is absolutely gorgeous and I am sure you will enjoy each other for many years to come. You are doing an excellent job already and it is really encouraging to read that you did your research first. They are all different, though, so we are happy to have you here asking questions and telling us about your experiences. Keep us posted on what is working and what isn鈥檛! Take some time to peruse the forum too - there鈥檚 a wealth of info here. We are always happy to give you our two cents if you have questions!
Thanks for responding! I have gotten a lot out of this forum already! No need to apologise for looking after your grandson!
I appreciate all your advice and supportive words. It really is a test of patience, empathy and resilience.

Ive been doing 'gentle beak' the last couple of days. So hopefully that works in time. Its only usually once a day he lets me rub his face for less than a minute. So it might take a bit longer to get this 'gentle beak' gentle again. The earthquake method is a little tricky, as he isnt on my finger when it happens, its usually on my back. Do you think i could make a small movement with my body and say "no biting"?

And thanks for the advice about the sleep and toys. Something i'm going to be more conscious of from now on.

Thanks to you and Kiwi 馃挅
 

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Sneaky bird. On your back with the biting. I don鈥檛 think there is any hard and fast rule about what to try, but I am not sure you will have enough control over the movement to make it effective and it will be a larger surface area so it may not have the intended impact. You will also have the disadvantage of not seeing what Tiny鈥檚 reaction is. I have my doubts it would work.

What do you do when he鈥檚 biting you? Are you reacting and trying to reach for him? Shouting out or moving away? When I finally got my husband to stand (somewhat) still and not leave when she would land on his shoulder and bite his ears, she did it less. It鈥檚 possible she was getting the reaction she wanted - him leaving. I think it made her more dominant toward him鈥nd she is pretty dominant. He would wait (often with ow ow ow ow) and I would go over, tell her 鈥渘o biting鈥 and take her off and put her in her cage for a time out. If you are reacting, you might be inadvertently reinforcing the behaviour. I recognize it is hard not to react to those fiery little attacks, but if your reaction was to quietly walk to his cage and put him in (if you can get him, depending on how long it lasts), perhaps it would associate the biting with a time out. Of course, if he鈥檚 hormonal, none of this will likely work鈥ut it won鈥檛 hurt either. I think it is really important with parrotlets to address the biting as early as possible. They are wild birds after all, not domesticated pets. Helping them to understand how to live in a human environment (including recognizing the power of their little beaks) is truly an important part of the relationship.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sneaky bird. On your back with the biting. I don鈥檛 think there is any hard and fast rule about what to try, but I am not sure you will have enough control over the movement to make it effective and it will be a larger surface area so it may not have the intended impact. You will also have the disadvantage of not seeing what Tiny鈥檚 reaction is. I have my doubts it would work.

What do you do when he鈥檚 biting you? Are you reacting and trying to reach for him? Shouting out or moving away? When I finally got my husband to stand (somewhat) still and not leave when she would land on his shoulder and bite his ears, she did it less. It鈥檚 possible she was getting the reaction she wanted - him leaving. I think it made her more dominant toward him鈥nd she is pretty dominant. He would wait (often with ow ow ow ow) and I would go over, tell her 鈥渘o biting鈥 and take her off and put her in her cage for a time out. If you are reacting, you might be inadvertently reinforcing the behaviour. I recognize it is hard not to react to those fiery little attacks, but if your reaction was to quietly walk to his cage and put him in (if you can get him, depending on how long it lasts), perhaps it would associate the biting with a time out. Of course, if he鈥檚 hormonal, none of this will likely work鈥ut it won鈥檛 hurt either. I think it is really important with parrotlets to address the biting as early as possible. They are wild birds after all, not domesticated pets. Helping them to understand how to live in a human environment (including recognizing the power of their little beaks) is truly an important part of the relationship.
Well the strange thing is, sometimes he can just be sitting there for 30 mins or so, and then just go closer to the back of my neck and then lay a good bite into me. Even when i've been still the whole time working on my computer. But maybe you're onto something about putting him in his cage. I tend to have been putting him in there when he's been naughty.
Could i ask you what your daily routine looks like? Maybe i have him outside of his cage too much and he actually just wants alone time (being the moody teenager he is)
 

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When I was working, Kiwi was only out for a short time in the morning but came out of an hour or two when I got home. During more intense periods, she was in her cage pretty much all day for a number of days in the week [edit: she always had some time out of her cage when I got home during those times. They do not thrive being left in a cage all the time. Just wanted to be clear about that.] I would try to make up for it on weekends. This was why a large cage with stimulating things for her to play with so important for her. On weekends, she came everywhere with us (cottage, road trips) and because she is full flight and was outside a lot, she was in her cage a lot. She has a separate sleep/travel cage that is smaller but she鈥檚 very comfortable in it and she really enjoyed being out and about, perhaps it was because she felt secure in her cage. This was more or less how it went for the first 15 years of her life.

I worked from home during COVID so all of a sudden, I was around all the time. She was out of her cage with me A LOT but I would keep her rise/sleep schedule (bed at 7 pm, up at 8 am). I put her back in her cage for her naps though and if she was getting in the way. I am now retired so her schedule is literally all over the place. Some days she gets very little out time, other days she gets a lot. But as you can see, she grew up having to be in her cage for a stretch of time so I think she is adjusted to that even if she鈥檇 prefer to be out all the time. She will call to me when she sees me and I certainly have her out as much as I can but I do think some cage time is important so that you can have some balance, especially if you are home all day. You need a bit of freedom and it is good for them to learn to self-entertain.

Kiwi has also always had a mid-afternoon nap, which makes sense if you think of the tropics and what wild birds do in the heat of the afternoon. Now that she鈥檚 an old lady, she also takes a mid-morning nap as well. Cage time is, for her, equally as needed as out time. The key is finding that balance.

It is worth a try to see if Tiny benefits from some down time. If you can, it might even be good for him to be in a place where he doesn鈥檛 see you because if he sees you, he will want to be out. Very interesting that you noted that. If you try it, I will be interested to know if you see a change.
 

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Maybe i have him outside of his cage too much and he actually just wants alone time (being the moody teenager he is)
I think it is a good idea to provide your bird with nap time, especially if they are still a baby. A tired bird is a grumpy bird. Parrots in the wild take naps to conserve their energy. If your bird has been out and active for part of the day, I would suggest you give them some down time to rest and take a nap too. My bird would be out in the morning then after she had her lunch, I would put her in her cage. After and hour or so, she would let me know when she wanted out her cage again. It just recharges their batteries some. Make sure you are giving your bird at least 12 hours of sleep every night. Sleep deprivation does cause behavioral problems.
 

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I had a biter, he was well trianed. He would say "no bite" and then bite lol. Gentle beak worked really well he loved his beak rubbed and he always stopped to get that beak rub.
 
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