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Discussion Starter #1
This will be a long post, but I need advice.

We've had Pip for just over one year. He was always a mistrustful bird. We were new 'Tiel owners so maybe we screwed something up, I don't know. But I did so much research before we brought him home and can honestly say I've done my best for him. But it doesn't seem to be enough.

He has been a hisser/biter since the beginning. He absolutely hates fingers (but will oddly take scratches on the head from me and only me.) Bonding with him was very long and very hard. I sustained so many bleeding bites on my hands and fingers during the first several months of his training. He still will not step up to my finger, but will step up my wrist or arm, where he promptly climbs up my shoulder. If I sit with him on the couch, he lets me scratch his head and seems happy. When I open his cage, he flies freely about the house, but usually straight to my shoulder. The shoulder is where he wants to be all the time.

About two months ago, however, he started displaying more consistently aggressive behavior. I can reach into his cage and adjust toys without much trouble. But when I change his food and water (through the little doors in the cage) he dive bombs the dish and tries to bite my fingers while I change it. I don't flinch much and just let him have at it, as I'm usually protected by the little door. I figured he'd get bored with it and lay off but he hasn't. At all.

More significantly, around the same time he started attacking my neck and ears while on my shoulder, often drawing blood and hissing into my ear. He will fly to my shoulder, perch there and start tearing away. It is very hard to sit still and ignore it while this goes on. He seems as if he is attempting to wound me and it hurts very badly. He was about one year old exactly when this started and he had just begun a molt. I was heartbroken and hurt, but chocked it up to hormones and with some advice from this terrific forum, I found a plan.

I started hormonal night-treatments; covering him for 12 hours every night, etc. It helped for awhile. But yesterday it began again. He flies to my shoulder (where he wants to be all the time) and depending on his mood, he will do fine, or he will attack me with absolutely no provocation. Yesterday he literally pierced my ear. Today he drew blood on my neck.

And today, after the second time this happened, I lost my temper. I jerked around hard so he had no choice but to fly off and I screamed and swore at him, but he just fluttered back down and began again. The more he bit and hissed the angrier I got and I used my arms to try to brush him off and launch him towards his cage. He flew back there and then flew right back to me and it all began again. Eventually, I backed myself up the open cage door as he bit and hissed, and he grabbed onto the cage and door and I was able to close the door with him inside. I admit that I did not close the door gently, either. I threw the cage cover on and stalked angrily out of the room, and I have no intention of uncovering him for awhile.

All this happened while my kids looked on.

I simply do not know why he is doing this. The attacks are unprovoked. He can be sweet and happy one minute and the next he is out for blood.

I have done my best to be good to him. His wings are unclipped and he is fully flighted. I've taught him 5 different songs and he can sing them all. He gets out of cage time in the morning and in the afternoon evening. He seems to want to be near us. He always flies to my shoulder. He sometimes joins us at the meal table, and he showers with me sometimes. I take him on trips with us. He gets scrambled eggs and veggies and a cuttlebone and seeds and pellets and has tons of toys in his cage.

I'm feeling very hurt and extremely disheartened and am beginning to think that bringing him home was a mistake.

1). Does anyone have similar experience with a Tiel with erratic aggressive behavior? If so, how did you overcome these challenges?

2). What else can I do at this point before I really have to be honest with myself and my family and consider rehoming him?

3). Has anyone else felt they needed to rehome a Tiel?

In pain and near tears,

Mareeder
 

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I'm sorry to hear that you're having a hard time. Have you read this: http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=33824 It was written by meannyfids, one of our members. (I actually haven't seen her post on here lately.......) I know she had some issues with one of her tiels- hence why she wrote this. If you haven't tried it, I suggest doing that. Also, your tiel may just be going through the "bratty" teenage years, which is something they outgrow. As for the neck biting thing, have you seen those tiel necklaces they sell- with toys, etc on it? Maybe something like that would keep him occupied while on your shoulder.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I do think you may just be dealing with a "teenage" tiel right now. He's around a year and a half? Is that right?
More or less, yes. He's a year plus and three months. I really hope he can outgrow it. Because right now, I have no desire to let him out of his cage and he's begging.

Thanks for the thread. Ill check it later tonight.
 

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I have been thinking about you and feel so sorry for the situation.

I don't have experience with this, but I read a lot of threads on cockatiel behavior. Putting together a lot of things I have read, this is what I think:

Some hormonal males consider their human their mate, and defend them from everyone else. But . . .

For what it's worth, it sounds to me as though he could hormonal and thinks he is defending his territory--possibly his cage, or possibly the whole room, and now sees you as an intruder.

Of course, I know he doesn't have a female or a nest box. But, if his hormones are high, he may still be behaving as though he has one.

It might be worth increasing the nights to fourteen hours for a week or so, and see if things improve. If so, you could back it off to thirteen, for as long as there is no longer a problem.

I have a very affectionate five month old male tiel, and am wondering what things will be like as he matures.

If you can't solve the problem, it could be that he really, really wants to breed. In that case, he might be happier in an aviary environment where he could do that.

These are just the thoughts I had.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

It certainly seems as if it happens mostly while in his cage room (which is also the family room.) He did it again today, after a luxurious spray bath (which he LOVES) and it seems to happen when he thinks it is time to go back to his cage.

I actually got some video today of a very mild incident (no blood drawn or ear piercing per say, but the neck/ear area is raw and hot). What is confusing to me is that he wants to be with me, then attacks me, and your post makes me think it may actually be territorial as it only happens in his cage room.

And it could be protest about going back to the cage.

He wants to be out all of the time which is just not possible (or desirable).

Lots to think about. Video forthcoming. Maybe it will help to see what is going on.
 

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I think you may have to clip his wings. If he's attacking you by flying to your shoulder then you need to stop him from being able to, otherwise he may start going after your kids.

I have a male around the same age, a little younger, and his hormones are going crazy as well. He's been poking holes in me for the past few months now. He isn't nearly as aggressive as your bird however. If he was I don't know what I'd do.

But, I do think that he will outgrow this. It may take another few months or a year, but continued hormone treatment will help. I believe there are also shots for hormone control that vets administer, but I don't know if that is just for females or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Here is a video of a mild incident. This is the first time I've actually been able to see what is going on.

He started to attack near his cage, so I attempted to get him to climb back on.

A little explanation: this is the "system" Pip and I have developed. He doesn't step up to my finger (he bites hard, always has), but he will step to my wrist. Trouble is, once he does, he goes straight to my shoulder, where he wants to stay. If I attempt to get him to step up from my shoulder, I get a hand bite.

So, we'd worked out a method where I take him on my shoulder, and go to his cage where he happily steps from my shoulder to his cage.

Clearly he does not want to cooperate here. But the ear/neck biting started long before I was attempting to get him to his cage. Once he starts attacking, I try to get him immediately onto his cage.

In this video, he is not attacking with the gusto he demonstrated the past few days. Maybe it was because I was doing everything in my power to not react at all. Yesterday and the day before there was flapping and hissing and lunging at my ears and neck, where he drew beads of blood. Regardless of the lack of blood today, my ear and neck feel as if they've been repeatedly shaved by a dry razor.

Also, a note. I have seen him behave similarly with a toy that I eventually removed from his cage.

http://youtu.be/g0x8IAVQbig
 

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Do you always just let him bite you? Like did you set the boundaries of how hard he is allowed to nibble you? I think maybe he is waiting for a reaction. Like when a bird bites me, I say "Ouch!" In a very commanding tone. When it bites again, I repeat "ouch" then(if the bird is on my finger) I will wiggle the finger it is perched on. After a few times they have usually come to realize that biting me, puts the stability of their perch in jeopardy. Works well for us, and I wish you the best with him. The downside to my method is when the bird is smarter than I am :) and says "ouch" then bites the mess outta me!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think you may have to clip his wings.
Actually, I had the same thought. The stubbornness and the ear biting definitely has increased with his ability to fly.

But he does fly about the house during his out-of-cage time quite happily, and if he lands on me anywhere other than his cage room, there is no biting.

I hate to take away his lovely flight, but I may have to consider it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Do you always just let him bite you?
No, I do not. For some time, I'd been snapping "Ouch!" at him and popping my shoulder up or down. It used to help, not so much these days. He just starts again. I did not react today simply because I was trying to get the video, and I was trying to NOT give him a reaction that might make him think that we are playing or that his biting gives him power.

If you reread my original post, you'll remember I reacted VERY strongly the other day (the day he drew a lot of blood) and lost my temper quite badly simply because I was fed up, it hurt like h*&% and the little bully hurt my feelings.

I tried to be a better bird dad today while he went at me...

It's hard to know what the heck to do.
 

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Wing clipping is a hot topic around here, but I have personally have had good success with it when Scurvy was at that age he would fly up as high as he could and scream bloody murder and hiss when I tried to bring him down. Once he was clipped, he was "knocked down a peg or two" and returned to my sweet baby. However, it sounds as though (and I mean no offense) he never truly learned to trust you, and doesn't understand his boundaries. If he has always been able to fly to you when HE wanted, he thinks he is the boss. Bigger parrots are often recommended never on the shoulder, for this reason. Personally I would do a Dianne suggested and give him 14 hours of night, and I would do a slight clip, maybe two or three primaries just to slow him down a bit. I would also work on training, millet and/or clicker, to strengthen the bond and give him something to focus on.
What is his diet like? Also, have you given him foraging toys? Scurvy will go nuts on the right toy like he wants to kill it burning energy and letting off steam. If he bites when you try to get him to step up, have you tried using a dowel? There are so many factors that could be affecting him, but hopefully this at least offers another perspective.
Good luck! I know when Scurvy had his terrible twos I almost lost my mind. :rolleyes:
 

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I would start by covering him for longer, 12 hours is the standard, not hormone control. Give him an extra hour or hour and a half and sprinkle about half a teaspoon of brewer's yeast on his seeds.
 

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That looks hard to deal with.

I have seem my male cockatiel behave that way toward toys in his cage. He has also attacked me when the cat was close by.

I have read some books about training, and they say not to allow an aggressive bird on your shoulder at all.

If would also suggest clipping his wings. It doesn't have to be a permanent thing. You could get him out of the cage on a wooden perch. You could cut a circle out of cardboard with a hole in it for your hand and put it around your wrist to prevent him getting to your shoulder.

I have read that the more a behavior occurs the more likely it is to continue. I would try to completely break the cycle for a period of time (maybe two months?), by removing opportunities for it to occur.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks, all. I think I'm going to have to clip. I've been troubleshooting for the last few days and it isn't making much difference.

I removed a shiny toy that he had strongly bonded to, thinking he might have confused it with a mate. He would snuggle up to that toy and chirp to it and sit quietly with it for hours. I thought he might be protecting that "mate." Since removing it, he has paced about the cage chirping and climbing about, begging to be let out.

I actually kept him in his cage for a few days following the previous incident, thinking maybe a few days of no contact might chill him out.

So, late this morning, I opened his cage door and he stepped onto my hand and sat on my arm and took a scritch and blew kisses in my direction and was super happy. We walked into the kitchen and he fluttered to my shoulder and he sat down at the breakfast table with the family and had a great time. He found his seed dish and begged for our food and came and went off my shoulder with no issues. He flew about the house a bit and even landed on my sons shoulder for a bit. After breakfast, he flew back to his cage then back to my shoulder, happy as a clam.

When I moved from the kitchen to the family room (where his cage is), he attacked me again. I tried to tell him NO and shrug him off, but it just made it worse. He hissed and flapped and he pierced one ear once and the other twice and there was a decent amount of blood. Once I finally got him back to his cage, he started chirping wildly and pacing and begging to be let out, which he is still doing now.

Until I can get him in to clip him, what do I do? Leave him in his cage?

I thought about moving his cage to a new location, thinking it might help for awhile but ... I don't know.

If he's let out if his cage, he's going to end up on my shoulder which will end badly when I go back toward his cage.

Do I banish him to his cage indefinitely?

Sigh.
 

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Thanks, all. I think I'm going to have to clip. I've been troubleshooting for the last few days and it isn't making much difference.

I removed a shiny toy that he had strongly bonded to, thinking he might have confused it with a mate. He would snuggle up to that toy and chirp to it and sit quietly with it for hours. I thought he might be protecting that "mate." Since removing it, he has paced about the cage chirping and climbing about, begging to be let out.

I actually kept him in his cage for a few days following the previous incident, thinking maybe a few days of no contact might chill him out.

So, late this morning, I opened his cage door and he stepped onto my hand and sat on my arm and took a scritch and blew kisses in my direction and was super happy. We walked into the kitchen and he fluttered to my shoulder and he sat down at the breakfast table with the family and had a great time. He found his seed dish and begged for our food and came and went off my shoulder with no issues. He flew about the house a bit and even landed on my sons shoulder for a bit. After breakfast, he flew back to his cage then back to my shoulder, happy as a clam.

When I moved from the kitchen to the family room (where his cage is), he attacked me again. I tried to tell him NO and shrug him off, but it just made it worse. He hissed and flapped and he pierced one ear once and the other twice and there was a decent amount of blood. Once I finally got him back to his cage, he started chirping wildly and pacing and begging to be let out, which he is still doing now.

Until I can get him in to clip him, what do I do? Leave him in his cage?

I thought about moving his cage to a new location, thinking it might help for awhile but ... I don't know.

If he's let out if his cage, he's going to end up on my shoulder which will end badly when I go back toward his cage.

Do I banish him to his cage indefinitely?

Sigh.
I think two points are shining in this response. Yes, I would move his cage. to a new room, rearrange it, totally change everything. And two, and I cannot stress this enough, (again, just my opinion) stop allowing him on your shoulder Maybe it's nothing, but I feel as though he needs wto be broken of the free access to your face. I truly hope you can figure this all out :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I think two points are shining in this response. Yes, I would move his cage. to a new room, rearrange it, totally change everything. And two, and I cannot stress this enough, (again, just my opinion) stop allowing him on your shoulder Maybe it's nothing, but I feel as though he needs wto be broken of the free access to your face. I truly hope you can figure this all out :)
I totally agree. But I'm currently not sure how to not allow him on my shoulder when that's the first place he goes when he is out of cage. He'll stay on my arm for a minute then flies straight there. I feel like, at this particular moment, no going on shoulder means not coming out of his cage.

He used to be happy just hanging about on top of his cage most of the day, but those days are gone.

More reasons to get him a clip, I guess...
 

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Does he attack you if someone/something else comes near you or is it just that room? I'd move his cage to another room before clipping. And I've seen someone make a necklace using toy parts to stop their bird doing that :eek:
 

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If you want to try to avoid clipping, or at least see if it is absolutely necessary, try moving the cage step one. Then only allow him out when you have lots of distractions - sparkly earrings, try the necklace suggestion (heard that several times as successful :) etc. Also do not allow any stimuli that in the past has been present when you were attacked. If certain people or situations were there avoid them totally during out of cage time. I would perhaps start a list of things that are present when it happens to see is there are any major common triggers. Then I would try to find a way to work on some training... with patience you can teach them to come, go, stay, up, down, etc. With Scurvy I started training him to stay on his perch, now he understands my hand palm facing him means "no, you aren't welcome on me right now." So that should help with him being on your shoulder, clipped or no. If after all of this, and this will possibly take you a while, clipping may be the final step. I hope I don't sound redundant, but I hope you two can work this out and hope you're finding everyone's suggestions helpful :)
 
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