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Hello, this is my first post to the group though I made the account when I got my first cockatiel Ansel in February. I decided to get another cockatiel to eventually be friends with him and found one on Craigslist. Now, the post said that he liked to have scritches but would not let them take him out of the cage with hands and they only have picked him up twice in the year they had him. When I went to meet him I found him to be extremely outgoing, whistling at me as I walked up to the cage and dancing around, but when she went to get him out of the cage he ran away hissing and she eventually had to get a towel to get him out. I brought him home and put him on my bird stand while I finished setting up his quarantine cage and when I went up to talk to him he put his head down and let scritch him! He let me do that a few more times but when it came to putting him in the cage he started hissing and flew away from me. I decided to catch him in a towel and clip his wings so that it will be easier to handle him, and once he was in the cage he calmed down and explored a little before bed.
This morning he was whistling at me and being very cute again, and I got him to step up on my arm because he was clinging to the door as I opened it. I've had him out for a few hours now and he has shown the same love/hate relationship with hands: I can approach him and either he will hiss and move away or he bows his head and won't move until I scritch him. He was running around my bed exploring and now has walked up onto my chest and is preening my face (very gently) while I scritch him every few minutes.
My question is if anybody else has had a bird like this before? My first cockatiel Ansel was hand-raised and knew step-up immediately but it took a few weeks for him to let me scritch him, but this bird seems to be the opposite! I don't know how old he is as the people before me said the person who gave him to them had found him in their front yard, and to be honest I'm not 100% sure he is a boy as his markings are confusing (any help on that would be appreciated too!). I've tried to hand-feed him millet as he was chowing down on it in his cage, but he either hisses or just bows his head until I move it away. It's been less than a day and he doesn't have a name yet (leaning towards Pastel as a gender-neutral one) but I thought I would try to get some advice for this odd but adorable bird!
 

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Kirby has acts similarly to that sometimes. It wasn't as bad with him, though. It reminds me of what people say about cats "you can pet me seven times. Only. And then I will bite you". Basically, with my little emperor, if I don't scratch him just right, or if he's had enough, he'll bite and 'angry chirp', but then a few seconds later will bow his head for more scratches :rolleyes:. He just does a soft bite, so I didn't really do anything about it before, but lately I decided that biting, soft or hard, should not be acceptable and have decided to work on it.

The best way to stop biting issues is to figure out why they're biting in the first place and then address that issue. If he's biting because he doesn't want to go back in his cage, then put him in his cage. If he's biting because he doesn't want to come out of his cage, then bring him out. If he's biting because he's like Kirby and he has high expectations then stop paying attention to him when he bites. Never give them what they want when they bite otherwise they will learn that biting will give them their way.

However, if they're biting because of dominance issues, territorialness, mating behaviors, or fear then there are different solutions.

If you aren't sure why your bird is biting, then I would try different solutions and see if they work. If they don't respond to it after some time, try a different method.
 

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Joey is an absolute scritch junkie, although it took a bit to get him there. We hand feed him off and on all day, and he will eat food from the back of both our hands. He has absolutely no desire to step up for hubby or me. None. Sometimes he nips and hisses, but usually just ignores us. We open the cage door and he comes out on his own, either by flying or climbing. Then if he doesn't put himself back into the cage, he will step up onto the perch of his food dish on command to go back in.
 

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Try using something besides your hand to get him out. Honestly, it sounds like he has spent his whole life in fear and not knowing why these scary things keep trying to grab him. Use a stick and see if he'll step up on that. Or offer your fist, without the fingers sticking out, as that seems to be common fear issue for birds. Forcing him out will definitely not win him over. If you have the time, just leave the cage door open and let him come out on his own. Putting him back can be more difficult, but if you use a stick it might work better.
 

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I'm pretty sure that he is not scared of hands considering I can give him scritches. I think it's a control issue, that he learned biting keeps hands from putting him away so it's been built up over time. I have been trying to not force the issue too much and he has stepped out onto my hand when he wants out of the cage enough, but going back in is getting to be a hassle. He has lunged at my hands that have been over a foot away and he will also bite and lunge at the dowel I've been using to get him in and out of his cage. He refuses to take millet from my hand so I'm going to get sunflower seeds to see if those will work. I know gloves are typically frowned upon but I'm considering wearing them as I'm sure that it's not a fear response but a control one and I need to be in control when it's time to go back in the cage.
 

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I don't know if this works or not, I have yet to try it myself, but an experienced parrot trainer told me that if you push into the bite rather than pull away that it hurts a lot less, and it teaches the bird that biting is unacceptable.
 

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I know gloves are typically frowned upon but I'm considering wearing them as I'm sure that it's not a fear response but a control one and I need to be in control when it's time to go back in the cage.
I've used them. I had one male in particular that bit not matter what I did. I put on a pair of thick gloves to make him step up and after about two days he decided biting didn't work anymore.

Tiels don't understand control or dominance, their brains don't work like that. But your thoughts are correct, he has been conditioned that when he doesn't want to do something, he bites and gets what he wants. It's like a toddler figuring out that if they cry they get a toy to keep them quiet. So come at it from that direction then thinking dominance. They don't know what dominance is.
 

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I agree with Roxy; at this point your tiel is a little bit spoiled and thinks that biting will get him whatever he wants. If you use the glove, though, I can see one of two things happening:
1. He'll learn that biting doesn't work and will eventually stop (or replace it with another behavior :p)
2. He'll learn that he can't bite the gloves and will either accept gloves or be afraid of them going forward, while still biting skin (this happens at the rescue all the time).

I say go ahead and use the gloves for now, and see if they help. If not, I think you'll just have to get a tougher skin (literally :lol:) and try not to react when he bites you.

One reason he may not want to go back in his cage is because he thinks that if you put him in there you're "putting him away" and love time is over. One thing you can do is to get him in the cage, close the door, and immediately open it again, take him out, and give him a treat. Slowly increase the amount of time that the door is closed before taking him out.

After that, start leaving the room with the door closed. Again, start out by leaving the room and immediately re-entering and taking him out and rewarding. Then slowly increase the amount of time that you leave him in his cage. This will teach the bird that being put in his cage doesn't mean he'll be left in there for hours.

Another thing you can do is (inconsistently, just now and then) when he's in his cage, randomly give him a treat. This will teach him that his cage is a good place where he can rest, eat, drink, and have the occasional treat.
 

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When I first got Kimchee she was like this. Was he ever hand tamed? If he was then he knows step up. What I did was take a perch off the cage and have him step up onto it then when he does give him a treat and say "good boy". After a while when he is used to it you can try you hand. Remember the more treats you give the happier he is to listen.
 

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Remember the more treats you give the happier he is to listen.
While that may be true, that's also not good. Just like with a dog or a little kid, you don't want to depend on the reward to get your tiel to listen to you.
 

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Well I've been trying both gloves and a dowel to get him out and he seems less afraid of the dowel so I'm trying to stick with that. He is letting me give him millet spray, so I have slowly shortened the distance between my hand and the tip of it and he is OK with that. Thank you all for the advice so far, it has really been helpful!
Besides the hands issue he is a really cute bird, he dances and sings and is content with exploring around the bed and testing out new toys (which I don't think he was given before). I'm really hoping that The introduction between him and my original cockatiel goes smoothly!
 
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