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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 19 year old bird, fairly certain it is a boy, has always been very friendly and loving, especially with me(definitely thought I was his mate at one point haha), but recently he has had a massive personality shift. He REALLY doesn't want to be closed in his cage and if he is out of the cage and I walk up to him he now assumes I am going to lock him in there and he will attack me if he thinks I'm going to lock him up, like fly-at-my-face-and-try-to-bite attack me.

For a long time I gave him free reign of the room even when I wasn't home, he never really explores new places since he's afraid of almost everything, so it was never a problem, but then I started seeing signs of him on my computer desk biting things that he shouldn't be biting(things both important to me and unhealthy for him), so I decided he can't be out when I'm not around anymore. He didn't love it, but he never attacked me! This "in the cage" lifestyle isn't new to him at this point, we have been doing it for about a year, so I'm not sure what new happened that made him hate staying in the cage so much more over the last few weeks, but today in particular he was BAD.

He doesn't like to make things easy for me in terms of training. I'm sure he has tons of extra energy to burn off, but I cant give him much for toys because he is terrified of almost every one I've ever given him, even if I leave it outside the cage for months first, he'll stay as far away from it as he possibly can while staying on top of the cage. He is also a ridiculously picky eater and doesn't take many treats, and he now associates the ones he will take, which he used to absolutely love, with me putting him in the cage, so I cant even give him treats now, I have no idea how to train this out of him if I cant even give him rewards.

I'm thinking of covering the areas in the room where I don't want him to go to with blankets when I'm not home so he will be afraid of them and see if letting him fly around the room when I'm not here calms him down if I don't lock him up for a few days, but I know that is only reinforcing the bad behavior, but I feel like I need to establish a starting point where he isn't gonna treat me like I'm a predictor he is trying to fend off and try to get in to go back to being my buddy a little bit

Anyone have any suggestions? I'm just hoping it isn't some sort of illness or anything, but it's hard to say, I know he is pretty old at this point...
 

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I have an older rescue male cockatiel named Spike and had some similar problems with him after a month or so of him being a very sweet bird. I did some research and found very good information here under Hormone Control Hormone control, and dealing with unwanted/unexpected... I went through the same thing of him not wanting to go in his cage and attacking me if he thought I was going to put him in it, flying at my face with talons up and beak open. Besides following a lot of the advice in that link (covering the cage, removing anything that triggers mating instincts, not letting him in cupboards or closets6), I knew that if I kept trying to exert control over him with the cage that we would just have a terrible relationship and neither of us would be happy. I decided to let him decide when he wants to go in for the night and I never mention the cage (like I never ask him if he's ready to go in it or ready for bed...that angers him). Surprisingly, this tactic works. Around sunset he makes little sounds and nudges my hand or arm and if I hold out my finger, he'll get on without biting and let me put him in his cage. I don't cover the cage right away, I wait until it's totally dark outside. I started this routine a few weeks ago and most of the time it works without any drama.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your description of the attack is exactly what mine did, very unpleasant!

The only problem I will end up having with what you did is then he will literally never get out of the cage. I leave for work at about 7 and get home around 6 and am really the only person ever with him, so in the winter it is dark when I leave and dark when I get home. I'll read through the one you posted too, but I have looked into hormone control a few times and so much of it revolves around light cycles, I just don't have the ability to control that with my work schedule, though as I am typing this it is occurring to me that I have smart lights in the room that I could schedule to turn on/off for specific time periods to make day and night, I'd just need to black out the windows for a while until things get better. Id also have to take his natural light away from him, which I'm sure he will hate, but might be worth it temporarily every so often if it prevents this

Honestly though, ever since posting this I have gone back to giving him free roam when I'm not home and just putting things he is afraid of in the areas I don't want him, and things have been going really, really well, i haven't closed the door a single time. I really think it was a combination of a little bit of hormones, a ton of pent up energy, and and extreme amount of frustration with being in the cage so much after having free roam for years. I think so much of that energy had built up that it just finally pushed things over the edge. it has gotten a noticeably better every day and today he was his old self, happily jumping between my shoulder and the back of my chair up to 9PM, which was around the time of the attack that triggered my initial post. At about that time I put him in the cage, but I did not close it, and he let me cover the cage with a blanket with no complaints, which I haven't tried to do since the last post, so I'm going to see how this works out.
 
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