African Grey - The biter, the screamer ,the plucker and the tantrum thrower

by Faye
(Warren, OH)

Oliver the bird - Eclectus Parrot

Oliver the bird - Eclectus Parrot

Oliver the bird - Eclectus Parrot
Benny the bird - African Grey parrot

Yes, this used to describe my African Grey, Benny. Like people, they have likes, dislikes, hormonal times, fears and favorite people. They are extremely intelligent.

Birds are not trusting of people naturally. You have to earn their trust and respect. It takes a long time, esp. with some birds like African Greys. They are social by nature and don't like being alone.
Benny was about 3 months old when I got him and already had a bad attitude. He was like a snapping turtle. I never had a bird like this before and didn't know what to do with him. I took him to an Avian specialist for a check up. It's so very important to have your birdie checked annually. Birds hide illness and when you finally figure it out it can be too late.

Benny had a serious infection. He had it when I bought him. This illness contributed to his bad behavior. He was his usual bad self. His vet said this bird is full of himself and clearly in charge, he trained you well. He then threw a towel over him and turned him upside down for about a minute. You would have thought someone was killing him. I became alarmed. What a good, humble boy he was for about a week. He then reverted back to his bad self. I did the towel attitude adjustment worked. You have to be very careful doing this as you could seriously hurt your bird. The towel has to cover the entire bird, then scoop them up placing your hands over their wings. You could get bitten if you don't do it right. Do not squeeze, they usually freeze when they can't see. If you do get bitten, you'll see it was still worth it.
Now when Benny starts getting out of hand all I have to do is show him the towel; the sign of authority. I'm the head of this flock, is what it says to him.
You'll need to recognize certain times when the towel is not the answer. Breeding time birds become hormonal. They bite, scream become very moody. This is not attitude. This is nature and you need to respect this. This is not towel time.
Birds are very fearful. Other pets, toys, things in your home, a new perch. They are terrified if left outside in a cage if you aren't with them. They see the wild birds as predators. My friend's birdie died from fear on her porch after screaming and screaming. She just didn't know.
If you are not the orignal owner, you have no idea what has been done to your bird. It could have been abused, neglected, never let out of it's cage, ect. Take it slow.
I showered my parrot with love and attention. You would think this would be a good thing, but it wasn't. I had to go back to work and he didn't understand. He started plucking and I couldn't get him to stop no matter what I did. He's 9 years old now and still plucks some. Once they start it's hard to stop.
Here's the steps I
Want a healthy, happy birdie? Feed them the appropriate food and seed for their species, feed fresh fruits and veggies. Many foods are harmful and fatal to birds, including veggies. Unless you are positive what you're giving is safe,don't feed it to them. Look it up. There's lots of info on the web. Keep their cage clean, washing dishes with hot, soapy water daily. Keep them in a room where there is the most activity, not a bird room and not a kitchen. Keep their wings clipped. Give them a warm shower every week or two. Use a full spectrum lamp a few hours a day. Keep toys in their cage and rotate them once a month. At least one side of the cage needs to be against a wall. If you want to put them by a window, place a blanket on one side of the cage so the birdie feels safe. All windows need to have a blind or curtains on them. Birds fly into windows all the time. The can break their necks. Cover them at night. Know what's dangerous to your bird. Let them have time out of the cage daily. An hour or more is good. They need daily interaction. Human interaction from several people helped socialize my bird. This is not an easy thing to do. Some birds are just meant to be breeders. In this case I would recommend PARROT HOPE RESCUE. They know how to care for this type of bird.
Here I am 9 yrs. later.........Benny still throws fits. He uses his beak like a shovel and throws his food at me, while muttering under his breath and slamming his toys around in his cage when he's really mad. He pulls my hair and screams "ouch" if I've gone too long. He's still full of himself, but he knows I'm in charge. He's quite a character and I have so much fun with him. He's come a long way.
I got him a brother, Oliver, (an Eclectus parrot) who was a rescue bird. While they are jealous of each other they still are company to one another. Benny says "Oliver's a nusiance, he's the green monster." I think he understands what he's saying. I was told not to get the same breed by my vet.
In closing let me say this. Birds are messy, they scream, they bite, they need attention, they hide illness, they're expensive to care for and they're hard to figure out. Know this up front.
On the other hand, if you're willing to go the distance they are bright, fun, sweet and loving companions.
I am an animal lover. I've had all kinds of pets, but birdies are my passion. Benny is sometimes conversational. He calls me by name, waves with his foot and says Bye, bye, see you later on" when I leave the house, tells me what he wants and yells at Oliver for screeching. He's amazing. It's a three ring circus here and I love it.
If your looking for a birdie please go to PARROT HOPE RESCUE website. There are nearly 200 birds that need a home.

Comments for African Grey - The biter, the screamer ,the plucker and the tantrum thrower

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 14, 2011
African Grey - The biter, the screamer ,the plucker and the tantrum thrower
by: Linda

All any of us can say is Thank You, Thank You and more Thank You's!!! You have put in the time and effort to create your birds into good citizens and wonderful companions, and this is remarkable in a world of so many shortcuts and lack of commitment. We see this lack all the time, and your story has lifted all of us to a new place of joy and peace knowing that many will read your story and be as moved as I was.

Birds are a wonder, and even after half my life spent with them, I still learn something new everyday, so the learning never stops.

And, finally, YES your bird knows exactly what he is saying when he says it!!! It is amazing to hear this intelligent response for the first time because parrots have the rep of just repeating what they have heard which they do. What a lot of the books won't tell you, is in time, they learn how to put together short sentences and statements reflecting their attitude at that moment. I have two wild caught Amazons, and Eli has talked up a storm since I got them many years ago. My husband taught him to say "Bill's Right!", and was thrilled beyond measure when Eli one day said "Bill's Right" really loud and clear. That was the LAST time he ever heard that particular statement. Next time and thereafter it was, "Eli's Right!" spoken very loud and very clear. We just about hit the floor laughing!

For people new to parrots, never, ever under-estimate their high level of intelligence because to do so means you'll lose out on one of the most precious aspects of being owned by a parrot(s). Being able to REALLY communicate with them is beyond wonderful, and they teach us something new all the time. Be open to your birds because they are there to teach all of us lessons we could not learn any other way.

Thanks again and many Blessing to you and your family, from Ours!


Click here to add your own comments