aggressive male umbrella cockatoo

by dia battilla
(kapaa, hi, usa)

I would love any and all advice.
I rescue and rehome unwanted parrots.
2 years ago we rescued a young male umbrella.
he was very malnourished and skittish.
he appeared to have been harmed with sticks and brooms - for he would appear skittish then lunge and attack.
he was also kept in a dark closet with closed doors - because the people that owned him could not handle the noise:(
on top of that he was fed formula via syringe that was too hot. his sister was fed this first, which killed her:(
he was then fed, which resulted in surgery to remove the portion of his severely burned esophagus:(
a lot of trauma for such a little guy!
so that is his history.
his name is brother - but we prefer to call him Hannibal
after the character in silence of the lambs.
I love this Lil guy dearly.
he has overcome such great odds!
he eats voraciously now! loves to talk and dance! loves to shred boxes and toys!
my huge concern is his aggressive behavior.
after much work he began to step up on command.
this worked for about 4 months and then the attacks began.
he will act totally fine and then he will just turn into a lunging freakish lunatic.
one moment he is saying "I love you" and the next he is trying to dismember you finger.
after 3 rather bloody attacks and stitches, we stopped handling him.
I brought him into living area of the house so he could watch me interact with our well behaved flock and get more social stimulation.
all of my flock is out daily free from their cages for 4-6 hours.
brother I can not pick up, so I would open his play top cage and allow him to play indoors.
he will hop from cage to cage, walk around on the floor and play.
there are no cords in the room that he is in, also nothing that could fall on him.
recently he bagan to lunge and chase my husband and I.
two weeks ago he lunged at my husband and attacked his foot.
my husband shook his foot to get him to release, but brother only sunk his beak in deeper:(
my husband then tried to brush him off with his hand and brother severed off the tip of my husbands thumb!!!
please help!
we don't feel that we can rehome him.
I feel that any sane person would probably choose euthanasia over continued blood shed.
I know that he is around 6 and male. also that aggressive behavior is typical with umbrellas around this age.
we do have 7 other birds at home. 2 of them are young cockatoo females - a citron and a Moluccan.
could they be heightening his frenzy?
I have since moved him to an all male ward of the house.
he is with a 17 year old major Mitchell cokckatoo, a 15 yer old blue and gold macaw and a 27 year old miligold macaw.
he seems happy in his newer surroundings, and is letting me pet him and rub his feet.
I still let him play on the cage tops and he has been fine-but the move just happened on Sunday.
he has plenty of toys, eats Harrison's pellets and fresh fruit and veggies in the am and a wholesome warm meal at night.
any suggestions on my next move???
my avian vet suggested a pretty severe beak trim so that when he bites he feels pain.
I am concerned about causing him trauma, having him stressed out or lose interest in food.
but I am also not willing to lose my digits.
would love any and all help you can provide!
one million mahalos,
dia and "brother" aka Hannibal lector

Comments for aggressive male umbrella cockatoo

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Oct 11, 2013
umbrella cockatoo strikes again
by: Anonymous

brother had been making great progress up until 3 days ago. I could get him to step up, lovingly pet him and open his wings and scritch his head and body. he would allow me to play with his feet and touch his beak. I began trusting him again.
I would let my other birds outside to play and brother would enjoy the freedom of being loose as a single bird in the aviary.

he would go from cage to cage and then knock on the sliding door when he wanted to come out.
he would step up and come to hang with the other birds outdoors for several hours every night.
on Tuesday it all changed.
when I asked brother to step up - he did so gratuitously. as I approached his house he seemed fine. but then my german shepherd came into the room and was licking the bottom of his floor.
I thought he was bewildered and that is what caused the soon to come bloodshed.

before I could even blink - he latched on to the meaty part below my thumb and index finger.
he went deep and I sustained much swelling and bleeding. I was forced to call off work and couldn't use my right hand.

I chalked it up to him getting startled.
the next night, as I went to take him to his house, he latched down after 1 minutes.
same hand. more blood. crazy swelling.
now I just don't know what to do.

I can no longer live in fear of the next attack.
plus I have lost 3 days of work and am unable to clean te house, walk te dogs or work the horses.
so sad.

need advice on what my next steps should be.
he comes from an abusive background and is in the hormonal stage of life. I always thought we would just ride through this storm. now I don't think that is any longer an option.
help me.

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Aug 01, 2013
aggressive male umbrella cockatoo
by: Jennifer Chicoine

Its so sad to hear the abuse that exists for these incredible creatures. The world is full of exotic pets that people discard because they get bored or find them too much work ... but the unspeakable cruelty is something i can't understand. Very sad.
I tip my hat to you for the ones you rescue. Sounds like you've tried alot...

I ask if you've read any books on parrot behaviour? I would recommend Matti Sue Athan's Guide to a Well Behaved Parrot, she brings some insight into how birds perceive things and focuses alittle on aggression. Its a good reference even for experienced bird owners. Saving special treats for rewarding behaviour and understanding what can set them off. Just a suggestion. There are other books out there.

Also i agree with Linda....find another vet...
Discuss with your vet other birds they may know of that experience similar behaviours...connecting with other people who have had years of experience with birds. Talk to people. I have had discussions with people who have had birds all their lives and can offer some excellent advice. Retraining these birds i believe can be done...if you can recognize items, noises or human behaviour that sets him off you can make his life less stressful. I've had success and it takes alot of time and its a very slow process. He must learn to trust. Patience and perseverance i believe are your best tools. He is lucky to have you. Good luck.

Aug 01, 2013
aggressive umbrella cockatoo
by: dia battilla

aloha linda.
thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me:)
brother has had such a rough go. i feel it is my duty to just love and accept him.
he is currently doing great - for brother.
he is allowing me to pet him, play with his feet. he has stopped attacking and lunging, for the time being.
i understand that life is a journey...
i just pray that i can help him to be more trusting, accepting and less violent.
he is such a funny lil guy:)
never have i met a too that talks so much and so well!!! i just need to continue to love him - and i will.
i will also use caution around him.
i would love to hear from others that may have had aggression issues. would love to hear about the trials and tribulations and receive some next steps.
mahalo for your time.
brother's forever mum

Aug 01, 2013
aggressive male umbrella cockatoo
by: Linda

I'm so sorry to hear about this poor bird. People really need to know what they are doing before getting any kind of parrot and especially the large ones because this is what happens with ignorant, selfish people who never should have a bird in the first place. People, do your homework and when you think you are ready, do some more homework. Basically, only experienced bird handlers need to have the large birds. Lives are at stake here--the bird suffers and people will suffer because of your lack of commitment.Large parrots can KILL people and pets which makes this serious business!

In your case, I'm sorry to say it, but he is who he has been made to be, and he is not going to change much. In time, he may stop some of the aggression, but always be aware he can attack at any time. No, he cannot ever be rehomed unless people are experienced and I mean experienced and totally understand what and who he has been made to be. He will always be potentially very dangerous.There are good people out there, and one of them may just read about him. For their own safety, make sure they understand he is dangerous and that it is NOT his fault.Also make sure they have handled large birds for many years' or they cannot possibly be around him. Love, in this case, is not enough.

As for Avian vet's suggestion, he is a butcher so do not even think of following his advice. For one thing, the beak grows back and in the meantime, he would be in pain and it would cause a problem with eating.Sometimes euthanizing birds like this is the only answer though it breaks my heart to have to speak those words.
You or someone will have to spend years' with this bird and even then, he will replay his "abuse" tapes when least expected. This happens with ALL animals who have been systematically abused by people who need to be put in jail for the rest of their miserable lives.

Follow your heart, and keep your family safe at the same time. I suggest careful handling. Anything that he considers abuse like with the foot thing will trigger his aggression. He is SO pitiful, I can no longer see through my tears.

Keep in touch and we are here for you for emotional support. He is in need of love more than most birds, and he makes it hard to be loved. My prayers are with you and family.


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