Bipolar lovebird?

by Julie
(Amsterdam, the Netherlands.)

Hi! I got my lovebird about 9 months ago. She was never socialized with humans, nor handfed. I realized that after about 3 months, she was used to me. I tried the whole training thing, but after about 4 months there was no progress after her eating food i was holding between my fingers. from her perch.

She got really really aggressive at some point during training. Biting me, not just when i offered her food, but also while she was eating what i was offering her and when i was cleaning her cage or filling her food/water bowl. Not just soft nibbling either (even though, now i look back at it, it did start like that), but eventually just really hard aggressive biting. I did some research on how to stop this behavior, giving no reaction and scolding her when she did, but not in a loud voice.

It didn't change anything. She just got worse.

It got too much for me to handle eventually and i felt like there was no hope left of her ever becoming tame. I cut off the training progress after 6,5 months.
A month and a half i spent keeping out of her way as much as possible, since she seemed to seriously hate me. I let her do her own thing, but she got bored of that, and even though she had lots of toys and is perfectly healthy, started screeching and begging for attention. I ignored her, cause I know screeching is a bad thing, and started paying more attention to her again when she was quiet. Offering her food, etc.

Then, all of a sudden, about 2 weeks ago, I was offering her food, and she didn't bite. Even more surprising, I turned my head the other way for about a second, and she put one foot on my finger! I was scared it was gonna be a one time thing, but it went on like this.

For the past 2 or so weeks I've been feeding her like that, and there's been so much progress. Her biting softened and she dared to softly headbutt my fingers. She still won't sit on my hand with two feet for more than 3 seconds, though.

I felt like it was going to go alright. She's positioned next to my bed (where I usually spend my time, studying or working on my art/chatting with people on facebook/skype), so she's a part of everything I do, and I spend multiple times a day feeding her from my hand for 10-15 minutes a time.

But the last few days it got worse again. She's biting me harder and harder again, even if I don't react. I know not to move my fingers while she's sitting on my hand, cause she's scared of any movement of them when she's close to them. These past 2 days, she's been biting my fingers out of literally nowhere, though. There was no movement, she got no reaction, she had food right in front of her, and toys to chew on, but she resorted to biting my fingers/hand.

Then today, while she was sitting on my hand, she went absolutely wild. She didn't even pay any attention to the food anymore (while it's her favorite and she never gets enough of it), just stood on my hand with one foot, other holding on to a bar of her cage, and just..bit me. No screaming or anything, she was completely silent. I didn't react at all, just calmly talked to her, until she jammed the (very sharp) tip of her beak in the area just above my fingernail and bit down on it like she's never done before. And I've had her bad bites before.

It hurt so bad that I pulled my hand back. I didn't scream, or anyting of the like, maybe just sort of went "MMHHMMH" while my mouth shut. I kept quiet for as much as I could. I pulled my hand back, and told her (calmly) not to do that anymore. I looked at my hand 5 seconds later and saw that my finger was bleeding, really bad. She's not even a year old, about 10 months, and she's never ever bit me till I bled. I was confused, upset, cried a bit because it was really frustrating to have your bird be more aggressive than ever before even though you've been making so much progress, and I've left her alone since then. Just changed her water about an hour later.

So that's my story. Does anyone, PLEASE, have advice for me? Am I not training her right? Should I be more consistent? Look at her angrier? Ignore her for a day when she does this, or try again a few hours later? Please answer this question

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May 06, 2013
Bird biting articles, not videos
by: Tracie

I don't have any videos on my Parrot Training page, only articles for you to read. It doesn't matter if your bird bites because it is scared or because it doesn't want to be held or touched. The training all works the same.

May 06, 2013
by: Julie

Thank you Tracie, but I have seen all these. However, I don't think my bird bites out of fear. She shows no particular body language when I move my fingers towards her, she makes no sounds, she just snaps. Sometimes earlier than other times. And when she's bitten me once, she tries REALLY hard to get to any other finger to bite.

It's not just a quick snip either, it's holding my fingers between her beak and not letting go and just biting down hard.

I have watched the videos, but not found a solution. I have searched all over the internet, in fact. ): That's why I'm here in the first place.

May 06, 2013
Training lovebirds and other birds
by: Tracie

I have some training and health articles at this Parrot Training page link that may be helpful to you.

May 06, 2013
Took her to the vet.
by: Julie

I took her to the vet, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with her. She was scared of him, but that was to be expected.

She dared to come out of the cage for the first time yesterday. She was cagebound all her life. I taught her to perch on a stick I'm holding. She'll happily jump on the stick and have me move her out of the cage. Loves it, in fact. She spend a bit of time playing yesterday, and just softly nibbled on my fingers. She didn't bite.

Today she went out exploring my room a bit. She played with the toys I put on my desk for her, and all over my bed. I removed all dangerous things, obviously.

She likes sitting on my head. Her wings aren't clipped, so she flew around at first, but then sat on my head all satisfied, preening me a lot. All she does is preen me.

But today, she tried to play with my eyebrow piercing. I moved my hand up to keep her away from there, telling her to stop in a firm voice. She bit my fingers and held them between her beak. Eventually she stopped biting them hard, and leaned down again to softly preen them.

However, every time I moved my fingers up to brush away a strand of my hear that was in front of my eyes, she'd try to attack them. She'd lean down and basically jump at them.

after sitting on my head for an hour and a half, she went to sit on my laptop screen. As I was typing she was following my fingers, and eventually jumped down onto my keyboard to chase them. I didn't move them, and she quietly sat next to them, and crawled up my shirt eventually to sit on my chest (i was half lying down)

I don't think she realizes my hands are a part of me. Shes not at all scared to attack them as soon as they move. She definitely has a phobia of them...any tips? ): It's hard cause I love having her out here sitting on my head/laptop screen just preening me or just generally being very social. I have no problem getting her off my head, as she happily perches the stick I have. I just wish she understood that my hands aren't here to hurt her! ):

May 04, 2013
Bipolar lovebird?
by: Linda

You are to be commended on fighting the good fight here. This is not breeding behavior because she is too young for that. It sounds like she may have something physical wrong that needs the attention of an Avian Vet. If she's not been examined by an Avian Vet, then that is where you need to start. Birds do not have Bipolar or other disorders of the brain unless they have brain damage from some physical issue that happened in the past.

Avian Vets are the only vets licensed and trained in bird care, and she needs to be thoroughly examined for infections and needs some blood work done to see how organs are functioning. She could have some birth defect that causes her pain from time to time. Her behavior is not normal on any scale I know of. Most untamed birds start out this way, but in time, they settle down as they begin to trust their new caretakers. You have done nothing except love her and attempt to show her she can trust you, so don't beat yourself up over this. Have her examined by avian vet to see if there is a physical cause for this and talk with them about all your concerns because they will be of some help to you.

In the meantime, understand that there is something wrong with your poor little bird, and she does not hate you. She evidently is not in control of herself when she gets like this, and hopefully avian vet will find a cause and help you to fix it.

I'm very happy you wrote in because you obviously love this little bird very much, and it warms my heart to see someone giving their all to their little feathered companions. Don't give up just yet until she's been examined and you've had a chance to talk with avian vet about the problem. Please write back in and let us know how everything is going.


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