Confused on the behavior of my Green Cheek Conure

by Mario
(New Bedford, MA)

Green Cheeked Conure

Green Cheeked Conure

I'm in love with the bird but at the same time very seldom I do think about getting rid of her.... because I don't understand certain behavior. Seldom I know but it is enough to discourage me. See why...

The bird loves me, always calls for me, kisses me, plays with me with her head nodding, and beak, and twitches left right, sorta like arm wrestling but with my finger and her beak.. If I place her on her play station and call her she flies to me, even when I don't call her she flies to me when she hears my voice.

The confusing part, if I lay down with her on my chest, she'll run up to me and kiss me, but sometimes when I go to pick her up she attacks my finger and draws blood!
Or if I set her down on the bed. The other day I was in the bathroom and set her down on the sink, while I changed because she wanted to be with me, I went to pick her up she attacked my finger. I said NO. I set her down and picked her up by saying UP, then my thumb being in the way she went for that and drew blood. Now I know they have a poor sense of smell, so maybe she could not sense it was me, but I was right in front of her, even got down to her level, I heard they have great eye sight, so how can she mistaken me? I wrote an article on here about six months ago relating to the same thing. I drew up my own conclusions that it had to be a mistaken finger. She acts this way when strangers or other family members with the exception of some, when they approach me, the biting that she demonstrates. So she must think "my" finger in certain cases is a strangers when she acts this way. Somehow she feels she needs to defend herself. WHY?

I'm told she has a small brain, but would like to give her more credit, but I think they really have a lack of intelligence in this manner. The behavior cannot be because it is night time, I usually find her the most cuddly at this time. I approach her cage and she just wants to jet out and be with me, I go to open the door and she's already latched onto it, then quickly walks up my arm to my shoulder and kisses me. It's so sweet.

The attacking in certain instances - Is this normal concure behavior? I'm being discouraged now and it saddens me!

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Jan 24, 2017
concerned my conure is being hurt while I am at work
by: Anonymous

My 8 month old male conure is acting strange. I have to leave him home when I go to work. i keep him in his cage to the best of my knowledge at work but some of the people in my rental place are not so nice and I have concerns he is being abused. How can I tell the difference between being a social bird without the social behavior he needs and him being damaged?

Jan 24, 2017
1 yr old conure
by: Anonymous

I have had to leave my 1 yr old conure at home while I go to work with people she doesn't know and some who are afraid of birds. She is now so strange. she stays in her cage to the best of my knowledge but I am concerned someone is hurting him. He has changed so much. Anyone have any ideas?

Jan 14, 2017
nasty bird
by: j

i have had our gcc for about 6 months now she just turned 2 we are the 4th owners - she hates everyone & bites to draw blood every time you try to play with her - she will step up - BUT WILL NOT LET US HOLD HER in anyway will attack and re-attack - husband hates her - we need some help my hands look like minced meat - now she tries to bite in places I have scabs healing - HELP
kiwi is just getting out of control

Editor's note: Parrot Training page

Dec 05, 2016
I adore my GCC
by: Lorri Ann

I never in a million years would have thought I could love a bird!!! OK, enough of that, my Charlie behaves just like all of the descriptions above however there is no fear of hands, mine or hubby's, so I am not sure about that. He is very attached to me, wants to be attached to me at all times but he also digs my husband, he just doesn't kiss my husband, so no real advice here other than they are just like us...different in their own ways.

Jun 25, 2016
by: Anonymous

I have a female GCC. She's very affectionate, likes to finger wrestle. Some of it is dominance behavior. If she bites too hard, then I pin her down and gently pinch the feathers behind her neck to let her know who's boss. She might let out a little squawk. Then I let go and we make up. Not suggesting you really hurt the bird. That will cause them to become fearful and avoid you. Just understand that it's normal behavior for them.

Oct 10, 2015
by: Dennis

My green cheek con you're used to bite but I just follow the simple instructions I have read. When he would bite I would put him in his cage. Sometimes I would shake him off my finger. He seem to hate the cage the worst. I also would say no very sternly and point my finger at him. He never bites me now, but sometimes he will try to bite someone else. I follow the same instructions, but if I stand beside them and say no, you be good, he obeys. Sometimes his biting met that he wanted me to pet him, so we have worked to where I allow gentle nibbling and then I pet him. He's got it figured out pretty well and he's only three months now. Just to note, I got him at 10 weeks old.

Sep 07, 2015
Green Cheeks and biting
by: Anonymous

My green cheek is almost 4 and I got her as a hand reared baby. My bird started biting about 4 months after I got her. Part of it was her and most of the problem was how I handled it. I followed some bad advice from various bird websites. I also realized that each bird is different and not all techniques work equally well with all birds. It took me 3 years to finally figure my bird out. The biggest thing for me was to do a better job of reading her body language(very tricky sometimes) and figuring out what triggers the biting. BTW, having a flighted bird that can follow you throughout your home is not "spoiling" your bird. Bird proof your home and know your bird.

Dec 22, 2014
by: dania

i read that it's probably just because she is afraid of hands , because natrually green cheek conures or probably any bird are afraid of hands!

Oct 29, 2013
Need Help with Jenday
by: Tara

Our sweet and loving little jenday has recently started attacking anyone holding paper or a book. He will fly across the room and swoop and bite. Is it breeding season(USA, Fall)? He has become way too attached to me and tries to hump my hand or foot. He doesn't show any interest in our female Nanday. He started attacking my 19 year old daughter today while she was holding a computer tablet (unsure if this is why). I firmly say "no" and put him in his cage and cover it with a blanket because he will scream if he sees me. As soon as I let him out he did exactly the same thing so is in "lock-up" again. We could never part with him. We got him from a bird rescue about a year ago. I really don't want to have to trim his wings. They were when we got him but he seemed to be adjusting fine to having flight until recently. Does anyone have any insights or suggestions?

Editor's note: Parrot Training page In the future if you want people to see and answer, you need to post a question, not an answer here to another question, on our Parrot Questions page.

Nov 08, 2011
Attack of the ninja bird
by: Anonymous

My little love, Cheeky, absolutely FREAKS out when I try to pick her up or touch her whie my nails are painted. She usually loves to go everywhere with me. But my painted finger ever comes anywhere near her, she attacks. She puffs up, her tai feathers fan out, she lunges and latches on like a sharp little clothespin. It hurts! And it's frustrating. I don't know how to get her over it. I've tried being gentle to show her they're just my fingers (the same fingers she loves to wrestle with, get preened by, and get good head and neck scratches from). I've tried forcing her to do ladder steps (which, by the way doesn't work with her at all). I just don't know what else to do besides never get my nails done, which seems a little ridiculous. Meh. Idk.

May 31, 2011
Bruce Dickenson Angry Bird
by: Lulu

Hi I recently moved to Australia to join my husband. He had recently got a green cheek only 3 months before I arrived. We were hoping since the bird was hand reared and took to my husband and people so well that it would be the same with me. Bruce (our bird) loves to sit in the hood of my husband's hoodie while he works on the computer and will jibber away quietly. He speaks alot actually his phrases are "No" "What are you doing" and "What are you talking about?" and he makes really loud kissing noises. When I arrived he took to me very well. Actually too well to be honest. If I am in the room he ignores my husband now. I have even taught him a few more words "Yes" (because he kept saying no to me)and "What do you mean?" But the draw back is how much he likes me because he force grooms me, and worse is he bites me if I have anything in my hand. Or if I am on my laptop he will attack the lap top and he HATES my ipod touch with a passion!
It's like anything that will distract me EVEN if he isn't paying attention to me at the time but he suddenly notices. He will fly down and bite me with different degrees of punishment to fit the crime. If I release what I have quickly it is a quick nip. If I still have it it is a long bite and he wont let go till I drop it.
Last night I was cooking and my husband had had him but when he walked in Bruce wanted to be with me. With these birds being so accident prone I demanded my husband take him away till everything that could hurt him was off.
When Bruce was back with me he stalked down my arm and bit me till he drew blood. I was devastaded and hurt because he scared me so bad I now jump each time I see he is mad.
I have so few people I know here in Australia that I counted on Bruce for comfort. I can't stop jumping or pushing the bird away when I think he is going to bite me.
There is no way we want to give our baby away, I just need to find away to assert myself to the bird without hurting or scaring him. Or am I a done deal scardy cat?

Editor's note: Please see our Parrot Training page for help. You answered this person's question with your own question. Please post your questions as new questions.

Nov 21, 2010
more for you
by: Anonymous

Don't worry. My GCC does this all of the time. We have been together for over a year and we have a very intimate relationship. I am almost as close to my husband as I am with Titus my GCC. Titus and I do everything together. I mean EVERYTHING. I have purposely made him a one human bird and he is just that. However, he seems to only bite me. In fact among all of the sweet little loving things that he does, he tends to chew up my fingers, draw blood, maime my face, chew on my lips, pull off my hair and nails, etc. I guess that is what these birds do. I love him all as well for what he is.

Oct 14, 2010
Biting you when strangers come around...
by: Mango's Mom, One More Thing

Mango also suffers from this. I think this has to do with their behavior in the wild as I read somewhere once and makes sense to me.

In the wild, birds will bite each other to warn away from danger - they simply get a mouthful of feathers and the bird that they bite feels a tug.

I think a jealous bird ends up biting us in an effort to herd us away from threats, danger, or uncomfortable situations (or maybe out of pure jealousy). Again, its just something to understand and work around - I know that when people come over I need to put Mango in his cage until he settles down and gets used to the situation.

FYI: I has taken me 2.5 years of having by boyfriend come over and feed him special treats for Mango to be able to safely sit with us on the couch and watch TV. My boyfriend was so proud of himself the other day when Mango actually preened his arm hair for about 60 seconds!

Oct 14, 2010
I get it!
by: LisaNinon, Mango's Mom

I have a white-bellied caique who I know adores me (I get my hair, cheek, and neck preened regularly, get a good gagging when I have been away, and when I leave the room I hear a plaintive whistle that means "Mom, come get me, I don't want to be in the livingroom alone").

But sometimes he goes all "Mr Hyde" on me (a/k/a "Psycho Killer")... it took me a long time to identify the cause. I realized that if my hand came at him too quickly or from his peripheral vision, I would probably get a serious bite and then he would be so emotionally worked up about the situation of biting me and my somewhat excited response (it does hurt), that its likely I would be bitten again.

That may not be the specific situation for your bird - but, if you find there are simply certain things that your parrot doesn't like (your note about laying down resulting in a bite), just stop doing whatever it is - oh, and don't take it personally :)

Oct 04, 2010
by: mario

hi linda -
thank you for taking the time to write.
your site is amazing.
it may seem like the impression that i am giving isn't that good. it is normal for us to make assumptions based on just the data we have. i do it. however, it is not entirely accurate. the bird, my baby, is not going to a foster home. i was just upset. the bird is fine and way too lovable. i have to agree with the anonymous writer that gave his her opinion. the bird only acted this way twice in six months and in situations that she was not use to being around. the vet said the bird was exceeding in health! i got an a+ report. last night i walked up to her cage and made kissing noises in the dark, she knew it was me right away and i opened the door, she hopped on and kissed me (making kissing noises back) and hopped back to her perch content now. this morning before sunrise, she was up chirping a bit because she heard me, and i was greeted by her with many kisses (and kissing noises). the bird is actually not spoiled, she never flies around the house, when the door is open she is well behaved, she only sits at her door, and sometimes rises to the top of her cage, but usually just at the door where she swings her bell that hangs close by. sometimes i walk away and she flies to me, but she recently learned how to stay. she comes on command btw. yeah your right, i don't know much about parrot behavior. was it obvious? i do know how to care for birds though. i think people on this site don't get much credit where credit is due. i see that you seem to be "too direct" in responding rather than "direct". people that take the time to write here and make the site what it is deserve some credit and respect, we are not school boys or school girls. rather than tell people they need to clip their birds wings and go to a vet all the time, it would be nice to get an answer on what the person was asking for once.
overall the site is great! i dont want to offend you so please remove this article in its entirety if i have offended you, i appologize.
best regards

Editor's note: This is not Linda's site. She is answers questions just like you. She is a nice reader that loves to help people with their birds. We suggest people take potentially sick birds to an avian vet, because sick birds die quickly.

Sep 29, 2010
Green Cheeks
by: Anonymous

I hear a lot of stories that Conures for no reason will bite back. It seems yours is lovable and kind, and when they tend to bite back it is because the bird for some reason, that we cannot comprehend sometimes as to why, will feel that they are having to defend themselves, and bite. It seems to me when they do this they see your there but are so distracted with themselves having to be in a defend mode or they are scared for whatever reason, that the object in front of them becomes something else and not the owners finger. It's like their mind has too many things going on at once now and they freak out. It helps when this happens to get the birds attention or even walk away and come back, and then talk to the bird and say for example, UP, a few times, place your finger in front of the bird and allow the bird to climb up and then walk to another part of the house where the bird is most content and always appears friendly. Using the UP command as you stated is great because that causes the bird to refocus and the bird will remember there is no harm when you are using this command. I find it too that by training the bird by taking her back to where the incident occurred, and repeating the UP command, allows the bird to become use to the new area say the bathroom in your case, and you'll notice less biting in the future. This goes for any other times the bird bites. It seems she does this in areas where she does not get much familiarity with. Your bird sounds like she loves you and she does. Don't take those little mishaps to heart, birds do think differently than us, but do have this in common, they love to be loved and to experience things with their owners - the attention getters they are! These little guys are amazing that they do understand commands and react to them!

Sep 29, 2010
My conure too
by: Laura

I can relate. I've had my cinammon green cheek conure for about three months. His nick name at the bird store was "Nipper" because that's what he did/does alot. They thought he was going to end up as a "store bird" because of this. But, oh no, I had to step in & take this Chico Chiquito home. He's sweet & wants to be w/ me all the time. As conures go, he's typical, thinking all perches, playstands food dishes are his. His wings were clipped, thinking that would help. It did, but he can still get around, which is really what I wanted (so he can get away fr the bigger bird- not that he'd stand down to any of them!)
I'm lucky for now because his bite doesn't draw blood (yet).
He seems to understand "time out" & being put back in his cage for a few minutes after biting.
Conures seem to love to chew, so to play finger wrestle w/ your bird one minute, then get upset at a bite another minute gets a bird confused. I have some birds that can bite nicely, but not all of them. Your bird may get excited quickly & not know how to bite nicely. Mine doesn't.
I love my little Chico, but, like you, my nerves & fingers can't take it, so the time out is really for both of us.
Sounds silly, but maybe getting a chew toy necklace for you, for him to hang off of & play w/ may help. Good luck.

Sep 28, 2010
Confused on the behavior of my Green Cheek Conure
by: Linda

First of all, your bird sounds spoiled! She needs to have limits set, and you can start by putting her in her cage when you are in the bathroom doing something. Houses are dangerous for birds, and she does not need to be flying all over. Next time she goes to Avian Vet, have the 6 long primary feathers at the end of each wing clipped. There is NO need to clip up any higher as this causes chronic pain and cripples bird. With just the primaries clipped, she will gently glide down to the floor, and then can be picked up either with your finger or a small perch. Start using the shorter perch to pick her up now, and then make appointment with Avian Vet to make sure she is not sick. Sick birds will become aggressive for no reason, as they dont' feel well.

Birds have roughly the emotional and mental development of a 4-5 year old human child, so your bird is not dumb in way form or fashion. They are the most intelligent pets on the planet, and will play you like a fine violin if allowed. There are some training materials on this site, and after her trip to the vet, you may wish to look at them. This sounds like you don't understand parrot behavior and need to start learning more about parrots in general and your conure in particular. They are the great manipulators, highly intelligent, hear well, see even better and can run their humans around in circles if allowed to do so.My Amazons laugh when I become upset with them, so they actually enjoy our getting upset sometimes.

There is no reason to be thinking of getting rid of her, because she has no where to go. Until she is a well-trained birdy citizen, don't even think of that. Birds with behavior problems end up in abusive/neglectful homes and suffer much actual physical pain and lonliness until they are lucky enough to be killed by these monsters or starve to death or die from a neglected illness.

This paragraph is for any and everyone reading this: Let "getting rid of your bird" be the last thing you ever think of. You made a commitment to love and care for bird when you brought it home, so get busy doing just that. Birds are not toys, not disposable, and they suffer in agony and lonliness exactly the same as we do. They feel the full gamut of emotions we feel. Birds, like children, will sometimes be little pests and have behavioral issues. It is your and my job to work on those problems until we have a bird who behaves as we wish. Birds are not machines who take orders from people who do not know what they are doing. They learn from repetition with people they love and trust. Anytime we make a commitment to anyone or anything, there will be problems arise that test these commitments. Hold fast to your commitments, and be careful about what and who you commit to. Take a stand for a well-behaved pet and stay centered in the commitment. You'll be surprised at the results!


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