Help!!! My bird loves my husband but hates me?
(Silver Spring, MD, US)
I'm a fairly new parrot owner. I have never had a parrot before. My husband got me a pineapple green cheek conure on Nov. 2nd. His coworker found the little bird in her yard and after putting up flyers in the neighbourhood and a long waiting, nobody came to claim the little guy/girl and she can't take care of a parrot, so my husband took him/her home since I have always wanted a bird. We didn't know anything about our little conure. But based on the naughty behaviour, I assumed it's a boy (I know it's not fair to make the assumption..). We named him Birdy.
Since I'm a very new owner, so I have a lot of questions. Mostly about Birdy's behaviour. I lot of the advice I looked up online doesn't seem to apply to our situation. So it will probably turn into a very lengthy Birdy behaviour description. Please bear with me.
Birdy very quickly became very friendly, cuddly and intimate with my husband. Not only is my husband the only person he doesn't bite, he is totally comfortable with my husband handling him however he wants to, such as petting, head scratching, snuggling, kissing, etc. But he is very aggressive with me and he hates my hands and fingers especially. Whenever my hand or finger is close, he is in crazy attack mode and it draws blood every time.
I looked online and also watched a lot of YouTube video for advice, and I have some theories as to why he hates my hands and fingers so much: 1. when I first tried to get him to step up on my finger, he was reaching out to bite a little bit to test the stability of my hand/finger and I got scared and pulled away, it might have repeatedly given him the impression that my hand is not trustworthy; 2. when he bit my hand I also tried the advice of pushing gently into the bite and I might have hurt him or he might have seen that action as aggression; 3. he would keep biting me even when he was on my hand or arm, so I tried the twisting finger/hand/arm advice, it might have reinforced his belief that my finger/hand/arm is unstable. I think these might be the reason why he is in crazy attack mode whenever my finger/hand is close. He would also bite my face if I try to kiss him. And he would chase me away when he is in our bed with us or when he is on the floor with me. In the bed, he would try to chase me away by trying to bite me on wherever he can get a hold of, on the floor, he chases me away by trying to bite my feet.
I also read and heard that a lot of parrots are one-person bird, meaning once they picked out their favourite person they will ignore or become very hostile to other people. So it could be that he just doesn't like me since he picked out my husband to be his favourite.
He is super needy and clingy. But the weird thing is, he is totally OK being in the same room with me alone even when my husband walks away. We put his cage in the living room, and he likes hanging out on top of his cage where the food and water is, as long as he can see at least one of us. When me and my husband are both present, he would obviously choose my husband. And when we both walk away at the same time, he would choose to fly onto my husband's shoulder, not mine. But if my husband walked out of his sight, to my surprise, he won't follow my husband as long as I'm there with him. But as soon as I walked out of his sight too, he would immediately follow me and land on my shoulder. That's how clingy he is. But within 5 seconds, he will start biting my shoulder and neck, again it draws blood every time. My shoulders and neck are covered with little holes he dug with his little beak.
Also whenever I'm in the same room with him alone, even if my husband is just in the bedroom (he knows how to fly to the bedroom), and I'm just in front of my computer minding my own business, he would keep flying on my shoulder and start biting me within 5 seconds. I keep carrying him back to the top of his cage, and he would keep flying back on my shoulder within 3 minutes. Sometimes he even refuses to go back to the top of his cage by grabbing my shoulder very tightly and biting it. I used my scarf to try to get him off once and I think I really scared him. I thought he would never come back to my shoulder again based on how scared he was, but he flew back to my shoulder within 5 minute...
I thought about start taming him to be more friendly with me, especially to eliminate the biting. But I couldn't figure out a good reward since he is very stubborn and would not eat other food except for certain kinds of seeds. I know this since I'm the one feeding him. His favourite is safflower seeds and dried fruits. He would dump the dried fruit in the water. Since he doesn't like chunks, even very small chunks, I usually cut his dried fruit from the size of a fingernail into very tiny pieces. His second favourite is millet. He would throw the pellets out of his bowl and ignore other things in there. He doesn't even like any nuts or hulled sunflower seeds. He refuses to eat any fruits or vegetables, unless I eat in front of him. It can be literally the same piece of fruit, if I put it in his bowl, he won't touch it, but if I'm eating it, he would try to snatch it from me. So to get him to eat a little fruit and veggie, I would eat in front of him, leave some for him and then let him eat the rest off my plate. I know it's probably not a good habit, but it's the only way so far.
So I can't use any treat to train or tame him so far since the only food he is interested in is his main food source. Another big problem with using treat to tame him is that he would not eat off my finger. Whenever I try to feed him something he like with my finger, even his favourite dried fruit, he would only focus on biting my finger and totally ignore his favourite food. He would even bite my husband if he tries to feed him with his hand or finger. And even when I let him eat fruit off my plate, he would spend half of the time biting the plate and sometimes the fork.
He doesn't like any toys either. We never plays with the toys we bought him. It seems that he is not interested in anything but his favourite food and my husband's attention.
Some other problems include:
He hates being inside his cage. He screams every time he is in there and he can't wait to get out (my husband and I have regular full-time jobs, so he would be in the cage from 6:30 am to 4:00 pm during weekdays). Whenever I open the door of his cage, he jumps out onto his door. But if I try to help him get out, he would bite me.
He hates noise. He would cream at what he thinks is the source of the noise. He also screams at the pantry and the wall behind his cage a lot.
He loves staying on top of our fridge, it might be because it is high up and bright up there.
He loves the mirror in the shower, but he would keep smashing his beak on there. He is scared of the toy mirror I got him.
He bobs his head up and down a lot.
His eye color makes it really hard to tell if he is pinning his eyes sometimes. So it makes a little harder to read if he is actually happy sometimes. I heard eye pinning can mean they are happy.
Forgive me for this lengthy conure behaviour description (as I suspected this will turn into, sorry about that). Like I mentioned in the beginning, most of the information and advice I looked up online and youtube doesn't really apply to our Birdy. First I really want to understand why he does those things and I would also really like to get some advice specific to his unique behaviours. I love him so much. So if I have hurt him in any way, I would like to know and get some advice on how to rebuild our relationship to a positive one. To be honest, even if he never loves me the same way he loves my husband, I would love him just as much. But more importantly, I want him to be happy. Since my husband can't always spend time with him and give him the attention he wants, so if he can warm up to me without biting me or hating me, he would have another person who can give him lots of attention. I think it would really make him even happier.