Possessive over water dish

by Stephanie
(Pittsburgh, PA United States)

A sun conure I take care of when their owner is out of town has always tried to bite when you try to touch her water dish. Now she has begun flying across the room to attack if she sees you going near the water dish. This has only been happening for the past month.

She shares a cage with a senegal parrot. There are two food and water dishes in the cage. She does not seem to pay any attention to the bowl in the back and does not care if you touch it. What might be causing this behavior and how can we get her to stop the behavior.


Comments for Possessive over water dish

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May 06, 2011
by: miss millet

You will have to trust me on this one ret. biting.
Parrots taste with their tongues. When they bite you they are at the same time tasting what they are biting.

Freshie, my cockatiel, can separate my knuckles but decided not to after tasting Dawn for dishes on my finger. He was reluctant to step up after the (safe for birds, but tastes bad item) but, over time, was able to differentiate between this is when it tastes awful and this is when it tastes okay.

Editor's note: I removed what you use, because it is toxic to birds, and someone may accidentally kill their bird by using too much. Also, anything liquid that must be washed off the bird, can get in their feathers and cause other issues.

May 06, 2011
Possessive, pecking order or both?
by: Anonymous

Scarcity, fear or a variation to the pecking order. In captivity, pecking order can be hardwired (conditioned early developmental stages) and coping skills are created to meet the needs for survival are intensified in a cage. (*BF Skinner's? Rat sink population.)

I have conditioned my cockatiels by water/food dish removal in time intervals with the water bowl in sight. In the wild, food is not always present. In captivity it is unless you are at the bottom of the food chain. Assimilate the wild. It is in their DNA. With regular intervals of removal and re-insertion they begin to adapt to water bowl not here, water bowl here and trust, over time, displaces fear. with cockatiels, reassuring speech with up tones has softened many a determined will.

Test, at the very least, separation is being conditioned and the fear of separation bond is weakened,over time.

I had a millet revolution 1st thing in the morning with aggressive behaviors development. Removed the millet immediately and within site, just to give them something to think about. Let several days pass, presented millet at different intervals, am, pm and not at all. They will always love millett but now they are not attached to AM feedings and are associating aggressive behaviors with the removal of millet.

It takes time to condition the flock. But oh, how we love our flock!

Hope this helps

Miss Millet

Apr 28, 2011
Possessive over water dish
by: Linda

Most birds are possessive of their toys and dishes, so part of this is normal.

Next time you take care of the birds, make sure the owners have taken both into Avian Vet and had wings clipped to prevent flying attacks like you described. The 6 long primary flight feathers at the end of each wing is all that is necessary to trim, and it allows birds to glide gently to the ground instead of dropping like a rock and becoming hurt.

Talk to the owners and see if they have any information about this behavior. Birds who have had to share food and water dishes in the past can become over protective of their dishes even if there are multiple sets in cage. If this gets worse, they will need to consult with a parrot behaviorist to see how to get to the bottom of this and how to change the negative into positive behavior. If you are the petsitter, this is not your responsibility except to follow through with whatever they learn from a trained professional. Problem needs to be addressed as this kind of behavior can move into other areas of behavior and cause more problems.

Thanks for writing,

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