February 1998 Magazine
I decided that Woodgie had come to expect, anticipate and maybe even enjoy the reaction he got from biting--it had just become his way with me. I had to break this pattern. Now, it is hard not to react to a sharp beak piercing your skin! So, I put on gloves for a week, and even if his bite penetrated the glove, I gave no reaction. I began taking him for short periods of time just to stroke and talk quietly, all the while with him gnawing away at my fingers. It has taken about 10 days, but our relationship is back!! Now, he is still a nippy little guy, as he is so territorial--mess with his spaces and it is likely you will get nipped. But overall, it is a complete turnaround.
If he bites when I feel it is inappropriate, I merely say "no" and put him down. As an ex-teacher, I suspected that if I drew upon my background of behavior modification, there was a chance to get control again of our relationship. Also, I limit shoulder time greatly--usually only when we are moving from one place to another and he is distracted by the movement and too busy wondering where we are going to mess with my face or ears.
I write this not to brag, but hopefully to illustrate that it CAN be done, with patience and perseverence. It only took about 10 days, and Woodgie was certainly worth that amount of effort. WE are the bosses (despite what the birds think ) and when there is a shift in behavior, we must look at ourselves as well as at the bird.
Winged Wisdom Note: Ann is a retired special education teacher living in Southeastern Virginia with her husband and son. Their first and third birds are tiels, and
Woodglet, AKA Woodgie-Woodgie-Woodgie, a maroon-bellied conure is their second bird. Ann was a petless child, so bird ownership is a special joy!
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