Dive bombing

Posted By: Mothra's Mom

Dive bombing - 07/21/08 06:55 PM

Any advice on what to do about a dive bombing U2? Mothra Sue dive bombs me but she never bites---she flies to my shoulder, climbs around, and tries to eat whatever I'm holding. If I don't want her on me I have to repeatedly put her back on her play gym and distract her with a toy or a treat to keep her occupied. Sometimes I put her in her cage. I'm not as concerned with her dive bombing me (because she doesn't hurt me) as with her dive bombing other people.

Mothra dive bombs visitors and often nips them on the ears. Usually the bites aren't serious and don't break the skin but my guests never know how to respond and they become very afraid of her. I've done research and I still don't know what to tell people to do in response. I always end up going to get her and usually put her in her cage. I'm sure that's reinforcing the negative behavior but I don't know what else to do when my guest is afraid, crouched over, and protecting their head. It's my understanding that in a home setting where a bird is attacking a family member that person should become the primary caretaker in order to improve their relationship. However I don't know how that would work when the person is just visiting.

This is a difficult problem when I have houseguests staying overnight for days at a time many times throughout the year. I don't want to keep her isolated, I don't want my guests hiding in another room, and I won't consider clipping her wings because she loves to fly and that would be very cruel to take that away and would probably make her more aggressive, not less.

In October I'll only have had Mothra for two years, and she's barely four years old so I'm not sure if she's even hormonal yet. I adopted her from an older woman who didn't do much more with her than cuddle her (and chain smoke...). Maybe Mothra is just testing her boundaries? She certainly knows that I don't know how to handle this particular behavior. Your help is greatly appreciated---even suggestions on what to search for in the forum. I looked up "attack" and "dive bomb" and didn't find anything specifically related to my problem.

Thanks again on behalf of me and Mothra Sue!
Posted By: wishfull

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 07:06 PM

My budgie Philip does this to me constantly. What I do when Ive had enough is immediately raise my hand, palm towards him, fingers spread as he comes diving in to ambush me again. It usually takes to or three times for him to get the message, but I think the sudden distraction between him and his landing pad (me) is what makes him swerve away. I also duck down as I do it, because the sudden 'drop away' action makes him think twice as well. Am not sure if this is a safe practice with a cockatoo tho, I guess only trial and error, and/or imput from others here will answer that one!
Posted By: mandymmr

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 07:09 PM

I suggest clipping his wings. That way you are not only protecting yourself and visitors, but your too as well.
Posted By: Ldybyrd

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 07:32 PM

I agree with Mandy. Wing clipping sounds like a great idea. Perhaps,when you have guests removing your darling from the situation.

My M2, Gabby, has to go to his room when guests come. He becomes very loud and can get nippy and so I try to stop the behavior before it happens. He does complain and contact call for us in his room while they are there but it is easier on the ears with him in his room and the door closed.
Posted By: precioustoos

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 07:43 PM

Thanks for starting this thread, Mothra's Mom. I have a similar situation. I have a Quaker that is "visiting" for a moth or so due my father's health concerns. Isaac has decided that I am his mate and is dive-bombing everyone that comes into the house. He also dive bombs my little dog if he sees me holding it! And he's drawing blood every time. One daughter is especially afraid of him, since she was recently attacked and bitten by a bat and is undergoing the very painful series of rabies shots. My grandkids are all afraid to come to my house while he's there. I can't clip his wings, since he isn't even mine!! I'll be watching to see what advice you are given, since it might help me, too!
Posted By: Mothra's Mom

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 07:44 PM

Thank you all for your responses smile I'm still not convinced about wing clipping. I REALLY don't want to take flight away from her and I'm really not considering it. From what I've learned about birds, it's the ones who can't fly away when they're afraid who are the most aggressive (i.e. the ones with clipped wings or who are cage bound). Also, Mothra takes daily flights around the living room and sometimes shrieks for joy as she's flying---I wouldn't take that away from her!

I've been keeping her in her own room when I have people over, but that takes out-of-cage time away from her. Any ideas on how my guests can behave differently to keep her from dive bombing? I, personally, sometimes resort to waving my hands in the air when I really don't want her on me, but I feel that is confusing and scary to her and that there must be a better way to discourage her.

If the answer is to never, ever let her fly to anyone's shoulder and stay there, then 1) what's the best way to prevent a bird from landing on your shoulder; and 2) if she does manage to land there, anyway, what should be done (and by whom)? I would do any technique consistently if I feel it's the right response and in the best interests of Mothra.

Thanks again smile
Posted By: Ketrel

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 07:50 PM

If she is a danger to you or your company it may be best to get her clipped. Are your guests doing something to encourage the behavior? If so tell them to stop I cant really think of a way for them to discourage it other then not presenting a steady place to land. And to do that they'd need to dip and weave and move around a bunch which really isnt realistic is it?

If her out of cage time is going to suffer any way because she isn't clipped. Wouldn't it be better to have her clipped and allow her to be outside more? It just seems like she could really hurt herself or some one. If some one isnt a bird person and she lands on them the person could freak out and hit or push her off.
Posted By: mandymmr

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 07:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Mothra's Mom
From what I've learned about birds, it's the ones who can't fly away when they're afraid who are the most aggressive (i.e. the ones with clipped wings or who are cage bound).

This is not true. Although my Ellie is aggressive right now (hormonal) she isn't any other time, and she is a wing mutilator. She has split all her shafts on her wings, and thus she has none. You couldn't find a sweeter too than Ellie (besides hormonal season) and she is cage bound/can't fly.

Wing clipping isn't necessarily mean. I get my B&g wings clipped. I clip to protect them and their safety. Some may disagree, but I would rather them be safe. How many times you hear of them flying into windows, or out the door, or attacking people. IMO it only take's on silly person to walk in your house and your too to "dive bomb & nip them" for them to turn around a sue! Yes it is just like having a dog biting someone!

But that is my opinion and fears.

I find it also a good tool for training purposes.
Posted By: Birdiemommy

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 08:09 PM

I don't let my birds out with guests or any stranger other than on my arm and in my control. This is a safety issue for both the bird and my guests. Birds can do great damage to a person (which many of us around here know, even from our own birds) and when they are around strangers there can be fear on the bird's part as well as the guests. It's the same thing as having a dog jumping on guests and a dog is a lot more domesticated than a bird. And I would never dream of letting my dogs jump on guests.

Wing clipping is a personal decision and I think it totally depends on the bird. My young macaw flaps her wings all the time but hasn't tried to fly. My older bird never tries to fly unless startled. If the young one flies around a lot as it gets older I might consider clipping her just as a safety issue because I want to be able to take her out of the bird room. The birds are in their own room, outside of cages but they have a large window to see into the family room so I don't have to worry about putting them in a cage unless I'm gone and someone else has to feed them.
Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 10:06 PM

Mothras mom. You are getting some things confused. It sounds to me like you have a very well adjusted and confident, fully flighted bird. I find that fabulous.

You have a reckless teenager who is rebelling because they have never been told no or had any boundaries. The teenager has been out creating hell. What do you do? You ground him and take away privileges till he comes to his senses.

The bird needs to be taken down a notch. The bird knows how to fly. He is not going to forget. Clipping the wings is temporary. This is where the dominance argument comes in. There is no dominance by anyone. You must provide LEADERSHIP with rules and respect. Proper time outs for bad behavior is warranted. The teenager is not allowed to have the car for a while.

In the wild if there is a flock of birds. One of them will be bigger, faster, smarter than the rest. He always knows where the good food is. He protects the flock. He shows confidence and doesn't take guff from anyone in the flock. Young birds learn from him. Adolescents aspire to be him. He does not dominate them. He leads them by example. They naturally want to follow him. He has earned the position.

You put a group of people together for a period of time and make them survive on their own. Someone will naturally rise as the leader through their actions. The rest will naturally start to follow that persons lead.

In other words. Become the "leader".
Posted By: Lanie

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 10:11 PM

Two things that I would be really worried about if I were you....

One of your guests (like Abe mentioned) could react, without thinking and literally throw your bird into the wall or hard onto the floor, she could be badly injured or killed. Your bird could bite someone's eye or severely anywhere on the face and cause permanent damage to your guest. My Goffin is clipped and he flew/jumped off of his T-Stand and bit my neighbor on the ear bad enough to make it bleed. He isn't allowed out when guests are in the house anymore. For his safety and my friends'. If you really feel that you can't clip her wings (a lot of people fell really strongly about this, I understand), you'll have to keep her away from house guests. You may have to spend more time in the bird room with her to make sure she gets enough attention. My Goffin is a handful. There is no way I could handle him if he were flighted. Your bird is a lot bigger. Best of luck for a happy outcome for all concerned. smile
Posted By: Ketrel

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 10:34 PM

I brought Peanut with me to my local bird store yesterday while checking out peanut leaped from my arm to the guy in front of me. If Peanut had bitten him or made him bleed... it probably would have ended pretty badly for both of us...
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 10:38 PM

Cassie is fully flighted and will occasionally dive bomb. If she does she gets a time out in the cage. Once now is usually enough to deter her from doing it again. When I have company over Cassie is in her cage, especially if there are multiple people.
When she is in one of her moods I put my hand over my head with my arm outstretched so that she can land safely on my hand. Waving your arms in the air will confuse and frighten. It takes some practice to intercept the dive but you can get used to it. I personally would feel that keeping her away from company is safer for all involved. Clipping is a personal choice and a lot of thought needs to be put into it. The last time I had Cassie clipped she became severely depressed for a couple of days until she realized that she could still fly. I swore that I would never put her through that again. She wasn't eating, playing or vocalizing. All she wanted to do was sit in my lap and cuddle. It was very sad. She's a much happier and healthier bird being able to fly. But again this is a personal choice that only you should make. Best of luck. Nancy
Posted By: Mothra's Mom

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 11:05 PM

It sounds like there's not much I can do to keep Mothra from flying onto people, except always immediately put her in her cage for a time out and/or clip her wings. The intercept trick sounds like a great idea (to have her land on my hand instead of my shoulder) and I will try it---she's usually so close, though, when she starts to fly that I would have very little time to intercept her.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 11:41 PM

Watch her body language. You can figure out when she is going to take off, just takes some getting used to. There are subtle signs. Nancy
Posted By: Ketrel

Re: Dive bombing - 07/21/08 11:42 PM

"she's usually so close, though, when she starts to fly that I would have very little time to intercept her."

Trying to intercept her, you may hurt her.
Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 01:40 AM

Because you have not assumed the role of leader of the flock. The position was left open. Your bird has assumed the position because it was there. Flocks need a leader. Your not the leader. Like it or not.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 01:56 AM

John that's a bit harsh. Birds are birds and will do what birds do. Yes Cassie can be bratty at times but she also knows that it will not be tolerated. Learning a birds body language takes time as you know. Intercepting is not as dangerous as waving your hands in the air. Yes it takes some getting used to but reading a birds body language does also take time. Do I consider myself a flock leader, I suppose, is it that important to me, most likely, but the most important thing to me is that Cassie is safe, healthy and happy and that no one else is hurt. I've been achieving each of these. I'm sure that Mothra'smom can do the same. No one becomes flock leader overnight and offering suggestions is great but belittling doesn't provide assistance.
Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 02:26 AM

Originally Posted By: BE2Cassie
Yes Cassie can be bratty at times but she also knows that it will not be tolerated

You just made my point. You are obviously the leader.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 02:49 AM

Yes but it can be illustrated in nicer ways. Suggestions for dealing with the behavior was what was asked. Suggestions and support is what is expected and usually given. John your a great care giver and a valued member of this board. I've seen and learned to expect that support from you. Nancy
Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 03:01 AM

John has been spanked... rightfully so.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 03:03 AM

No that's not true John you can be very helpful with your suggestions and knowledge. Just wanted to remind you that lots of folks come here looking for that knowledge and support.
Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 03:14 AM

I should know better. People wouldn't be here if they weren't already frustrated with a problem. I don't need to make it worse and need to keep reminding myself to hold back.

I've had to deal with so many dead beats over the years. Sometimes when I feel they aren't hearing what I'm saying I start pounding it into their head. It must be a man thing.

I welcome what you say. Sometimes I need it.

End of debate.
Posted By: Janny

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 03:45 AM

In My Honest Opinion...When a cockatoo,or any other parrot comes into my home for that matter,it is not about showing them who is boss.It is about getting to know that parrot and trying to correct behaviours. Positive reinforcement is a good way.Sometimes to get there you do need to clip in order to work on those behaviours in the begining otherwise you may never get this under control. If this bird is flying and landing on shoulders to nip can be very hard to get that to stop unless you take that flight away first and then teach it shoulder is a no no.I don't allow any of my parrots on the shoulder for obvious is dangerous.Bites can happen very quickly and are unavoidable.

John sometimes a person can become very stubern and set in their ways amd actually block information given even if it is good information because of the delivery of information.I was told years ago never to assume a person knows anything when you are trying to teach them something.I took a course to teach our self defense for work and the instructor who taught me said okay teach me how to smoke.Of course I said you start by opening the package...well he did.He ripped the package open and there were cigerettes flying everywhere (so glad I did not smoke and they were not mine) I said what the heck are you doing.He said I did what you told me and opened the cig package...did I do it wrong.I said yes why did you rip them open now the package is ruined.He said well how are you supposed to open it I don't know.It made me realise I had skipped some very important information on how to really open them by pushing through the bottom of the package until you could see and take out a smoke.

Now to put it another way...Someone just bought a bird they come here and ask what do I do and we say well you have to feed they go and grab a bag of chips out of the cupboard and fill a dish...we never told them what to feed it right...same goes for anything bird related I believe.
Posted By: Mothra's Mom

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 05:41 AM

Just to clarify--I don't have a parade of different people coming in and out of my home, it's only a few close friends and often they are there specifically to see Mothra. So it's not out of the question that they could learn to do a specific technique, etc. And I also don't have to worry about them suing me--but of course I don't want anyone to get hurt (Mothra included).

Also, I have never bought any birds and believe that birds (and most animals) should not be kept as "pets". The problem is caring for the ones who are already homeless. I work in an open admission adoption center and am an extremely firm believer in adoption.

So, to sum up the suggestions, I should:

1) definitely not allow her on my shoulder, ever
2) if she does get on my shoulder, give her a time-out in her cage inside her room for a few minutes then bring her back out---do this every single time
3) intercept her when possible and safe, in hopes of teaching her to aim for a hand/arm instead of a shoulder and to only come when invited

Does this sound right??

Posted By: Janny

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 05:50 AM

No you don't need to time her out for getting on your shoulder.Just remover her from your shoulder and say a firm no.She will get the idea eventually. Try to stop or intercept her on the move there like when she starts moving to the elbow just take her with the other hand and if she sits there a bit tell her yes good girl.Give her a small sunflower seed or something that size as a treat.Positive reiforcement.

The rest sounds very good.
Posted By: Mothra's Mom

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 05:58 AM

Yes, Tika's Dad---I didn't respond to your first reply because it completely turned me off. I was actually hoping for good advice from you in particular because I read some of your replies on other threads and they were right on.

Your concept of leadership sounds like it's mixed up with dominance theory, or maybe it was just a poor choice of words to say that she needs to be taken "down a notch"? I also can't see comparing flight to driving a car. Flight is part of their being, not a privilege we should take away in exchange for acceptable house behavior.

All I'm interested in is giving Mothra the best life I can give her for the next 60+ years. I'm going to check out Susan Friedman's PBAS listserve group for more ideas on how to live with a fully flighted parrot, and other things.

More ideas from Mytoo'ers are welcome!

Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 06:04 AM

I welcome what you say. Sometimes I need it.

I understand. More hand holding. Less preaching. Kid gloves.
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 06:08 AM

I'm a little late in responding but wanted to add to the discussion.

It's been my experience that the arrival of guests always produces alot of excitement. And excitement can lead to unpredictable behavior. I NEVER let any of my birds out when company first arrives...even when it is someone that they know very well.

Once everyone is settled (guests and birds), THEN, depending upon the assessment of each individual birds frame of mind, I bring them out to say their proper "hellos" and visit.

I never leave uncaged birds and guests unattended - for the safety of both human and bird.
Posted By: Mothra's Mom

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 06:18 AM

Hand holding? No. A detailed, related response is welcome, not vague ideas I can read anywhere.

And with that I cease and desist! Information, not mud slinging...
Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 06:37 AM

Liz wilson says what I should have said.
One thing is virtually guaranteed - increased hormone levels often lead to increased aggressiveness -- this is documented in many/ most animal species and parrots are no exception. And it follows that if your parrot is established as dominant in its relationship with you, you can expect it to try to tell you how to behave -- and you can expect yourself and other humans around you to be the recipient of violence if your behaviors don't measure up to your bird's exacting standards (following orders is tough when you don't speak the language). As head of the flock, your parrot is only doing his/her job. On the other hand, if you are well established as head of the flock (thanks to having established a relationship of loving controls with your feathered friend), then your parrot (being in a submissive position) will generally wait for you to show it how to act towards others. In a nutshell, increased aggression is to be expected -- but a parrot in a submissive role can be expected to display less aggression than one that perceives itself to be head of the flock.

I apologize to you personally.
Posted By: Ketrel

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 07:54 AM

Posted By: Janny

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 07:58 AM

Ketrel...I took your response out.What in that response is at all helpful to this situation. I have been watching this for a few days and it needs to end right here right now.Unless you are posting HELPFUL advice in your responses do not bother posting! Have I been heard?
Posted By: Ketrel

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 09:08 AM

Yes maam sorry.
Posted By: TiKa's Dad

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 05:28 PM

Mothra. I hesitate to add anything more to this post because I just don't want to offend anyone. But your situation is important and I feel what I have to say is useful. No more stupid analogies. Just what I know.

In my mind your bird IS the leader of your flock.

Another wildlife story: Once the bird has established itself as the leader of the flock. He takes that role for life. He will defend it to the death. They're not like people who quit their jobs. The leader defends the flock. He establishes and ENFORCES the rules. Any contenders to the throne are quickly brought into line or chased from the flock.

The leader is dominant and expects everyone else to tow the line. He will defend his position to the death. Or serious injury at the least.

If your bird does not assume a new role as a "submissive" flock member and you be established as the "leader". He is going to continue to do his "natural" job. Forever. I little bit of training is not going make him give up his leadership role.

To change this you are going to have to do something that does NOT happen in nature. They don't trade jobs. The only way the leader relinquishes his position is if a bigger, stronger bird comes along and tries to take it away. There may even be a fight to the death.

I am also NOT in favor of wing clipping. Your bird needs to accept a more submissive role in the flock or your problem will not go away. So I have no idea how your going to do this without making the bird come down a "notch" and learn to be more submissive. (absolutely no offense intended). In nature the newcomer would have probably just killed him.

Originally Posted By: Janny
When a cockatoo,or any other parrot comes into my home for that matter,it is not about showing them who is boss.It is about getting to know that parrot and trying to correct behaviours. Positive reinforcement is a good way.Sometimes to get there you do need to clip in order to work on those behaviours in the begining otherwise you may never get this under control. If this bird is flying and landing on shoulders to nip can be very hard to get that to stop unless you take that flight away first and then teach it shoulder is a no no.

The solution is in your hands, not ours. Only you can decide what to do.
Posted By: Charlie

Re: Dive bombing - 07/22/08 05:53 PM

Sally Blanchard has a saying that I believe in and I think it applies in your case. You have a parrot that "is in charge of his own life and doing a poor job of it". They are like small children in more ways than one, they will get away with anything they can. It can be subtle and one day you wake up to find an out of control bird. Birds like to be high and see around them, this is natural behavior and not related to domination. You have good ideas for progressing in your previous post and you have been given some good advice. I would suggest a Mytoos search for "positive reinforcement" and start rewarding good behaviors and ignoring bad behaviors.

Always remember that safety of humans has to be the foremost consideration. You would not want to live with the consequences of the damage a large parrot can inflict. You can also do a Google search for articles by Barbara Heidenreich, Sam Foster and Steve Martin. This will open your eyes to many of your birds behaviors.

I am locking this topic because of arguments. Feel free to start again after you have digested some of this material.
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