Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting.

Posted By: Christy Canning

Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/03/15 10:59 PM

I recently got a male umbrella cockatoo. He's fitting in great and has no history of abuse or aggressive behaviour. Him and I cuddle lots, watch tv and spend lots of time together. I went to sleep at a friends house last night and he stayed with the rest of the family. He greats along just as well with them. This afternoon when I got home he was happy to see me. But than soon jumped onto me and started biting repeatedly until I was able to pull him off and get my dad to help. He's done this 5 times this afternoon. I'm not sure why or how to stop this behaviour. Help!
Posted By: LoriK

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/03/15 11:35 PM

Hi Christy;
Let me preface this by saying I am a novice bird owner myself. I got my U2 just 3 weeks or so ago. I can tell you though I have researched and read this board A LOT.
#1: He and you are still in the 'honeymoon' period- so he is still figuring things out with you
#2: Many Cockatoos are very hormonal right now. This can cause increased aggression and irritable behavior.
#3: I would recommend NOT to cuddle a hormonal cockatoo! Cuddling can cause all sorts of behavior issues. Do a search for "cuddling" and read the "Sex and the Psittacine" post pinned at the top of this board. Right now I would only scratch him on his head, not under wings or under tail.
There are lots of really knowledgeable people on here, so hopefully they can chime in.
As for attacking/biting: I would start keeping track of the circumstances and try to avoid them. It could have been frustration, redirected aggression, etc.
Posted By: Chucki's Dad

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/03/15 11:47 PM

Stop "cuddling" with him. He sees you as his mate when you do this and wants something you can't provide. No touching below the head either, another mating behavior.

Understanding the birds body language is especially important. Biting is usually the birds last resort to communications when the human has run all the lower level "red lights."

You need to do a lot of reading about cockatoo behavior. There are hundreds of threads regarding this subject here and hours of reading all posted by folks who have been through this. Too much to put into a couple sentences. Do a search for mating behavior, biting, hormons, aggression, or similar.

There is also a honeymoon period where the Too is on its utmost behavior but after it gets comfortable with its new surroundings its true personality comes out. This can be a few weeks to a number of months.

Cockatoos are the most difficult to live with parrots, especially the large ones. Its up to the owner to learn what the bird wants not the other way around.

Has the Too been to a avian vet for a check up? This is especially important as is a proper diet.

There are a lot of knowledable folks here and will be more than willing to help you. You need to start doing a lot of reading as there is much you don't know.

Welcome to Mytoos
Posted By: Christy Canning

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 12:03 AM

Thank you all very much. I think we will let him settle more before we start taking things too fast and letting him think he's above us. He will be having play time on the table and randomly come over and bite me and not stop. Is this because of the mate situation he thinks he has with me?
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 12:50 AM

I see this behavior in a number of birds that have boarded with me. My own bird does this to a degree as well. When ever Cassie boards she gets very excited to see me when I pick her up but I know that I am going to get nailed within 24 hours of her coming home.
I agree with the others stop cuddling, this is just increasing his hormones and will lead to an increase of behaviors due to frustration down the road. You can never be his mate.
There is a wealth of information on here begin reading as much as you can. Read about hormones and behaviors. Body language is important to learn quickly. Learning his body language will help you to avoid the bite.
Welcome to Mytoos
Posted By: Christy Canning

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 12:54 AM

I gave him one last chance to come out of his cage tonight. He made his kissy noises and I fed him a treat. And than suddenly he bit me very hard again. I'm just confused about how sudden he changes. His previous owner said he never once bit anyone. Will this behaviour stop with proper training?
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 03:02 AM

Yes but you need to look at what is going on around you, what is he doing and what are you doing. There is a reason he is biting you just need to figure out what it is.
Posted By: LoriK

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 03:19 AM

Hi Cristy!
Caspar (my U2) is VERY hormonal right now. He is inconsistently cage territorial/aggressive. He will at random times charge the cage and try to grab and bite me/my clothes. He gives me pretty good signals though when he is going to bite. Watch your bird and see what is happening right before he bites. How long have you had him?? He may need you to back off a little. This behavior CAN be stopped but it requires patience. There are tons of really great threads on here. Search for aggression, behavior modification.
Lori & Caspar U2
Posted By: hellococky

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 03:39 AM

Hi Christy, I want to start with saying I'm no expert, but I have been through the same situation as you, so want to offer some words of encouragement & common sense. As the others said, READ UP, use the search facility, go to 'advanced' selection, select 'subject only' & type in stuff like 'hormonal behavior', 'aggression' & topics related to your problems, you will find lots of information, advice & words of encouragement, I have found doing this really puts my mind at ease once I see others have the same concerns as me & how they dealt with it.
Don't get disheartened, & more importantly don't take it personally, I know it's hard, I've been through this & it really hurts, & not just where he bit you!
There is a possibility that the home before you was his first & they had him since he was a baby, therefore he hasn't bitten as he hasn't got to that stage yet. Also possible that you may not have been told the truth as sometimes people want to rehome the bird quickly so withhold any negative traits...I'm just guessing as you haven't told us the background in detail. As others said, it's really important to read his body language, as behaviour (all behaviour) is communication, there will be something he does just before he bites that you must recognise, that is him 'telling' you to back off, you must listen when he 'tells' you this. Your bird is also just getting used to his new environment & you must remember that is stressful to him. Give him some space, & to protect yourself, when you offer your hand, do it with a closed fist (back of your hand uppermost & no fingers showing), just like you would a strange dog, that way you can pull away quickly if he decides he wants to have a go, & that way he can't get hold of your fingers, I always do this with Sam at first, as I can gauge his receptiveness to me, if he has that 'bitey look' (I have learned with him this means squinting the eyes, turning the head slightly away & sometimes slightly ruffled feathers) I don't even offer my hand, just walk away & try again later, don't ever get angry with him, this will only make matters worse. Also don't let him see you distressed, he will pick up on that & feed off your emotions, again making things worse, better to walk away & come back with a more positive attitude when you can.
You must get him examined by an Avian Vet asap, he or she will also give you some good advice & rule out any health issues which may influence behaviour.
Don't stress, these are early days & all part of the process of having a new cockatoo, read, read, read...for the sake of you, your bird & your family.
It will get better, you will get better (at reading & relating to your bird), stay positive, knowledge is power & you have come to the right place to gain all the knowledge you will need!
Good luck!
Posted By: Christy Canning

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 02:57 PM

Thank you very much. This was super helpful. I'm assumeing it's all the factors of a new home, hormones and stress causing him to do this. Thank you everyone! I have some reading to do.
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 07:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Christy Canning
... letting him think he's above us.

Originally Posted By: Christy Canning
I gave him one last chance to come out of his cage tonight.

With a mindset/approach like these two statements, you will continue to be bitten and this poor bird will end up being -re-homed again. Your relationship must be one of mutual respect and there should never be a last chance. End interaction on a positive note. Do not continue to engage him until he bites. Watch and learn his body language. Trust me he is giving you other signals but you are missing them, so he resorts to biting because that cue you get.

Please continue to read and ask questions and don't take things personally from your bird or any replies here. We are a nice, helpful group, but don't sugarcoat things.

I don't see that you answered so I'll ask again. Have you taken the bird to an avian vet? Also, hope you don't mind my old are you?
Posted By: Christy Canning

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 09:40 PM

What I meant by not letting him think he's above us was reffering to the peaking order birds have. Most people would not want a bird to think their above them. I think you take what I'm saying to literally. But thanks for your comment. There's no need to know my age. And by saying he's not showing signs, he's not. I've done a fair amount of research at this point. By last chance I meant for the night, I wasn't going to try to let him out again for the night because he was biting. I'm looking for help not negative comments. Thanks.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 11:13 PM

Christy it's all in how you take it. Everyone is trying to help you, you have to be open to the content of replies. For starters cockatoos do not have a pecking order, you need to dismiss that misconception.
And you still have not answered have you taken him to an avian vet yet? This is very important, behaviors can be caused by illness. Birds are able to hide illness until they are on deaths door. Please bring him if you haven't already.
And yes he will be showing signs you just haven't been with him long enough to know what they are. Watch his eyes, feathers, crest and stance closely when you are interacting with him. Sit back and watch his behaviors with others in your family.
What Echo's Mom is saying is spot on, you won't find a better person for information.
Posted By: hellococky

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 11:24 PM

The pecking order theory / strategy you mentioned is something that, like the pack order in dogs, people will differ in their opinions (quite heatedly in many cases), read & do some research on the matter. Regardless of your personal opinion on the issue now is not the time to 'assert your authority'. As was said previously now you must build a relationship of MUTUAL RESPECT, this will take patience & understanding on your part & you have more to learn than your bird does, as he already knows about people, you (presumably) know little about birds, cockatoos in particular. He is giving you signals, believe me, you may not recognise them yet, but he definitely is, they are not as obvious as human / mammal signals, but they are there, one day you will get it, open your mind first, then your eyes, it will come eventually, meanwhile keep calm & take precautions to prevent further injury (do not use gloves though, he will freak out & it will set you back further).
I realised you meant "last chance for the night", but in all seriousness, should you have pushed it when he had already 'told' you to back off? If you can't see the subtle (pre-bite) signals, at least get the obvious ones, if not you are going to get seriously hurt & this bird will end up needing another home & going through this process once more, this is what was meant in the last comment.
We are all on your side & trying to help you & your bird, but you have to be open to it & accept that to learn anything you have to take the negative & positive advice, but surely you know that right? You sound like a mature young woman (yes, age isn't that important, & we don't mean to judge you, it just sometimes helps to understand your level of comprehension & makes it easier for us to explain in the best way so you can learn faster) & you've come here, & are doing your research & asking for advice, therefore showing that you mean to do right by your bird, & we thank you for it, keep up the good work :-)
PS: it seems that Nancy & I were writing at the same time...her (& Echo's Mom) advice is coming from a much more experienced person than me, please listen to it...& get your bird to the vet (Avian vet, not regular small animal vet), its so important, I've read some awful stories of people taking their birds to the vet only when the bird displayed signs of illness to find the bird died in the waiting room or in the examination room, all because they waited too long (if a bird looks sick, its most likely too late). Your vet will give you great advice regarding training, behaviour & diet too, make a list of all the things you need to know & take it with you, he/she will be happy to help you. Please make an appointment, for the sake of your bird if nothing else.
Posted By: Christy Canning

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/04/15 11:40 PM

Thank you for thoroughly explaining to me without the passive aggressive way I took the other comment. He is hard to understand but we made some change today and he seems happy. No biting and he's been quite. He's going to the vet this week. It's Sunday and it's closed. I've been doing a lot of reading and unlike some peoples re almost assuming, I'm never giving up on him. He's a good boy and just is feeling hormonal and upset about the change. Thanks for help! smile
Posted By: hellococky

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/05/15 12:44 AM

Well done, good to see you've made the decision to take him for a check up, we look forward to hearing how it went. Glad to hear of your determination to stick by your bird, remember that when times get tough, as they will. You (& he) have many adjustments to come to terms with in the coming months, its important to always stay positive & don't ever give up, remember, he's counting on you, & you are not the only one who is frustrated when things seem like they are going wrong. When in doubt ask questions, that's what this forum (& the awesome people who dedicate their time to it) is here for, the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask! :-)
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/05/15 12:53 AM

Glad to hear he's going in to the vet. Once the vet checks him out and gives him the all clear, you will know better on where you need to begin. Write down some questions for the vet and bring them with you. It's a bit of a stressful time so chances are you will be like the rest of us and forget a ton of things you wanted to ask.
Posted By: bellesmom

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/05/15 01:47 AM

First let me say what we know about you and your bird is from what you write and nobody here will attempt to spare your feelings over the care and safety of the bird. building a good relationship with the bird begins with respect and understanding. Im glad to hear you are reading, with knowledge comes understanding. Taking the bird to a qualified Avian vet is so important, not a regular vet but one that has alot of experience with avians. when i first got my U2 he bagan to charge me on the floor and bite my toes, so much so that one day I sat on the edge of the bed and cried. he saw that and i swear something in his eyes understood my sadness. I didnt know much about his past but decided that i would not let him on the floor if he was going to bite my toes.the next time he charged me i bent over and said"no, up" and waited for the bite. he didnt bite and that was a turning point for us. your U2 has alot of new things to get used to, people, home, food etc. its alot for one little bird to handle and remember he does not speak your language. patience with these guys is very important and learning the signals of when to just leave them alone awhile. most of us have been in your shoes and it will get better if you are committed. my first thought was that he was angry with you for leaving him and he was letting you know he felt abandoned by you. Just a thought. Glad to see that things are better now. let us know how the vet visit goes.
Posted By: mamatoo

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 02/17/15 09:03 PM

I have never had a cockatoo do this to me but I did have a male mini macaw that saw me as a mate. He would bite me to "get me to run away" from his perceived dangers. It got very bad. He was nice to other people. He was nice to me BUT if other people or animals came around when he and I were in close quarters he would attack me. I suggest not holding and snuggling the bird close. No petting below the head. Keep the bird at a level below your chest... even his sitting perches and cage perch.
Also do not let him in or under any blankets where it can touch his body and he thinks it is you. Best wishes.
Posted By: puccinis7002

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 05/09/16 10:28 PM

Great thread here! Thanks!
Posted By: Mango16

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/28/17 02:49 AM

Please help ! I have the same issues! I have a male u2 10 - 15th yrs old. I'm like the 3 or 4th home this guy has been too. He was all sweet and cuddly the first week or two and then boom, hates me lol. He fluffs up even if I walk by his cage, I've been good to him feed him get him out to play and he has all kinds of toys in his large cage and his play stand. I feed him out of my hand and sometimes he will step up for me but now he has started to bite and fluff every time I come around. I have put him in his cage for time out (should I get a smaller cage for time out only). He also likes attacking my feet but will snuggle and cuddle with my husband's feet. My husband can get him to step up but he doesn't mess with him much I'm the only one that does everything with him. And im the one always gets bit or pushed away... Am I pushing him to hard playing and to much busy body? Recommendations please.....
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Cuddly and sweet, than attacking and biting. - 01/28/17 03:12 AM

You need to slow down with him. Right now is breeding season for these guys which doesn't help you. It looks like he has chosen your husband as his human. Try only being the person who brings him treats. If you can increase your value to him, it will increase his trust of you. It's difficult for you but if you are patient your patience will pay off. For my girl to accept my husband and son took her almost a year.
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