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#12519 - 06/22/04 03:05 AM Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Macy Offline
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My husband and I have much experience in pigeons. We also have a cockatiel for many years. Happy and quiet birds. We recently were asked to adopt a 20yr old M2 after his owner died. He is sweet, will let us pet him but he was kept in a 9 x 12 room with an African Grey. Not too much social interaction with people. I was told he bit his owner on occasion but he loved her. She did let him out of his cage to play and hang in his room.
He seems to be eating and adjusting, but he is screaming more and more the longer we have him. We are a family of 5 and placed him in the center of activity. I have added toys and activities in his cage as I was told he loved them, but his owner was elderly and after time neglected these things. I thought this would help with his transition and mourning. He is letting us pet him through the bars with enthusiasm. He will also take food from us by hand very gently. We want to do everything for him we can and help him relocate to his new family. The screaming is very bad. My dog cries and becomes very aggitated, not to mention the neighbors. Any suggestions? We really want him to become a member of our family.
Macy

#12520 - 06/22/04 03:53 AM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Hello Macy and welcome to my toos. All cockattos "scream", it is their way of telling us how they feel about different things. Some screams mean they are happy laugh others mean they are scared shocked or angry angry . You have to learn which is which. A healthy cockatoo will make loud calls during the morning and throughout the day, in the wild that is how they locate one another, or frighten off intruders of their territory. The only advice I can personally give you is to ignore the screams as best you can. If you walk over to the toos cage when he screams, or if you yell at him or do ANYTHIINIG, he will associate you going near him and the screaming together. Try talking to him as soon as he quiets down- even if only for a couple minutes, give him treats. If he starts to scream again while your there next to him-walk away. He should be able to understand that if he stays quiet he'll have more attention.

Good Luck -^j^ (angel)

#12521 - 06/22/04 04:10 AM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Hi Macy,

Iím happy to hear that you have taken in this M2. These birds are no different than we are when it comes to mourning the loss of a loved one, which is what his past owner is. He does not understand why this person has left him and he has been re-homed.

How much out of cage time is he spending each day? M2's are very social creatures and long to be with their flock. This screaming that you are referring to may be flock calls or contact calls. They are his way of checking on where you are if you are out of his sight. Have you tried telling him that you are going into the other room and will be right back? Periodically call to him and let him know that you are in the other room and will be coming back. I know this sounds funny to non-bird people, but it works wonders for the bird.

Please keep in mind that there is a difference between a flock call and screaming. When any of my birds start screaming I make a point of ignoring them until they stop. Immediately upon them being quiet make a point of saying something positive to them in a calm voice that they could not have heard if they were screaming.

You can also plan on your bird being noisy on average of twice a day. Morning and evening as they greet the morning sun and say goodnight also.

You mentioned there could be a problem with neighbors complaining about your birdís noise levels. Please say that you do not live in an apartment! These birds are loud enough that you can be evicted easily from an apartment in no time at all. These bird can reach 135 decibels during an average display. It is funny that you mention your dog howling when he is being loud. I have the same problem here, but I think my bird does it on purpose - to hear her howl.

Good luck with your bird and donít be afraid to ask questions. There is also a search engine that you can use to look for info on most things as they have probably already been asked.


The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry Van Dyke
#12522 - 06/22/04 01:28 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Thank you for the information and advice. We do live in a house, but still. It's LOUD outside. I have been closing the doors when he goes off. I was reading about biting in the archives as well. We have only had him 1 1/2 weeks. I am also afraid of being bitten. According to the archives here I have every reason to be afraid. I have 3 kids as well that feed him through the bars, but I don't know if I trust him to be out at this point. I don't know this bird at all. I am afraid if I let him out, I won't get him back in. I don't think he was let out very often by his last owner. There is so much to learn! He is screaming now 7:23am and has been at it since 6:50 am. Is this normal?
I have talked to him, fed him, added a new toy. I am trying to differentiate the screams but I am very new to this.
Thanks again.
Macy

#12523 - 06/22/04 02:13 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  

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Hi Macy,

Screaming is tough to listen to but not difficult to deal with and fix. You need to establish a routine with him. Give him your undivided time at regular times during the day so that he knows he will receive your attention no matter what. Now, this can be every half hour, every hour for how ever long you want to spend with him. Feed him around the same times during the day. Birds need routine of some sort to help them adjust to a new home. This way, they KNOW that they can count on getting food, playtime and cuddle time. It will help them to adjust faster and feel more secure.

Next, IGNORE the screaming. If you are in the room and he starts up...don't look at him, don't say a thing, leave the room right away. If there are others in the room, everyone must leave. As soon as the screaming stops, even if for a short moment, return and give him some attention, a treat, a new toy..whatever you like. It takes time, but eventually he will figure out that screaming=no attention. He will figure out that when he is being "quiet" he will get rewarded and the humans will hang out with him. Be consistant, make sure the entire family is on board and don't give in. This behavior can be stopped...believe me. It just takes some time and some work. wink

Heather

#12524 - 06/22/04 05:18 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Macy Offline
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Thank you Heather. I feel very lost. In his screaming this morning, he was strutting the bottom of his cage with his wings slightly up at the shoulders, climbing up and down, rocking and bobbing his head on his perch. Are these all normal behaviors? His screaming went on and off from 6:45 until 10am. Seems over long to me to greet the sun :-) I am not used to having so little knowledge before beginning something of this magnitude. But under the circumstances we had no choice in it.
Macy

#12525 - 06/22/04 07:28 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Macy:
You have already received great advice here and I am sure there will be much more coming your way. I get the impression that you are a bit afraid of him too. Not that there's anything wrong with that <img border="0" alt="[laughing]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh[1].gif" /> Healthy fear/respect is a good thing. I wonder though if there are any members that live locally to you that can give you some physical handling pointers so that the bird could have some out time. Preferably when your children are not around... Just a thought

#12526 - 06/22/04 08:08 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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More than a bit afraid. I have read the horror posts on biting here (blood bath and fractured hand in one post!)in the archives and have seen what he can do to a piece of wood with one bite. I can only imagine my finger! I have read in the archives even longtime m2 owners are bitten by their "friendly, sweet" toos :-)
I will work on the screaming for now and work up to handling/freetime. His feathers seem to be filling in on his chest (he was somewhat plucked on his legs and chest) and I am not seeing much evidence of plucking on the bottom of his cage so he must be feeling somewhat better?
Macy

#12527 - 06/22/04 08:52 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  

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Hi Macy, the strutting and screaming, hanging on the bars and bobbing while screaming is all for the attention. I'm sure he desperately wants out of his cage as well. I've had screamers here who scream and bob up and down on their cage sides trying to get my attention. Their behavior can become neurotic "seeming" with the bobbing and moving back and forth, or running the perch back and forth. I'm really not sure of your M2's dispositon, but letting him out of his prison is going to help. I had rescued a male U2 that was a screamer. He was always caged prior to coming to me. His screaming became incessant. When he got here, I let him out of his cage for long periods of time. I worked with him to stop his screaming by the methods I wrote above. He hated being in the cage...and rightfully so. Once being out was no longer a huge novelty, he calmed down and settled in. He now goes right back into his cage without any convincing and his screaming is now a distant memory.

I know that this guy scares you. And unfortunately, he knows this too. Eventually, you are going to have to give him some freedom. At one point, he had freedom before since you mentioned he had his own room to hang out in. This sounds harsh, but you will need to get over your fear. He needs to get out of his cage. His frustration is just going to keep on building and his screaming will worsen. I'm assumming that is why his screaming is so bad. All these changes in his life..owner dies, new home...locked up all day and night. I would get a playstand and put it next to his cage. Open the cage up, let him out. I bet you my shirt that his screaming will lesson just by doing this. Make sure he has plenty of toys to play with, hang out with him. Watch his body language when you pet him. If he bites you, well, bites happen...walk away...clean up and let him hang by himself for a bit.

When it's time to put him back in...drop some really special treats into his bowl, wait for him to go in, and then shut him in there...tell him good boy..make a big deal about it.

Do the best you can and keep asking questions! laugh

#12528 - 06/22/04 09:32 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Macy:

In additon to all that has been said.. and not to criticize or judge too harshly because you are obviously trying to do your best for him, but... he must be let out of his cage. It is horribly cruel to keep him locked up. Notwithstanding that no cockatoo should be locked up ever, since we do have them living in our homes we MUST strive to give them as much freedom as possible. Please try and find someone to help you with the physical handling. The play stand idea mentioned by Heather is a great one. My experience with my own M2's is that they at least stay where you put them - not like U2's. :p Secondly, but no less important, you really need to get the fear under control. No one likes to be bitten and we all are eventually. However, these birds can sense your fear and will use it against you. He is at this time going to be testing all his boundaries and you especially. He will always threaten you (even if he never bites) if he thinks it will get him want he wants. A calm demeanor and determined kindness/firmness goes a long way with these guys. Keep coming here, for both your sakes. Everyone here wants to see this work out and help you to get there.

#12529 - 06/22/04 10:12 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Macy Offline
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I have been reading and reading on the forum. I really appreciate all of the advice from everyone. I do pet him and talk to him through the bars, and I open his cage to give him treats which he takes gently. His cage is 3' x 4' by 5 1/2'h to the dome. I will certainly work on all of the suggestions and keep reading and posting.
Macy

#12530 - 06/23/04 02:59 AM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Hi Macy and welcome. First of all let me thank you for taking in this bird and trying very hard to make it work. The good news is yes, it can be done. With an M2, you have your hands full. I had a sulfur crested that would scream non-stop all day. This is not an exaggeration, he would literally scream 8-10 hours non-stop when we first got him. We did all the things that Heather recommends and after a month the screaming virtually stopped except for the morning/evening time and occasionally during displays. The biggest factor toward that end was giving him his freedom. He had been a cage-bound bird for years and the opportunity to get out, stretch, explore made all the difference in the world toward settling him down.

Keep in mind your bird has experienced a double whammy by loosing his owner and home. Even small changes can set these guys off so imagine what he/she is feeling now.

Whenever we moved (which was often in the early years with our bird) he would go through a 1-month adjustment period where the incessant screaming would start up again. I would reassure my new neighbors that he would calm down after he had a chance to settle into a new routine. This is not to say that your guy will calm down in a month, it could be more or less. But establishing some kind of routine and giving your bird freedom, love and LOTS of patience will go a long way.

PS - When he is quiet, try reading children's stories to him. My guy loved to be read to. This also had a calming effect on him.

#12531 - 06/23/04 05:08 AM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  

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Macy,

I'm the one with the hand fracture. The hand healed, and we have moved on.

Just to clarify, my bird was going through a hellish hormonal period, and he was a terror during that time. A completely different scenario than what you are describing. Please do not let your birds' displaying scare you into not handling him. My fear is that if you wait too long, it may become worse. I think the worst thing one can do is avoid handling the birds, because it creates a cycle of fear and anxiety. You are afraid, the bird senses this and becomes anxious, you become more afraid, and they become more anxious, etc.

I urge you to try to handle him asap, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be. Also, as others have stated, the bird is probably grieving his long time partner. He's afraid, not understanding the situation, and he probably wants to be held and cuddled. Try just inviting him out of the cage and have toys and treats ready for him.

Good luck and please share your experiences.

Ps. I hear you on the screaming part. Ollies screams can sound like a woman's death cries. Our neighbors must think I'm a battered wife. :rolleyes:

#12532 - 06/23/04 01:17 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Thank you Connie and Karen. Ok after hearing everyone tell me to let him out of his cage I will try. I can see he wants out. He comes down in my face when I have his door open to change food and water and sticks his head out. Then he flips the latches to reopen them. He has not made any move to bite me. What can I expect? He is not clipped. Will he startle like a cockatiel and dive bomb through the house? Will he fly at me if his mood changes? His cage has a top shaped like a flat pyramid. Will he go up there and sit? Will he want to walk all over the house eating things? If he goes away from his cage how do I get him back in? Do I need to keep my kids out of the room? I will take all the suggestions I can get.
Thanks,

PS You all said to ask questioins <img border="0" alt="[laughing]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh[1].gif" /> [/LIST]
Macy

#12533 - 06/23/04 01:35 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  

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Hi Macy,

I can't tell you what to expect since I don't know the bird. But I doubt he's going to come running out and lunge at everything. It's his first time out so he might be timid. Try to make the environment as calm and quiet as you can. At least to begin with until you know how he responds. I would get the kids out of the room. Make sure the room is quiet and safe and the doors are closed and you are not going to be interrupted. I think this is just as important for you as it is for the bird. Just open the cage and observe. He may just come out and want to check things out. He may come to you and ask you to pick him up. And if he does, just open your hand and take his feet and hold them steady placing your thumb over his toes (so that he can't run up your arm). Have some treats ready and talk in a soothing voice to him. Good luck and keep us updated! smile

#12534 - 06/23/04 01:54 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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I haven't read every line of every post here so forgive me if I'm repeating someone:

One possibility to your screaming problem is the following: Your bird was probably wild caught. Wild caughts do much better without human interaction ASSUMING that they have another bird friend. Wild caughts can handle abuse and neglect much better than hand raised. Allowing a wild caught to continue to be wild is without a doubt the best scenario. In other words.. the less human interaction the better. (Again assuming that it has another bird friend in the room).

I'm guessing that all the attention and turmoil in his new home, (compared to his old) is simply too much for him to handle all at once. Couple that will loosing his previous owner (and where is his bird buddy now which he misses greatly I'm sure) is simply frustrating the hell out of him.

#12535 - 06/24/04 02:08 AM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Thank you for your input Jerry. Personally, I feel from what I am reading on this site most of these birds seem to develop some form of problem be it plucking, screaming, biting, hormones, phobias, neurosis etc.and need constant guessing, double guessing and attention, because they are being kept by humans in an unnatural setting for them, I am at a loss as to why people continue to force these beautiful birds into a pattern that suits humans. How sad for them all. I wish I could see this bird put back into a more natural habitat for him. Unfortunately if he is rehomed I have no say in where he goes. I would have to return him to the family and they will place him, another harsh transition. And he is near my cockatiel, they interact to a point, he talks to my dog, but yes his African Grey buddy/roomate went to a different home. Sadder still.
Macy

P.S. As for closing doors when I let him out, my house is a great room style where his cage is. I can't close him off from the main house at all and his cage will not fit through any doorway(3' x 4') to get him into a bedroom without dismantling it and reassembling it. I can not keep him in a bedroom as the cage is huge and will not fit unless I move one of my kids and their furniture out:-) Suggestions?

#12536 - 06/24/04 03:17 AM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Hi Macy. You say that he was in a room with one other bird a lot of the time, with an elderly lady and not a lot of human reaction, and that you have situated him in his new home in the center of activity. Big changes going on there as I'm sure you know. I believe from my own experience that many times when my U2 screams nonstop that he is over stimulated and needs a bit of quiet time. I am fortunate to have another smaller cage in the bedroom where I can put him for some quiet time. I either shut the door half way or close it altogether, depending on his mood. He practically thanks me with his body language when we head for the bedroom. His breathing slows and I can feel him relax. I sometimes sit with him and we either read or watch TV together as it isn't a punishment, he just needs a break. I realise this might not help you at this particular time as you are unable to physically handle him to put him in another cage that you don't have, but looking into this might help if the screaming doesn't lessen. Maybe something smaller, in a quiet part of the house will make him feel calmer and quieter. Good luck.

#12537 - 06/24/04 09:00 AM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Hi Macy,

When you let him out of his cage please make a point of not letting his eye level above yours as this can cause dominance issues from the start of your long relationship with him. Is there any way that you can have a stool or chair available that you can stand on if he gets on top of his cage so that his eye level is not above yours?

I would also try to not let the bird by your face until you both are comfortable and know each other a little better as you had said that he has came down by your face when you change his food and water dishes. Is there any way that you can change them without him right by your face?

Do you know if this bird can fly? If he is able to, you may want to have the first four flight feathers trimmed in case of possible aggression. By trimming the first four he will still be able to safely glide to the ground if he is to fall and not cause injury to himself. You can let them grow out later when you have a more established relationship with him.

Since the bird is in the central portion of the house I would try and make it as calm as possible for the first few times you let him out. How old are your children? Younger children tend to be more flighty and can make your bird nervous. Is there any way (depending on their ages) that you can have them calmly walk and not yell in the room that he is in? I know it sounds like a lot but that is what I had to do when my children lived at home (married and gone now).

I know that you are scared of being bitten and you have every right to be. I canít tell you that they donít hurt because they do, but I can say that almost all of the bites that I have ever received were out of fear when dealing with a new bird. They are just as scared as you are, but they can also sense your fear as others have already commented.

I donít normally say this but, you may want to keep a towel within arms reach that you can throw over the bird if he tries to attack you so that you can safely move the bird back to itís cage. I donít normally towel my birds, but if it will let you feel a little bit more secure I would keep it close by. Preferably out of the birds sight as you do not know if he already has a fear of being toweled. It is there for your peace of mind it if comes down to that.

Remember that the first few weeks are the cornerstone of your relationship with your new bird. This is when you must show yourself to the flock leader and what is acceptable and what is not. Be strong.


The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry Van Dyke
#12538 - 06/24/04 12:45 PM Re: Help! Screaming behavoir, inherited m2  
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Hi Macy,

I've read all the post, did i miss your M2s Name..?

I have an M2 friend also, he is Jake, 8 years old. You have gotten a LOT of Great advice here, and i sure hope it helps you.

I got Jake very young, first owner, and MAN could he scream ... OUCH... I owned a Computer store for 15 years, so he met LOTS of people. My Friend that helped me in the store would yell at Jake to Shut up. Jake would start screaming when the phone rang..lol ... I had to tell my Friend he was doing Just what Jake wanted, giving him attention by yelling at him. As you have been advized, Ignoring the behavor is the best solution. But i did it with a twist. Every morning and evening, i would join Jake in his Screams and display, and ignore them during the day. He seams to enjoy our Scream time. lol. This worked great, and he stoped the all day screaming very soon. Sometimes he does a quick scream during the day when he gets really excited, and he calls to me when i'm out of sight, but it is not a scream. I just answer the call, and return as soon as i can.

I wish you both good lucky, and happy times ahead.
Michael and Jake


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