Ask Lafeber

Question:

November 1, 2018

How to re-bond my parrots?


I have two green cheek conure, Turk (we think its a male)who’s been with me for about 2 years, and Tako(we think male as well) who’s been with me for about 2 months. Both of them got along great, preeening, feeding each other,  etc. On Sunday a friend who has minded Turk before asked me if she could have him for the day, I brought both of them and the second we stepped into my friends house Turk attacked Tako very bad.. they settled down after a minute so I left them there. 24 hours after, I went to collect them and found they had to have them separated all the time because now they hate each other.  I brought them home and they won’t stop fighting, I can’t put them together for a second! They look like they’re fighting to death! So I have them I separate cages for the time being, but I don’t know how to fix this :(.
It’s been a couple of days and Turk seems to have gotten over the anger (most of the time), but now Tako is so insecure he’s attacking Turk without provocation.
I’m not even sure which parrot I should keep in the main cage (the one they used to share), as I want them to eventually live there together again.

I would really appreciate any advice on this.


Answer:

Hi Rachel,

Pet birds do best with a stable environment. It is best to keep them in their environment unless you go out of town and have to board them somewhere. Even then, if you can get someone to come to your house and care for them, this is best. Each time a bird is taken away from his home, this can cause confusion and insecurity. Most bird owners report having behavior issues with their pet birds after a vacation, whether the bird was boarded or taken care of at home. But birds that were boarded take longer to forgive their owners.

In your case, Tako had only been with you for a short time and was still settling in. He was bonding with Turk and apparently doing well. The thing to remember with parrots is that they have mates or flock members. Once a bird is mature and chooses a mate, he will no longer have other birds as “friends”. Likewise he is probably not going to want to be handled by humans anymore. Even two male birds will bond as mates. When this happens, they become reluctant to be handled anymore. However, a bird that had a close bond with a human will face a lot of confusion because he doesn’t know where his loyalty should be. If Turk really likes your human friend, he was probably happy to see her but also he didn’t want to share Tako. In the wild if a rival comes along, one bird, generally the male, will attack the mate to drive her back to her nest or further in the tree away from the possible rival. Turk didn’t want your friend to interact with Tako, so he attacked him. Since the two birds have only been together for 2 months, and probably are both makes, their relationship is still being worked out.

Now Tako doesn’t trust Turk, or you or his environment. Basically you are back to square one and will need to be patient with him. If you have these two birds as birds you want to handle, it is best that they do not share a cage. If they get to the point where they can share a cage again, what will eventually happen is their bond will become so strong, one or both will no longer want to be handled. And if one does still want to be a pet, you will end up with the same situation of that bird attacking the other because they have been put in an unnatural situation and instinct always wins out.

Keep them separate while you decide what their future is – if kept separate, they should both stay tame and eventually they can probably interact with each other on neutral territory like a playstand. If the time comes that they can be caged together, you need to accept that you probably should not handle them anymore. None of this will happen overnight. It may take months now for Tako to feel secure in your home again and to feel secure with Turk. It is possible they never will get along again. Since they had only been together for two months, you really don’t know if they would have remained compatible. If Tako is a young bird, Turk may have tolerated him as a young flock member, but possibly Tako is getting mature now and that plus the visit with your friend triggered this behavior. Not all birds get along, regardless of their sex. Lastly if handling one bird seems to stress out the other, then go to another room with the bird. I have often known birds that could not be handled in front of the other birds in their household without causing extreme jealousy and stress. Be patient and most importantly give them time.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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