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Dr. Bob
Dr. Bob, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 7938
Experience:  35 years in practice
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I have a year old african grey he has always been nice with

Customer Question

I have a year old african grey he has always been nice with me (female) but always a bit aggressive with my partner (male!) we have had him since a few months old and he was really cuddly and nice with me , over the last few weeks when we let him out he won't step up at all he just flies from beam to beam in the house ( it's an old house and has lots of high beams ) never used to be an issue he would just fly down to me and be nice) now the only way we can get him down is to make him fly from one to the other until he gets tiered and flops to the floor , he used to just step up then and be fine but last time I went to step him
Up he bit really hard through my nail , I persevered and tried again this time he growled like a lion but eventually stepped up and after a bit of fight went back into his cage . Now whenever I go near him he fluffs up and pins his eyes !! Frankly I'm scared of him now ! Haven't had him out for a week . I don't want to keep him locked in his cage that wouldn't be fair to him . PLEASE !! Any advice would be appreciated I just don't know what to do ! Kind Regards
Dawn and Buddy (evil Buddy !!)
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Bob.
I'm sorry to read of the behavior problem you're having with Buddy. If you've never raised children to be teenagers this sudden change from wonderful, cute, cuddly little creature to surly, obnoxious, disobedient monster can be a bit of a shock. The almost certain cause of the change is hormonal, Buddy is growing up. The change can be temporary or permanent, but much of it can be due to their diet. What does Buddy eat?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Buddy has a high quality proprietary parrot mix, fresh veg , long beans, sugar snaps, broccoli , cauliflower , grapes, orange,pomegranate seeds, melon, strawberry, pineapple, apple, celery, blueberries, monkey nuts. That's about it really !!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
How do we deal with the height dominance issue also ?
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 2 years ago.
Okay, thank you. Sorry for the delay, I was offline while at supper.
The specific food group which concerns us is seeds and nuts. Birds tend to pick these items out of mixtures offered them. These foods are extremely high in fat which is the basic building block for sexual hormones, so you see where we're going with this. I'll offer a complete list of foods and the proper proportions as fed aviary birds by professional aviary keepers.
Does Buddy get 12 to 14 hours of sleep in an area away from T.V. and other conversational sounds?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi yes he sleeps when we do lights out and all quiet. How do we cope with the height issue though and his aggression after we fix his diet. .?
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 2 years ago.
Hello again, Dawn. Besides dietary corrections and correcting photo-periods for him, the definitive answer to the height issue and much of his bad attitude is the clipping of his flight feathers. Not being able to fly very high or far has a remarkable effect on their attitude as well as helping to protect them from hurting themselves. I answer dozens of questions from people whose birds have injured themselves while flying indoors. Do you have any problem with the temporary clipping of his wings?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry I do not understand what you mean by photo-periods? Mmmm I'm not to keen on clipping his wings to be honest we do have dogs and cats so would rather if heaven forbid they did get in with him he would be able to save himself somewhat not that this is likely to happen but you never know !!
Oh dear what to do, would it be wrong to keep him in his cage all the time? He has been in for a week now and bless him is desperate to come out, his cage is big and he can stretch his wings well enough. Could you let me know your recommendations in respect of food.
When I go to speak to him in his cage he fluffs up and pins, used to put his head down and let me stroke him but no more!!! Shall I just not bother trying and ignore him ?
Sorry for all these questions Bob I'm at my wits end with him , I have taken two nasty bites "for the team" as it where !!! I don't really fancy another one!!!
Dawn x
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 2 years ago.
Photo-periods mean periods of light and darkness. Unless you sleep 12 to 14 hours per night every night, Buddy may very well be sleep-deprived. Birds need quiet and close to complete darkness under a darkly covered cage to get the kind of sleep they need to help them discharge stress. Stress as well as a diet high in fat contributes to the production of sexual hormones as well as causing them to be cranky.
Short of clipping his wings and supervising him when he's out of his cage with the other pets, I don't know of any way to keep him from flying to the rafters. Trimming the flight feathers on both winds allows them to fly with some effort, but when properly trimmed, they are less likely to head for the high spots, while still retaining the ability to get themselves out of trouble. You can learn to trim his wings ourself, there are videos and written articles online showing this simple procedure. It is no harder than trimming your bangs in you hair, and painless when properly done. A bird breeder or veterinarian can do this for you if you don't want to try it yourself.
I'm a fanatic about diet as you'll soon see. Almost nothing in a bird's environment is as important to their well-being.
Avian experts have actually determined that 90-95% of pet bird health issues are dietary in origin. Pelleted food has been a real blessing for pet birds, forcing them to eat a balanced basic diet which can then be supplemented with fresh vegetables and just a few seeds and nuts. Birds fed diets not perfectly balanced can eventually succumb to infections and deficiencies that they should be able to easily "shake off.
Not only is what they eat important, but the proper proportions are every bit as important. To give some idea of how important, consider the following facts: Normally on an all-seed diet, budgies live an average of 5-7 years; with seeds and some other foods about 10-12 years; with pellets alone about 15-20 years, and with properly balanced proportions of pellets, seeds and other fresh foods, particularly dark leafy vegetables, about 25 years and even longer. The statistics for bigger parrots like Buddy would be even more remarkable.
Compare what you're feeding Buddy to what professional aviary keepers feed their Amazons: 70% high quality size appropriate pellets, such as those made by Zupreem, Harrison's, Lafeber, or other reputable manufacturers. (these may be purchased from better pet stores or online), Pelleted food is the basic building block of a balanced diet and should comprise 70%-80% of the total food consumed; 20% dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, cilantro, collard, turnip or beet greens, cooked sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin, carrots with the tops attached, dried chili peppers, yellow, green and red fresh peppers, and only 10% or less, seeds and nut foods. Sunflower seeds are very high in fat, not balanced in regard to calcium and phosphorus, and should be avoided as birds, like small children, tend to pick out and eat what they like, rather than what is good for them. Although it is green, lettuce is practically all water, of no food value whatsoever in the diet, and shouldn't be fed to birds. Fruit is okay as an occasional treat, but unless fed in a dried state, fruit contains 90% water, and quickly fills the bird up without providing many nutrients by weight. As I wrote earlier, grit is no longer considered necessary to the healthy upkeep of pet birds, and to make matters worse, grit impactions can actually be fatal.
Besides behavioral problems, fresh nutrients in balance with one another help prevent feather and skin diseases and conditions, respiratory, nerve, organ problems including diabetes, as well as other behavioral problems like over-zealous preening, self-mutilation, excessive or changed vocalization, excessive egg laying in females, and will actually eliminate the need for vitamin supplements or tonics in most cases.
I fully understand that it may not be easy to get older birds (as opposed to starting out with a baby at weaning time) like Buddy, to eat the proper amounts of the different foods, but you can read an excellent article about how to teach him to eat more properly online here: http://www.cockatielcottage.net/finicky.html The article is written for cockatiels, but works as well, or better, in larger parrots like Buddy.
Prepackaged commercial diets like Hartz, and other pet store or supermarket brands of seed-based foods, must be baked to kill insect eggs and larvae before shipping. This process also kills the germ in the seeds, destroying many of the heat-sensitive components in the food. In addition, these foods are rarely shelf-dated, and may be months or even years old when actually fed. The result is often that the bird fills itself up on foods that contain mostly empty calories and the digested material from seeds is very similar to the ingredients for paste, and the bacterial population that develops in the bird's GI tract tends to cause loose or sticky droppings which, by themselves, can instigate intensive feather picking around their vent, and initiate the beginnings of over-zealous preening and feather plucking on themselves.
Proper rest, proper diet and wing clipping should bring out the very best in Buddy, but if you should have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
Kind regards, *****
Dr. Bob, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 7938
Experience: 35 years in practice
Dr. Bob and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Bob

A quick note to say thank you for all your wonderful advice , we have ordered a blackout cage cover for buddy so will begin putting him to bed by 8.30 at night, we are going to change him to a pellet diet, gradually mixing it into his usual feed and going to have his wings clipped also . Thank you so much hopefully we can ride this storm !!!

P.s. We left you a tip !

Kind regards
Dawn and Buddy
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 2 years ago.
Hello again Dawn (and Buddy), You're most welcome!
Thank you for your kind remarks and rating. I appreciate the bonus, thank you! Please let me know if I may be of any further help to you in the future, it's been a pleasure working with you.
Warm regards, Dr. Bob

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