Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Hi…I am a long-time friend of Nora…haven’t been able to contact her…so I am turning to you guys.
I will try to make a very long story short.
I adopted Kirby a 6-year-old Senegal, male, about 6 years ago. He is now about 15, not sure, don’t remember what year I got him…
Can’t get near him to read a band.
Anyway….he is a BEAST.
After many years of being mutilated by this bird…I decided to get him a woman to perhaps mellow him out and have company.
Needless to say… Zipper is a WONDERFUL friendly sweetheart.
He HATES her too !
I bought a large really nice cage to give them their space, yet he still terrorizes her at times.
I love Kirby… I really do, but I am about done with his BiPolar personality.
He talks up a storm, lures you in…then BAMMO!!
I have had birds all of my life…did rescue for many years..and Kirby is one tough cookie.
Too many years of being bitten and too many years of dealing with his weird annoying habits.
He gets LOTS of attention…love…the best food…is right there by my desk and we interact constantly.
He is a BEAST…and I am tired of it.
He is making my life miserable…and I have NEVER given up ONE of my personal pets..but he is pushing his luck.
I can’t even offer him to a breeding situation as he hates other birds!!!!
When he bites..? HE BITES with a vengeance.
He has ripped open my shoulder when I mistakingly leaned near his cage while cleaning it.
When I went to adopt him? The man said he was a great bird but then why was he getting rid of him?
I went to his cage…stuck my hand in and told him UP… He immediately ran up my arm and gave me kisses and I was in love.
The man was in shock. I was in love…
Anyway… Here we are many years later and I can honestly say… I HATE THIS BIRD. I have seriously considered euthanizing him.
He is gorgeous. He is healthy… and funny… and talks… laughs up a storm especially when he bites me.
I don’t even try to handle him anymore…but he hasn’t stopped lunging at the most inappropriate times.
My life has been nothing by stress these last few years… and my relationship with Kirby has only increased it.
I resent this bird terribly..and I dream about my alternatives. I have never felt this way about any animal. But I am at my wit’s end.
I have tried every trick training conditioning tip available.
Nothing works with him, and I am tired of trying. I don’t know what to do anymore…
November 3, 2016
Mickey!! So glad you found me again and so nice to hear from you. But now I’m pleased to be part of the BEST parrot-related team on the internet — Windy City Parrot!
I need to ask you if Kirby has an open or closed band?
If it is open, he was captured in the wild and probably mistreated during transport or even smuggled some horrible way into the country.
A closed band means he was born in some of the countries that follow the CITES regulations about importing or moving parrots from one country to another, probably here in the US.
HOWEVER, some breeders do not band babies at all and others remove bands (and few bands can be traced back to breeders or are dated).
What is he eating? Seed diet? Seed with fruits, veggies? Seed with supplements?
Has he seen an Avian vet? If not, please locate one that treats birds, not just a vet that sees all animals including birds.
His meanness could indicate pain, illness, or other medical issues that we are not qualified to advise you on.
Does he play with toys, groom himself well and sit high and tall sometimes?
Or does he appear depressed, refuse to play, doesn’t groom, perhaps has very loose poop that can’t be related to an extra-juicy fruit he ate.
How does the other Senegal behave? What does she do when he is aggressive to her?
What size is their cage(s)?
Is his weight good or is he thin or perhaps a bit too heavy?
Have both birds been DNA verified as to their gender?
Any idea of the female’s age?
Right off the bat, if you know he has a clean bill of health from a qualified avian vet, I’d try weak green tea as drinking water.
You’ll find in the product description this quotation. “Scientists in Japan, where there is a large population of green tea drinkers, were puzzled over why people who drank copious amounts of this stuff (even though it contains large amounts of caffeine) were relaxed and not jittery after drinking several cups.
After several years of research, they isolated the compound that provided this relaxation and found it to be an amino acid, which they named L-theanine.
You may have to separate them for her safety if his aggression is serious because he could harm her.
Kirby needs basic training and you can find a nice affordable clicker, book, and accessories here. Also, check out our entire Training section that you may want to try once you have the basic “manners” commands accomplished such as “step up”.
Only reward good behavior, ignore any bad behavior. Don’t let him train you!.
Here’s a quote from Mitch I happened to read today regarding Peaches, their Senegal.
“Lunging and biting are unacceptable behaviors. Saying “no bite” and “bad bird” has zero effect. Ignore bad behavior reward good behavior.
On Tuesday the second day Peaches was going to come to work she lunged at me with my hand in the cage, while I asked for a “step-up”.
I said nothing, closed her cage door and went to the shop.
I came back two hours later. She stepped up this time and we spent a few minutes with the chopstick, clicker and a few unsalted sunflower kernels. She was happy to come to the shop by then.
This is the sort of taming and training process he needs if you eventually want a companion Kirby.
I honestly think you made a mistake adding the female, but now that you have added her to the family, you have accepted the responsibility of providing a good “forever” home for her.
If she is tame or even semi-tame, you may be able to get her to begin doing step up and other manner commands as described in the book I recommended above.
He may become interested to see what she’s having so much fun with. It frequently happens, but not in all cases.
Please get back to me with as much info as you can provide on the bird’s environment, housing, toys, food, history and anything else you think might help me analyze what is best to recommend for Kirby.
Don’t be afraid to give us lots of info, every little clue helps us help you.
Again, Mickey, I am so glad you found me here at Windy City Parrot. I’ve tried to let as many of my contacts as I can know where I am but sometimes emails change or other factors prevent the messages from getting to you.
I will gladly do all I can to help you with Kirby and his lady companion.
I look forward to hearing from you really soon.
November 4, 2016
Eating all mentioned…super varied diet…remember I have had birds for over 50 years and did rescue also.
My birds eat everything…pellets…fruits…cereals…veggies…rice…some seed…you name it. He is gorgeous..and super healthy. Shiny and sleek.
Yes, he has been to an AVIAN vet…bloods etc…all was perfect.
Never has loose poop. Never has a runny nose…never fluffed up.
He plays all the time…chirps..laughs up a storm…mimics me …super happy and active. He can be sweet as can be..and it is unusual…he will allow me to skritch his head and rub his beak…if it’s DARK in the room!
Zipper is a DNA sexed female..and yes he is a male…DNA sexed.
She is about 6 I think. He is about 12 to 15 now. I have papers just not looking right now.
Zipper is WONDERFUL…in fact, I take her to nursing homes…she is an angel. TRULY an angel.
She is even good with other birds.
When he bites her or goes after her? She runs away…he chases. OR..she stands her ground and they bicker.
They do not sit side by side..and will not eat together…I have many food cups so they don’t have to argue.
They are both just beautiful birds…Perfect weight…feather…
He is never sad..depressed..or ever looks unhappy. In fact? I think he enjoys aggravating me..he laughs like crazy when he knows I am frustrated. I know it is his nervous reaction but well-timed 🙂
I think the cage is very large considering they rarely go on the bottom half. They stay up higher.
Yes, I sadly agree…I was so upset to see Kirby not liking me or the attention…I thought at least he’d have a birdie friend.
NOT SMART. I know…but she is a wonderful bird…EASILY handled and squished and loved.
The second I open the cage door she is out sticking her foot out for me to take her.
She is very well behaved and a dream.
If I had the room? I would get another cage and separate them.
But I have a tiny house and I can’t. I mean unless he truly hurts her? Then I will remove her.
I DO ignore the bad behavior and reward the good…but until you have been bitten by an AVIAN CANOPENER?
There is NO WAY I am ever ever ever going to let Kirby near me again.
He bit a giant chunk out of my shoulder…and the scar is still healing. I don’t need him to be handled…I am ok with him being a wild and crazy guy, but the displaced aggression is NOT ok. There is NO reason for it.
I have done clicker training with my dogs…Kirby is dangerous.
I mean it, Nora..he will bite to the bone…then laugh his ass off !!!
Yet when I adopted him he allowed me to handle him. I didn’t get Zipper for years later so it wasn’t her.
I love him of course…but I have at times seriously considered euthanasia. I would never give this bird to anyone.
Thank you so much for your answer…enclosed are pictures 🙂 I change and rotate toys constantly. I DO let Kirby out in the bathroom with Zipper once in a while. But it is so stressful to catch him…I do so less and less.
IN the summer I put them outside during the day in a huge cage…they LOVE IT.
But…catching Kirby to bring him in is such a pain in my ass. I, of course, clip their wings and check them daily…and NO..I don’t believe in allowing full flight with pet birds. I would rather be safe than sorry.
My last lovie just passed…34 !!! And I know because I had his mom and dad 🙂 They also lived into their early 30’s.
The top cage is 2 parakeets…my elderly guy just died..he was 9 🙂
And I went to the pet store and took a little baby that wasn’t doing so well..it was much too young…I hate pet stores. Anyway, he is now doing fine and the girl [parakeet is happy 🙂
SO good talking to you again.
November 5, 2016
Hi again Mickey! Thanks for all the details. You’ve given me lots of helpful info. I just need a few more pieces, please.
But I have an idea that I see what may be some parts of his big change in personality.
I remembered you were not anywhere near a novice with parrots but I didn’t remember how long you’d been doing it!
Amazing and such roomy cages it is not a space issue and you feed a great diet.
Clearly, you love and care for your birds very well and have for such a long time.
I need to know if these changes in Kirby began when your husband became ill. I’m going to make a guess at what might have happened, it’s a guess because I don’t know the time frame in which all these changes happened in your life.
When Kirby came home with you he was already an adult, and tame.
I don’t recall if you and your husband were retired or working full time when you first got Kirby, but your life was moving along in whatever your schedule and pattern of activity was normal for you.
I’m sure including as much time with Kirby as possible. Kirby settled into that environment and was happy.
Suddenly when your husband became ill, things dramatically changed. Between working two full-time jobs, caring for your ill spouse, caring for the birds, cooking, cleanings, all of life’s demands didn’t leave you with as much time to interact with Kirby.
Even if you were working before, suddenly you had more hours away, possibly with nurses and physical therapy people (strangers) sometimes coming in while you were away.
And when you were home, you had a lot of caregiving responsibilities. Kirby may have developed a sense of anxiety because he didn’t understand what was going on.
He just didn’t have as much time with you, his favorite human, as he had before.
He may have felt a slight sense of abandonment because he didn’t see and hear you or spend as much quality time with you.
Then your then-husband becomes well, schedules change again. But you then go through a stressful time emotionally because of his actions.
Suddenly the soon to be ex is taking things away and then Kirby sees him disappear. Likely more changes were made in your life and schedule.
Senegals are sensitive, very smart birds and need a lot of interaction with their human and he developed emotional anxiety because of so many changes happening.
He would also have been picking up on your stress and other emotions during these trying times in your household.
Everything around him changed and changed and he felt little or no control.
Senegals love to have control of their environment and just one small accidental reinforcement during aggression or attempt to take control of their situation. I wonder if this is not somewhere near the sequence of events.
I’ve read that Poicephalus males can easily become aggressive and both genders can hold a grudge.
He may even feel jealous of how Zipper does interact with you, yet somehow can’t get over his sense of anxiety and aggression.
If you plan to leave Kirby and Zipper together, I suggest you do a cage remodel.
Use a collection of toys to create two areas at the same height in the corners or along two sides that are a bit more than “bird-sized” spaces where the birds can perch between the side of the cage and the “wall of toys”.
Or you can creatively come up with another way to create two privacy areas that are equal.
This way Zipper can hide in one area and run Kirby away easily. Kirby will then likely go into this privacy area to sleep or play.
Check out this blog post about the Cage Canopy Concept.
Senegals and all parrots are “prey birds” meaning they are killed and eaten by predators. They do not like anything above their heads or above their cages because that is how a predator would likely attack.
If the aggression changed when the budgies were hung above his indoor cage, that could also be the stressor that brought this aggression and territorial control out.
If my “guesstimate” of what might have happened doesn’t sound like it fits, please think of what changed specifically when Kirby first became aggressive.
Every bird, as you well know, has its own personality. Perhaps Kirby is never going to bond to Zipper. But given time, he still could.
I hope for the best for all your birds. Please stay in touch for friendly chats like we used to have and whenever you need help with your parrots.
November 6, 2016
Well, you know what? I think you may have something here. I was working my brains out…and all of a sudden the animals main or major caregiver..ME…was gone until bedtime…and Paul was home 24/7.
He was much easier with the birds…as I am the Dominant one and the routine-oriented one. Kirby was spoiled rotten…whereas I am much more structured.
Being a Dog Trainer that is usually how I interact with all animals…in training mode.
The keets were always above them.
Kirby and Zipper have been together in the same cage for years now. Zipper comes out to me and Kirby stays behind.
That’s the routine. I hold her..kiss her..pet her..and stick her back. They have a safe relationship.
IF I felt she was not safe? I’d separate them immediately.
They just seem to bicker when it happens…never really touching each other.
I like the idea of having toys as a wall…but I think that would make each bird more territorial of THEIR SPACE no? Then it will be a bigger problem.
Yes, I love him dearly…but hate the Beast. He has bitten me…severely…at least 3 times…
He came out of his cage once…I wanted him to go back in cause the dogs were loose in the kitchen.
He fell to the floor..I ran to him and stuck my hand out and told him to step up…it NEVER occurred to me he would bite me with the severity he did.
He stepped onto my hand…then bit my finger to the bone !!! It was so deep and so fast and so hard my entire finger turned white from him holding so tight….when I finally got him off me?
It took about 2 seconds for the blood to start pouring. It was unreal how badly he bit me. I was horrified. And so hurt !!
I have a little Chihuahua mix dog named Pittie, she was Pauls baby. She is 14 years old.
She slept with him…ate with him…you name it. And now?
He has been gone since last April…(year and a half ago) and still….she looks for him everywhere.
She was never fond of me… I mean HE was her master, I was just her maid!
STILL…she misses him and is depressed..it is SO sad…and to be honest Nora?
I dream about Paul, not just once in awhile….EVERY NIGHT…and think of him all day long…
Just because I threw him out…doesn’t mean I didn’t love him…and 34 years is a long time.
We, me and the animals..are still grieving the loss of our loved one.
I am going to give all of this a lot of thought…thank you sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees 🙂
BUT…that doesn’t mean I will ever try to touch Kirby again!
Last time I leaned her his cage to get something? He bit my shoulder SO hard I just sat on the floor and cried. The scar is large..and so is my fear.
Why do you think he allows me to pet his head and beak when it’s dark?
He is very mushy then…purrs to me…leans into my finger…WTH?
Talk again soon…thanks for all the tips !!
PS…he is not crazy about toys…and neither is Zipper…
November 6, 2016
Morning ! I just noticed something interesting about Kirby.
I am sitting at my desk…about 12 ft away from his cage…and facing the corner.
I have a corner desk..and a huge 60 in tv above it. I just noticed, when I am on my computer…I have a clear reflection of the birds behind me.
I just now noticed…when I am on the puter…Kirby is bobbing back and forth and doing mating motions…to ME.
Mind you he is doing all of this to the back of me 12 ft away. He is NOT doing this to Zipper who is casually eating a foot away from him.
What’s up with that?
November 6, 2016
Hi Mickey, Interesting observation. You see how subtle things can be. Kirby is so human bonded he may be unable to transfer that bonding to another of his own species.
It happened with my SunDance, the sun conure and the mate she selected. She bonded but he was so human bonded, he was unable to respond properly.
And remember, parrots defend their mates by biting them to scare them from perceived danger. Their perception is often not the same as ours as your long experience has certainly shown you over time.
Can you relate this situation to the timing of Kirby’s personality changes in any way?
Add that to the timing of the other life changes and I think we may be at the root of the problem.
Also, Zipper moved into Kirby’s cage, correct? He may well see her as an intruder into the love you and he shared.
The complete cage redesign as in the Canopy Cage Concept may help break this territorial problem.
Let me know your thoughts.
November 6, 2016
Mickey, a quick PS to my just sent reply. Even though the Senegals aren’t huge fans of toys, you can still use the concept of the Canopy to create privacy areas in the cage which each deserves as places to rest and escape to when Zipper is tired of Kirby’s bothering her when he is chasing her around.
It will make life better for both of them, whether they actually play with the toys or a lot of just use them as places to be alone.
November 7, 2016
Will try all you suggest…cage remake this week:) Thanks so much Nora…as usual you are such a help ! Mick