10 y/o caique we adopted in June seems to have a separation anxiety issue

The black-headed caique, Pionites melanocephalus, on white background
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Lynn F writes

I see you ride also, kinda thought so by your picture.

Guess that’s profiling, lol.

Thanks for your help.

Are there any things you can steer me to that will help with hollering?

I know birds holler, but a rehomed 10 y/o caique we adopted in June seems to have a separation anxiety issue.

He hollers for my husband, his chosen human if he knows he’s anywhere nearby, and for me if I leave the living room and he knows I’m nearby.

I’ll explain details if you need them.

 

Mitch Rezman replied

 mitch rocket shed2 10 y/o caique we adopted in June seems to have a separation anxiety issue

 

One of the first things we advocate is to not tell the bird to “shut up” or “be quiet”.

 

You’re now interacting with the bird.

 

The bird thinks “this is great” and whatever you just said “scream-scream-scream” is the response.

 

When a chosen mate leaves the room, use some sort of cue like “I’ll be back” reassuring your bird that you will come back soon and that he or she needn’t worry.

 

Putting your bird in a timeout situation like back in the cage is not something your bird is going to understand.

 

One of the things you can try is something we call “redirection”.

 

You’ll need to have a saucepan and wooden spoon stashed around the corner from a place your bird cannot see.

 

When the person (people) leaving the room turns the corner and is no longer visible, they will hear the bird scream.

 

 

At that point they should grab the pot and and wooden spoon to make a “bang bang bang” sound.

 

In most cases the bird will be distracted and quiet momentarily.

 

This is where the person who made the noise goes into the room and praises the bird’s momentary silence offering a high-value treat like a sunflower seed with no shell.

 

Please try that and let us know how it works

 

Lynn replied

Ok will do.

 

We rarely react in an attention getting way when they scream.

 

We know they think, hey cool now we’re both screaming.

 

I do talk to him when I leave the room just like I was still in there when he quiets for a second.

 

I also tell them I’m right here, I didn’t go far, I’ll be right back.

 

I think part of the problem is that he can sometimes see my husband in the back and that’s when it gets bad.

 

Don’t want to close the drapes but might try something on the patio that distracts his view.  

 

How do you suggest I handle it when I leave the room, to do a chore, or whatever and no one else is there.

 

It’s only the 2 of us and birds.

 

Will doing the 3 bangs on a pot, then reward the quiet work or create a monster wanting a treat?

 

One thing I’ve noticed is that when it’s treat time, usually an almond, they all must have one so it worries me the others might scream to get a treat also.

 

 

We have 11 birds in the living room.

 

The 3 budgies are the only ones who don’t go nuts for almonds.

 

There are also 5 lovebirds and a Quaker.

 

The Quaker is a fairly recent rescue, smart bird, and I think he thinks he’s a caique now.

 

He has to have everything they have and copies them.

 

Thanks for your help, will check out your videos and this suggestion and let you know how it works.

 

Maybe he’ll even like me, he thinks I’m only good for morning yogurt (small taste) & taking him immediately to daddy.

 

He will bob me if I’m not doing it fast enough.

 

When we first got them (he has a 3 y/o mate who is a sweetheart) he liked and played with me a lot.

 

Sadly I don’t trust him much now, too many bites because I wasn’t doing what he wanted fast enough.

 

But I’m learning his body language.

 

He will also lunge at me when I walk by him to bite, yet will still play like we’re friends at times.

 

I know we haven’t had them long and we’re still learning.

 

But the lunging is bothersome, I don’t understand why.  

 

When we got them, he had bonded with the 3 y/o so we took them as a pair.

 

They had been together about 8 months at the time.

 

His story: he had been with the same man 8 years, then one day the man got a gf or wife and kissed her while holding the bird.

 

He got bit, well duh, stupid thing to do.

 

Then he just got rid of him.

 

Thankfully he got a great lady to take him and he bonded with the female she raised.

 

So if he has a separation anxiety of some kind I can understand why, just want to try and help him feel like he’s got a forever home.

 

And I don’t want the female, who is a sweetie to pick up his screaming or anxiety.

 

He doesn’t seem to understand toys or playing either, kind of sad.

 

 

She will play and play by herself, he guards her but rarely plays.

 

Though he is learning. They will play wrestle together a lot, but that seems to be new to him also.

 

I don’t think he even knows he can fly.

 

Both of their wings are clipped but she can still fly fairly well up to 20 ft.

 

He has never flown and when they play and he gets knocked off the cage he pretty much falls.

 

Which scares me, he has recently started using his wings for a softer landing but I’m still afraid he’s going to get hurt.

 

Sorry for this long story, but hoping you can direct me.

 

We have rescued a handful, adopted birds needing re-homing and bought a few.

 

This is really the only one I’m not sure how to help.

 

He would be happy to just sit on or near his daddy all day.

 

Mitch replied

 

Armed with a new information about 11 birds in the living room seriously changes the dynamic of all of this.

 

Caiques are high-energy birds that love to entertain while being entertained.

 

The next step would be to determine where the jealousies lie.

 

With the caique being the largest bird in the flock it could be as simple as an alpha male thing.

 

This is something you have to test for.

 

 

Experiment with isolating the bird in another room in its own cage and see if you get a different set of reactions.

 

That may help you determine if it’s the avian or the human influence that triggers the screaming.

 

You bring up a great point about training all the other birds to scream in order to receive a treat.

 

You don’t know until you try.

 

There are no rule books here.

 

We have birds from three continents: South America, Australia and Africa.

 

If you look at that in the context of human you can see why not everyone necessarily wants to play well with others.

 

In conclusion test for various scenarios.

 

Time is your friend here.

 

I suspect it will take months to achieve what steps are necessary to quiet one of the 11 birds in your speaking as someone who has 11 birds in his living room.

 

best

mitchr

 

Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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