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I have a question. At the pet store where I work, we have a white bellied Caique named Buddy. He's 2 years old and a complete sweetheart. He is out of his cage nearly all day, either playing on his playtop or, more likely, hanging out with an employee.

Recently, though, he has started climbing up and perching on people's heads. He can be very aggressive if you try to remove him.

Is there some way we can "fix" this behavior, or is there anything we should be doing to prevent this type of behavior? Or should we just try our best to keep him from perching on heads?
 

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It sounds as if he is trying to be dominant, or top of the pecking order, as it were. Highest bird = in charge. When he tries to climb up, put him back down on your arm/hand straightaway before he gets any chance to climb up, or distract him with something else. Target training is useful in these situations. It's also interesting to note that you say he is 2 years old, and caiques reach sexual maturity between 2-3 years of age, so he might turn into a little terror.

I work with various parrots and I rarely let them on my shoulder. I think that even the nicest macaw can get spooked and lash out, and with those beaks it is no fun being bitten, especially around the face area, and the caiques we have definitely have that "small parrot syndrome" as we call it. They think they are as large as a hyacinth macaw :p
 

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Yes don't forget they naturally go to the highest place as well for safety and a good all around view of the possible threats that could occur even though they are not wild birds they still have these instincts inbuilt to their systems.
 

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Yes don't forget they naturally go to the highest place as well for safety and a good all around view of the possible threats that could occur even though they are not wild birds they still have these instincts inbuilt to their systems.
I think my Tony likes to sit on top of my head for that reason as well as he likes to poop in my hair :laughing:
 

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It sounds as if he is trying to be dominant, or top of the pecking order, as it were. Highest bird = in charge.
This belief has been part of the parrot world for a long time, but it is in fact untrue. Birds do not really have astray turned pecking order n their flock like dogs have in packs or horses have in herds. However, the highest place is the most favorable, because it is the SAFEST place, the best vantage point from which to survey the room. Many birds bite when they are on heads, shoulders, or high perches simply because they do not want to come down and biting makes the hand go away.

If a bird bites when on shoulders/heads/anywhere else, he is not allowed in that spot until he learns to step up nicely without biting. Every single new bird I have ever brought home (I currently live with 28 parrots) has had to be taught not to bite when being removed from favorite places. It is an issue of manors.

That said, caiques are going to be one of the tougher species to do this with, so you are going to have to be extra strict and extra consistent. I suggest no longer allowing the bird on heads or shoulders.

Several years ago I called up Dr. Steve Hartman of the Parrot Univesity, the guy who invented the aviator harness. He is working toward the domestication of parrots, and I wanted to do the same. I will be honest and admit he told me I was naive in the questions I brought to him, but one of the things he told me is that he does not think caiques are good candidate for pets because of their aggressive personalities. Not just meaning that they bite, but that they do what they want when they want. He said they are great pet store sellers because they see a person, hop onto them, and run up their arm to their shoulder and the person is thinking "they chose me" when really they just wanted a higher seat so they took it.

So realize that what the bird needs is training and boundaries, but don't be surprised when that is harder to do with a caique than it is with a cockatiel :)
 

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This belief has been part of the parrot world for a long time, but it is in fact untrue. Birds do not really have astray turned pecking order n their flock like dogs have in packs or horses have in herds. However, the highest place is the most favorable, because it is the SAFEST place, the best vantage point from which to survey the room.
I'm saying this through my personal experience, and I don't believe it to be untrue, or at least 100% untrue. I've got a scarlet macaw and green winged macaw that have bonded. They rule this roost in this massive (at least 60ft) parrot flight aviary. They dislike it a lot when our less dominant birds (b&g macaw in particular) try and climb higher than them, and they are soon told off, even to the point of sitting on the floor, which isn't ideal, but perches have been put down but I am in the middle of rectifying the situation. It's not even like they don't want them near them, as long as they're lower to the floor then they don't care. I know they are flock animals but some will be more dominant than others, and want the best spots, the best food etc. maybe pecking order not AS much as it makes me think of chickens and not parrots. But the more dominant birds want the best perches, and the OP's caique getting angry when being removed from someone's head shows he wants the top spot... And the fact that he's a naughty caique. I've had day one handreared macaws land on my head and I don't just simply believe it's because they wanted to get a better view in that situation., but then I believe also that they simply miscalculated their flight path, or landing. I have another b&G macaw that is great with me, but when he climbs up my shoulder (when I let my guard down) he gets narky and starts playing up. I think the individual bird and the environment just have to be taken into account.
 
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