By Diane Burroughs
Parrots, like any pet, will mature and develop hormonal or seasonal behaviors. Hormonal parrots strut, flat back and become more temperamental. They are more territorial than usual, too, making the parrot difficult to handle. Do hormones contribute to rehoming parrots or placing them for adoption?
Seasonal Behavior in Birds
Most women can attest that hormones play havoc with moods. Parrots, thankfully, experience hormonal behavior only once or possibly twice a year. The hormonal behavior lasts several weeks at a time and are associated with the seasonality of daylight. It is easy to forget during difficult weeks that the rest of the year a parrot is not hormonal. There are a lot of things you can to do help your parrot deal with the heightened moodiness and irritability it experiences due to hormones. Read on for ideas.
These behaviors are really irritating. You may not be able to change your hormonal parrots agitation but you can manage it. Learn to read hormonal behavior and train your bird to be gentle the rest of the year.
How do you know if your bird is hormonal?
- Your bird tries to regurgitate as a sign of love.
- Your bird pants while crouching with a lowered head and wings dropped.
- Your bird shreds soft materials like paper and leafy bird toys in its drive to make a nest.
- You find your bird seeking out dark, confined spaces as though it were wanting to nest.
- Your bird lashes out realizing that you are not a “real” mate.”
- Your bird rubs its vent in effort to relieve stress of sexual desire.
If your bird is displaying these behaviors in late winter or early spring and it is of age, you can bet that it is hormonal. Seasonal hormones are temporary and not a reason for rehoming parrots.
With several pet birds, I experience parrot hormonal behavior every year. The only time I’ve ever been bitten has been during seasonal hormonal behavior. Smokey, my Congo African Grey bites quickly and what seems to be less predictably. He breaks the skin when he bites. Peachy, my Moluccan Cockatoo bites less than once a year when he is hormonal and his bites leave a bruise. Learning how to read my parrots body language has been incredibly helpful. As an inexperienced” parrot newby,” I was bit several times a year. Now, I’m only bit once or twice a year total between my 5 parrots!
Many birds are rehomed due to biting that arises during hormonal periods. But, try these things to deal with hormonal aggression:
- Move your bird to a neutral location away from it’s cage for socialization. Most birds consider their cage a “nest box” of sorts and become increasingly territorial as their hormone levels rise.
- Don’t be above using Finger Saving Perches! The Percher is a great device to use when your territorial or hormonal bird bites while being handled. With a T-Perch and a protective cone to shield your hand, you can pick your bird up and move it as needed.
- Some people use oven mitts to handle their biting bird.
- Train your bird using frequent repetition when it is not hormonal and use treats to entice your bird to “manage it’s emotions” when it is hormonal. Keep training sessions to about 10-15 minutes, the length of an adult parrots attention span.
Hormonal birds tend to be more noisy and exuberant. An otherwise tolerable Cockatoo or Amazon parrot may vocalize a lot as it vents it’s sexual frustration.
- Bird Trainers agree that the best way to deal with screaming behavior in general is to ignore the behavior while showering your bird with praise and attention when it is quiet.
- Remember that seasonal screaming will end. Birds tend to be louder in spring and summer months as the days get longer. Your goal in dealing with seasonal screaming is to NOT teach your bird to scream for attention by yelling, punishing or otherwise paying attention to it while it is screaming.
- Develop a “special” soft contact whistle to use with each of your birds as a way to communicate to them and let them know where you are at. Praise your bird when it uses the whistle as it’s way to communicate to you.
If your bird is displaying these behaviors in late winter or early spring and it is of age, you can bet that it is hormonal. Seasonal hormones are temporary and not a reason for rehoming parrots. If you are experiencing this situation and fearful of your bird, I suggest that you learn to read parrot body language and initiate bird training as soon as possible.
4 Tips to reduce hormones in birds:
- Never rub or stroke your hormonal parrot below the neck.
- Remove anything that simulates a nest box.
- Offer more wood toys and foraging toys to use up that “pent up” energy.
- Make sure your bird gets 10-12 hours of darkness each night.
But, how about those parrots that have already been placed in a shelter? These birds are perfectly capable of integrating into a home where they are loved. Respectable parrot shelters train you on how to bond with a parrot. Just because a parrot has been relinquished doesn’t mean it will be a temperamental or aggressive pet. On the contrary! Rehoming is usually the human at fault. Parrot adoptions from a shelter are a successful match for both you and the parrot in need of a forever home.
- Read this article to learn more about training a rehomed parrot. Adopt an older bird that needs to be rehomed
- Prepare for annual hormonal behavior by learning parrot body language and eliminating sexually stimulation as much as possible.
- Train your bird with proven bird training techniques to build trust when it is hormonal.
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