Re: Cockatiel biting
Posted by karen on 9/05/07
below is the link & info on biting that you may want to read
Phobic aggression and your parrot
Quite often I get calls saying that a parrot has started
biting for no reason. A parrot never bites for no reason,
most times the parrot was either over stimulated, afraid, or
is showing displaced aggression. Parrots do not become
aggressive for no reason and many times they are not
displaying true aggression but fear.
Living with a companion parrot may be very trying at times
with the busy life styles we all lead. What we need to
remember is that we chose to have them come into our lives;
they did not choose to live their lives in a cage or on a play
stand. Although many parrots live long happy lives within our
households given the right environment, many lead very unhappy
lives within our households. We need to learn to recognize
that it is not the parrots’ fault about 90% of the time. We
are to blame not the parrot. When a parrot suddenly becomes a
biter we need to sit back and take a look at the whole picture.
Is my parrot receiving enough exercise? Is my parrot on a
good diet? Do I spend enough one on one time with my parrot
on a daily basis? Do I have unrealistic expectations for this
particular bird? Is his environment stimulating enough for
him? Does he receive enough sleep? Do I send mixed signals
when handling my parrot? Does my parrot trust me?
Although we try and do what we think is best, often times we
are not meeting the basic needs of our companions.
More times than not I see owners who have lost the bond of
trust with their parrots and they feel it is the parrots
fault. It is never the parrots’ fault in this case. You may
never know exactly what broke the bond of trust; the important
thing is winning back the trust you once shared. In order to
do this it takes patience, consistency, and love.
If your parrot now fears you handling him or bites whenever
you try to handle him, you need to take a step back and
evaluate the situation.
What is my body language saying to this bird? Am I stressed
out more often than not? Am I sending aggressive signals to
the bird? Often times owners tell me “I am doing everything
right”, well obviously not if you are having difficulties.
We tend to forget that these creatures are not domesticated
and therefore need to be handled with respect. Dogs have been
domesticated for over 14,000 generations; parrots are only
three generations out of the wild making them still a wild
animal. You would never expect a baby lion to grow and live
within your household like your cat. So we should not expect
parrots to love us unconditionally like a dog or a cat. Love
and trust needs to be earned, it should not be expected.
What can I do to repair the damage?
First we need to evaluate cage placement, diet, health,
exercise, stimuli, and whether or not your lifestyle is
conducive to living with a companion parrot. Once these
things are in order you may begin behavior modification.
If your parrot is biting you out of fear, you will have to
stop forcing yourself on the bird. Start sitting next to the
cage and watching TV or reading without making any motions to
disturb the bird. Simply allow your parrot to adjust to being
near you without being handled. Once your feel your parrot is
comfortable with you near his cage you may start to talk
softly without making eye contact. Start feeding him favorite
foods through the safety of the bars while talking to him.
Always work with the bird when you are calm and not stressed.
Parrots read our body language better than most animals or
people. Continue over the course of several weeks making no
attempts to handle the bird. Once you see the parrot
responding to you, you may attempt to pet or scratch him
through the bars of the cage. Never forcing yourself upon the
bird at anytime.
The next step will be to have the parrot step up onto your arm
or a Booda Perch (only if they are comfortable with this type
training). When they do step up praise, praise, praise and
ask them to step back down, praise. Do this over the course
of a week without attempting to pet or touch the bird. You
are taking small steps to ensure your parrot feels safe being
handled by you again. The following week you may have the
parrot step up, praise, step down, praise, and step up again,
praise. At this point if the parrot seems relaxed you may
attempt to have them sit with you on a T stand or play gym in
another room near you. Praising and talking softly the whole
time you are working with the parrot. After a short period
ask the bird to step up again and return him to his cage,
praise. Continue these small baby steps until your parrot is
asking for love and affection from you again. When he does
allow you to pet him showing no fear or aggression, move
slowly and stop the affection before he asks you to stop.
Remember you can never praise a wanted behavior enough. We
tend to be quick to discipline and slow to praise. Parrots do
not understand discipline therefore you should always only
praise wanted behavior and redirect unwanted behaviors. If
while working with the bird you are bitten, remember not to
give a response of any kind or you will have to start all over
again with building the trust bond. Parrots also enjoy a
strong reaction and will repeat a behavior if they receive
Living with a companion parrot can be a wonderful experience
only if there is a mutual respect between owner and bird. So
the next time you are upset with your parrot stop and take a
good look at the situation and yourself.
R-REDIRECTION, NOT REACTION
Consultant The Polite Parrot