Correcting Bad Bird Habits

Many pet birds display behavioral issues that can be difficult to deal with.

Birds are very intelligent animals, but can frequently be misbehavers as well. Many pet bird owners have had to deal with their birds screaming, biting, acting aggressively, and generally being difficult. These behavior problems are often curable, as long as you are patient and take the right approach. Remember, there is always a reason for your bird acting out. You should first understand what these possible causes are.

Causes of Behavioral Problems: Most of the causes of bad behavior are stress-related. Here are the factors that could lead to aggression:

  • Cage Issues: Birds need lots of room to roam. If their cage is too is too small, they will be easily agitated. Additionally, you should make sure your bird’s cage is in an area with lots of natural light where he can interact with, but not be overwhelmed by, the members of the family. The cage should always be just below eye level, so that the bird is neither threatened by taller humans nor given the impression that he is superior. Also, realize that if your bird is new in his cage, he may be uncomfortable with the strange surroundings.
  • Sleep Deprivation: Sleep deprivation is another potential stressing factor. Parrots and other large birds need at least ten hours of sleep each night. To help them, you may want to consider getting a sleeper cage in a quiet room.
  • Fear: Oftentimes, birds exhibit aggression out of fear. A fight or flight reaction is natural to wild animals, and since your bird’s cage and potentially clipped wings strip him of the ability to fly away, a fighting reaction is common.
  • Boredom: Birds are naturally gregarious, so being alone in an empty house may be difficult for your pet to deal with. They may react to this by screaming or acting out.
  • Illness: If your bird is sick, it can cause stress, pain, and difficult behavior. If you are worried about potential diseases, you should take your bird to a veterinarian.
  • Control or dominance: Your bird may be acting out as a way to demonstrate dominance. Birds will get especially territorial when they are feeding or breeding.

How to Treat Bad Birds

  • Ignore Bad Behavior: The most important thing to do if your bird is screaming, biting, or otherwise acting out is to remain calm. If you get frazzled, or yell, your bird will actually love the attention, and try to continue his behavior. Instead, you should try to ignore a misbehaving bird completely. This will let your bird know he is out of line.
  • Reward Good Behavior: Conversely, when your bird is behaving properly, you should reward him and lavish him with attention and praise. Your bird will love this, and realize how he should be acting. Reinforcing good behavior is the key to managing your bird’s actions.
  • Treat the Underlying Causes: Try to figure out exactly why your bird is misbehaving and work to correct that. Here are some possible solutions:
    • Make sure your bird’s cage is in a good location and he is getting enough sleep.
    • If your bird is very territorial, try taking him out of the cage more often so he is less attached to it.
    • Make sure your bird has toys to play with while you are gone.
    • Always be gentle and praise your bird. This will help him get to know you and trust you.