Biting: Why do Birds Bite?
a) The Bird is a Baby.
Baby parrots use their beaks to explore the world and to test things. This behavior should be discouraged. However, a dramatic response (loud yelling or laughing) may encourage the behavior. Harsh punishment also won’t work. Teach the bird “step-up” so you have more control over the bird. Be sure to practice step-ups with your parrot every day. Some parrot behaviorists recommend “laddering” a bird if its being nipping. This involves making the parrot do several (6 or so) step ups in succession between your two hands. You can also try the “earthquake” method. Shake your arm or body when the parrot nips to distract it. Do not, however, cause the bird to fall.
Some books may recommend giving the parrot a time out in its cage. This often does not work because the parrot may forget why it’s in the cage by the time you’ve gotten it in there.
b) Parrot is Territorial.
Some parrots will guard their cages, play stands, or favorite person. It is often a good idea to teach such a parrot to step up on a stick. That way, you can remove a cage-guarding parrot from its cage without being bitten. Many birds become quite territorial during breeding season. Male Amazons are particularly prone to this because in the wild they are the ones who build and guard a nest.
c) Parrot Does Not Want to do Something.
The parrot is trying to control you. If you show fear and always back off, the parrot will become even more aggressive. Be sure to do step-up practice daily so you can better control the bird.
d) Redirected Aggression
This can be a problem with parrots on shoulders. If the bird sees a rival person come in, something annoys it, or it becomes startled by something, it may bite its owner. In this case, the bird may not mean to bite the owner, but rather it became aggressive and just bit the nearest target. If you let a bird on your shoulder, be sure it is trustworthy and that it always gets off when you tell it to.
Frightened parrots will generally try to flee from danger, but if they cannot, they will bite whatever is scaring them. Never punish a very shy, fearful parrot.
f) Parrot is Overstimulated
This is common in the very active parrots, such as Amazons, Cockatoos, Caiques, and Conures, although any bird may do this. During playtime, the bird may become very excited and then bite its owner because it’s not thinking straight. Let an overly excited parrot calm down before you pick it up to avoid bites.