It’s that time of year again!  A time when a birds behavior is RULED by  hormones! 

Are your birds wandering the floor?  Checking out cupboards, closets, boxes and anything else that could prove to be a possible nest site?  Any little, dark cubby hole will do! 

Are your birds making a lot more NOISE these days?  Maybe shredding newspapers, toys and anything else they can get their little beaks on?

Don’t despair - it’s only natural and this too shall pass.  Keep in mind that your birds behavior is driven by the call of nature - the need to nest!  You may notice an increase in vocalization (screaming!), irritability or even downright aggression!  They may be more territorial about their cage, food dishes and toys.  

The answer my friend is NOT to get a mate or friend of the opposite sex for your bird.  You’ll only compound the problem.  Most people have no idea how much work is involved in breeding and raising birds.  You don’t have to resort to selling your bird as a breeder either.  If your bird is a good companion most of the time - chances are, he / she will not prove to be a good breeder.  By making some simple adjustments to your birds daily life you CAN all get along and get through this difficult period.  

First and foremost - make sure your bird is getting 11-12 hours of DARKNESS per night.  Amount of sleep - like afternoon naps won't help. Lengthening days and increased amounts of artificial light will cause a birds reproductive organs to increase in size which in turn triggers a significant increase in hormonal activity.  By limiting the amount of daylight and / or artificial light the bird receives, you can turn this situation around.  If you cannot sufficiently darken the room the bird is in, then put a dark cover over the cage. 

Make some changes in your birds DIET.  A diet rich in protein and fat, and or a diet that includes soft, warm foods, tells a bird that conditions are right for making and feeding babies.  

COOL soft, cooked foods to room temperature before feeding. 

LIMIT high protein foods like beans, corn, NUTS, cheese, meat, etc.   If you feed a high potency, pelleted diet with a high protein content, cut back a bit on the amount.  Offer instead more fresh vegetables, greens and of course a bit of fruit.  

You may be doing things to encourage undesirable, hormone related behavior without even realizing it! If stroking your birds back or petting them under the wings causes them to pant, regurgitate for you or make strange sounds, then at least for now - stop!  By stimulating your bird in this manner, you are sending the wrong message, confusing your poor feathered friend.

If your bird is acting very aggressive and / or dominant, a good wing trim will help considerably.  

Most importantly - Keep their mind off the idea of nesting by keeping them BUSY!  Maintain your own sanity and the love you have for your favorite feathered friends by making sure to provide an ever-changing assortment of toys to destroy!   Here at The Laughing Parrot we have everything you need to keep them happy and BUSY!  

Parrot Behavior Consultant Liz Wilson sums it up best in an article she wrote titled PARROT BEHAVIORAL MYTHS AND MISINFORMATION.  What follows is a humorous but oh so true, excerpt from that article:

             The Dreaded Sexual Maturity Thing

      "Many parrots (especially Amazons) don’t make good  pets after they reach sexual maturity, and need to be put in a breeding situation". 

This is a behavior myth that is repeated all the time, and from my experience, this is not necessarily true at all. I am a female human who suffers from PMS. My husband ALSO suffers from my PMS. And there have been times when he comes home to find me in the kitchen slamming cabinet doors. Now, if he should choose that moment to try to pick a fight with me, then that would be HIS problem, right? He would simply get his head ripped off.

But if from then on he never acted the same with me, if he acted unsure of me, then we would not still be together. And in a nutshell, I think that is what has happened with a lot of Amazons. The owner does not understand the bird’s body language and does not know what it means when an Amazon has its tail feathers fanned, its neck feathers up and it’s eyes flashing wildly. Now, anyone that knows anything about Amazons knows THAT bird is the avian equivalent to me slamming cabinet doors. In other words, this is NOT the time to try to start any meaningful exchanges. So, DON’T REACH FOR THAT BIRD!

But inexperienced owners might do just that, then not understand why quite suddenly they are bleeding. And because they didn’t recognize and understand the blatant warning signs the bird was displaying, they then decide that their bird is unpredictable and dangerous. From then on, they are afraid and hesitant with the parrot – and as we all know, people who are afraid and hesitant with parrots do not get along well with parrots. End result, the bird becomes cage-bound due to a lack of handling, and really does lose a lot of pet potential. But not so much due to the bird changing its behavior towards the human, but due to the human’s changing his/her response to the bird.

Liz Wilson, A Certified Veterinary Technician and Certified Parrot Behavior Consultant has been assisting pet bird owners with parrot behavior problems for over a decade through lectures, phone consultations, and house calls in the Greater Philadelphia area.  

We regret to announce that Liz Wilson passed away on April 13, 2013.

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