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Taming Aggressive Birds

Taking the Bite Out of Bird Ownership

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Taming Aggressive Birds

Most birds bite out of fear rather than viciousness.

There is no such thing as a mean bird. It's true! There are, however, birds that are fearful, and birds with emotional problems that cause them to want to avoid handling at all costs. When birds with these problems find themselves in pet situations, it can be disastrous for both bird and owner.

If your pet bird bites you when you try to handle it, it is critical that you address the issue. To do this, you must set aside time each day to work on handling your feathered friend. When working with your pet, use the following tips and techniques to help your pet understand that handling is safe and fun.

  • Move to a neutral location. If possible, move your bird's cage to a neutral location during training sessions. Removing a bird from its "territory" can sometimes make it more willing to cooperate with its owner.

  • Have no fear. If your bird lunges at your fingers when you place your hand in its cage, try not to jerk away suddenly out of fear. Your swift movements will likely make your bird even more nervous and apprehensive.

  • Use tools when necessary. If your bird is so aggressive that you cannot safely place your hand inside its cage, try wearing thick oven mitts on your hands. If your bird bites the mitt, gently push in towards his beak rather than pulling away. This will eventually teach him that no matter how hard he bites you, he cannot make your hand disappear.

  • Never yell at your bird. Raising your voice in anger (or pain) will not make your bird understand that he has done wrong. In fact, it is more likely to reinforce your bird's bad behavior as he will love getting a such a big reaction out of you.

  • Try bearing gifts. Offer your bird treats and speak in a soothing voice when you are trying to handle him. Using treats and praise will help your pet be more willing to interact with you.

  • Repetition is key. Make time to work with your bird at least once a day to ensure taming success. It sometimes takes a while to build up trust with a bird. Don't give up!

  • Don't overwork your bird. Keep training sessions at a fifteen minute maximum initially. Birds are intelligent and sensitive creatures, and they need to have some fun in order to maintain their mental health and keep from becoming stressed.
If you follow these guidelines and put in the neccesary effort, chances are you will be able to tame your pet in a relatively short amount of time. If your bird is so aggressive that you cannot attempt any of these training exercises, the first thing you should do is visit your avian veterinarian to rule out any health concerns. If there are no physical reasons for your pet's undesirable behavior, contact a certified parrot behavior consultant for an expert opinion on your situation.

Photo of "Pepper" courtesy of Patricia Lowery and Marvette Hillis.
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