Parrots can be very unpredictable under the influence of hormones!
I feel very fortunate. So far the breeding season has been kind to my birds and, in turn, to me. There hasn’t been nearly as much drama as is customary during this time of year. Each season is different, and there is no way to be certain how intensely our birds will be affected by the dreaded hormones. I hope I am not jinxing myself by mentioning my relief.
I know that this is not the case with a lot of people right now, and their frustration is clear. I thought it would be helpful to offer some tips to help you get through the crazies.
Your bird is not being “bad”.
The delivery of hormones brings a lot of physiological reactions that cause changes in mood. You should expect your bird to be very persistent in finding nesting spots and manufacturing bedding materials, and you should expect that they might resort to violence when you interfere. Your bird will be in an agitated state off and on throughout the season. This is a difficult time for them physically and emotionally. You will better survive the season yourself if you don’t take their “off” behavior personally.
Hormones beget hormones.
The worst aspect to hormones is that they are self-perpetuating. The production of reproductive hormones causes behaviors that keep your bird’s body producing more reproductive hormones. It is up to us to step in and break the cycle by eliminating those things in the environment that trigger the production of hormones to begin with.
Unpredictability is a big part of hormonal behavior. This is a good time to keep your bird away from your face. Limit your children’s access to the bird and watch body language carefully. If your bird is being aggressive, keep him in his cage more. During this season, my birds come out of their cages frequently for very short visits throughout the day. A short visit means only 10 or 15 minutes. A shorter visit is called for if I see any signs of aggression or if they head immediately for their favorite perceived nesting spot. This may not seem fair to the bird. However, if your bird takes to biting you and you have to resort to force to get him back into the cage, then damage to your relationship is likely to occur. I assure you, shorter visits are better than the repairs you will have to make to your damaged relationship They will survive this temporary out of cage schedule.
This is the kindest way to handle your bird’s temporary insanity. If you see that your bird is struggling and feeling stressed, break out something that takes their mind off their troubles. During a different time of year, I would normally use paper products as a diversion. However, right now, paper would only be shredded and considered nest lining which would cause more hormonal behavior. So, in the spring, I gather spoons and my stainless steel measuring cups from the kitchen and put them at the bottom of the cage. This is quite literally the “seeing something shiny” method of distraction. It works every time. Another excellent diversion is offering a bath. The water will help them forget all about their gripes, and they will be very busy with preening thereafter. Typically, this is followed by a nap.
Don’t let hormonal behaviors become bad habits.
Whatever you do, DON’T over-react to their behaviors. They can be very vocal and demonstrative in expressing their unhappiness with life during this season, and it can be difficult for us to cope. However, just like throughout the rest of the year, they are watching how we respond to their behaviors. They will continue to use those behaviors if they have proved beneficial, even after the season has ended.
The seasonal crazies are part of life with parrots. It comes with the territory. If you are compassionate about your bird’s discomfort, watchful of their body language and go with the flow of the season with a sense of humor, you will survive.