The Spring Crazies

It’s not even technically spring yet and my birds’ hormones are RAGING!  The last time we reached these heights of insanity was about 4 years ago and it was a season for the record books. The first signs this year showed up about five weeks ago, and things have progressed into what promises to be a close runner up. Further, ALL birds, except for the cockatiels, are in the game and playing to win.

My umbrella cockatoo, Linus, often has the body posturing of a VERY hormonal bird: stance slightly pitched forward, wings a bit droopy. He finds it necessary to lunge at me from inside his cage whenever I walk by and he eyes me suspiciously. I like to think that if a burglar ever got into the house, this same glare would make him reconsider his choice of addresses.  He is one intimidating bird, when he sets out to be. I proceed with respect and caution around him during this time of the year.

Sweet tempered Theo, my goffins cockatoo, doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of those around her. While I feel comfortable interacting with her physically, she is excessively loud right now and spends the largest portion of her day pacing frantically in her cage. I feel sorry for her. With Linus, I feel sorry for me.

Libby, my quaker, has bitten me in the face twice already. Whenever I reach into her cage to feed her, she bites at my hand. Even though she is so much smaller than the cockatoos, she can deliver a respectable bite. She alternates between outright aggression and mating behaviors, as she hurks her dinner up for me.

Even Nikko and Visa, Jamie and Dave’s budgies, are testy. I can hear them yelling at me for dinner before I even pass through the front door after work. They are very short on patience these days.

I am SO grateful that the cockatiels are exempt from the spring crazies so far this year. I am considering the possibility that because the cockatiels are housed in a room separate from the rest of the flock, and not witnessing the hormonal madness firsthand, that they may be spared. This is only a theory, but there has been evidence over the years with my birds to support it. It does seem that when one bird goes over the edge, those caged nearby follow.  It is food for thought.

I suspect that I have several more months of this behavior still to endure in varying degrees. The last rough season began in January and lasted clear through May, and I have several scars as mementos. I hope that life with your flock is a little more subdued right now than it is here.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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