Photo by Dave Location: Orlando, Florida Head lander: Congo African Grey "Cressi"
I have a lot of video footage and pictures of my birds landing on my head and I often get asked, “How do I get my bird to stop landing on my head?” as it can be quite annoying! First of all, my birds land on my head because I allow it. I’ve rewarded it before but not always. So figure out why your bird lands on your head and it will help you figure out how to discourage it.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Holland America Line Hat eater: Galah "Bandit"
Is it because you wear a hat it likes? - Dave wears a plaid hat that my youngest galah, Bandit, loves! He likes to hang from it and it gives him a spacious landing. So in order to make him stop landing on Dave’s head, he just takes off the hat. Or, you could also make the hat fall off every time your bird lands on it – this makes it a not so safe landing spot in your bird’s eyes that you had nothing to do with (which they usually do by themselves anyway!)
Photo by David Location: Sagle, Idaho Crash Landing: Congo African Grey "Cressi"
Is it because your hair makes the perfect nest? - I will be the first to admit I have the worst bed head hair in the world! It does make the perfect nest and it’s Cressi’s (my African grey) favorite landing spot in the morning. Because it is so fun in the morning, she assumes it’s fun no matter what time of day it is.
She has even hung upside down from my hair before just for fun! Though not so fun for me… To get your bird to stop using your head as a nest, simply make your nest of hair not so enticing. This can be done the same way as the hat, or can be done by ducking when the bird tries to land there, or by simply not rewarding the behavior and rewarding the bird for flying to your hand instead. Eventually they will understand that they get a treat for going to your hand, and not when going to your head.
Also, if it’s just the messy hair the bird likes so much (as Cressi prefers) then brush your hair before allowing your bird out to fly and land on it and it will see how not-so-fun your head is anymore (even consider different styles or putting it up). Hats can also be used to deter birds from landing on heads. I have seen more birds scared of hats than fond of them. Just make sure it is not a phobia, as that becomes unhealthy for your bird. You do not want your bird developing phobias of anything.
Phobias lead to severe behavioral problems. Is it just because or do you not know the reason? - Perhaps you accidentally made it fun or rewarded it and didn’t mean to. Well, the last method I can think of is to just suck it up and let your bird have its fun landing on your head. Messy hair has never hurt anyone and perhaps you should be more flattered than bothered by your bird’s eager attempt to be with you!
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.