My Recent Parrot Bite

Galah bite (notice two beak marks on my thumb, not bleeding yet!)

My most recent parrot bite was received on May 30. Parrot bites from my flock are a big deal to me as I'm always trying to do right by them which to me, means avoid ever making them feel the need to communicate their point to me with a sharp point at the end of their beak! But, it happened. I can recall pretty much every parrot bite I've ever received (that's how hard I work to communicate properly and not screw up in training) but, it still happens because I'll forever be learning and they'll forever be teaching me. Dave and I were performing at a school in Spokane, WA.

There are a few schools that mean a lot to Dave as some of his teachers practically home schooled him during high school as he already had his career and was constantly performing and missing a lot of school. So any time we are here during the school year and can do it, he goes back to those schools and performs for the kids. We had already had one show, and were on the second.

Bandit appeared and there was a lot more smoke than normal from the pyro that went off that blocked his path enough to me, that he tried twice and then decided to land on the prop he appeared from instead. I rolled it to the side of the stage and we went on with the show with Bandit perched comfortably and contently on his prop. Since he appeared fairly early on in the show, I worried about him deciding to fly down to one of us during another routine. So during a routine where I wasn't needed, I pulled the prop even further back stage, but hit a cord that was taped down just enough that Bandit decided it was best to fly down and land on the ground instead of trust this rickety prop!

He started walking towards the kids. I immediately regretted moving the prop - since Bandit was so content I probably should have left him there BUT, if he became not content anymore, that would have been an even bigger issue since I wouldn't have had another point in the show that I'd been able to get him.

So, doing what I thought was best in the moment, prevailed.

I didn't want the kids to get hurt - I didn't worry about Bandit walking up and biting them, but I did worry about the kids possibly being too aggressive with him (petting wise, like a dog which does not go over well with a bird!) and getting bit that way.

Bandit didn't show any interest in doing what I thought was best for him at the time, so I knew the bite was coming but it was the choice I made to avoid what I thought could be much worse consequences.

But it still hurt my friggin' feelings and I pouted about it anyway, against all logic. I often talk to my birds as if they understand English instead of body language and told him I was sorry I made him step up when he didn't want to, and that I upset him the way I did. Luckily for me, he forgives rather quickly. Faster than my hand will.

I guess I just wanted to share that I get bit too. I sometimes have to ignore obvious parrot body language in order to do something that I feel has to be done at the expense of not being what my parrot wants. If you're getting bit often without knowing that it's coming, you're missing clear signs that your bird is giving you.

Always think of the bite as the last resort, or a learned response (maybe you accidentally taught it that every time it bites = something it wants, like getting put back in its cage, or going to its favorite person, etc. without meaning to start that pattern in the first place.)

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.

1 comment

Jody Littlefield

Love your Post thx for all you do!! I have Sparkie a Salmon Cockatoo and he has So much personality. He has a abusive beginning the a Very Loving Person that took him from that situation then she got Brain Cancer and could not take care of him any longer and she found Me and made a disision to bring him to me and we hit it off right away. I take him out and socialize him often he had never been before. He is shutch a good boy

Jody Littlefield

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