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Spring Brings On Hormonal Behaviors

During this time of year, when hormones start surging in your bird, you may have to handle your pet bird differently. Find out how.

Chris Davis

It’s spring and some pet birds may begin to exhibit new, and sometimes undesirable, behaviors because of hormones. This can be a shock, especially for those whose birds are on the cusp of sexual maturity — a formerly tractable bird may become stubborn, noisy, disagreeable, or it may exhibit some obnoxious behavior.

Hormones might trigger small birds, such as cockatiels, to start laying eggs.

A pet bird may begin rooting around in dark areas of her bird cage or the house, or suddenly become smitten with a particular family member and reject everyone else. Some behaviors can be downright embarrassing, especially when it comes to explaining them to your visiting minister or a small child. It can also be an learning period — and one that forces us to be creative and very, very patient.

Bird Hormone Triggers
Birds are extremely visual, and surrounding birds may also contribute to problem behaviors. Observe the situation, and determine if your birds are negatively triggering each other with posturing and other antics. If so, a visual barricade may need to be erected between the birds. A sheet over one side of the cage or a decorative screen can be used if the birds must be kept in the same room.

Birds react strongly to their physical environment. The duration and type of light a bird is exposed to can drastically alter her body’s hormonal production and affect her behavior. When days lengthen, if your bird’s behavior takes a negative turn, it may be necessary to keep your bird on winter "time.” If the primary cage is in a room where the lights are on until late at night, such as the TV room, put your bird in a sleep cage in a darkened room.

Bird bodies may also respond to the presence of nesting sites. If your bird begins exploring dark "hidey holes” around the house, its body may be telling it to be prepared for a family, thus increasing its hormone levels. If your avian friend begins burrowing in the bottom of the cage or under furniture, remove whatever it is rooting in. Do not allow it to wander around at will. Barricade its access to any dark cubbyholes or other potential nesting sites. Sometimes, this is all it takes to cool off a hormonal parrot.

Their bodies also respond to certain types of handling. Long periods of cuddling and birdie back rubs can increase hormonal production and trigger sexually influenced behaviors. If your bird begins to make weird noises or contorts its body, it may have been sexually triggered. Put it on her perch or in the cage to "cool off.”

Cuddling your bird is fine, but limit body contact to her chest or head level, away from her nether regions. Instead of one long period of snuggling, play with your bird for frequent but short episodes. Redirect your bird’s interest by offering toys and favorite treats. Talk to your bird while she plays, so that you instantly reward this positive behavior.

Liberally reward positive behaviors. If your bird is told how wonderful you think it is even when she is just sitting around, your bird will feel unhappy when you leave the room in response to iher misbehaving. Your bird will soon understand that you will interact with her when she is being "good” and not when she is being "bad.” Over time, this one simple suggestion can transform a so-so human/bird relationship into something that is wonderful.

Check out more articles about spring

Pet Birds & Hormones
Amazon Parrots & Spring Hormones
Eclectus Parrot Shows Sexual Behaviors

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Posted: March 11, 2013, 10:45 a.m. PST

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Spring Brings On Hormonal Behaviors

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Reader Comments
Great info. Thanks
Terry, Houston, TX
Posted: 3/20/2014 10:13:57 AM
great article
n, n, TN
Posted: 3/20/2014 4:30:42 AM
great info ty
stephanie, no smithfield, RI
Posted: 3/12/2013 5:38:13 PM
good to know what to I wont be surprised!
Gabby, San Diego, CA
Posted: 3/11/2013 9:53:04 PM
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