In strict behavioral terms, “possessive” behaviors are defined as resource guarding (see Jealousy, Dominance). An animal like a pet parrot might resource guard anything it appears to value greatly, such as food, its cage or favorite play area, a favorite toy or a favorite person.
In the wild, a successful parrot is one that is healthy due to good nutrition and able to achieve reproductive success by the protection of mate, nest and young. Hence, resource guarding is a natural survival behavior. This does not, however, mean such behaviors don’t create problems in a pet bird situation.
Owners need to be cognizant of such behaviors and their natural origins. Rather than attempt to eliminate these actions with punishment, parrot people need to look for ways to step around such problems. For highly food-protective pet birds, owners need to maintain distance when a parrot is eating. Territorial pet birds should be perch trained so people can move them from place to place without risking a bite. When a parrot is with a favorite person, other people should avoid reaching for the bird. Instead, the favorite person should put the bird down and move away. Then the other person will more likely be able to step the bird onto his/her hand without the bird showing aggression.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.