The concept of territory can include anything in a companion animal’s life; from a dog’s food bowl or favorite toy, to a parrot’s cage, playgym, or its favorite person, and the guarding of such valued turf is expressed as “territorial behavior.” One can also see manifestations of territorial behaviors in the individual distances many animals favor, exemplified by pigeons on a phone wire, spaced out like pearls on a necklace. Birds are extremely territorial creatures, epitomized by a dangerous behavior called “mobbing” in which groups of small birds actively attack and pursue much larger predatory creatures, such as hawks, crows, dogs, cats and occasionally people.
To be territorial is a natural survival behavior of all animals, including humans.
It is important to recognize a parrot’s claim to territory, and avoid coming into direct conflict with the bird. However, aggressive behaviors need to be evaluated carefully. If, for instance, a human was bitten when transgressing the bird’s boundaries, perhaps the human will learn to be more aware of the bird’s body language and be respectful of its boundaries in the future. On the other hand, if a bird’s territorial behaviors are creating serious friction within the household, such as the husband being attacked whenever he dares hug his wife, better controls need to be in place and clearer lines drawn. It is not in a parrot’s best interest to be allowed to set such boundaries. The same is true of the parrot that is allowed to consider the family couch its territory, allowing it to choose who is, and isn’t allowed to sit on it. In such cases, a bird’s aggressive territoriality needs to be redirected toward more acceptable behaviors.
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.