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Friday, January 30, 2009
Bird Bites & Body Language

By Linda Costello
Explore the diaries of daily life with large birds.

bird bite blue-and-gold macaw
Photo courtesy of Linda Costello
One thing about owning birds is that at some point you will get bitten.

One of the best ways to have a good relationship with your bird is to pay attention to its body language. The one thing you can predict about owning birds is that at some point you will get bitten. Having lived with parrots for over 22 years, I used to say I was never bitten too badly. But I can't say that anymore!

I was misting BOO, my blue-and-gold macaw, when she didn’t want a shower. I didn’t notice, because I was talking with my daughter, Valerie, who came for a visit. In BOO's attempt to do damage to the water bottle, she bit me instead.

I have gotten bites over the years from my birds, but never one quite as painful as this. She got right under the inside tip of my middle finger, near the nail bed on my right hand. The other birds never really bite me, but BOO bit with all her big beak’s strength!

I don't blame BOO. It was my fault. If I had been paying attention, then I would have noticed how irritated she was with the spray bottle. It’s funny how we can be hurt by our birds, but instead of getting mad at them, we blame ourselves. We forgive them for things that no one else would ever get away with.

As bird people, we cannot relate to someone who, upon seeing our wound, says something outrageous like, “That bird would never get away with doing something like that to me!” They just don't understand. 

Before I had birds, I have to admit I was one of those people who thought that way. I have a home video taken in 1987 when my then 16-year-old daughter, Shanley, brought home a wayward budgie that had landed on her head at the park. She was baby talking to it and kissing it. I said “Ewwwww, don’t kiss it!”

When I watch that video now, I have to laugh.

That couldn't have been me talking!


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Reader Comments
Could you try to change her routine around to divert her attention? Maybe put her out on a playstand during the day where she can be a part of your daily activities. Give her showers so she'll spend some of that energy preening her feathers as she dries. Shorten her daylight hours by putting her to bed in a dark room a little earlier.
My male cockatoo, Cupid also enjoys having a cardboard box to pay in & decimate but if you think the box may be putting her in the nesting mode, it may be a good idea to try to remove it when she is out of her cage engaged in other activities. If you have the space you could move her cage to a different spot, change her toys around so she has new things to investigate.
Try to divert her attention with things like watching TV with you, playing music. Singing & dancing. Just shake up her routine. These are things I would try. Use your imagination. Hopefully some of these suggestion will help.
Linda, Toronto, OH
Posted: 2/24/2009 9:43:54 AM
Need help and advice:
I own a 12 y/o female cockatoo. She had several large toys hanging one new with 4 white balls on it. She took it down and brought it to a box that I put in for her, and now she sits on these white balls as eggs and tries to hatch. She won't come out of cage and is obsessed with her 'eggs". What to do? I tried taking them away, but she screamed for a long time. I put them back.
kathy
kathy, short hills, NJ
Posted: 2/23/2009 9:54:59 AM
I Love your Blog! Top Notch Parrot Information everytime!
joan, upper Montclair, NJ
Posted: 2/11/2009 3:38:28 AM
My finger did eventually heal just fine & it was a lesson well learned, which is...
To watch out for that body language that is always evident if you are paying attention to your bird!
Linda, Toronto, OH
Posted: 2/2/2009 9:11:52 PM
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