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Pet Birds & Hormones

Common signs that hormones are affecting your pet bird.

By Anastasia Thrift

Just like people, pet birds can get hormonal, too
Courtesy Tenille Kowalchuk, Alberta, Canada
A pet bird might be tempted to build a nest in cereal box.

Hormones can get the best of our pet birds, but never fear! Look for these signs to know if your pet bird is starting to get hormonal.

Mating Behavior
Your pet bird might display mating behavior by frequently regurgitating food, panting or crouching down with its wings dropped. Whatever, or whomever, has become your bird’s object of affection could interfere with your bird’s good behavior. Your pet bird's affection for these people or items can cause behavior problems. They can scream when they’re bereft of these romantic connections or bite when they feel their perceived mate is betraying them. Keep these parrot paraphernalia at a distance for a happy bird.

Food Fondness
Notice that your pet bird has a heightened interest in calcium sources (especially females) and protein-rich foods like egg? If your bird begins to chew a little longer on cuttlebone or stay a little longer at the food dish when you’ve offered some scrambled egg, you might be witnessing signs of hormonal activity.

Shredding
Watch for revved up paper-shredding or cloth-chewing. Your bird will want a nice place to lay eggs, and hormones fuel it to instinctively begin nesting. Parrots seek soft bedding for roosting and rearing chicks. Your pet bird might collect this material and bring it to a corner of its cage, or wherever there might be an out-of-the-way nook.

Ducking Out
Blame hormones if you see your pet bird heading toward a dark part of its cage, like its hidey hut, or a sheltered spot around your house. Your pet parrot will naturally want to roost in tucked-away, hidden areas.

Masturbating
Regular masturbation is common; fueled by a desire to reproduce, however, many birds will increase their special sessions during certain times. More sessions means more feelings of spawning offspring, likely spurred by hormones. Don't let your pet bird overdue it, though. Talk to your veterinarian if you think your pet bird is masturbating too much.
 
Action
Try shifting your bird’s idea of the time of year. Longer daylight hours lead birds to believe that it’s mating season. Try cutting back on the hours of daylight your bird is exposed to. When you see your bird looking for nesting sites or materials, distract them and remove any kind of nest-like areas, paper or cloth from your bird’s cage or play area. For aggressive birds, help focus their energy on play; give them ample toys to dismantle.

Breeders and avian consultants and veterinarians can offer more ways to work with your pet bird during breeding season. This seasonal behavior is just that: seasonal. Help your bird through this time of year and each following breeding season.


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Pet Birds & Hormones

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Reader Comments
Little sex maniacs!!
alex, westchester, NY
Posted: 7/26/2010 8:22:17 PM
thank u
stephanie, north smithfield, RI
Posted: 7/26/2010 2:44:53 PM
Wow
C.J, Studio City, CA
Posted: 7/26/2010 1:43:52 PM
Uh, don't let him overdo it? How do I know when he's had enough?
Melvin, Cleveland, OH
Posted: 7/24/2010 7:57:17 PM
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