Sometimes our pets are perfect little angels. From the first day we bring them home to that heartbreaking moment when they cross the rainbow bridge many years later, they’ve been nothing but a loving, loyal and well-behaved member of the family.
But sometimes our pets don’t behave as they should. If you’re a bird lover, you’ll know that pet birds can display all kinds of frustrating and worrying behaviour problems. Some of them are little more than a nuisance but other behaviours can be downright dangerous, so it’s important to put a stop to them before they get out of control.
Let’s take a look at three of the most common bird behaviour problems and what you can do to stop your pet bird doing the wrong thing.
Common Bird Behaviour Problems
Let’s start with a common behavioural issue that’s caused pain for many a bird owner over the years: biting. This is a widely reported problem among bird owners and with good reason – a strategically placed nip from your feathered friend can be incredibly painful! To put a stop to biting, you first need to determine what is causing your bird to lash out. Is he frightened of something in the same room, for example the family dog, and needs a bit of privacy? Is he simply bored and looking to play with you, or could he be trying to tell you that he’s hungry and in need of a snack? Once you know the cause of your bird’s chomping you can start looking for an effective solution.
2. Plucking feathers
Feather plucking in birds is an especially worrying behavioural sign. While plucking its own feathers to preen and groom is a normal behaviour for pet birds, if your pet starts taking this plucking to extremes then you should take her to the vet. Over-plucking can be a sign of anything from a skin infection of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), so your avian vet will be able to check for any signs of underlying health issues. Once those have been ruled out, you’ll be able to consider the other causes of this strange behaviour – could it be boredom and a lack of mental stimulation making your bird act this way, or is her cage too small and dirty? Once you find the cause of the problem it’s often very easy to find the solution.
Next on the list of common pet bird behaviour problems is destructive behaviour. Perhaps your pet has taken to trying to destroy his cage at any opportunity he gets, or is quick to rip any new toy he is given to pieces. In many cases, this is a sign that your pet isn’t getting enough mental stimulation to prevent boredom setting in, so try giving him as much daily attention and play time as possible. It could also be a sign that your bird is unhappy in his environment, so checking that his cage is large enough and contains enough interesting features is also recommended.
Solving Bird Behaviour Problems
If your bird isn’t being the well-behaved budgie, finch or macaw she could be, keep the following tips in mind:
- Assess before you act. You can’t remedy a behaviour problem until you know exactly what is causing it, so take the time to work out what it is that’s causing the issue. Even making a simple change, such as adding more environmental enrichment to your bird’s cage, can lead to a marked improvement.
- Be patient. Trying to teach your bird how (and how not) to act can be frustrating and time consuming. Be patient, remain calm and don’t expect instant results. You should also never hit a bird or use force of any kind – this will only lead to more psychological and behavioural problems – while ‘punishing’ your bird by removing their food is another big no-no.
- Be consistent. As intelligent and intuitive as many birds are, don’t expect them to automatically pick up on what you want them to do. When training a desired behaviour it’s important that you are consistent in your methods and in what you want to achieve.
Bird behaviour problems can be annoying, painful and stressful, but with a little love and some hard work, your feathered friend will behave like a perfect pet in no time.