Ask Lafeber

Question:

December 21, 2020

Conure behavior


I have a Pineapple Conure that is 7 months old. When we got him 4 months ago he was the sweetest bird I have ever had. Now he just wants to bite my hands, my feet etc. Why is he biting all of the time? Can I do anything to change it?


Answer:

Hi Bobbie,

It sounds like he might be exhibiting some hormonal teenager behavior. He isn’t nearly old enough for breeding, but he’s feeling hormonal for the first time and acting out. This can happen in the winter when we tend to keep our houses warmer, and it happens to coincide with his age and the fact that captive bred parrots tend to become sexually mature at a much younger age than in the wild. Are his wings clipped? If not, you might start with having his wings trimmed by a professional because this can calm him down and give you the chance to go back to square one on training. A flighted bird can get too independent and it can cause behavioral issues, especially when hormones kick in for the first time. He will eventually molt and grow new feathers, so this isn’t something permanent. It’s important that he has some level of dependency on you, so when he comes out of the cage, he needs to come out on your hand. If you allow him to go in and out at will, this can contribute to unwanted behavior. Do not ever let him roam around on the floor. Accidents happen, and even the most conscientious bird owner can have that brief lapse which can result in tragedy. This recently happened to a green cheek owner and she was devastated because she stepped on him and he didn’t survive. Dr. Lamb also discussed this danger in a recent webinar. Keep him off of your shoulder. This puts him in a superior position and he can refuse to get on your hand when he is up there. Keep him on your hand or on a stand at eye level or lower. This means not playing on top of the cage, either, because again he is higher than you and this can contribute to the behavior you mentioned. Avoid hormone triggers – when you pet him, limit contact to his head and neck. When you pet him on the body, this is a hormone trigger. Don’t let him get into dark spaces, don’t give him anything he can get inside of – no boxes, bird tents or huts. Give him an early bedtime by covering his cage early in the evening – he should only have 8-10 hours of light each day. I’m also going to give you the links to our taming and training page and our behavior page. Generally teenage or hormonal behavior is temporary, but if you inadvertently reinforce it, it can become a bad habit.  This happens with a lot of birds, so there is no reason to think you can’t get your sweet bird back again.

Teaching Your Bird

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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