Ask Lafeber

Question:

October 23, 2019

Dominance issue?


I just got my Red-Lored baby back after about 10 years. She’d been caged, and was desperate for contact and attention. I’ve been taking her with me from room to room when I can, and she even rides on the (electric) mower handle when I mow. Recently, she doesn’t want to leave the shower curtain rod in the morning, when it’s time for me to go, refusing to step up, even “striking” when I extend my hand. Is this a dominance thing, due to being “up high”? She’s the sweetest bird, very cuddly and responsive. She was very amenable to being asked to “step up” for the first month or so, but now seems to be confident enough to “sass”. I can’t just leave her there for the day, even with food and water (although I did do that the other day when I had to leave quickly). I don’t want to end up having control battles. How should I proceed?


Answer:

Hi Shelley,

I am glad you got your bird back – Red Loreds are wonderful birds! It sounds like she is testing you, because she is higher than you. One solution is to not let her get there at all. But Red Loreds tend to be more bluff than bite. You might try moving your hand to her, without hesitation, and pushing against her belly. She may just step up to avoid losing her balance. But the key is to do this in one movement – if you hesitate, she will take advantage of that. You can also try stick training her and make her step up on a perch when she is high up. But I do feel like calling her bluff will work. It always works on mine. 🙂

Be careful about the cuddling or you can stimulate unwanted breeding behavior. It is best to stick with head pets and scratches and avoid any petting in her body – which is an area that normally only a bonded mate is allowed to touch. I’m also a bit concerned when you mention the mower, because the sound might damage her hearing. And she could get spooked and fly in front of it or fly away unless you use a harness. Even if her wings are clipped, she can fly better outdoors than indoors.

Again, I know she is glad to be back with you and I’m sure you can work out the dominance issue.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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