Ask Lafeber


July 14, 2020

goffin biting

My cockatoo (goffin) is 5 yrs old and although quite tame will suddenly exhibit aggressive behaviour e.g biting. He also screeches a lot. I have followed the guidelines for dealing with this e.g. staying calm, placing him back in his cage, toys etc. etc. What else can I do to deter the biting? Will an avian vet address any hormonal problem with medication?


Hi Eva,

Goffin’s are interesting birds. They tend to be very spirited. I have had one for about 35 years. They often have an independent nature, but still can be good pets. They do screech a lot, as with most cockatoos. And they are extremely intelligent. This can make them challenging. Goffin’s are best handled when kept at eye level or below. They can get very hyper when they are on top of the cage or on a playgym. If these are the times he is biting, then you might consider stick training him. They can also be trained to go back in the cage on command simply by placing a treat in the cage, saying go back in your cage, and then giving him an additional treat when he does.

I’ll give you the link to our bird care page because it has a lot of good information on reading body language, dealing with biting and the stick training I mentioned. Most bird bites do not come without warning. But you need to learn what his body language means and have a better idea of when he is warning you that he wants to bite.

He may very well be hormonal right now, and in that case it’s best to minimize handling until he gets back to normal. Medication is not the answer. The only hormone treatments for birds is for the hens, and only as a last resort for a hen that will not stop laying eggs. Hormone treatment can be expensive and as with any medication, it is not without risks. You need to learn the hormonal triggers and try to avoid those. When you do handle him and pet him, limit all petting to the head and neck. When you pet him on the body, this is something only a mate would be allowed to do, so you are triggering his hormones. You can try reducing his daylight hours to 8-10 hours by covering his cage early in the evening. Also limit his fresh food offerings during the hotter months and when the days are longer. We recently hosted a two part webinar on birds and hormones that I would recommend for you to view. I will provide the links below.

Caring For Your Bird

Webinar: “Spring Is In the Air: How To Deal With Your Pet Bird’s Hormonal Behavior!”

Webinar: “Pet Birds & Hormonal Behavior: Part 2!”

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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