male African grey
My male African grey has suddenly started biting very aggressively. Although I have become more bonded with him.
It can be very distressing when a pet bird does this. Most biting of this type is driven by hormones in some way. It may be frustration, territorial behavior or confusion about your role in his life. We often make the mistake of sending the wrong signals to our pet birds. You mentioned being more bonded with him, but possibly you are getting too bonded. When you pet him, it is best to limit contact to his head and neck. This is where a flock mate would be allowed to groom. Only a bonded mate is allowed to groom its mate on the body, so when we pet a bird on the body – especially the lower part, and around the tail – the bird gets the message that we are the mate. However we can’t be a mate, and once the hormones are triggered, the bird gets frustrated about not having a receptive mate and strikes out by biting.
You can also do things like reducing his daylight hours to about 10 per day, by covering his cage early in the evening. Longer days and warmer weather are hormone triggers. Feeding him too much fresh food can also be a hormone trigger. Having abundant amounts of foods and a variety to choose from can also trigger hormones because this means he can feed a mate and chicks. Limit those offerings to a couple of times a week in small amounts, when he starts to exhibit hormonal behavior.
We recently hosted a two part webinar on hormones and pet birds, that you might want to watch. I will post the links below. I would also suggest that you check out our bird care articles. The Bird Behavior link in particular can help you read his body language so you know when he is about to bite, as well as a section on how to deal with biting.
Thank you for asking Lafeber,