04 Oct Aggressive behaviour is one of the most common behaviour problems in parrots
Aggressive behaviour towards caregivers is one of the most frequently reported behavioural problems in parrots. Aggressive communication in parrots may take the form of body language such as pinned eyes, head forward, ruffled feathers, growling, or screaming. These are a display of intention to escalate warning signals, if necessary. To avoid actual bites, learn to read your parrot’s body language and avoid situations where he is forced to use aggressive communication towards you in order to convey displeasure.
Biting is a learned behaviour; and, while it might seem your parrot is biting “out of nowhere,” that is not the case. Parrots give lots of body language signals to convey intent before resorting to biting, as biting is their last resort.
As humans, we are not always very observant, and we often don’t realize that we may be reinforcing the biting behaviour and/or ignoring the body language that the bird is displaying.
Before tackling any aggressive behaviour problem, one must:
1. Consider if the parrot is healthy. A well-bird check up by an avian vet is essential because parrots, like us, will often become grumpy when they are not well.
2. Have there been any changes that may have affected the parrot’s mood, such as change in diet, routine, absence of caregivers, sleep deprivation, and unusual activity in the environment (i.e., construction unfamiliar visitors, etc.)?
3. Be observant and vigilant to determine which situations (triggers) will prompt the parrot to become aggressive. Keeping a diary will help the process.
4. Is the parrot flighted or clipped? Clipped parrots are more likely to become aggressive, as it is not so easy for them to escape conflict.
Try to identify and understand what is causing the behaviour in the first place. Then, using ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis), you can prevent reoccurrence of the behaviour while modifying the learned component of the behaviour.
Often, aggressive behaviours in parrots can be caused by one or more triggers; for more complicated cases, or cases where the unwanted behaviour has been continuing for a considerable amount of time, professional advice should be sought from a qualified and experienced parrot behaviourist.
Photo credit Kim & Boo