If your parrot suddenly seems to turn on you in every possible way, it can be easy to become frustrated with your bird. Many parrots end up being given away or end up lonely and ignored when owners have trouble interpreting their behaviours. As discussed in the article on parrot aggression, hormones can play a role.
Let’s go into the causes and symptoms of a hormonal parrot as well as what you can do to reduce unwanted hormonal behaviours.
What causes a hormonal parrot?
At the time of this writing, spring has fully sprung. The days are longer, temperatures are rising and the birds outside are busy nesting. Even though your parrot lives indoors, it will still notice these changes. And like the outside birds, it’ll probably start feeling a bit frisky, wanting to go in search of a mate and proper nesting spot.
The problem is that we generally don’t want our parrots to breed. That’s why we don’t place nesting areas in the cage unless we want baby parrots. Additionally, parrots don’t have a mate and are instead bonded to us humans. All this can become a bit frustrating for your bird once those hormones wash in during springtime.
What are the symptoms of a hormonal parrot?
For some parrots, the change is like flipping a switch during spring, making it very clear what you’re dealing with. Other times, it’s a bit more difficult to figure out what’s going on.
The behaviours below are some of those that can pop up in a hormonal parrot. Sometimes they’ll tick all of the boxes, other times only one or a couple.
- Excessive vocalization. A hormonal parrot can drive you up the wall with its never-ending screaming!
- Nesting. You might catch your bird checking out nooks and crannies or chewing on household items more than usual.
- Aggression & territorial behaviour. If your parrot does encounter a spot that it finds suitable for nesting, it may become territorial over it. In some cases, seemingly unrelated aggression can become a problem as well.
- Feather picking. Unfortunately, if your parrot starts pulling out its feathers, this might warrant a visit to the vet.
- Nesting & egg-laying. If you find an egg, just leave it, especially if your hen doesn’t have a mate and any eggs are unfertilized anyway.
- Clingy & sexual behaviours. A hormonal parrot can become obsessed with its owner or even an item in its cage, such as a toy. And yes, your bird may actually use you or the toy in question to try to satisfy its sexual urges by regurgitating or rubbing. Aggression can pop up against those that it interprets as impeding access to their “love”, like another family member.
- Bothering cage mates. If your parrot doesn’t live alone, it might end up trying to woo other unwilling parrots. This can even happen if they’re of the same gender, or different species. Keep an eye on things to make sure the “victim” doesn’t get harrassed too much.
Helping a hormonal parrot
Dealing with the fallout of a hormonal parrot can be very challenging, we know. Take a deep breath and realize that your bird will likely mellow out when summer sets in. Also don’t forget that your avian vet might be able to help you out with this.
Additionally, here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Limit petting your parrot to its head and neck. Touching other parts of its body can be interpreted as sexual and exacerbate hormonal behaviours.
- Make sure your parrot gets plenty of sleep (at least 12 hours) in a fully dark room.
- Feed a healthy and varied diet, making sure that laying hens especially get plenty of calcium. Avoid sugary, high-calorie and warm foods.
- Give your parrot some new chewing toys and preening toys as well as plenty of distraction.
- Remove anything that might be interpreted as a nesting site.
- Leave your parrot alone if it really doesn’t want to interact. Just try again tomorrow!
Dealing with a hormonal parrot can be exasperating, but identifying what’s going on and taking some steps can really help reduce the resulting unwanted behaviours. And remember: don’t lose your patience! Your beloved bird is still there, and it’ll be back soon.