Discouraging Bad Behavior

Discouraging Bad Behavior

Discouraging Bad Behavior

Birds are highly intelligent, wild animals. They're demanding, noisy, and bitey, but they're also capable of learning to communicate their needs in less disruptive ways.
Here's a few techniques to help you both along:

Tip 1

If you pick up your bird whenever they're screaming, they'll learn, "If I scream a lot, I will get picked up a lot." 

If a bird chomps you, keep a poker face, or they will learn, "If I bite them, they will go away when I want them to." If you do something that harms them, they will be afraid of you and only perpetuate bad behavior (and that's just cruel).

It's ok to tell them "No." in a low, short, tone. This can turn into a cue to express dissatisfaction.

Tip 2

In a freak occurrence, my Dusky Conure learned that if she shakes her head when I reach for her to step up, I will pull my hand away. After some repetition, laughing, and praise, she has actually learned to shake her head "No." rather than bite me.

Tip 3

If you didn't get enough sleep, weren't feeling good, or was bored all the time you'd be cranky too. Birds are very similar to us. Treat them as you'd like to be treated. 

Other Causes
Your bird may be acting out as a way to demonstrate dominance. Birds will get especially territorial when they are feeding or breeding.

Oftentimes, birds exhibit aggression out of fear. A fight or flight reaction is natural to wild animals, and since your bird’s cage and potentially clipped wings strip him of the ability to fly away, a fighting reaction is common.

If your bird is very territorial, try taking him out of the cage more often so they're less attached to it.

Prevention with Observation
Birds use body language to communicate. Sometimes they're really obvious about what they need or want, other times not so much. Eyes pinning could mean, "I'm happy to see you", but it also could mean, "I'm will end you." Every bird is an individual, just as you wish for them to learn from you, you'll need to learn from them.

Pako the Mitred Conure was an amazing bird. He didn't resort to biting often, but one day I decided to wear nail polish, and this change caused him great offense. Every time I tried to pick him up, he'd attack my hand. Paper towels also irked him something fierce. I noticed the changes in both his surroundings and in him, and made the changes needed, he never went nuts again... but I also had to give up nail polish and not interact with paper towels with him on my shoulder.

Patient, compassion, and consistency is key. Your bird may never be well-behaved ALL the time, but these techniques can help quell some of the chaos without having to react negatively.
*Nurse Cody Bird Care Cards are meant to be shared! Feel free to do so.


  • Thank you this is very helpful I really love my bird but sometimes they get a little rowdy. I love all your artwork it is truly the best. As a bird lover i just love everything. Keep going on!

    Noah Kim on

  • Thank you this was helpful

    Maya on

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