One of the biggest problems bird owners have with their pets is the tendency birds have to bite. Birds bite for a variety of reasons, which makes breaking this bad habit a bit of a challenge. Luckily, it is often possible to stop birds from biting.
Newly weaned baby birds often turn from adorable cuddle bugs to vampire like little creatures literally overnight. The shock of picking up that sweet baby, only to end up with bloody hands, has caused more than one bird owner to decide to never handle his bird again. Since this is one type of biting that is usually possible to break, it’s a shame to give up on your newly weaned bird.
Although he doesn’t have teeth, your baby is going through something similar to a teething stage. He is exploring his surroundings with his beak and often doesn’t realize the damage he is inflicting on his owner.
Unfortunately, older birds that bite are a bit harder to work with. There are several reasons they start biting, including fear, dominance, aggression and jealousy. Of the four, fear biting is probably the most likely to be stopped, as you simply have to teach your bird to trust you. Dominance biting is also usually curable.
When a bird is sitting on your forearm and bites your hand or arm, correction is easy. Simply drop your arm straight down about six inches. Make sure the movement is fairly rapid. You want to cause your bird to lose his balance enough that he stops biting, but not so much that he falls off your arm and injures himself. Repeat this every time your bird bites you. Eventually, he will associate biting people with feeling like he is about to fall and he should stop.
Of course, this technique does not work if your bird is sitting on your shoulder and giving you a new earring hole or biting your face. This is why you should never allow your bird to climb above your elbow. Birds with dominance or aggression issues are especially problematic when they are perched on their owner’s shoulder, since they feel equal or superior when they are at eye level.
Distraction is also a useful technique with biters. Teach your bird to step up and down on command. If he begins to bite, hold out a perch and give him the ‘step up’ command. Stepping onto the perch should distract him from biting. Another great way to distract biting birds is to offer a chew toy or a crunchy treat, such as a carrot. This works especially well for teething baby birds.
If your bird has dominance or aggression problems, there is one more good technique for controlling biting. Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with his beak. Simply check to see if his wings have grown out. If so, clip them. He will feel less confident and won’t attack as readily.
Finally, if all else fails, you can try consulting a bird behaviorist. The behaviorist may be able to pinpoint the cause of the behavior, such as jealousy over a new person in your life.