Aggression in pet birds can be a hard thing to deal with, and many people abandon birds because of it. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with aggression in birds and even prevent it from happening in the first place.
I have dealt with some aggressive birds in my time, and it’s not fun. Birds that scream, flap and bite can be a real annoyance, as well as a danger to themselves and their human caregivers. Aggression in birds is a common result of poor treatment or neglect. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with an already aggressive bird, and prevent good birds from going bad.
If you have a bird that is already aggressive, it’s likely due to one of two things. If you just bought the bird from a pet shop or breeder, it’s likely that the bird didn’t get any human socialization before you purchased it. If you’ve adopted the bird, it was probably neglected or treated poorly. No matter what the cause, it is going to take time and patience for you to train away your bird’s aggressive behavior.
Before you begin training, you need to be aware that being afraid of your bird will only encourage bad behavior. Aggression in pet birds is often a defense or dominance behavior. You need to be the boss. Take some time psyching yourself up for the fact that you’re going to be flapped at, hissed at, and likely bitten. If you’re sensitive to pain, you may want to desensitize yourself a bit by pricking your finger with a needle or snapping your fingers with a rubber band. It sounds crazy, but it can help if you’re not ready to deal with the pain of being bitten.
Once you know you can handle the pain, keep in mind that you should never scream at your bird. Screaming is an aggressive act in the bird’s eyes, and will only make the problem worse. Get used to gritting your teeth through the pain, and speaking in soothing, high tones when you’re talking to your bird. If it feels more at ease, training will go much better.
The next step to dealing with aggression in a pet bird is to sit by the cage and talk to it. Get it used to your presence, even if it doesn’t like it. Be careful not to scare the bird, as they are easily frightened and can have a heart attack. Spend time near the bird every day so it knows your presence is not a threat. Sing to the bird if you can, as this will make it feel even more at ease.
Once the bird is more used to you, start putting your hands on the outside of the cage. Your bird will likely hiss and lunge or even flap around. Let them. Keep putting your hands on the cage. Hold them still at first, and then slowly move them around. The aggression should begin to subside. After the bird is used to your hands on the cage, you can try putting your hands in the cage. Be careful not to move too quickly, and do not wear gloves. Gloves can seem much more threatening than a bare hand.
By the time you can get your hand in the cage and pet the bird, the aggressive behavior should be gone. It will take some time, but it can be done. Every bird will be different, and it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to train away the aggressive behavior. If your bird has never been aggressive, there are some tips you can follow to keep it that way.
Make sure you spend time with your bird every day. If there is more than one person in your home, each person should spend some time with the bird so it doesn’t become aggressive toward family and strangers. Do all you can to get your bird hand-trained. If you are able to pet and handle your bird, it is less likely to become aggressive toward you or others. Lastly, never scream at the bird and avoid exposing it to jarring noises that will cause it to be scared and defensive.
Hopefully these tips will help you to deal with the aggression in your pet birds and prevent it in good birds. This is the method that I have personally used on my adopted and new birds alike, and it has worked with all but one of them. Unfortunately, he had been mishandled so much I was never able to touch him or allow him out of his cage. Luckily, a bird in a good home will usually take to training and become a wonderful pet. Have patience, and you should see results.