At Bird Show we are currently training two new additions for our show, Major Mitchell Cockatoos, ‘Big’ and ‘Bounce’. ‘Big’ and ‘Bounce’, hatched in October of last year and so have a lot of learning and growing up to do. Learning good manners, such as when it is appropriate to bite is part of this. Hopefully this is never. Their trainers Fle and Claudia are working with them, ensuring they are comfortable stepping up onto the keepers’ hands and into animal transport packs. This will help us when training our birds to free-fly and also if they have to visit the vets. Transport training is a great project to work on with your pet parrot too.
If you’ve ever had a parrot as a pet, you’d already know they can be a lot of work. Parrots can be extremely loud, sociable and energetic, but generally of more concern to pet owners is the fact that parrots can bite, and bite hard! This does not mean you have a ‘bad bird’ but rather gives both you and your parrot the opportunity to better develop the relationship you have. They are trying to tell you something!
When a parrot bites this is a concern for two reasons; from the owners’ perspective it hurts (!), but from the parrots point of view, this is the final and most obvious way to let us know they’d like some alone time. Prior to biting there are a whole bunch of behaviours your companion bird will give, but if you are not used to them, you may not notice and accidently get bitten. If you can become aware of what happens before your parrots bites, you can change this and hopefully avoid the undesirable biting behaviour.
If you’re parrot wants alone time, let them have it. This gives your bird choice and makes the time you spend together more rewarding for them. By giving them a small treat like a sunflower seed each time makes it even more rewarding. At Bird Show we only give sunflower seeds as special treats, not in their general diet due to their incredibly high fat content. Imagine only being able to eat ‘Mars Bars’! How would you feel then? When they are limited, the seeds are much better rewards.
As ‘Big’ and ‘Bounce’ have reminded us, parrots require tonnes of things to occupy their time so they do not become bored, but also need alone time too. Don’t push it, give your parrots space and next time they bite, take a step back and ask yourself ‘what did I do to cause him to bite?’ I think you’ll find your relationship will take leaps and bounds.
Bird Trainer, Brendan