Behavior of Biting (Bluffing) Parrots

Blue and gold macaw eating log

Owners of young parrots all too frequently discover that their once-adorable baby bird has evolved into a vicious, biting, and lunging tiny monster when they awaken. Don't lose heart if this describes your feathery companion; many birds go through this phase of development. Many parrot species go through what is known as the "bluffing" period, however some, most notably Indian Ringneck Parakeets, Senegal Parrots, and Macaws, are more prone to bluffing behavior than others.

Characteristics of Bluffing

The hallmarks of bluffing are lunging, nipping, , hissing, and general resistance to interaction. Birds often enter this stage between the ages of 4 months and one year, however it can happen almost overnight. The precise reason why certain parrots go through the bluffing stage is unknown. Many people think it's because of hormonal changes that happen as a bird transitions from a juvenile to an adult.

While it can be easy to shy away from a bluffing parrot, that is not necessarily the best route to take. The terrible error that many novice bird owners commit is to keep their birds inside while they are bluffing. A parrot will only become more reclusive and antisocial as a result of this activity.

How to Handle Bluffing Behavior

The greatest strategy for handling a disobedient baby bird is to carry on with your normal activities while entirely ignoring the problem behavior. This DOES NOT imply that you should neglect your bird; he or she still needs to be touched and socialized on a daily basis. The important thing is to realize that the bluffing phase will pass and that you shouldn't become upset with your bird because of its actions. You'll get a lunge. You will likely receive a few bites and be "cursed" at (preferably in parrot language). It doesn't mean you're a horrible pet parent or that your bird doesn't love you; it just means you should be mindful of how you respond to your pet's behavior. Your bird will for sure! Keep the following advice in mind while dealing with your bird's poor behavior to ensure that you and your pet get through the bluffing period without damaging your bond or relationship:

  • Never scream at the bird. It will only encourage his undesirable behavior, as birds do not see loud vocalizations as negative.
  • Try not to pull away from bites. This can be hard to do, especially since those beaks can be so painful, but if you can keep your cool and actually push into a bite rather than jerk away from it, the parrot will soon learn that biting gets him nowhere.
  • Never strike at your bird. Aside from being extremely dangerous, it is pointless as the bird cannot see this behavior as a consequence of his actions.

When dealing with a bird that is bluffing, patience is a virtue. The bluffing stage might last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the person. Your furious little bird will ultimately become friendly with a lot of effort and encouragement, though, and it will be well worth all the discomforts associated with avian adolescence!