Birds are highly intelligent creatures that can make excellent companions for the right pet owner. Pet birds are often personable and friendly, although they may take time to warm up to their new owners. However, it’s important to understand that some birds may exhibit bad behaviors, especially if they have not been trained or well cared for in the past. Learn more about bad bird habits and how to correct them.
Symptoms of Behavioral Issues in Pet Birds
If you’re new to bird ownership, you might not recognize the symptoms of bad bird behavior right away. Some of the most common behavioral problems that pet birds may exhibit include:
- Refusing to eat or overeating
- Self-mutilation (e.g., feather plucking)
- Lack of sleep or extreme restlessness
- Refusal to interact with owners
- Excessive wing flapping
- Biting at their cage
Causes of Behavioral Issues in Pet Birds
Behavioral problems in birds often have an underlying cause. If you recently adopted a pet bird, it can be difficult to determine the reason for their bad behavior. If your bird is not a new addition to the family, consider what events may have led to these behavioral issues. Some of the most common causes of bad habits in birds include:
1. Inadequate Cage Environment
If your pet bird’s behavioral issues began shortly after introducing him to a new cage, their new environment may be to blame. Ensure that the cage is large enough to allow your pet to move around freely. A cage that is too small can cause a bird to become easily agitated. In addition, the cage should be placed in an area that receives natural light and where your bird can easily interact (but not be overwhelmed) with family members.
Birds who are constantly bored may develop bad habits over time. These curious creatures require social interaction to remain happy. If they are left alone most of the time or have no outlet for their boredom, they may scream or display other behavioral problems.
3. Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can cause serious health risks to pet birds. Some larger species of birds need up to ten hours or more of sleep per day. If your bird’s cage is located in a noisy area or there is another reason why your bird is not getting sufficient shuteye, sleep deprivation can occur, resulting in behavioral issues.
Bad habits can develop when your pet bird is fearful. For example, if you have a cat that is constantly trying to get at your bird, it may respond by screaming, biting, or showing other signs of distress.
5. Dominance or Control
Other common causes of bad behavior in birds are dominance or control issues. Some birds may become territorial, especially if they are eating or attempting to breed with a cage mate.
How to Correct Behavioral Issues in Pet Birds
Correcting bad habits in pet birds requires time, patience, and an understanding of why your bird is acting in a particular way. The best thing you can do when your pet bird is screaming or lashing out is to remain calm. If you yell at your bird, it could cause your pet further stress or instill fear. Instead, ignore any bad behaviors and address the issue in another way.
In addition to ignoring bad behaviors in pet birds, try rewarding your pet for good behavior. This includes offering your bird treats and plenty of praise. Reinforcing good behavior can help teach your pet that good behavior is rewarded.
If boredom is the cause of your bird’s bad habits, find ways to help keep your bird entertained. Try to spend time with your bird every day, talking to your pet and offering your undivided attention. When you’re not able to spend time with your bird, provide stimulating activities, such as toys that you rotate week to week.
Take time to evaluate the size and overall condition of your bird’s cage. Never place your bird in a cage that is too small. As a general rule of thumb, a bird’s cage should be a minimum of 1.5 times the height, width, and depth of the bird’s wingspan. It may be necessary to get your pet a larger cage as they grow. In addition, never place your bird’s cage on the floor or in front of a window as this can cause the animal stress.
Finally, it’s important to be consistent when attempting to correct bad habits in birds. Just like your bird’s bad habits likely did not develop overnight, it may take time for these behavioral issues to subside. Stay consistent with your training and you’ll likely find that your bird’s behavior gradually improves. If your bird continues to exhibit serious behavioral problems, consider speaking with a vet or pet behavioral specialist.
Recovering from Behavioral Issues in Pet Birds
It’s not unusual for birds to exhibit behavioral problems, especially if the bird is unfamiliar with the environment or comes from a neglectful home. Fortunately, most bad habits in birds can be broken with time and a genuine effort to help the animal have a happy life.
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