Spring is an amazing time of year! Bright, vibrant, sunnier and warmer than before, people feel more active and the extra hours of sun bring about mood changes. For birds, the spring also brings hormonal changes and sexual aggression. Parrots will go to an average of 5 different homes before they find their forever home. Bird sanctuaries get over 1,500 hundred calls a year from people who want to give up their pet bird, mostly due to hormonal changes during spring when birds can start screeching, plucking, become obsessive and aggressive. The truth is, there’s nothing you can do to stop this behavior all together. It’s natural! All you can do is be patient and take some simple steps to limit hormonal behavior as much as possible.
Signs of Hormonal or Seasonal Behavior
First of all, know that spring will bring about these changes, so start by planning for it. Mark your calendar to help you start preparing. Other hormonal behaviors include laying flat on their backs, excessive nesting or hiding, feather plucking on the chest or between the legs, shredding everything it can find, or regurgitating food. These are just a few signs to look for during springtime. Other traits to look for include: becoming possessive of areas and toys (or even people), panting while crouching down with its wings spread, biting, or screeching.
What to do to Discourage Hormonal Behavior
Luckily, avian enthusiasts and veterinarians have some very helpful tricks to make your home more peaceful for all of you.
- If your bird buddy starts biting or becoming aggressive, leave them in their cage and don’t force social behavior, especially if there are people over. Rather, spend time with them later in the day when it’s darker or better yet, see if there’s a time of day that your bird seems more relaxed and spend time with them then.
- Rethink light exposure. This one can be tricky because birds need full spectrum lighting or they can become depressed or even sick. Birds need sunlight to stay healthy, but during springtime the prolonged sunlight triggers these nesting behaviors, so reduce their sunlight time and make sure they’re getting the 12 hours of quiet time as well as space for sleep. A proper sleep schedule can make a huge impact on a hormonal bird.
- Don’t let them nest. If your pet scopes out places to hide behind or in or places to burrough, put a stop to it right away. Don’t let them stake out places out behind furniture, under blankets or in boxes – basically any place that is dark or secluded. Make sure that they aren’t hiding and take out anything they can shred, such as ribbons, paper or cardboard.
- Monitor toys. Birds have favorite toys, but if they start becoming really possessive over it or try to shred it, take the toy out of the bird’s cage. The best toys for pet birds during this time are foraging and puzzle toys. This is part of the distraction method that keeps your bird’s mind engaged, but not focused on its raging hormones.
- Change up the diet. Now is the time to reduce or cut out high fat, high calorie and protein rich foods. Breeders say that warm and cooked foods also trigger a bird’s brain to be ready for mating. Recommended foods include hemp seed, fresh vegetables, a little fruit and wheat germ.
- Use a perch for training. Training with your pet for most of the year is a great bonding experience that includes a hands-on approach, but during spring it’s best to stick with perch training. It’s safer, because birds tend to bite during hormone season.
- Consider clipping its wings. This is a personal choice, and not everyone is for clipping a bird’s wings, for various reasons. However, there is a correlation between full flight and aggression during this time. Talk it over with your veterinarian and if you decide it’s the right thing to do, always get a professional to do it.
- Watch the petting. This step is the most vital one, but it’s also the hardest. Birds are affectionate and love to be petted. Their feathers are beautiful and soft, so of course, we want to stroke them. They love it, especially during mating season but petting is one of the biggest sexual triggers for birds. During hormone season, do you and your feathered family member(s) a favor and only pet their head. It’s extremely important and petting the chest, tail feathers and wings will leave a bird very frustrated, adding to its anxiety.
Most importantly, be patient, and assure them they’re aren’t doing anything wrong. These hormonal traits are normal and it’s your job as a bird parent to help as much as possible.
How King’s Cages Helps
Now that you know what your bird needs to stay calm and what to do to keep yourself sane, you might be wondering where to turn for all the right products and help. This is where we come in! King’s Cages have industry experts who are always happy to help with advice, tips and product information. We have all the bases covered for helping you keep your beloved bird buddy’s hormones from wrecking the peace and tranquility of your home. We offer veterinarian recommended products such as Pluck No More, Abba Foods, Goldenfeast, Javawood Perches and have a long line of foraging and enrichment toys. For years, King’s Cages has been a trusted partner to avian enthusiasts and breeders. That’s because we are committed to you and to the well being of your beloved pet. Call or visit online today and see how the King’s Cages family can become a valuable partner to you.