Why your parrot does what it does
Parrots are becoming more and more popular in captivity through their unique way of charming themselves into your home. Their delightful "Hello" and "What are you doing?" sayings have a way of captivating many people into adoption. Mimicking human language and cuddling themselves into your arms tend to make people impulsively bring a parrot home.
However, especially for new owners, very little is known about the birds' behavioral challenges that develop over time in captivity.
Parrots are not domestic animals; they are not genetically distinguished from their counterparts in their native environment. Therefore, many of the behavioral problems owners face with their pet parrots are rooted by survival tactics necessary for life in the wild. Biting, screaming, throwing food and chewing are all behaviors that owners dread, and make the birds very difficult to have in a home.
Throwing food is the act that earns birds the well-deserved label of being messy. In the wild, dropping food means propagating the forest and ensuring the growth of new trees. In the home, it means cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. Although they are naturally messy, some birds will fling food out of boredom. To reduce the mess, make sure the bird has plenty of toys and gets enough attention. Also, try feeding smaller quantities frequently through the day.
Chewing wood is common for wild birds; it is needed for proper beak growth. Their beaks are made out keratin, the same material our fingernails are made from. So the common occurrence of wood blinds being destroyed, or the molding around doorways being chewed, is "natural," albeit frustrating for owners.
A way to save your home from a parrot's wrath is by filling the cage with plenty of toys to stimulate their desire to destroy stuff. Bird toys sold in pet stores are great, but are often very expensive. A great alternative is to make them with stuff around the home:
Drill holes in baby blocks, or buy untreated, bird-safe wood from your hardware store and drill holes in it.
Use rope made with natural fiber, like cotton or leather.
Save the centers of paper towel or toilet paper rolls and weave them through the bars of the birds' cage.
Avoid plastic or rubber materials because small pieces can get lodged in their throats.
Nobody likes being bitten by the notoriously large, powerful beaks that parrots possess. A macaw has enough pressure to crack open a macadamia nut with ease, so naturally the potential damage that underlies a bird bite is severe.
The behavior serves many purposes, but is mainly born out of the need to defend themselves from predators, as well as letting other flock mates know they do not want to be bothered.
Biting can lead to many problems when living in a home, but dealing with it can be easy. If your bird is biting out of fear when you attempt to pick it up, the solution lies in finding the limits to which you can interact with the bird before it attempts to bite. Once that point is found, it becomes important not to push further and annoy the bird.
The first step in avoiding a bite with a new bird is teaching it the simple "step up" command. Start by bringing the bird its favorite food, but do not attempt to try to pick it up yet. Just allow it to take the food from you. Over time, you slowly build up a trust account, and the bird will allow you to go further in your attempt to teach the step-up command. Give the bird a reward for each step, starting with it allowing you to put your hand up to its chest, then putting one leg on your hand and eventually stepping up entirely onto your hand.
Source: North County Times