Abnormal behaviour of a parrot-
Very simply, if a parrot is
not doing anything, it gets bored, and like humans, do something to keep themselves
busy. In a worst case scenario, a parrot
will excess groom themselves from boredom which leads to loss of feathers. This
cannot really be prevented but can be stopped in the future. This is done by
enrichment, many toys can be given to the bird in order to engage the brain and
prevent further excess grooming, toys like puzzle balls allow the bird to
forage for their food as they would in the wild. It also keeps them busy and
takes a long time as the bird has to search for the treats. Another treat is a
destructive toy such as a slab of pine or soft wood, this gives the bird chance
to chew and also uses time, and this is good as some birds are well-known to gnaw
anything close to their cage.
Ways to stop bad behaviours
like gnawing and biting in a parrot include training them; this tames the
parrot in order to carry on its life in contact with humans. Simple tricks like
stepping up onto their owner’s arm, keeps the bird busy training and able to
socialise with others.
Some parrots show signs of
stereotypic behaviour, repetitive behaviours which appear to have no function or
goal, parrots normally shows this as head bobbing or swaying. This is because
of boredom and normally no enrichment. Parrots are known to do head swaying and
head bobbing but people see it as an entertainment purpose and say that the
parrot is dancing.
Another problem is placing
parrots with other birds, this may cause fighting and aggression to not only
the bird but eventually to the owner. This may have happened because of
dominance in the cage or just because they simply don’t get on with the other
bird. To resolve this, is to separate
Parrots will also show signs
of stress, by screeching, this is mainly because they are either kept in a small
enclosure or because they want attention. The way to resolve this is to make
sure they are in a cage big enough for them to fly and ignore the screeching as
they will eventually know that this won’t get them anywhere.
One person birds-
This is when a bird bonds with
only one person in the household and may show aggression towards everybody
How to prevent this-
Allow lots of different people
handle the bird and ad make sure all handlers give the bird equal attention.
Night frights happen when
something scares the bird in the darkness, leading the bird to thrash around
the cage. This usually happens to cockatiels but can happen to any bird. This
can be very dangerous, as thrashing around a cage could lead to injuries to the
eyes, beak, feathers and feet.
Ways to prevent this-
First find out why the night
frights are occurring. Is it because its too dark? Or is it because its too
light and the bird can see shadows of other pets?
Too dark: Add a night lamp
into the enclosure and see if it helps
Too light: Put a cover over
the enclosure to see if the thrashing stops.
Normal behaviour of a Parrot-
Some people worry about a few
of these behaviours, but they are completely normal:
Beak grinding- Birds
often grind their beak just before going to sleep as a seek for comfort.
Preening- Birds preen
constantly throughout the day in order to keep their feathers clean and neat,
it is not a problem unless the bird over preens, where they will pluck out
Regurgitating- is when
an adult bird brings up partially digested food. Birds regurgitate to often
give it chicks or to other birds and even their human owners.
like children. Love to play so it is important for birds to have enough toys in
their enclosure in order to keep them busy.
Cat napping- Birds will
cat nap throughout the day, this is completely normal when they are napping on
the perch will one leg but when they are on two legs with its feathers fluffed,
it may possibly be ill.
Freezing in place-
Birds often freeze in place so it can’t be seen by potential predators.
Hiding- generally birds
that don’t want to be put back in the cage will hide.
Ways to stop abnormal behaviour:
Improving or modifying the
environment to mimic their natural habitat.
Environment/ physical ways-
Swings and ropes
Hiding food inside
puzzle balls or foliage
Using them for shows
Teaching them tricks
Teaching them skills
Positive reinforcement- this
is a way of learning where the animal is given something in order for them to
carry on certain behaviours. An example is giving a walnut to a parrot who
successfully listened to the clicker for the flight to the owners arm.
Playtime outside of the cage-
Allow your parrot to wander
around the living room or the kitchen, this is a different environment to its
enclosure and it can find new things to play with or meet new things like other
pets or new people, this allows the parrot to adventure and play in a new area.
Make sure you try and handle
your bid everyday as eventually it may lose their bond with you or even revert
back to being a bit wild.
Try and handle your bird with
confidence, even if you have been bitten and nervous, this shows that you
aren’t afraid and that you are the boss.
You don’t have to handle them
all day but try to stay in the same room as the bird for most of the day, even
if you are doing your chores in the same room or maybe you can’t be in the same
room, put on the radio or the TV as birds find this comforting.
Classical and operant conditioning:
Parrots are very intelligent
animals, but sometimes need different ways to train them; there are two ways
you can either do this, classical or operant conditioning. First is classical
conditioning, this is a form of learning which one stimulus, the conditioned
stimulus, comes to signal the occurrence of a stimulus. This behaviour is
usually an automatic response and also known as learning by association. There
are four different sections these behaviours can be split into:
1. Unconditioned stimulus- an action produced by the presence
of a stimulus.
2. Conditioned stimulus- the object, sound or smell that
rouses a response.
3. Unconditioned response- something that is associated with
or alongside normal stimulus,
4. Conditioned response- a normal or appropriate response to
Next is operant conditioning,
this is when an animal learns from its behaviour or acts on the environment.
The animal learns a certain way in order to avoid punishment or earn rewards.
This changes the behaviour by the use of reinforcement which is given after a
desired response. An example is that a parrot will realise that when it
successfully flies to its perch, it receives a treat, so eventually the parrot
will carry on this behaviour in order to get the treat.
Non associative learning;
Habituation- An animal will stop responding after a long
period of time, to the stimulus that is exposed to them. If a stuffed owl is placed in a parrot’s cage, the first response is that it is a real
predator. They act frightened and try to escape. However the longer the stuffed
owl is in the cage without moving, the parrot shows less response.
Sensitization- when an animal
learns to react more often or more strongly to a repeated stimulus. An example
of this is when a parrot is exposed to a really loud noise, it responds by
being startled, however as another, yet quieter noise is exposed the parrot, it
will still show signs of startling. The parrot is now sensitized to those
Flooding- is when you expose
the animal to something they fear and leave them with no escape. An example of
this is if you put the parrot in a room with a load of balloons the parrot will
try to escape, but by stopping it escaping and keeping it with its fear will
allow the bird to realise that the balloons do no harm.