Territorial Aggression in Your Bird
aggression is one of the more serious of behavioral problems for
pet bird owners. The
strong jaws and hooked bill of parrots can inflict serious pain
and do substantial damage to the owners.
Aggression in parrots takes the form of biting or lunging
at the object of their aggression.
As in any other species, this type of behavior has several
causes. While an
individual bird can have overlapping and interacting causes, it is
helpful to categorize the problem in order to treat it.
Causes of aggressive behavior in pet birds include fear,
dominance, territorial behavior, and possessive behavior.
Diagnosis is based upon the behavioral history.
Territorial aggression is particularly common in certain species.
Quaker parakeets, conures, miniature macaws, African grey parrots,
and Amazon parrots are prone to develop this problem.
Breeding birds of all species tend to be territorial about their
nest area and cage. In these birds, this behavior is
considered desirable. Guarding of the nest territory is an
important breeding cue. While the sex of many avian patients
is unknown, it appears that territorial aggression is somewhat
more common in males than females.
criteria for territorial aggression are very simple.
For territorial aggression, the aggressive behavior must
occur when the bird is in or on its cage, playpen, or other living
area. If this is not
the case, the aggression cannot be territorial aggression. If the
bird exhibits aggression in other circumstances, then other
behavioral problems exist. The
instructions found here may not be enough to control the unwanted
modification for territorial aggression is multifaceted.
In order to achieve the specific goals, general obedience
training is essential. The
step-up command should be automatic for the bird.
This command is an important training tool.
To avoid personal injury, your bird should be removed while
servicing the cage. You
should know how to perform atraumatic but secure towel restraint
of your bird if necessary. Birds
that will not leave the cage without biting should be caught and
carried to a separate area. Some
birds can be safely handled following voluntary exit from the
facilitates training measures.
can be given when bites occur but many of the appropriate
reprimands will not be applicable.
Repeated step-ups can be used, but only if the bird can be
brought out of the cage within a few seconds of the bite.
Towel restraint can be a useful method of gaining control,
especially with smaller birds.
Verbal reprimands can be effective as long as they are
stern but calm. Dramatic
responses like yelling are entertaining to birds and should be
avoided. Striking the
bird and beak grabbing are unacceptable corrections.
They further excite the bird, induce fear, and can
potentially injure the bird.
attempt should be made to make the bird less dependent on the
cage. This helps both
in the prevention and treatment of territorial aggression.
Birds that spend most or all of their time in one cage can
become viciously aggressive about defending it.
In the wild, birds roost in the same area each night.
During the day, they travel to other locations to forage,
usually with their flock. A
two-cage housing system helps provide a more natural system.
A large, well-furnished cage or playpen should be used
during the daytime to encourage activity.
The cage should be rearranged frequently to promote
adaptability in the bird. During
the night, a smaller roosting cage with rather Spartan
accommodations should be used.
Each morning the bird can be transported to the larger cage
and evening to the roosting cage.
If further measures are needed the bird can be meal fed
twice daily in another location.
bird should be integrated into the family social unit.
Portable stations allow the bird to sit close to the
activity of the family. This,
combined with consistent handling and training, provides the bird
with the social skills needed to be well-adjusted pets.
Regularly scheduled handling and training are important for
maintaining socialization. The
two-cage housing system described will force you to handle birds
at least twice daily to transport them.
drugs are not generally indicated in the treatment of territorial
aggression in birds. The
chemical basis of aggression is unknown in birds.
Additionally, the prognosis for territorial aggression with
behavioral modification alone is favorable.
any behavioral disorder, improvement will usually occur slowly and
gradually. Keep a
journal of your birdís behavior.
The frequency, severity, and nature of any occurrence of
aggression should be logged. A
reduction in the frequency or severity of aggression indicates
that the treatment plan is working.
success of behavioral modification is improved when the cause of
the behavior is determined. A diagnosis of territorial
aggression can be easily made from a behavioral history.
This problem is exceptionally common in certain species.
Often birds will be banished to their cage, further aggravating
the problem. When integrated approach is used, this problem
can be successfully treated and prevented in most cases.