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Hormones, hormones, hormones!

For parrots, those nips and bites can be a sign of hormonal behavior. Is your bird screaming more? Has your normally sweet and loving bird started to bite? Is your bird more territorial over cage, food, or you? Are they displaying mating behaviors like mounting, regurgitating, panting, or trembling? Have they started plucking out of the blue? Laying eggs? Masturbating on a perch or toy? Then it might be hormone season! This period can last a couple weeks each year or several times during the year depending on the bird. It can drive most humans absolutely crazy and/or make them cry because their sweet baby has become a raging lunatic.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Put them to bed earlier and get them up later. As a rule, birds require at least 11-13 hours of complete darkness every night. Cover them, put them to bed in a travel cage in an extra bedroom, or go to bed early yourself.

  2. Change up their diet. Avoid giving starchy and high calorie/high fat foods as these can signal a bird it is time to breed. Warm/cooked foods have also been known to cause hormonal surges.

  3. Do not offer food from your mouth as a mate would in the wild.

  4. Entertain your bird with lots of foraging toys, wood, shredders, beads, etc. to allow them to release any pent up energy and distract them from the hormone surges.

  5. Do extra training sessions for extra distraction.

  6. Let them spend more time in an outside aviary flying to release pent up energy.

  7. Avoid anything that can be construed as nesting material like phone books, nesting boxes, coconuts, newspaper, cardboard boxes, etc. Don’t allow your bird to crawl around on the floor looking for dark places to nest.

  8. Don’t bob your head when playing or dancing as this could be interpreted as regurgitation which is what mates do for each other.

  9. Be aware of how you pet or cuddle your bird. No petting of the full body, under wings, along back, or tail during hormone season.

Hormone season is always a hard time, but remember it is temporary and it will pass. Take care of yourself and take breaks as needed so you can be there for your feathered friend when they feel like themselves again and want to be your buddy.


By: EBR Staff

EBR is an exotic bird rescue made up of volunteers throughout Oregon. Our mission is to find a safe loving home for every bird, and to provide education and support to our community. Find out more about our work at


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