Parrot biting usually is a learned behavior

Sun Conure bites a chip bag

Chip bags are a biting trigger for my sun conure

I will be honest. Goldie my Sun Conure does bite once in a while. Fortunately most of the bites are not full forced and don’t hurt that much. Parrots use their beaks to explore and communicate but parrot biting usually is a learned behavior.

How do you stop parrot and Sun Conure biting?

Well first of all I have to say that I am somewhat used to my Sun Conure’s bites. Like I said most of them are not fierce bites and they have become more and more infrequent and don’t hurt very much any more. Most of her bites are just ways of communicating whether it is displeasure, or wanting something. Punishing and yelling will not stop the biting, however positive reinforcement will.

Recognize parrot and Sun Conure body language

To cut down on parrot biting means trying to get them to communicate in ways other than biting. For instance most of the time my Sun Conure taps on a glass when she wants orange juice. I found that she bites less when I learn and read her body language and pay attention to it. By analyzing parrot body language you will learn what triggers the anger, frustration, and desire that leads to a bite. It might be an open beak, raised wings, ruffled feathers, a certain grunt, or they might lower their body as if to get ready to lunge and bite.

Find out what triggers a parrot bite

Also you must recognize if you are reinforcing the biting in any way. Yelling at a parrot after it has bitten you actually reinforces the behavior because they think it’s funny. If the parrot has bitten you it’s best to try and remain calm. Take as step back and ask yourself why did they bite? Was it for control? Desire for something? Seeking attention? Hormones? Fear? Maybe the parrot wants to go back to the cage? Maybe they don’t want to go into the cage? It’s really important to make sure that the bird doesn’t learn that biting is a way of getting what it wants.

Positive reinforcement for parrots and Sun Conures

After you have determined a cause or trigger for the biting and ruled out medical and dietary reasons, then you can proceed to prevent future biting. Using positive reinforcement for good behavior and giving the bird what it wants when it is being good and removing what the bird wants when it is not is the best way to prevent biting.

One of Goldie’s biting triggers is potato chip bags. Chip bags are fine as long as you don’t touch them. If I touch a chip bag, Goldie will lunge, and bite as if to say don’t touch that-its mine. She is after all a spoiled feathered child. It isn’t me it’s the bag. Something about the bag, I think it has to do with the rustling noise that the bag makes, that just gets on her nerves.

Now most of the time when there is a chip bag and I see her anger towards it rising up I can say ‘Stop” calmly and without anger and she will not go towards it. Sometimes she will try to lunge again, but again I say stop and she stops. She has learned to control her fierce emotions. When she stops I tell her in a loving voice that she is a good girl which she loves. Then she mellows and then I give her a treat.

There was a period several years ago when Goldie would have rather bad temper tantrums. If it wasn’t a desire to punch a hole in an expensive blouse, it was a desire to attack the telephone. In the midst of a full blown tantrum I usually went for Goldie’s favorite t-shirt that she already punched holes in and grabbed her from behind, wrapping her up in the t-shirt. Then with her head sticking out I would tell her to be a good girl in a calm sweet voice and held her a few moments until she settled down and then I put her in her cage and left her there till she completely calmed down.

She got the idea that she could not have whatever she wanted if she had a tantrum or bit me. Now temper tantrums are few and far between, but nonetheless she does still give a mild bite or two to assert herself now and then, but not frequently. There will always be issues with my Sun Conure as she is a very opinionated, emotional, demanding, little diva of a sun conure. However with a little thought and observation Sun Conure behavior issues can be resolved.

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