Should you let your sun conure sit on your shoulder?

My sun conure sits on my legYou hear the warning often. Don’t let your parrot sit on your shoulder. Why? Well a parrot can bite that’s why. At anytime they can decide to poke you in the face, or bite you on the nose or ear. The parrot is also high up which can give it a feeling of superiority and dominance. Well what about a sun conure? Should you let the much smaller sun conure sit on your shoulder? 

Sun conures are not as big as many other parrots and are often around 12 inches long while a n Umbrella Cockatoo can be up to 18 inches and an African Grey can be up to 13 inches. Sun conures can and do bite however. My sun conure has been known to bite my ear or poke me in the face. The damage is minimal but it does hurt quite a bit especially when she has bitten my ear. 

More often than not, my sun conure prefers to sit on my leg while I am sitting. She sits on my leg while I watch television or while I am on the computer. It is usually while I am walking that she gets on my shoulder. 

To prevent biting and poking, I know what my sun conure’s triggers are. She will bite if I pick up the phone and she is sitting on my shoulder for instance. My sun conure will poke when you start talking to the cat sweetly as well. Knowing what makes your parrot mad goes a long way to preventing the problem. Knowing and learning the triggers takes time and observation however. 


I do recommend that if you are a newer owner and the sun conure is not completely bonded to you and your household that you do not let the parrot sit on your shoulder without extreme care if at all. Have your sun conure sit on your leg or your arm instead. If you are walking have the sun conure perch on your hand even. Much of the feeling of dominance that the parrot has is mitigated by clipping its wings too so that can help until there is an understanding of boundaries between owner and parrot.

Another problem that occurs when you let your sun conure sit on your shoulder is bird poop running down your back. I personally don’t have that problem often because my sun conure is potty trained. Sun conures are so intelligent that is recommended to try to potty train them to prevent this problem. They need that challenge that goes with learning so it’s good for them to be trained. 

My sun conure is bonded and trained and interacted with on a daily basis. Still she can be naughty. There will always be times when I get bit or poked. Just today when Goldie was messing with her favorite pink t-shirt I gave her, I tried to fix it for her, and she didn’t like that so she tried to bite me. She was playing and that was her way of telling me to leave her alone. So I smiled and did just that.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam Rivera December 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Thanks for responding to my tweet regarding help with my Jenday Conure biting. I understand that if you have a parrot you are going to get bit occasionally, but my husband gets really angry when Tiki bites him. We don’t understand why Tiki bit the other day. All my husband was doing was putting his coat on to go outside to get the mail, a daily occurrence. He just flew down from the cabinet and bit my husband on the finger as he put his hand out of his sleeve. He bit to the bone and it bled quite a bit. We can’t figure out what triggered this.

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Goldie's owner December 29, 2010 at 9:48 am

Well one thing that comes to mind is that they do remember things. The trigger for the biting could have happened a couple of hours earlier. Or your conure may feel like it is the boss and does not want your husband to leave. In any case biting does occur. Goldie bites on occassion but not frequently and not as much as she used to.

I don’t know the age of your conure, but hormones could be an issue. Make sure the diet is good, plenty of exercise, and sleep. Limiting daylight hours helps with hormones as well.

Without knowing all of the specifics it sounds like your conure is flighted. Before giving him up I would consider clipping its wings. They do grow back. At first the bird will be dazed, but it will then realize that it is not the boss of the house. During this time it is critical that you reinforce all good behavior. Set boundaries. When Tikki is bad put him in the cage, and when good tell him so, and give him a treat. Have a regular schedule of when he can be out, when he eats, bathes, etc. With a regular schedule they know what to expect.

I know that you want him to be able to fly, Goldie flies, but for a while she did not, and it really set the stage for her current mostly good behavior. If you let Tikki do whatever he wants he will be out of control. He doesn’t know that he is not supposed to bite. He thinks he is the flock leader and is in charge.

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