What works for Goldie the sun conure to prevent biting

Prevent sun conure bitingLet’s face it sun conures do bite and when they bite they bite hard and it really hurts. I can’t tell you how many times over the years that Goldie has bit me so hard that I had to pull her off of me. She has been known to draw blood, poke in the face, and nip sensitive earlobes even. There were times that there would not be a day that went by where she would not bite me at least a few times. She has even been known to fly over some distance in order to attack and place an angry bite.

Now at almost 9 years old, Goldie bites much more infrequently. Occasionally she does bite, mostly during hormonal episodes, but it is noticeably less than ever. Biting is promptly dealt with, which is the reason that Goldie is more gentle and positive in her communication of what she wants now.

What works for Goldie the sun conure to prevent biting. 

  • Lots of sleep-12 hours a night
  • Foraging toys to prevent boredom
  • A strong diet that includes fresh foods, pellets, nuts, and minimal seed
  • Full spectrum lighting
  • Lots of interaction, exercise, toys
  • Music to entertain her

The most important thing to understand in order to prevent biting is to uncover the cause. Common causes of biting include fear, cage aggression, hormones, lack of socialization, boredom, overexcitement, anxiety, and just being tired. Certain things that the owner is doing may trigger a bite, such as talking on the phone, or in Goldie’s case just using a pair of scissors-she hates them. Ask yourself what triggered the bite? Was it an object? Lack of sleep? Hormones? Noise? There is usually something behind a sun conure bite.

Sun conures are very smart. They respond well to positive feedback and to behavioral methods of training. Do not punish the bird as they will not understand. Instead remove or change the cause of the biting. When the sun conure shows progress, reward with lavish praise and a treat, in a similar way every time. Keep doing this consistently.

What do you do when they are in the midst of a full blown temper tantrum? What has worked for Goldie when she has had a tantrum or especially when she has been so angry that she has flown after someone because they dared to pick up some scissors or some other object that she doesn’t like, is to gently and firmly from behind wrap her up in a small red, soft blanket that was made especially for her. Upon being grabbed Goldie usually makes a little noise, but once she is wrapped up with just her head peeking out, she is firmly talked to and the top of her head stroked for a moment.

She is then placed back in her cage until she has calmed down. Going to the cage should not be viewed as a punishment however, but merely as a time-out. You don’t want the parrot to view the cage as a negative place. You can give praise when you place the bird back in the cage, but do give them space to calm down.

It is important to treat biting calmly and firmly because yelling “ouch” or “no” can have the opposite outcome that you are expecting. In Goldie’s case she thinks it’s funny to get someone to carry on so much and yell. Reacting firmly without overreacting teaches them they will not get what they want by biting.

Working on preventing biting consistently and dealing with tantrums calmly gradually will cut down on biting problems. Sun conures will still bite; Goldie still bites sometimes. However I have found that by using positive behavioral modification methods that she now seems to communicate her needs more in ways other than biting. She still pokes now and then, but it’s not hard.

Biting is such an issue for so many sun conure owners, so Goldie’s owner will discuss at a latter time important specific areas that deal with cage aggression, hormones, and fear related biting. It’s something that any sun conure owner will have to deal with but with love, patience, and continued work can be minimized so it doesn’t have to hurt so much.

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