Biting is usually how Quaker parrots communicate that they are unhappy about something so it is safe to consider it a form of communication. Even then, it is always best to nip biting behavior as early as possible. This requires training and a whole lot of patience.
Some people believe that biting is simply a natural behavior for birds so there’s little that can be done about it, but that is a notion many bird owners have proved wrong. Failure to do the training right may worsen the offending behavior and could even reverse gains made in building a bond with your bird. It must be done and done right.
Why Quaker Parrots Bite
Training your Quaker parrot not to bite is not a quick or easy process. It takes some work from both of you. That said, it is not rocket science. Many bird owners have done it. So can you. Before delving into training, it is important to understand the reasons behind a bite. Quaker parrots bite alright, but there is a reason behind every individual bite. Many times the reasons are different depending on the prevailing situation. Understanding the cause makes training him not to bite a lot easier.
These are the main reasons why birds bite.
If your bird bit you once before and you used your hand to punish him, the next time he sees your hand he will be scared. If you have a guest over and he puts his hand in your bird’s cage to get him to step up onto it, you can’t blame your feathered friend for feeling fear towards a stranger.
It is worth mentioning that Quaker parrots are generally not fearful birds. They will not timidly shy away from a perceived threat but rather attack or defend themselves by biting. The more scared the bird is, the harder it bites.
Mention territorial behavior in birds and Quaker parrots will be the first species on the list. These birds are naturally territorial and will instinctively bite to protect their space, food, perches and their toys. Some parrots even get possessive with their owners. The basis of this is that in the wild Quaker parrots must protect their nesting sites and their young from predators. They live in colonies which inhabit sections of forests. Other birds which may attempt to inhabit the same section are seen as competitors for food sources.
As much as Quaker parrots make great pets, they can also be bullies. Every Quaker parrot goes through a phase where it tests its owner’s limits. In the wild, they are natural fighters and are not known to shy away from an opponent. When a group of Quaker parrots comes together, it can easily dominate the area and even drive out native birds.
Body Language in Birds
Start by taking time to learn the behaviors your bird displays when he is about to bite. Rarely does a bird bite before displaying body language to suggest displeasure about something.
Some physical signs birds display are flexed wings, pinning eyes, fanned tail feathers and fluffed up feathers. Fluffed feathers make the bird look bigger. In the wild this is useful to scare off a threat or predator.
Parrots are relatively noisy birds. If he is not happy about something, you should be able to tell from the noises he makes.
How to Train Quaker Parrots Not To Bite
With a good understanding of why these birds bite, it is easier (not easy) to train them to stop.
Let’s look at how to train your bird not to bite, in relation to the reasons mentioned.
Bites out of fear:
Take time to gain your bird’s trust. Spend time just talking to him in a non-threatening tone. Don’t offer your finger for him to step up until a bond has been formed. Don’t force any physical contact until the bird is comfortable with it. Once he gets comfortable with you, he will be happy to step up onto your finger and will not have reason to bite.
Don’t let your guests get too close to your bird because he will probably bite them. Even we humans get uncomfortable when strangers get too close to us.
Bites out of territorial instincts
Experts actually advise that you never clean a Quaker parrot’s cage with him in it. He simply doesn’t like it when you come into his space, touch his food, his toys and his perches. One unconventional way to deal with this possessive behavior is to randomly touch things in his cage; his perches, his toys and move his food bowl around in his cage. This will upset him initially but over time, he gets used to it
Bites out of aggression
When he feels that it is alright to randomly bite you for no reason, you need to make him understand that you are the boss. Find ways to assert your authority so he understands that he is required to respect you. One owner tells of how she would simply put the bird down when he bit her and turn her back to him for a few minutes. This communicates displeasure with his behavior.
Dos and Don’ts When Training Quaker Parrots
- Reward good behavior with treats such as dried fruit or seeds he enjoys. Quaker parrots are intelligent birds. They will soon learn to associate certain behavior with treats and praise and adopt the good behavior.
- Give time out. Just like you would do with a young child throwing a tantrum, give your bird time out when he bites. Calmly put him back in his cage and walk away. After a few minutes, observe his body language and if he is calm, offer your finger for him to step up again. He will get the message.
- Yell at the bird for biting. This reinforces the behavior by rewarding him with attention. It only makes the biting behavior worse.
- Hurl the bird into the air. Many new bird owners do this as an impulse reaction to a painful bite. They vigorously shake their hand to throw the bird off. Although the bird is unlikely to suffer any injury, this builds distrust. The next time you offer your hand for him to step up, you really can’t blame him if he doesn’t trust you enough.
Quaker parrots are social, intelligent birds. This is what makes them such great pets. Anyone who has had a Quaker parrot for more than a couple of months however, will probably relate when you mention the fact that they can be nasty biters.
It is possible to train them to stop biting. This calls for a good understanding of the species and why they bite in the first place. It may take a few months a good number of band aids on your hands but it is achievable.