March 31, 2016 4 min read 2 Comments


Is your parrot cooing, shaking and begging you like this for attention?

Have you found your bird hiding out in small, dark places?  If other in home conditions including lighting and diet are just right, your bird may be looking for a nesting spot. It's hormonal clock may have been thrown off with lack of sleep and excessive petting.

When you allow your bird to spend time in perceived nesting spot significantly intensifies hormonal behavior.   But, a hormonal bird can be very persistent and destructive in its search.  And often, nest seeking and aggression go hand in hand.

In terms of our small flock, Smokey, our Congo African Grey is a persistent nest seeker!  Whenever he has out of cage time, Smokey loves to get down on the floor and walk to the Master Bedroom, where of course I “nest” at night  You guessed it.  I’m his perceived mate. He hides under my dresser and pull out the carpet fibers!

While I try to remember to shut the bedroom door, Smokey is relentless.  He loves to get under my dark brown dresser and pull up carpet fibers. Getting him out from under there is a real chore.  If I block that off, then he goes under the bed.  If he can’t get there, he’ll hang out between the washer and dryer.  It becomes quite the challenge to keep Smokey occupied enough during his out of cage time so that he doesn’t seek out a nest.  I use  the Finger Saver function of my Percher bird stand almost every time I have to retrieve Smokey out of these areas.


Cuddling can induce hormonal behavior in parrots


We hear about parrots seeking out any dark, confined area they can find a lot. From crouching in couch cushions, to huddling under furniture, and squatting in closets and bathrooms.  We’ve seen birds use stuffed toys as “loved ones,” too. Smaller birds that climb in your shirt sleeve or down your shirt are seeking out a nest cavity with a double whammy because their preferred mate comes complete with a nest!   Any area that is confined and offers a bit of privacy will do.  And, if it’s dark, all the better. Seeking out a nest cavity is common with adult birds and it is one of the main hallmarks of parrot hormonal behavior, a domesticated parrot problem that wrecks havoc on parrot health and behavior.

How to Stop Nesting Activity

You should try your best to stop nesting behavior in your parrot.  Whether it is seeking out a nesting cavity or shredding items to line the perceived nest, these two behaviors result in a lot of parrot behavior and health problems.

Do a “home walk through” from a hormonal parrots’ point of view and try to “nest-proof” problem areas as much as possible.  Even if your bird shows no interest in a potential nest spot, eliminate what you can because any opportunity to nest will trigger your pets body to produce courting and reproductive hormones.  For smaller parrots, you have to essentially nest proof your interactions, too, as described in how we think it is cute to let our small parrot nest in your cleavage or up your shirt sleeve.  Don’t let the bird ride about on your shoulder for long periods of time.  Never let your bird hide inside your shirt sleeves or other private areas that simulate a nest.

Mika Nesting in a Bird Snuggly

Mika nesting in her bird snuggly

On top of a physical nest site, access to nesting materials or cage lining materials can be a problem.  Peachy, our Moluccan will take the chewed and chipped wood from toys and hide them under his neck feathers.  I guess he’s storing them away until he finds an appropriate nest cavity.  While it’s cute, we discourage it.  Watch for your bird searching and storing nest bedding material.  This might include, wood parts chewed to a fine texture, cotton scraps from toys and bird beds, shredded paper and cardboard boxes and even vines, twigs and leafy toy parts.

That’s not to say that your bird doesn’t need toys!  Your bird needs chewing, shredding, and foraging toys now more than ever.  It is important eep your bird busy and keep its mind off of making babies! But, when your bird begins using it's toys in a sexual manner, change the toys out. 

Simply remove the toy parts as they become used up so that your bird doesn’t construe them as nesting material.  Eliminating access to nesting spots and nesting material will go a long way toward keeping your birds hormones at a minimum.

Since conditions have to be just right to promote nest seeking behavior, step back and ask yourself what else might be going on to induce hormonal behavior in your parrot.


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[author name="Diane Burroughs, LCSW" bio="Located in Denver, I'm a Mile High author and parrot feather plucking expert. I've always been a devoted animal lover with a special passion for parrots, Diane is also a behavior specialist. Make sure to join my Facebook group, UnRuffledRx Parrot Feather Plucking Help now!" image="birdsupplies.png" facebook="" instagram="" pinterest="" twitter="” ]

2 Responses


October 08, 2019

Thanks for your article, it helped explain my 40 ish year old B&G macaws action. We rescued him 17 years ago & he is now family. He has 2 large wine barrel halves that he uses for nests. Hiding under his cage & under my desk is a recent thing. He is a very healthy, well fed (fruits, veggies, nuts & occasional meat) he has a lot of freedom & attention. We treat him as our child. We have become concerned with this recent behavior, as we had never known of this. Thank you, again, for your article.


February 26, 2019

I have an African Grey Parrot who likes to run under my bed as fast as she can and refuses to come out. It’s getting harder to keep her out of there as she seems to have a one-tracked mind as soon as I let her out of her cage. I have to keep my bedroom door shut all the time. She is 13 years old, but this is the first time her behavior is this bad. If you try to get her out, she becomes quite aggressive.

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