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by Diane Burroughs September 29, 2021 6 min read 11 Comments

Why do birds hide under things?

Is your bird cooing, shaking, and begging you for attention like Sweet Pea in this video?  What's all this quivering about?

Have you found your bird hiding out in small, dark places?  Maybe even shredding the carpet?

Adult birds Develop some unusual and awkward behaviors during the bird hormonal season.  As a rule of thumb, most adult birds come into season once or twice a year.   Unfortunately, normal household conditions can easily induce an unhealthy, chronic hormonal state in our pet birds.

Smaller species of pet birds like cockatiels, parakeets, lovebirds,and parrotlets  become hormonal more frequently.  Same thing with eclectus parrots.  Eclectus parrots might display hormonal behavior for several months at a time.

Your bird might start hiding under furniture during its hormonal season. It is actually looking for a dark, cozy nesting spot as its body prepares two rear young. Paper and carpet shredding are your birds' way of making the nest  warm and cozy to incubate the eggs.

If you find that your bird is frequently trying to get under furniture  or in another dark, cozy area, it's time to take a look at the environmental conditions that induce hormonal behavior in birds. 

What makes a bird hormonal?

Your bird's body operates on a circadian rhythm. This is like an internal clock that regulates certain body functions.  When environmental conditions are just right your bird's body will naturally want to mate.

If you want your bird to stop hiding under furniture, eliminate the environmental conditions that make it want to find a  nesting cavity.  these conditions include the following:

  • Exposure to long days accompanied by not enough darkness
  • Access to a perceived nesting cavity
  • Access to items that it can shred to line the nest
  • A high-protein high-fat diet that plumps the bird up in preparation or rearing young
  •  Improper petting that the bird perceives as foreplay

When you allow your bird to spend time in a perceived nesting spot it 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.

What happens if your bird doesn't get enough sleep?

In terms of our small flock, Smokey, our CongoAfrican Grey had been a persistent nest seeker in the past!  Whenever he was out of his cage time he'd climb down on the floor and walk to the Master Bedroom, where of course I “nest” at night.  (You guessed it. I was his perceived mate.) He’d hide under my dresser and pull out the carpet fibers!

Smokey is relentless.  And, getting him out from under there is a real chore.  If I block that off, then he goes under the bed. It became quite the challenge to keep Smokey occupied enough during his out of cage time so that he doesn’t seek out a nest. 

When I first started noticing this behavior I didn't realize it was due to him being in a chronic hormonal state. I had to use  a “Finger Saver” to avoid getting my fingers bitten off. It wasn't until I suffered a really nasty bite that required medical attention that I decided to do something about it.

Two of the biggest contributing factors to Smokey’s unbearable aggression were unregulated photoperiods and frequent access to a perceived nesting site. When I turned those two things around Smokey's usual sweet disposition re-emerged.

Cuddling can induce hormonal behavior in parrots

 

How do I make a bird nest at home? 

We hear a lot about parrots seeking out any dark, confined area they can find. From crouching in couch cushions, to huddling under furniture, and squatting in closets and bathrooms.  

We’ve seen birds use stuffed toys to masturbate on.  Smaller birds that climb inside of 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, dark and offers a bit of privacy will do.  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 wreaks havoc on parrot health and behavior.

How do you calm a hormonal bird?

You should try your best to stop nesting behavior in your parrot for both its physical and emotional health.  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,” proactively eliminate areas because any opportunity to nest will trigger your bird’s body to produce courting and reproductive hormones.  

For smaller parrots, you have to essentially “nest proof” your interactions.  A lot of us mistakenly think that it is cute to let our small parrot nest in our clothing or even our hair.  

Avoid allowing your bird to 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 occasionally take the chewed and chipped wood from toys and hide them under his neck feathers when he’s hormonal.  

I guess he’s storing them away until he finds an appropriate nest cavity.  While it’s cute, I 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 to keep 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.

Another way to support hormonal birds is to feed supplements that help to balance out hormones.  For instance, our Parrot Hormone Rescue Pack contains nutritious plant-based products that help to balance out hormones and aid in improved mood and behavior. 

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. 

Hey, please leave a comment or share this on your social media if you love this post! 

Related Posts

Curbing Hormonal Behavior In Parrots

How To Pet A Parrot

Foods That Increase Parrot Hormones And Make Everyone Miserable

References

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/bird-owners/disorders-and-diseases-of-birds/injuries-and-accidents-of-pet-birds

 


Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

TAGS: #BirdHormones #HowToTellIfYourBirdIsHormonal

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11 Responses

ODriscoll David M
ODriscoll David M

September 29, 2021

my green cheek conure is always with me when i’m sitting he likes to sit on my shoulders or sleep in my shirt for hours.For a couple weeks now he / she only comes out of his house to eat . He staying in his bed area constantly making noises like he’s talking to someone or he’s doing that dance where he backs up his but to the side of the cage and squeals.His cage is next to my chair so he can get out and play, will this hormonal time end soon? I’m the one in the house he’s attached to, he pretty much nips everyone else or anyone that gets close to me.

Ornella Greco
Ornella Greco

September 29, 2021

Hello,
In case we cannot “bird proof” a dark spot what should we do? I have a very heavy sofa my lovebirds are obsessed with and i can’t close every single gap….they always find a way in. I’ve tried closing the room but they get restless and aggressive.

Carl Williams
Carl Williams

September 29, 2021

How to stop nesting activity: There’s a lot talking about what this or that parrot does, but there’s really not any methods described to stop the activity that’s already taking place.
Yes, stop by prevention is one thing but I think you got sidetracked on that part or the blog “How to stop nesting activity”. I certainly didn’t learn anything.

helena
helena

September 29, 2021

is it bad to let them go under dressers and stuff? my bird likes to play a sort of “hide and seek” down there

Summer
Summer

September 29, 2021

So i keep my parakeet in my room and when i let him out his cage, he goes straight to my ps4 wires and sits there. Then if he get bored he climbs on my table where my tv is and sleeps..
he is only 6 months old and when i try to get him away from there he bites me. idk what to do-

Simona
Simona

September 29, 2021

One of my green cheek Conures has a cage against the wall and he (unknown gender as of know) like to go between the wall and cage and tries to shred the wall and starts acting aggressive and territorial when he is back there. He also shredded all of the paper he could find in the room, and consistently wanders the floor looking for scraps. I moved the paper and am going to move the cage to hopefully solve the issue.

bread
bread

September 29, 2021

my bird tries to stick his head under my blanket all the time and tries to fall asleep in there? is this a behavior i should try to disencourage?

Surabhi Saksena
Surabhi Saksena

September 29, 2021

My parrot never flew. She was very attached to me. I was just picking her up with a glove which she thinks is very familiar, as she never flew away, but 12 days ago she flew. I am not able to locate her. And I am feeling broken. The day she flew, all of my family including me heard her voice but can’t see her. My day said, third day she came but as dad went near, she flew away. I am scared how she will be and it’s raining too :(

Also since few days her behaviour changed. She was hiding everywhere and sometimes became aggressive. She was not liking to be with me much as before.

But I am missing her badly, feeling helpless what to do. I Only want she is safe :(

Linda
Linda

March 09, 2020

My irn keeps ripping up my rug? I know it coming in to mating season and she has a male companion she’s 6 and he’s 3 and a half should I get them a matting box nest and is it okay to tear the rug I don’t mine the mess but not sure if okay for her??

Jim
Jim

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.

Jennifer
Jennifer

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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