Hormonal Birds

Hormonal Behavior in Parrots: How to Pet a Parrot

Part of our Hormonal Parrot Behavior series, in this blog post, we present an infographic on how to properly pet a parrot so that you don't inadvertently induce hormonal parrot behavior in you adult pet.

Hormonal behavior in parrots

Parrots have completely different anatomy than most other pets and they require special handling. Especially when it comes to hormone management.

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Improper petting of a sexually mature bird can actually create hormonal behavior in parrots along with physical and emotional problems. You've noticed by now that your bird doesn't have external genitalia and that it reproduces differently, too.

Most bird species are genetically programmed to reproduce for only a limited number of times each year. The rest of the year their gonads go dormant - unless they are inadvertently stimulated.

hormonal behaviour in parrots

What triggers birds to breed?

They have special places where they touch each other to put hormones into high gear.

In the wild, when conditions such as food supply, sleep and weather are just right, birds will begin to sexualize each other by stroking each other down their backs, around the tail region, and under the wings.

This type of "petting" is like foreplay. It induces strong hormones and gets a bird ready to breed. Petting your bird incorrectly will make your bird hormonal.

Do birds get sexually frustrated?

Do birds get sexually frustrated


Pet birds that are feeling hormonal and sexually frustrated become loud, nippy, territorial, and unpredictable.

Cockatoo’s are notorious for becoming excessively hormonal and egg-bound. Lots of birds take up feather picking to deal with sexual frustration.

Do parrots like to be petted?

Many birds love to be petted. After all, who doesn't love great foreplay? 

When you stroke your pet bird's chest, back, under its wings, and it's vent area, it's a huge turn-on. Your bird will crave these full body massages and even beg you for them. 

But, just because your bird likes it doesn't mean it's good for it.

Where should I pet my parrot?

How To Pet A Parrot
Infographic by Diane Burroughs, LCSW


To prevent your bird from becoming hormonal and sexually frustrated limit your petting to its head, feet, and around its beak. These areas have fewer nerve endings and are not necessarily erogenous zones.

Where can I not pet a parrot?

NEVER stroke your bird down its back or in its tail region and stay away from under its wings, too. In the wild a mated pair only touches these areas during the actual hormonal  season. 

Instead get your bird busy! Offer it outings and exercise.


Plan to start offering your bird more enriching activities like singing with it, dancing with it, offering it forging opportunities, and increasing its daily exercise.

Your bird will bond with you just as much, if not more, when you participate and natural parrot behaviors with it.


Knowing how to pet your bird correctly will keep bird hormones in check and will help your bird manage its moods and behavior.  

Remember, your bird is not a dog or cat and it interprets most petting as a courting call.  Keep your petting respectful and platonic.

 Do you have a hormonal bird? Is your bird laying eggs or overly aggressive? Has your veterinarian suggested hormone shots? If you want to naturally curb hormonal behavior in your bird check out my book, Bird Hormones & Behavior: What You Need To Know.


#hormonalparrots; #howtopetabird; #hormonesandfeatherpicking 


Curbing Hormonal Behavior In Parrots

How To Pet A Parrot

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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


1 comment

Diane Malone

Diane Malone

Feather-picking can also be a response to parasites and even boredom.

Feather-picking can also be a response to parasites and even boredom.

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