How to pet a bird

©Infographic by Diane Burroughs, LCSW 

Bird hormonal behavior is a big problem for many bird parents. Hormonal birds that perceive us as their mate experience so much frustration that they either become aggressive or they turn their frustration on themselves in the form of feather plucking.

At, we care about parrot wellness and refraining from accidentally making your bird hormonal is a big part of that,

Wild Bird Mating Rituals Rely On Environmental Conditions

It is important to know how to properly pet a bird.  Improper petting can actually make your parrot become hormonal. 

In the wild, pet birds only become hormonal once or twice a year.  We know that certain environmental conditions must be met in order for a bird to become hormonal and be able to reproduce.  These conditions include

  • Longer, warmer days in the Spring
  • More abundant food sources
  • Finding a mate
  • Acquiring a nest cavity

When those environmental conditions are met, then a bird’s circadian rhythms take over and the bonded pair cozy up much more than usual. The bird’s gonads come out of dormancy and the two love birds get amorous. For most bird species, this only happens once or twice a year. When the conditions are just right.

Where can I not pet a bird?

Pet birds often have completely different environmental conditions than their wild cousins. They often stay up late with us as we unwind from our day.  We buy them Snuggly huts that mimic a nest, and we feed them too many fatty foods.  All of this sets the stage for a chronic hormonal condition.

But, on top of that we cuddle and snuggle up with our pet birds petting them in their erogenous zones to the point where the bird thinks that it’s caretaker is it’s mate!

Touching or petting your bird anywhere other than it's head or feet can cause a chronic hormonal condition that your bird's body is not able to sustain.  Moreover, a hormonal parrot feels a sense of sexual frustration when it gets aroused but has no outlet.  The overstimulated bird reacts with biting, lunging, and even feather plucking.   

So, all in all, proper parrot care involves learning how to pet a bird.  If you want to show your bird just how much you love it, make sure that your bird gets enough sleep and learn how to pet it. Consider social activities such as trick training, eating together, time out on a play stand, and even teaching your bird to fly. 


How To Turn Around Bird Hormonal Behavior

You can turn around hormonal related aggression and feather plucking by ensuring that your bird has the following conditions:

  • Allowing for 10-11 hours of sleep per night
  • Providing few hours of full spectrum lighting per day
  • Properly petting your bird on the head or feet
  • Providing a proper diet
  • Removing anything that can be construed as a nesting cavity

Consider getting a bird sleep cage that you can cover and move to a quiet dark area.  That way, your bird can get the sleep that it needs. Here is a great sleep cage that is suitable for small and medium birds.

How do you let your bird know you love them?

One of the best ways to show our bird love is to learn about parrot wellness and providing the care that your exotic pet needs. This includes providing preventative medical care, ensuring that your bird eats a healthy, raw-food rich diet, training your bird for manners, providing your bird enriching foraging opportunities, and ensuring that your bird is out and about engaging with the family. 

Can birds feel love towards humans?

Our pet bird’s are flock animals by nature. They bond very deeply with us.  But, a safe bond should be that your bird perceives you as a flock mate rather than a lover.  If your bird perceives you as it’s lover and it can never consummate the relationship, it only results in intense sexual frustration. 

Since most bird species only go into season once or twice a year, we need to take care to create environmental conditions that allow the bird’s body to rest, like ensuring proper sleep, exercise, and diet.

To learn more about how to prevent or turn around frustrating, aggressive bird behavior, check out these blogs:

The Ultimate Guide To Hormonal Bird Behavior

8 Foods That Help Balance Bird Hormones

How To Tell If Your Bird Is Hormonal And What To Do About It