why parrots bite

Updated April 2, 2022

Sometimes it seems that your parrot has lost its mind. But biting isn't random - there are actually three common reasons that make your parrot feel the need to bite. Find out what they are and how to manage them so that your parrot doesn't need to bite anymore.

Discovering the cause of birds biting problems will help you build a “bird training plan” and maintain your relationship with your bird. While any parrot can be taught to behave itself using positive bird training methods, such as Clicker Training for Birds,, understanding the causes of bird biting issues is going to help you keep your relationship strong with your bird. 


Many bird bites are a fear reaction. Like any animal of prey, birds are easily startled by novel or unexpected situations. Attentiveness to scary situations is actually a life saver that allows the bird to quickly escape danger. A pet bird that is startled or scared but sees no way to escape the situation may bite in hopes of defending itself.

We’ve all heard of the “Fight or Flight” response to fear. Birds instinctually fly off to avoid situations that are scary. Our caged birds aren’t so lucky so they may resort to the “fight” mechanism of self-protection when scared.

Imagine a pet bird that is scared, with clipped wings or in a confined space. That must be a very defenseless feeling. Building safe, trustworthy socialization experiences is fundamental to transforming fear related bird bites. A scared bird may rear back on the perch and growl. He may stand high on the perch with dilated eyes slick feathers.


Pet birds are known to be possessive of their chosen mate, their home or cage and maybe even their bird toys or accessories. Pet birds may bite to preserve their home and their relationship with a chosen mate.

In the wild, a healthy mate is a great asset. Birds mate for life, so they may fiercely safeguard the relationship with their mate and may bite anyone they view as a competitor. We “humans”, may view possessiveness as a negative trait, but for a bird, possessiveness keeps the species alive.

Mate protection related bird bites tend to be more instinctual and hormonal in nature. A bird has firmly attached to one family member in particular may bite others whom it perceives as trying to take its mate.

But, that doesn't mean that you should sit back and accept the biting.  Far from that.  We need to re-examine how to set up a birds environment so as not to induce an unnatural hormonal state in our pets. 

Also, use science-backed bird training strategies to teach your bird replacement behaviors to get its needs met so that it doesn't feel so compelled to bite. 


The one thing that makes birds so intriguing is their “human-like” intelligence and emotion range. Just like you and I, our pet birds have times when they just want to chill out and not be bothered.

Pet birds are a lot like a toddler aged child with quick mood changes and intense feelings. They live in the moment. Birds can experience a range of emotions within a day.

Birds often show signs of stress during “transitions,” such as feeding time, when they’re called back to their cage, or at bedtime. While a pet bird can’t verbally tell you what it’s feeling at any given moment, it does communicate that to you via its body language.

When you know how to read your parrot's body language, you can predict if your bird wants to be handled or not. But knowing your bird's body language is more than just knowing if your bird wants to be handled or not. It's knowing if your bird is excited, mad or over-excited.


When it's breeding season, even the sweetest bird can turn into a biting machine. But don't worry. Learn how to deal with hormonal biting parrot problems to turn this situation around.

You know how it is. Your hormonal parrot starts squawking at the crack of dawn and won't stop until dusk. Unnatural hormonal states can drive both you and your bird crazy.  But don't worry - we have a solution for you. Put your bird to bed on time. If you make sure that your bird gets a good 10 - 12 hours of sleep a night, they will be much less likely to wake you up early in the morning.


If your bird is biting because it is sick, training won't help. You need to take your bird to the vet. But, how do you know if your bird is sick when its instinct is to hide illness at all costs?

A sick bird may be on the bottom of the cage or show fluffed feathers and look as though it is shaking. It may perch with its eyes closed, have diarrhea or a reduced appetite. The bird may be having difficulties breathing and may want to stay in its cage.

The thee keys to dealing with a biting bird are for you to learn to read parrot body language, to discover why it's biting in the first place, and to use positive reinforcement to teach replacement behaviors.

Related Posts:

How to deal with a biting bird

5 ways to tame a fearful bird for a happier pet

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.

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