Why Birds Bite and How to Avoid it

It can be very disappointing to a bird owner when their beloved pet bird starts biting, often for no apparent reason. This may result in a reluctance to handle the bird, which in turn can lead to further behavioral problems. So why do birds bite and what can be done to overcome this problem?

If you have established that your bird is in good health, the prevention of biting behavior, more often than not, lies in removing whatever may cause the bird to be afraid or stressed. A bird in the wild can fly away when it becomes fearful. A bird in a cage cannot escape and may bite to ward off the perceived danger. Start off with removing all possible sources of fear, such as other pets, and work on gaining the bird’s trust by always speaking in soft, low tones and not making any sudden movements.

Birds use their beaks for feeding, and a friendly pet bird will often see a hand as a source of food, resulting in it biting at an offered hand when you were hoping to get it to sit on your finger. The best solution is to never feed a bird from your hand. Use a spoon, tweezers or offer food in a bowl instead of with your fingers.

Many pet birds love to play and if you are enjoying a play session with your bird there is the possibility that you will be bitten. This can happen if the bird gets over excited or loses its balance. Although such a bite will not be aggressive, it will likely be painful. It is safest to dangle toys from a rope for the bird and not to let younger children handle birds without supervision.

Just about any bird will become territorial over a nesting box and is likely to bite a hand reaching into its territory. In this case, make use of gloves. Some birds get territorial over their owners and will bite other people or pets that may look as though they are going to disturb this exclusive relationship. To prevent injury to others, keep the bird in its cage or another room when others are around, but try not to isolate it for extended periods of time.

Other ways to avoid being bitten are to remove the bird from the cage when cleaning it; be calm, talking in a low tone of voice and not making any sudden moves when approaching your bird; give your bird plenty of love and attention on a daily basis; don’t initiate aggressive playing; be careful of what you wear as bright flashy clothes and nail polish can over-excite some birds; trim the bird’s flight feathers if it is given free reign in your house; and make sure it gets enough undisturbed sleep at night.

Birds can make wonderful companions and, with loving care, your relationship with your pet bird can be a richly rewarding one.