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BirdTricks Blog | Parrot Training

Who Is To Blame For The Bird’s Bad Behavior?


Blue and gold macaws

This summer I had the opportunity to meet Chris and Misty, a couple that Dave Womach worked with on a behavior consultation involving their moluccan cockatoo. They were at the Womach’s house graciously offering their time to disassemble some of the indoor cages for the Womach’s final move to Idaho.

In talking to them, I realized that Dave had managed to drive home a really important message during the consult. Chris said to me that he was relieved to find that the source of the problem was him ...

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Blue and gold macaws

This summer I had the opportunity to meet Chris and Misty, a couple that Dave Womach worked with on a behavior consultation involving their moluccan cockatoo. They were at the Womach’s house graciously offering their time to disassemble some of the indoor cages for the Womach’s final move to Idaho.

In talking to them, I realized that Dave had managed to drive home a really important message during the consult. Chris said to me that he was relieved to find that the source of the problem was him and not the cockatoo. I was thrilled to hear that, most people do not look at the situation so open-mindedly.

When there are problems with our birds, almost without exception, a human caregiver is at fault. I know that is hard to hear. No one wants to consider that they might be responsible for screwing up their bird. However, it is an admission that everyone, myself included, has to make before moving forward to a solution: WE are the problem.

Issues with our parrots come in many different forms. The vast majority of health issues are traced back to inadequate diet and exercise, lack of proper lighting or an unclean or unsafe environment. Behavioral issues like fear or aggression will eventually be traced back to our handling of the bird, and our inability to read their body language. Ultimately, none of these problems can be blamed on a bird that sits caged among humans. They have no control over anything. They can only object.

The fact is that birds are very adaptable and always do well in homes where their security does not feel threatened and they are well cared for. If your bird isn’t doing well, you are missing something.

I am sure some people reading this are already getting defensive, but please don’t. This isn’t an attack on anyone’s merits as a bird owner and it is actually good news!

Yellow collared macaw

Everyone taking the time to read this obviously loves their bird deeply and does their very best to care for them and provide the best of everything. As I have said many times in the past, we are humans who do not read body language well and can only manage to perceive things in a way that is limited to our human experience. Our journey with birds has been a short one and our knowledge is very limited. We are going to blow it repeatedly. It is inevitable. It speaks very highly of the birds in our care that they are willing to bend again and again to make things work with us.

Your bird is not defective. In fact, he is operating perfectly and in exactly the manner a bird should in a difficult situation. His behavior is symptomatic, a reaction to situations thrust upon him that weren’t of his own making and are beyond his control. Don’t expect your bird to change to solve the problem. WE have to make the changes.

The good news is that since we have created the problems, we can fix them. It is a lot easier to fix yourself than something else, especially when you have no idea how that something else actually works.

To do it, though, we have to put our egos behind us, drop the defenses and take Chris and Misty’s sensible outlook on their bird’s behavior. We can solve the problem by addressing our own shortcoming as caregivers. Are you willing to look in the mirror for the solution to your bird’s problems?

You can start to make the difference by clicking here: One Day Miracles 

14 comments


  • I use to have my A Grey (rosie) in front of my flower shop by the customers. She then began to make a mess so I started taking her to the back room. Now thats what she wants all the time. How do I break the habit of screaming for my attention, till I bring her to the back room. Or she plucks herself because of boredom. I don’t know what to do to stop this behavior. cathe

    catherine adamski on

  • My Senegal, Piña, came to me as a gift so I hadn’t done any research on parrots. My biggest mistake is Underestimating the HUGE intelligence in that small body! I am blown away each day watching her figuring something out. At first, being uninformed, I discounted the necessity of training other than stepping up. Now, because of my laziness….yes I admit to being lazy about training, I have a bird that is very willful. The Only,time she will step up is when I offer her the bedtime snack. She will only come to me on Her terms, not mine. I love Piña to bits and have begun to re watch the BT training videos from the beginning. The good news is that Piña IS smart, and only 5 yrs old so I feel there is hope for us. And better news is that I have the training videos and auditors . Thank you Bird Tricks for all the great information you provide. I am a dedicated fan.

    Maureen Tweddle on

  • i had blue and gold macaw and the big mistake that i did was coming to him when he scream for attention, that make him scream every time he want something ( almost all the time ) and he teach the nice green wing to scream too and it toke 3 months to stop that
    thank you

    haitham on

  • I’ve been way too easy going and he no longer “comes up” unless by chance it’s his decision. (Which I’m fine with) I’ve managed to give him confidence that When I put my fingers out for him to come up he only has to wait me out, and I’ll stroke neck and back.

    Entirely by accident!!! my conure seems very happy and content for the past couple months. I’ve relocated the, generally open,cage to directly behind the most used couch and he seems to love it.
    I’ve had Guido for nearly a year now and am soooooo happy to see him so content. It’s absolutly amazing how rare his screaming is now. He used to have roughly one bad day per week. I have not witnessed a bad day from him since we moved is cage so close to us. With his ladder he has the abilty to walk right up behing us and just be with us. He used to be just 8 feet away but that nearness seems to make a big difference.

    Dan on

  • How do you control the raging hormones in a lesser sulpher crested cockatoo? I like to take her out in the evenings for about 1 1/2 hours, feed her treats, scratch her head, etc. I have done everything I can think of…including making her a night sleep cage in another room so she can get plenty of sleep, controlling her light during this period, feeding her extra calcium since she will lay a few eggs each year, trying not to pet her in certain places, but she acts like velcro on me, sticking up her tail and doing her little dance constantly. There is nothing that will distract her other than a treat, but then she’s at it again. I cannot cuddle with her…that is completely out of the question, which is really sad….. advice?

    Barbara Taden on

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