As a child, I was infatuated with birds of all sorts. I loved the colorful feathers and their musical calls.
If I could help it, I would never miss an opportunity to meet and interact with a bird. So you can imagine my delight when my parents bought me my very own pet parrot!
Kiwi was a very lively bird and I would have lots of fun talking to him and feeding him from my hand. I was sad when I had to visit my grandmother for a week and couldn’t bring him along. When I returned, I gave him a treat first thing! To my dismay, instead of taking the treat, Kiwi bit my finger.
This happened a few times over the next week and I learned that this was cage aggression or cage rage, and this phenomenon is common in birds in captivity.
What is cage aggression in birds?
Cage aggression (or cage rage) is a psychological disorder that may develop in animals that live in a cage. It may range from less severe in the early stages to extremely severe.
The bird may behave in an extremely aggressive and deranged manner and this may be dangerous for you, for other birds in the same cage, and for the bird itself.
What are the signs of cage aggression in birds?
Aggression in birds can be easily identified if you are observant. They display differences in posture, general behavior, eating, sleeping, etc. One of the first things you might notice is your bird biting or pecking you as soon as you put a finger in its cage.
It will not allow you to feed or pet it without hurting you. Your bird could be extremely restless and more vocal than normal. It is also possible that it may not accept food from you. Another point to notice is that It may attack other birds in the same cage.
What causes cage aggression in birds?
Cage aggression is extremely difficult for your bird and you. There is constant uncertainty and fear regarding the bird’s well-being and yours too. Cage aggression can be caused by a multitude of factors.
- The cage may be too small for the bird. If the cage is too small, the bird may feel cramped inside it. If it is not let out at regular intervals, the bird will not be getting any exercise and is bound to become restless.
- Past experiences may have affected your bird. If you have recently adopted a bird, you may have no idea about how it was treated at its previous home. It is possible they have been mistreated and so developed a fear of or aggression towards humans.
- Lack of company. It has been noticed that pet birds bite their owners after they have been away for 2-3 weeks and return. The birds resent the owners for leaving them alone.
- Boredom. Birds are intelligent creatures and it has been seen that they need a lot of mental stimulation to stay fit and healthy in captivity. This can take the form of small games, activities, and even teaching the bird tricks. If they do not utilize their mental capacity, they may get bored and in turn aggressive.
- Not being hand-fed when they were young. Birds that did not get exposure to humans from a young age may develop a fear of them. To ensure the birds are comfortable and open to new experiences, they have to be exposed from a very young age.
- Territorial behavior. All animals, even if they live in captivity, retain their wild instincts. Birds are no exception. If there are more than 2 birds in one cage, it is possible that a bird may form its own territory within the cage and show aggressive behavior while trying to protect it.
- Hormonal changes. Just like humans, birds too go through hormonal changes. This may make them irritable and aggressive. But this phase will be temporary and will pass on its own.
How to prevent cage aggression in birds?
By following some simple steps, you can prevent your bird from ‘flying’ into a rage. Remember that the earlier you start there, the better. Younger birds can be trained much more easily than older birds.
Primarily, keep your bird/s in spacious cages and let them out of their cages as often as you can. Letting your bird out in an enclosed and safe room will allow it to explore and understand its surroundings. This will provide some much-needed mental stimulation.
Additionally, it is a good idea to train your birds. Birds are extremely intelligent and if you use proper techniques and spend time, you will be able to teach your bird some fun tricks. This is great for the bird as well.
The Crocoseum Bird Show of Australia Zoo is famous for the fun tricks the birds perform. In behind-the-scenes videos, the birdkeepers show that they simply train the birds with lots of patience, repetition, and treats! The best part? You can do it all too.
Of course, it is important to give your bird food according to its dietary requirements. This will ensure good health. Also, spend lots of quality time with your bird and ensure it is comfortable around you.
How to tame a bird out of cage aggression.
It is important to remember that there is no one way that works for all birds.
Every bird is different and you may have to try a few things before you find something that works best for you and your pet. With this being said, there are a few things you can try.
- Train your bird. Birds are intelligent creatures. Birds like parrots are even more so. They are quick to pick up on commands, calls and can learn tricks. In captivity, this mental power needs to be put to good use. Hence, you can start training your bird.
Target training/stick training is one of the best ways to follow. You should start small but eventually, you might even be able to get your parrot to follow your cue and fly wherever you want.
You should buy a clicker and use the clicker whenever your bird follows your command.
Eventually, your bird should understand that the clicking is associated with a task for them and this task should be followed by treats!
Simple exercises like this for even half an hour will keep your bird busy and mentally stimulated.
- Spend time with your bird. It is possible that your bird needs time to get used to your presence again. Just sitting near your bird’s cage for some time every day will help the bird. You should talk to your bird. This will help it feel more comfortable.
- Choose a new spot to place the bird’s cage. If you can do this, it might help your bird get over the need for it to ‘protect’ its territory. You are basically changing your birds’ territory and placing it in a neutral location.
- Stay calm around your bird. Sticking your finger into your bird’s cage and then pulling it back suddenly will probably frighten and further aggravate your bird. Don’t force contact immediately. Instead, just sit patiently with your bird.
- Don’t raise your voice. Yelling at or around your pet will not help it realize it has done something wrong. It may have the opposite fact. Your bird may begin to provoke you intentionally to get the same reaction from you.
- Bring treats! Everyone loves some nice treats and kind words and birds are no exception. Give your bird plenty of treats when it interacts with you. Using this positive affirmation will encourage the bird to be more comfortable.
Related Read: Can You Feed Birds Bread? | Will Birds Eat Bread?
Cage aggression is a disorder that, no matter its cause, can be stressful for you and your bird. It may become a barrier in your interactions. You may not be able to feed your bird without it biting you.
This may cause serious health effects to the bird and even shorten its lifespan. Additionally, it may affect other birds in the same cage. Hence, it is important to deal with it as soon as you notice the signs.