With the Sweets, Comes the Sours.

Written By: B.D. Butler - Mar• 11•15

Click here for pinning african grey.

As parrot owners we all have one thing in common, parrots bite.  There is no way to get around it. You can’t put it on a plate and make it pretty to serve to the unsuspecting or unknowing, it’s just a harsh fact of owning these beautiful creatures.  They bite, and when they do, it sucks.

Dexter my Timneh grey who I have had the longest in our little flock usually bites me once a year.  Is it an episode in terror that he has been planning?  Nope.  It’s usually around spring fever time when all parrots go a little wonky.  It’s the one time of year that you have to pick your battles and walk away.  Sometimes it’s not the easiest to walk away from and your feelings get hurt.

photo (2)Cooper, who I refer to as Cujo of my household, has his moods.  He can be pig-headed, cage aggressive, cunning and a down rain pain in the old keister.  However, I try not to lose faith in him.  He makes it extremely difficult to love him sometimes, but when he lets his walls down, your heart literally melts in your chest.  There are months that go by where his beak does not shred my skin like paper, there are months where he steps up without launching at my hand like a junkyard dog going after a trespasser and there are months when Cooper lets his true personality shine.  That’s when I tend to relax and lose focus.  Cooper is just being Cooper, and that’s when it happens.  WHAM!  I understand that he has not been premeditating the strike like the planning of a bank job, it’s just that I haven’t watched his body language, and his trigger points that indicate the attack is coming.  Of course when this happens, it hurts.  It bothers me to the core.  I feel horrible, not only for my physical wounds, but for the gauge to my ego.  I feel as if all the work that we have done is just tossed and out the window.  When any of the other birds nip me, it does not affect me the same way.  Of course the same intent and aggression is not there.

I've had this plaque for 24 years.

I’ve had this plaque for 26 years.

Birds are naturally prey animals and innately suspicious creatures.  They have their defense mechanisms, just like any other animal out there.  So biting may be the way that they communicate to you that they aren’t happy with the way things are going and want to say “No, I don’t want to go” or “I don’t want to come out of my cage”.  A friend of mine and I were chatting about a bite wound and he asked “well your birds talk, can’t they simply say no I don’t want to go” and I responded, “yes they understand certain things, but english is not their first language”.  If you think about it, it’s true they mimic, understand and can formulate their own sentences, but that’s not every bird.  Some birds don’t even talk at all; so how are they going to communicate?  Physically. Our first reaction to physical threat is fight or flight, our adrenal system takes over and usually doesn’t allow for “talking it out” until the brain has made the decision of which path it is going. Fight avenue or flight drive.

Click here for Parrot Problem Solver.

Click here for Parrot Problem Solver.

For those of you out there with a bird that bites, educate yourself and the “why” will make itself known.  Birds usually don’t bite for no reason and some with severe aggression issues have been conditioned that way.  There is always a cause and effect in any behavioral scenario and it’s up to you to find the root. Try and tell yourself it’s nothing personal, lord knows I try to tell myself that very thing.  

With every beautiful thing there is always a counter balance, the yin to the yang.  With parrots and their beautiful magnificence, there has to be the other side of the spectrum. When your parrot bites you, shake it off and breathe,  it’s nothing personal.  And remember, “With the sweets comes the sours”.

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – With the Sweets, Comes the Sours



You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


  1. Charlotte Carlile says:

    I love your little articles. They are always reassuring for us ‘newbies’. And though my little Capt’n and I have been together almost 3 years now, it’s still a big learning game. At least for me. I think had me pegged from the first few days. I get bit. Almost to the bone. There have been a couple of times a stitch or two would have been in order. The first time it happened, I had no clue about biting and it was bolt from the blue. I was seriously bit in abut 4 places. I think we both panicked. But looking back, and knowing what I know now, he wasn’t biting to be mean. He was just holding on to the ‘branch’ and my hands and arm were the ‘branch’. I cried for hours. My feelings were so hurt. But not anymore. Now I know. He WILL bite out of aggression if you are too quick to your hand in his cage. I can do it, but very slowly and it’s a rare thing because I bleed quite well. He has pierced my ear and the back of my neck in a couple of places, but that is always to hang on. So now I’m just careful. And diligent. And if I’m not. Well, who’s fault is that? So I don’t blame him any more. When it does happen, I get more angry than hurt and just put him in his cage and ignore him for a bit. For for me than for him. He doesn’t understand punishment so I don’t show anger. Do I still love his little green and yellow butt? You bet I do. <(") Thank you again for keeping it all in perspective.

  2. Charlotte Carlile says:

    Excuse the typos. I can type faster than I think and I didn’t edit. Sorry.

  3. Cheryl K says:

    Our quaker, Bobby, came to us with biting issues. He was 4 and we were his 5th home, we adopted him from a sanctuary. He had learned it was fun to bite people and hear them scream. He’s 6 now and we’ve come a long way with positive reinforcement. I still get nipped almost every day but serious bites are rare now. He also tells me “don’t bite” if I’m doing something he doesn’t like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *