SPRING BEHAVIOR
OF PARROTS
 

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Our pet female Congo African Grey, Peewee, displaying excellent taste,
enjoys a fine pale ale "nestbox" on 5/25/04!


You might have noticed that your pet parrot has been acting a little oddly lately.
Even a parrot of just a few months of age can begin to have hormonal surges that
cause the bird to exhibit breeding behaviors. These behaviors can include bobbing
of the head, regurgitation, "clucking" or "whining" sounds, and the lowering of the chest
while fluttering the wings. The bird might show increased interest in shredding paper, chewing or guarding toys, plucking feathers, and/or a change in dietary preferences.
Sometimes a bird can become moody or aggressive due to hormonal surges.


We have owned several of our pet parrots for many years and they are all mature and
would be capable of breeding if they had mates and nest boxes. To help to satisfy some of their urges, we give out pet parrots "nesting" cardboard boxes. Our birds just love these boxes and have a good old time chewing and shredding the boxes to make their nests. Both males and females do this and two of our pets hens have laid eggs. We allow a hen to sit on and brood her eggs and our pet Bare-Eyed Cockatoo, Poopy, has become quite defensive of the "nest" for the two to three weeks that we let her sit. By sitting on the infertile eggs, it satisfies the hen's nesting instinct and prevents her from laying more eggs. If eggs are taken away as soon as they are laid, the hen will sometimes continue to lay more eggs. This can be detrimental to her health, so allowing a hen to sit on infertile eggs for a while is a good idea.

Rose-Breasted Cockatoos make a nest in the wild with eucalyptus leaves and slim
green branches. We recommend that thin leafy branches be given to Rose-Breasted Cockatoos to make a "nest". If you cannot obtain fresh eucalyptus, willow, palm,
and honeysuckle are also good.

Below are some images of our pet birds with their cardboard "nestboxes" taken
in late February 2002. We hope you will enjoy seeing these and that this will help
you to understand some of the behaviors of your own pet birds.



This is Togo, our pet Congo African Grey. We raised her here in 1987 and she is very bonded to my husband, Dave. She has never laid eggs but has a very strong maternal instinct. She will regurgitate and feed ANY SPECIES of baby parrot in our nursery! She particularly loves baby Greys but will also feed, Eclectus, cockatoos, Amazons, Pionus, and others!
update: Togo laid two clutches of
eggs in the spring of 2005.




 

 Here Togo feeds a baby Congo African
Grey. Togo loves baby Greys and does not tire of feeding them! She actually regurgitates food but is not particularly accurate in delivering the dinner!
 

  Togo is shown here feeding a baby Slender-Billed Cockatoo chick on 4/21/02. Togo will feed any species of baby! It is
quite amusing to see her attempt to feed
a large macaw baby!
 

Lil' Lorita, a Parvipes Yellow-Naped Amazon, has been with us since 1980. She was a breeder for several years prior to her retirement and has laid many eggs in the past. She no longer lays eggs but contents herself by chewing her boxes and making clucking noises. 
 

Lorita is another of our pet Yellow-Naped Amazons. We have owned her for since 1998 and she was imported from Honduras as an adult so we do not knw how old she is. She has never laid an egg but sure does a lot of clucking and wing fluttering in the Spring! She loves to chew her cardboard boxes and loves to sit inside of the dark box and make whining noises.

 

 

 On 3/21/02, a week after the image
above was taken, Lorita has chewed her box to the point of collapse and will need
a new box in another day or two. She is very bonded to her owner, Gail.

 Our Slender-Billed Cockatoo, Gumby, jauntily sits by his color-coordinated cardboard box! Gumby just loves to chew and the boxes keep him busy.
 

 Peewee was hatched here in 1990. She is a Congo African Grey Parrot. She laid her first egg in the spring of 2002 but did not show an interest in incubating it. Instead she has shown more interest in destroying the many boxes we have supplied to her over the past few months! She does a lot of flirting with Beckett Bird, a large male Congo Grey who lives in a cage next to hers and we are hoping that they will eventually pair-bond.


 

In the image at left, Peewee has laid an
egg in her shredded cardboard box on 3/21/02. She does not seem inclined
to sit on the egg as yet.

On 3/30/02, Peewee has laid yet another egg, having broken the one laid on 3/21/02.

 

 


 
On 4/6/02, Peewee now has two eggs
that are getting a bit soiled...

 
... and she is sitting on the eggs, having
made a window so she can observe any
treat foods entering the room!

Update 4/14/02- Peewee is sitting tight on four eggs!

 

This is Poopy, a Bare-Eyed Cockatoo, who was the first cockatoo hatched and hand-raised here at Aves International in 1978. She is a beloved pet. Her usual personality is a bit goofy and she is timid and easily frightened by other birds. Normally she will not let another bird get within three feet of her and she loves her owner (Gail). In the Spring, however, Poopy goes through a remarkable transformation when she has the urge to make a nest! Here are two images of Poopy defending her "nest", an open cardboard grape box.

 


In late February 2002, the first of three beautiful eggs was laid by our angry little pet.
She began to sit on the eggs once the second egg was laid and has been in quite a foul
humor ever since! She won't allow anyone or anything to get near her nest and
will challenge any other bird that gets near.

Poopy is quite content sitting on her eggs on 3/15/02. We'll take the eggs away in a few more days and she'll go back to her normal personality soon. She has been laying eggs
every spring for about five years.
 

 
On 3/21/02, Poopy has shredded the
box so much that she is sitting on her
eggs on the floor of her play area.
One egg has broken and was removed.
Do you see the two eggs?

 


Moments after her defensive posture shown at left, Poopy became very docile, left the eggs, and acted like she does normally. Minutes later, she was back guarding the eggs. It's about time to take the infertile eggs away from her.


On 3/30/02, I took the eggs away from Poopy and she was so
relieved that she immediately began some of her silly behaviors such as the
cardboard-roll-on-the-head trick and her ever popular Poopy Dance! She put the roll
on herself twice within the hour and had a lot of fun stumbling about her perch!

 

 

 

 

 

 On 4/6/02, Poopy has laid yet another
egg in her new tissue box nest! This is
her fourth egg this year. She has a split level view of her domain in this image. She is again defensive of her perch area and nest so it's going to be another long couple of weeks or so before she goes back to her normal personality/behavior.

goofy behaviors of our pet cockatoo, Poopy

 Our pet Blue & Gold Macaw, Mayo, has a great time in very large cardboard boxes! He loves to be closed inside a large box.
He makes delighted squealing noises and reacts with excitement to anyone
scratching the outside of the box. After
a while, he will chew a small escape hole
in a corner of the box and then enjoys a
hide and seek game with us.

 
photo by David A. Venanzi


 

 Mayo has spent many happy hours
in this large box in his cage. Boxes
last an average of about a week with
our pet birds. He has another large
box on our picnic table outside but
when he's outdoors, he prefers to get
on our flat roof where he chases the wild peafowl that have courtship displays
there in the spring! (see below)

He also loves to follow me around the
deck while I work in my plants. Every
time I pause, he regurgitates warm
food on my bare feet!
Guess they look hungry...

 
A peahen approaches from the left...

 
Mayo reacts with a charge stance...
 
...Mayo successfully dispatches her.


Please realize that parrots are creatures of instinct and we should respect this.
Instead of constantly trying to reform a parrot's instinctual behavior, it is better
to try to understand the bird's behavior. We can learn from them what they need
to stay happy.

1/2/05- It's a new year and the birds sense Spring in the air!

 
On 1/2/05. Our pet Blue & Gold Macaw, Mayo, discovers a new box on the floor
outside of his cage. Although his cage
already had a nice box, there is that old adage, "the box is always better on the outside of the cage".
 


 

 
Mayo had a bit of fun with this styrofoam
packing material for a few minutes but I did not leave this with him as a parrot could potentially ingest this material.


On 1/16/05, our Hahn's Macaw, Globo, was happily ensconced in his box
(aka The Opera House), "singing" and nesting with a walnut!

All photographs are by Gail J. Worth (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted.
They may not be reproduced by any method without written permission.

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