Parrot Breeding Behavior

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Domesticated parrots often act possessive of their owners during breeding season.

In springtime, parrots begin to engage in breeding behavior, sometimes called "spring behavior." This behavior can be aggressive or affectionate, or a combination of the two; it results from hormonal changes within the parrot's brain that cause it to seek a mate. Males and females often act differently during this period, and behavior may vary in intensity but can be managed with the proper techniques.

  1. Period of Behavior

    • Parrot breeding behavior typically occurs in late spring and lasts one to two months, depending on the species of bird. Breeding behavior can happen during the first year of a bird's life, but often doesn't appear in its full intensity for several years. The behavior may not occur if the parrot is only living with a single owner in a solitary cage, but can be provoked by additional inhabitants, both human and parrot.

    Lone Parrot Spring Behavior

    • If a parrot is living without a mate, it may exhibit a number of aggressive and possessive behaviors toward humans, as well as demonstrating an increase in sex drive and desire for affection. Female parrots often assume a "flat back" position, a submissive mating position which may include wing shaking and cooing or clucking. Females may also revert to infantile behavior such as wishing to be hand fed or held and stroked. Males often strut about with their feathers fanned out and their eyes moving swiftly about the room. Both genders can sometimes be observed picking or chewing at their own feathers. Either gender may become destructive to furniture or clothing as a response to the nesting instinct. More extreme breeding behaviors include regurgitation of food and masturbation.

    Parrot Breeding Behavior with Mate

    • If two parrot mates are caged together, they will engage in cooperative breeding behavior. The female parrot will find a dark or protected area (or a nesting box, if one is provided) and begin to construct a nest out of whatever materials are available. After the nest is constructed, the parrots will mate repeatedly, and eggs will be laid three to five days later. The female will sit on the eggs for 21 to 24 days before they hatch.

    Preventative Measures

    • Some measures can be taken by parrot owners to prevent or control parrot breeding behavior. Avoid punishing the parrot for natural breeding behaviors, as this will only confuse the bird. Restrict contact and petting to the head area only, to avoid stimulating the parrot too much. If the parrot becomes obsessed or enamored with a certain item or toy within the cage, remove it, especially if the parrot is using the item to masturbate. Some parrot owners choose to clip the bird's wings at this time to reduce aggression. Also, the parrot should not at any point be left out of the cage unsupervised.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

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