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Can hormonal behavior in birds be eliminated?

All dogs, cats, and birds have hormones. Hormones are normal and play an important role in behavior and development. A few months ago, Emily had the pleasure of working with an 11 year old sun conure named Tilly who exhibited some behaviors that are typically associated with the presence of hormones, like attempting to nest in her people’s clothing, in boxes, and in other items around the house. She would get so worked up while attempting to nest that she would sometimes bite her people when they were removing her. Tilly’s family reached out to us with the goal of eliminating Tilly’s hormonal behavior.

(This is not Tilly, but we wanted to show an example of a sun conure. Aren't they cute?!)

There are a number of factors that are addressed when addressing hormonal behavior in birds:

  • Diet - A diet high in sugar/carbs/fat can increase the likelihood of hormonal behavior. Feeding a balanced diet goes a long way in keeping birds at equilibrium.

  • Access to sunlight - Birds that are exposed to daylight for long periods are going to ovulate more often, which increases hormonal activity. Keeping birds to a strict bedtime schedule (10-12 hours of sleep) with a covered cage is another important factor in keeping birds at equilibrium.

  • Switching up their environment consistently - Rotating toys and moving the cage to different areas at least 1-2 times per month presses the “reset” button on their territory and breaks the cycle of them attempting to arrange their environment in preparation of nesting.

  • Give the bird an appropriate area to practice species-typical behaviors - One big factor to consider with hormonal behavior is that it is completely normal! It is not a realistic expectation to completely eliminate hormonal behavior in birds. If we give the bird an appropriate area to practice these natural behaviors, they will be less likely to attempt to practice these behaviors in random places. Depending on the species of bird, their nesting area may range from a cloth tent to a larger wooden box.

Implementing these changes have the potential to go a long way in changing a bird’s hormonal behavior and channeling it appropriately. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about your bird!

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