The Birds And The Bees For Adults (Parrots, That Is!)

The days are growing longer, and if you have a sexually mature parrot, there might be some serious sexual activity going on that you are unaware of! I just republished an essay I wrote on “Spring Fever,” which is my phrase for the hormonal affects on young, sexually immature parrots this time of year. Between immature birds and those that have attained sexual maturity, there are some similarities, but also significant variances (approximately age 2 to 7 years, depending on species).

Many people feel that sexual activity in adult parrots indicates that they should be placed in a breeding context; this is not true! While there are a FEW birds that are really unhappy as pets and want for a mate and chicks, they are in the minority. For most birds, it’s only a few months of Mother Nature’s influence that passes, exposing your faithful partner once again. While some birds become violent at this period, the vast majority do not. In a proper breeding environment, with a bonded couple and a nest box, aggressive, territorial behavior is expected, but not in solitary birds in our houses. Depending on the circumstances and surroundings, certain birds display “selective aggression.”

Basically, sexual activity begins as the amount of daylight hours increases. It’s beneficial to follow the natural light cycle at this time, waking them up with the sun and putting them to bed when it sets. Many birds become quite affectionate when they are hormonal, preferring to cuddle more and practically lie in your lap. Touching becomes “touchy” since much of your normal caressing may suddenly be sexually exciting. Stroking beneath the wings, under the tail, over the tail (or yanking on it), hands down their whole body, or pressure on the back are all prohibited. All of this may be overstimulating and frustrating. It’s like a lot of foreplay with no conclusion! While sexual impulses are normal and rather prevalent in many adult birds, they should not be encouraged.

Similarly, instead of discouraging or reprimanding, just ignore it and try to avoid provoking it! We are frequently unaware of our participation in the process, and unlike “spring fever” in young birds, adult sexuality is often much more subtle, to the point where we are unaware that our birds are experiencing it.

Many birds are either more loving or more grumpy, but not much else is noticeable. Some birds show no signs of alteration at all. If you do decide to find a spouse and begin on the adventure of breeding parrots, don’t start too soon! Many people misinterpret “spring fever” in juvenile birds as a sign of preparation for breeding, but they’re just behaving like kids. Breeding too early puts a lot of strain on Mom since her energy is diverted from her own body’s growth and instead goes into producing eggs and nurturing kids. You also have weaker, smaller infants with lower vitality.

During this time, everything that seems appealing for nesting – boxes, drawers, cabinets, bags, etc. – snug sheltered small nooks and crannies – is another trigger. Avoid having such items nearby, and certainly do not provide a nest box! Some people do it as a safe haven for birds to hide, sleep, or hang out, but it just makes matters worse. “Happy Huts” will accomplish the same effect with certain youngsters; you may wish to remove it for a bit.

Take care! Over stimulation indications include eye pinning, tail fanning, feather puffing, flushing, and posturing. You may need to alter your handling strategy at this point. Consistently use “step up/down” orders, and keep your bird no higher than your head and shoulders. You may use a hand-held perch to get your bird out of his cage or off his playstand. Biting is clearly a concern right now. When necessary, employ a “neutral chamber” to reclaim or preserve your position as flock leader.

Other elements that influence sexual activity include humidity and temperature, as well as illumination and daylight hours. Nature normally forces birds to reproduce at the same time when plants are prospering, producing luxuriant foliage, seed, flowers, and fruit. This guarantees that there is enough food to satisfy the additional hungry mouths!

You could be fortunate and have a parrot that breezes through “breeding season” without blinking an eye. When the hormones rise, not everyone acts out! Simply be prepared, vigilant, and use sound judgment if difficulties emerge. I don’t recommend performing extensive behavioral therapy in the spring if your bird reacts poorly, even though this is generally when I receive a slew of calls pleading for assistance!! Unfortunately, this seems to be the period when many birds are placed up for sale, as owners are either uninformed of or unable to cope with this perfectly natural, regular occurrence.

If you do have issues today, it is still recommended to focus on behavior once things have returned to normal. Improving your tactics and developing a deeper friendship based on trust and advice may help you and your parrot cope with future issues better next year! Meanwhile, try not to attract your birdie with provocative behavior. Instead, purchase him some new toys, give him more fresh vegetables and healthful foods, and enjoy the promise of new life that spring brings!

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