Lovebirds are cute aren’t they? I love to watch them playing and preening each other. And the babies, the sweet, tame, cute little babies…..they are so adorable! Aren’t they?….Until they start biting, but I would say this starts for most babies before they even go home. There are lots of reasons why lovebirds bite, and really, every lovebird and every situation is different, but there are some basic things going on that contribute to or can deter a lot of the biting.
If your lovebird was never tame, was not hand raised or socialized with humans, this article is not for you, this is not a crash course in getting a wild lovebird to trust you. This article is aimed specifically toward the single lovebird that is tame or was tame until recently…and began biting, leaving you clueless about how to handle it.
Firstly, lovebirds play with their beaks! So their beak is huge part of their lives. During the first 6 months to a year, a baby lovebird is doing what I call ‘beaking’, the lovebird equivalent to teething. They’re learning what they can do with it, plain and simple, testing everything in sight and realizing it’s fun to bite things! So, if yours hasn’t started yet….head this puppy off at the pass and keep items for chewing handy at all times! Great things for babies are small strips of cardboard, straws, tiny twigs, palm shredders, corn husks…you get the idea, stuff that they can do damage to. You can get things that are difficult for a lovebird to destroy, but in the end that only bores your lovebird, they NEED to chew, period. So keep these things handy when your lovie is out to keep that little beak busy. And if you don’t already have some interesting toys in the cage…..for the love of a lovebird, get some!
Your lovebird needs to learn who the boss is. This is hard for a lot of folks, but let me tell you, I’ve seen lovebirds who are dominant, and I’ve seen lovebirds who were not and they are very different birds. You want a bird that wants to please you…not the other way around. Dominant behavior can be deterred by trimming the wings and by keeping your lovebird off your head, and if your lovebird is very bad, off the shoulder, too. You can let the flight feathers grow back in later, but this is a pet, not a wild animal park.
Now your lovebird has bitten you……Do NOT REACT! And be consistent. The more consistent you can be, the shorter this period of training will be, and less consistent…the longer. I know it’s tough, but don’t react. You can give him a firm ‘NO’ and put him back in his cage, let him know behavior like that does not get rewarded and if he enjoys time out of the cage, he’ll figure that out pretty quickly.
Now, start rewarding little jaws when he does something you like! Keep sunflower seed handy and give him one for being cute and tell him what a good bird he is. You’re probably thinking this is a lot like training a dog….YES!!! Or your spouse for that matter, everyone needs encouragement and needs to learn what’s good and what’s bad. A 5 year old doesn’t know not to throw honkin’ big rocks in the street if no one tells him (I had to do that last week to someone else’s kid and now he knows :). So, you have to teach your lovebird what you like and what you don’t, it’s really pretty simple when you look at it like that.
Now, let’s say your cute little lovie is showing cage aggression…you’ll know what that means if your lovie is showing it, believe me. Chance are you’ve got yourself a little hen full of hormones on your hands, crap!
Things that trigger her hormones and make her worse are a mirror, a nest box, any thing that might serve as a nest box, large food bowls, long days, and plentiful food. So if there’s a mirror or any type of sleeping thingy, get them out. If she can fit in her bowls…get smaller bowls. Shorten her days, she doesn’t need long days anyways and cover her cage at night. Cut down on her food for a bit, this is obviously a short term thing, I don’t want anyone starving their lovebird, but cut it down for a bit until you can get under control. Change around her cage as often as you can, and I don’t mean weekly, I mean like twice daily, get in there, move stuff around. And get her out of cage as much as you can, if she’s not too friendly, wrap her nicely in a towel and hold her against your chest or belly as you’re watching TV. She’ll be resistant but she’ll warm back up to you.
So all these things are meant to remove the actual triggers, distract her, and reestablish her relationship with you. The more diligent you can be with this the faster you will both get thru it and she will be loving again soon.
Lets say you’ve got a baby lovebird, was sweet and tame when you got it but has become flighty? He needs more attention. Single tame lovebirds are a huge commitment. Lovebirds are not creatures that do well singly and when they are, they need a lot of attention from their owners and I can pretty much guarantee you…the more attention a lovebird gets, the better pet it is, and vice versa.
I know I will think of more to add this but this is what I have for now.First and foremost, if you have a lovebird biting, encourage it to chew on things it should instead of chewing on you, and that means a little effort on your part to be sure you have toys your lovebird wants to chew on, if he’s ignoring his toys it’s because they’re no fun! Lovebirds need toys with parts that fit in their beak, some of the best used toys for me were ones that had 3 -1/4″ cotton rope pieces thru a hole in dowel pin with 3 pony beads on each end of each piece, my gosh my lovebirds loved that toy, all of them! I need to make more of those lol Lovebirds need to be able to chew or manipulate the toy parts. That makes most toys available at Petsmart and Petco terrible toys for Lovebirds!
I urge you to take a look at my toy parts, my prices are more than reasonable. You can email me your list and I’ll send back a PayPal invoice including exact charges for shipping. I’m adding a new item I think lovebird owners will really enjoy, it’s a shoulder activity pad for lovebirds. It’s made with polar fleece and sown with all cotton thread and drapery lining for the backing. One end is open for access to replace buttons. It has loops and wooden buttons and 2 crazy beads sown on and will include 6 plastic links and 2 wooden chew sticks. You can put just about anything on these links that will entertain your lovie- on mine, I put a foam beads, a coin wrapper, a birdie bagel, and some misc beads. It was a huge hit from the get go!
Also check out this new toy, how cool is that? The activity pad is $20 and the Multitasker Toy is $5, it may be a bit before I get around to adding them to the website but feel free to ask for them when you order. They will be made to order but that shouldn’t mean you will have to wait and if I think you will I will let you know!