Green parrot climbing its cage

How To Deal With Territorial Behavior In Parrots?

Territoriality is a common feature of nesting adult parrots in the wild. Parrots have to defend their territories to keep themselves and their offspring safe from predatory dangers. 

This behavioral instinct is carried through into captivity and manifests in the form of aggressive body language, lunging, and biting. A territorial parrot shows aggressive behavior around its cage to protect its territory and guard its resources such as toys and food. 

What Does Territorial Behavior In Parrots Look Like?

It’s important to understand the difference between aggression in parrots and territorial behavior. In order to take action to correct the behavioral issue, you need to know where the parrot’s aggression is coming from. 

A territorial parrot will be reluctant to leave its cage and attack anyone who encroaches on their territory. They quickly learn that biting is an effective method to fend off human intruders. 

A territorial parrot also engages in aggressive play with toys and displays aggression toward nearby objects when the true source of their fear is at a distance or not accessible to them.

It may throw toys around the cage and hit them with its beak to show dominant behavior and scare off people around. 

Territorial behavior can also manifest in the form of passiveness over a person. Many parrot species have the tendency to become one-person birds. They get attached to a single person in the family, usually the one they are the closest to, and show jealous behaviors when other people come near that person. 

What Causes Territorial Behavior In Parrots?

Territorial behavior can have multiple reasons. One of the common reasons is elevated hormone levels, which activate the parrot’s nesting instincts. However, parrots can become territorial because of behavioral problems as well. 

Hormonal Season 

During the breeding season, usually in spring, parrots experience a surge of hormones, which brings about various behavioral changes. Parrots can become territorial when they are hormonal as their nesting instincts kick in. 

They become more protective of their cage because they view it as a potential nesting site. They may also show aggression to protect their belongings and even their mate if they are present.  

However, This type of territorial behavior is temporary and lasts only for the duration of spring. During this time, do not provide your parrot with any kind of nesting box or nesting material as it may encourage them to breed. 

Behavioral Issue

If your parrot is acting territorial outside of the hormonal season, it is probably a behavioral issue. 

Parrots can develop territorial behavior for many different reasons including unhealthy attachment to the owner, being cage-bound for too long, and species-specific tendencies. 

According to Drs. J. Hooimeijer DVM CPBC, parrots with a strong attachment to their owner exhibit bonding behavior, which in turn causes territorial behavior. It shows that the bird is feeling insecure and defensive. 

The parrot may bite other people and even members of the family if they come between it and its owner. When the bird is away from its usual space or when the owner is not around, its behavior changes significantly. 

In some instances, parrots might seem territorial and defensive in their cage, but in a different, neutral environment, they display positive, and social behavior. 

Parrots that are left alone in their cages for too long can also become territorial. The stress of being cage-bound has negative effects on birds. 

Some parrot species are more likely to develop territorial behavior than others. Parrots species such as Quaker parrots, African greys, conures, and Amazon parrots have a tendency to become territorial. 

Corrective Strategies For Territorial Aggression In Parrots

Step-Up Training

Parrots that are territorial do not easily come out of their cages. If you try to take your parrot out of its cage, it will resist and bite. It will be even more difficult if you haven’t properly step-up trained them. 

You need to be able to handle your parrot to move them in and out of their cage. It can be difficult to step up and train your parrot when it is being aggressive and there’s a greater chance of getting bitten. However, it is crucial that you do not react negatively to their aggression as that might reinforce this behavior. 

Use treats or a target stick and hold it in front of your parrot, just out of reach. Bring your hand forward, encouraging them to step onto it. While you’re doing this use cues like “come” or “step”. 

Reward them when they are able to step up successfully. Keep your hand or the target at your parrot’s waist level. This makes it easier for them to step compared to if the hand is slightly downward. 

Remember, this process is going to take longer as you have a parrot that is not compliant and is unwilling to leave its cage. If you have previously done step-up training with your parrot, it can be quite helpful and the bird may be more receptive.  Repeat this process regularly, and be patient. 

Familiarizing With Other Family Members

Territoriality can manifest in the form of passiveness over the favorite person. If your parrot shows aggressive behavior toward members of your family and friends who might come over to your house, it would be a good idea to make them friends with your bird. 

Parrots might choose a favorite person but they can learn to like other people as well. All you need to do is give them some time and put some effort into gaining their trust. Have other family members offer a treat to your parrot or spend some time interacting with it. 

Relocating Cage

According to the University of Bern, changing the location of the cage motivates the parrot to explore new territory. Because the parrot does not defend the new territory yet, it can be an ideal place to train them.

Providing More Than One Cage

Having multiple cages provides parrots with a new environment that it has to adjust to, reducing the likelihood of them becoming overly possessive or defensive about a single territory. 

Different cages can serve various purposes, such as a dedicated sleeping space, a place for mealtime, and a spot for play and enrichment.

In the wild, nonbreeding parrots roost on trees and do not have a permanent sleeping location. They go about their day foraging for food and flying around. 

Giving your parrot more than one cage allows them more freedom. It also provides you the opportunity to spend time with them training and interacting.

Are Female Or Male Parrots More Territorial?

While both male and female parrots are responsible for defending their nest in the wild, the males often show more territorial aggression in captivity. Male parrots have to defend their territory when the female is incubating the eggs, which may be the reason for their stronger territorial drive.

Are Wild-Caught Parrots More Prone Territorial Behavior Than Hand-raised Parrots?

A study conducted by the University of Bern found that wild-caught and parent-bred birds tend to be more territorial and prone to biting compared to hand-reared parrots. 

This is because they were kept in a cage for a longer time before being released, compared to birds that were not imported, and hand-reared. 

Wild-caught birds may have experienced trauma during their capture and importation. When they were bought, they were likely scared of humans, so they quickly tried to claim their cage as a new territory and defended it. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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