Home » What To Do If Your Parrot Is Hormonal [Dealing with The Triggers!]
how to deal with a hormonal parrot

What To Do If Your Parrot Is Hormonal [Dealing with The Triggers!]

You can’t neuter parrots as the procedure’s too dangerous. Unfortunately, parrots experience hormonal surges, but adjusting their living environment enables them to cope better.

To calm a hormonal parrot, minimize light exposure and keep the temperature down. Too much light and warmth make parrots think it’s Spring. Remove materials that can be shed to make a nest. Don’t feed it high-fat foods, as this stimulates hormones. Also, distract your parrot with exercise and toys.

Many parrots are given away and rehomed due to hormonal behavior. This behavior is completely natural and can’t be stopped, so you need to understand why it happens and be prepared in advance.

When Is Hormone Season for Parrots?

Hormone levels rise in the Spring when these environmental conditions occur:

  • Warmer weather
  • Longer days
  • Seeds germinate, so there’s more food

Smaller birds enter season more frequently. As birds are lower down the food chain, they must keep their populations strong. So, they procreate more often than larger birds.

There are six different breeding stages, including:

Pre-breeding:This is where the parrot’s body prepares to breed, including molting.
Mate selection:Parrots engage in mating rituals and select healthy mates.
Find a nest site:Parrots will find a hollow tree or nesting site in readiness to raise their young.
Prepare the nest:Parrots create warm, safe nests.
Breeding:Once the nest is ready, females lay fertile eggs.
Rearing their young:Parrots forage nutritious foods and teach their chicks how to survive.

How Long Do Parrots Stay Hormonal?

Once parrots become sexually mature, they remain that way for the rest of their lives.

Their hormonal stages can last up to 10 weeks, but this varies based on the species. Their hormones typically subside after a few weeks. The season starts when the environmental conditions are right and end once the parrot has laid her eggs. 

Similarly, hormonal ages vary between species because they become sexually mature at different times. Here are the ages at which parrots become hormonal:

Parrot Species:Age of Sexual Maturity:
Budgies:6-9 months
Cockatiels:9 months
African grey parrots:2-4 years
Amazon parrots:2-4 years
Conures:2-4 years
Goffins:2-4 years
Mini macaws:2-4 years
Pionus:2-4 years
Blue-and-gold macaws:3-6 years
Umbrella cockatoos:3-6 years
Moluccan cockatoos:4-7 years

Some parrots experience stronger hormonal surges than others. African greys are particularly hard to manage during the breeding months.

What Are the Signs of A Hormonal Parrot?

Some parrots never experience behavioral changes when hormonal, which is usually due to their owners socializing with them the right way from an early age.

Similarly, if you never allow your parrot to become dominant, you’ll find them easier to deal with when it experiences hormonal surges.

Unfortunately, some parrots become excitable, impulsive, or aggressive when hormonal, making them difficult to handle.

Here are the most common signs that a parrot is hormonal:

Regurgitation

Parrots regurgitate their food to signal an interest in mating. It shows how well they scavenge and provide food, making them more attractive partners.

In captivity, parrots regurgitate on owners they see as partners. Unfortunately, this behavior means your parrot’s grown attracted to you.

You mustn’t reward this behavior, but rebuffing a parrot’s advances too suddenly can damage your bond.

Biting

Biting is a common side effect of hormonal behavior. This is known as “bluffing” and affects even sweet and gentle parrots with no biting history. Signs of bluffing include:

Your parrot will seemingly start biting overnight, which can surprise owners who aren’t expecting this behavior. This is your parrot’s way of coping with its urges.

how to calm a hormonal parrot

Feather Plucking

When parrots become hormonal, they may over-preen and pluck their feathers.

While this is normal nesting behavior, it can become a destructive habit. The Exotic Animal Veterinary Center explains that feather plucking isn’t seen in the wild, so it signifies captivity-specific stress. 

If feather plucking continues beyond the parrot’s hormonal surges, it may progress to self-mutilation. This is where parrots chew into their skin, muscles, and bones to self-soothe and ease stress.

Inappropriate Behavior

Certain areas of a parrot’s body are reserved for mates.

According to VCA Hospitals, many parrots rub their cloaca or vent against their owners, which is a parrot’s form of masturbation and their attempt to initiate copulation.

If you touch this area during the breeding season, you’re encouraging a parrot to choose you as a mate.

Parrots are also sensitive under their wings, down their back, and toward their tail. If you touch these areas, your parrot will become sexually aroused and display inappropriate behavior.

Claiming Territory

Hormonal parrots seem more territorial than usual, becoming possessive over their cage, toys, games, and food while protecting their nests from dangers and predators.

Alongside this territorial behavior, parrots become more vocal and aggressive with people and other birds as they defend what they see as rightfully theirs.

They also become possessive over people and are more likely to turn into one-person birds, shutting out the rest of the family and attacking them when they get too close to their humans.

Nest Building

Hormonal birds build nests in their cages, shredding paper, using feathers, and insulating materials. Some parrots become so fixated on building a nest that they obsessively shred anything they can find.

Increased Vocalizations

When parrots become hormonal, they become noisy.

Some birds scream and squawk more often, increasing their vocalizations. For many owners, this becomes a nuisance, but this is normal for parrots experiencing hormonal surges.

Once the mating season ends, the noise should subside.

Mating Displays

Mating displays are a chance for parrots to attract a mate. During this, they’ll display behaviors like:

  • Eye pinning
  • Wing flapping
  • Tail fanning
  • Bowing displays

During their hormonal stages, parrots will crouch down low and pant. If you only have one parrot, don’t be surprised if it does these things to you.

Increased Calcium Intake

Females will be more interested in calcium and protein-rich foods like cuttlebones. This enables them to produce healthy eggshells, reducing the chances of egg binding and hatching mortality.

If parrots don’t have enough calcium, the eggs will be misshapen and malformed.

Can Parrots Be Attracted To Humans?

It’s common for parrots to develop a sexual attraction to their owners during the hormonal stages.

The Proceedings of the International Aviculturists Society Convention explains how over-dependent parrots that adopt a dominant role are more likely to create problems for their owners once they become sexually mature.

Parrots form life-long pair bonds. They mate whenever they want and socialize with their bonded parrot throughout the year, doing the following things together:

  • Nesting
  • Foraging
  • Preening

Parrots living in captivity don’t always have the same opportunities to find a mate, so they imprint on their owners instead.

If you set the foundation for positive interactions early enough, you shouldn’t experience significant problems when your parrot becomes hormonal.

How To Deal with A Hormonal Parrot

As stated, you can’t neuter a parrot. So, your parrot’s likely to experience hormonal problems that alter its mood and behavior.

These hormones will subside once the breeding season ends. In the meantime, you’ll need to change your parrot’s environment to help it cope.

Here’s what to do with a hormonal parrot:

Limit Petting

When your parrot experiences hormonal surges, limit petting. Wherever possible, avoid touching it altogether until its hormones subside.

However, if you want to give your parrot attention, you should try petting it on the neck, head, and around the feet and beak, as these areas are unlikely to sexually stimulate your parrot.

Dietary Alterations

Limit foods high in calories and fat, as they can stimulate a parrot’s hormone production.

Limit Light Exposure

Excessive light signals that Spring’s arrived, telling them it’s time to breed. So, you need to decrease the amount of light your parrot gets to 8-10 hours.

Cover a parrot’s cage at night with a sheet to make it darker. Also, avoid artificial light.

when do parrots get hormonal?

Rearrange Perches and Toys

Hormonal parrots exhibit nesting behaviors to prepare their environment for breeding.

If you allow this to continue, your parrot’s hormones will become stimulated. So, remove things like blankets and boxes from the cage and reset the territory by rearranging the perches and toys.

You may consider moving a parrot’s cage once or twice weekly to discourage hormone stimulation.

No Shedding Materials

Ensure there’s nothing in a cage your parrot can tear and shed.

If there is, a broody parrot will attempt to make a nest. Avoid putting paper, cardboard, and other easy-to-tear materials in a parrot’s cage until the breeding season’s over.

Lower Temperatures

Like excessive light levels, too much warmth makes parrots believe it’s Spring and the breeding season. A consistent, warm temperature keeps hormone levels more stable.

Distractions

Exercise is one of the best ways to keep your parrot healthy during the breeding season. Help your parrot release pent-up sexual energy by distracting it with toys and games.

This is also the perfect time to teach your parrot new tricks. Doing so enables your parrot to focus its energies on something rewarding.

Parrots enjoy burning their energy by biting bird-safe twigs, wood chunks, and newspapers.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy for parrots is available, but it’s only used in extreme circumstances when parrots lay eggs too often and can’t stop.

According to Niles Animal Hospital, vets administer a testosterone injection to negate the effects of the female hormone and cease egg-laying.

It can also calm sexually aggressive females. However, it shouldn’t be given to males because it would raise their testosterone levels too much.

Other forms of therapy include:

  • Medroxyprogesterone (Depo Provera) stops the egg-laying activity.
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hcG, Pregnyl) can hold off egg-laying for several months.
  • Leuprolide acetate (Lupron) safely prevents egg-laying in budgies and cockatiels.
  • Salpingectomy (“hysterectomy”) is a last-resort solution where a portion of the oviduct is removed.

Your parrot will experience mood and behavioral changes that can be difficult to manage. To minimize the problem, reduce light exposure, temperature levels, and access to fatty foods.