biting parakeet

Hide your hands – Kelly is a biting parakeet

I realized recently that I never provided an update on Kelly’s hand-aggressive behavior.  In my last post on the subject, Hide your hands – Kelly is a teenager I ended on a somewhat hopeful or positive note, assuming there was a solution to this issue. I can now report I have not found the method to solve a biting parakeet.

Many people will tell you that A. budgies only bite when they are scared, and B. the bite of a budgie does not hurt. I am here to tell you that these statements are not absolutes. Kelly is not scared of us, and Kelly bites hard enough to cause pain, bruising and broken skin. She bites completely unprovoked, choosing to land on your hand and then biting incredibly hard.

I have tried the following conventional attempts to discourage biting with zero impact:

  • Gently wiggle your hand so the parakeet cannot keep its balance and learns to stop biting.  HAHA. Kelly seemed to either enjoy the wagging hand, or it made her angry thus increasing the frequency and pressure of the bites.
  • Blow in the budgies face lightly (which they dislike) until they learn that biting causes you to blow in their faces. Again, Kelly either ignores this or it makes her madder and she bites harder.
  • Say “no” or “ouch”, budgies are intelligent creatures and will learn that the behavior is undesirable. No impact.
  • Ignore the behavior until they learn that there is no consequence to biting and since it generates no reaction they stop. This is simply impossible as her biting hurts too much and you end up looking like you got a bunch of needle sticks in your hand from bruising! 
  • We also tried going the positive reinforcement route. This involved verbal praise for not biting as well as providing a treat. There was little to no impact as Kelly is not motivated by treats and does not care if we praise her.

I should add that the aggression is not limited to hands, she will land on your shoulder and bite your neck. She loves climbing in and out of shirt collars but we can’t let her do it anymore because she bites your chest and neck too much to bear it. This isn’t even aggressive initially, but if you try to redirect her she gets angry and bites harder.

I’m sure some of this is impacted by the fact that she’s in breeding condition, but it’s been an issue all along. She also has AMPLE appropriate toys and perches to destroy in her cage, which she enjoys.

Ultimately our solution has ben to take a hands off approach with Kelly. It stinks because I feel like we don’t have much of a relationship with her, but interacting  with us does not make her happy. Not that much does, she is just generally a real crab. If she had been our first bird I’m sure I would have quickly concluded that parakeets were difficult and violent pets!

I wanted to write this post for a couple of reasons, firstly so I don’t give the wrong impression that I managed to resolve this issue. But, more importantly, I want you to know that if you’re struggling with an aggressive budgie and people keep telling you that budgies aren’t aggressive you are not alone!  There are other angry parakeets out there biting their human flock for no reason who cannot be stopped.

If I do manage to reduce the aggression I’ll report back, but other wise it’s safe to assume that Kelly’s human flock is walking around with a few bites at all times! I should add that she has never harmed another parakeet. When she is  aggressive towards Kevin she focuses on trying to pull out his feathers. I’m not a fan of that behavior either, but if it was more serious I would think about separating her or even rehoming to an environment she might enjoy more. What that would be I have no idea!

4 thoughts on “Hide your hands – Kelly is a biting parakeet”

  1. The first parakeet I had was when I was 10 yrs old. He was the sweetest little fellow and always out of his cage. We lived in a railroad flat (the rooms ran in a straight line) and he enjoyed flying from the kitchen into the bedrooms and back. He never bit anybody. My friends bird was a beautiful blue like Kelly and when they let him out he would land on your shoulder or finger and bite so hard that you would scream. I really dislike that little buggar as beautiful as he was.

    1. Maybe it’s the pretty ones that are meanest! I have to say I think I’ll stick with the more classic colors from here on out just to be safe.

  2. Your post reminded me of my two girls who were notorious biters. Like you, I tried all the techniques to stop them but none worked. I remember one time doing the ‘blowing on the head’ trick & Raspy’s response was to bite my lip! In the end I just embraced the biting because I knew it was not out of fear.
    Atilla was very territorial so I got the worst bites from her when I dared to move anything in her cage around!

    1. I’m definitely ready to just embrace the biting and move on! Kelly bit me on the cheek yesterday, which was delightful. She’s gotten me pretty good with a couple of sneak attacks when I’m focused on working with Kevin!

      I can tell that Kelly likes me and likes being around people, she just can’t seem to control herself!

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