AviCalm for an aggressive budgie

Using AviCalm for an aggressive budgie

I should have known from the moment we laid eyes on Kelly that she was not going to be a warm and gentle soul. She was the first to hatch out of her clutch and, when we first met her, stood looking at her younger siblings with a sort of detached haughtiness that was certainly a sign of things to come. But, Patrick was drawn to her immediately so I bit my tongue and we chose her for our flock.

As a juvenile budgie, Kelly kept her rage under wraps, she had been clipped and seemed to understand that she needed her human flock for mobility assistance. We had fun building her ramps and bridges, but Kelly was more interested in taking off and seeing how far she could go before thumping to the floor.

Once she molted her way into flight and adulthood all bets were off. Even before she was fully mature she started chomping at us any chance she could get. Not really limiting her biting to territory issues, Kelly liked to preen you gently for a few moments and then start biting! Flying in the face of some common budgie wisdom, Kelly seemed to bite either for her own amusement or just inherent anger. We’ve tried all the many many tips for a biting budgie, which is pretty well documented on the blog already, and only succeeded in making her angrier.

So, it’s not a huge issue to keep our anger-inducing human selves away from Kelly and let her live her best budgie life. But where I feel bad for her is that she can’t seem to make it work socially with other budgies. I thought she and Toby had issues because they are two adult females, so we brought in Kevin and Kelly’s pretty much equally aggressive to him. He doesn’t escalate the way Toby does, thankfully, but still, no solace in the friendship of budgies.

Kelly can’t live with them because she’s got a nasty tendency to bite feet to the point of physical injury, but she doesn’t understand why she’s relegated to her own cage (mansion) at the end of the day. The result of that frustration was the recent mania for biting the cage bars, which we mostly managed to stop by providing an insane amount of things to chew and destroy.

TL:DR Kelly didn’t seem to be very happy, and I felt terrible for her.

Enter AviCalm. I was doing research one day about how to help an angry parrot and stumbled across this product. AviCalm is a supplement that is put in the budgie’s food or water and when ingested, helps with calming them down. AviCalm can be used on screamers, feather pickers, chewers and aggressive birds in general.

There are dosing suggestions by size on the packaging; we have been using half of the recommended dose for Kelly for about a month now. While she’s certainly not turned into a snuggle buddy, I have to say that AviCalm has helped immensely with her aggression.

Patrick and I are starting to be less afraid when she lands on us, I’ve even tried stepping her up a few times and while I’ve gotten bit for it, she hasn’t broken skin in weeks. Biting is still a likely eventuality, but it’s not with the same ferocity she used to dole out on a daily basis.

She even landed on my head and preened my hair yesterday without biting at all; I literally almost cried.

Beyond helping with her aggression towards us, I think that Kelly is feeling a lot better and calmer. She’s been way less fixated on Toby and has been able to relax by herself and play. Kevin loves singing and Kelly has been joining in, which is incredible.

The biggest change has been our bed time routine. We used to have to chase down Kelly and battle to get her in her cage every night. She would obsess over Toby and fight with her through the cage bars until we sometimes resorted to gently nabbing her in a pillow case.

Not anymore! Now I ring the bell for bed time and she is FIRST in her cage and goes right to the perch where she gets her reward. Even if Toby and Kevin are monkeying around, Kelly knows what the objective is, completes it immediately and even seems happy to do it! It’s amazing to not feel like we are torturing her every evening.

Reviews of AviCalm seem pretty mixed; based on my experience I heartily recommend giving it a try if you’re dealing with a difficult budgie. At the half dose we still see all of Kelly’s personality, she’s feisty, likes to explore and wants to assert her dominance, but we take the edge off of the incessant biting and obsessive behavior. Obviously I’m not a parrot psychiatrist, but I do think that Kelly is happier on the supplement.

That reminds me! Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian nor am I providing medical advice for your budgies. I am merely providing a review of my own experience with a product. YMMV. This post was not sponsored by AviCalm, but as usual the links are affiliate links.

11 thoughts on “Using AviCalm for an aggressive budgie”

  1. An interesting post.

    A bird that I rehomed years ago was so used to being a lone bird that we had to socialise him with the others when he got here. I wonder if he thought he was human.

    He used to crouch down and chitter while splaying out his tail coverts it really was something to see! But when he got used to the others he even made a friend or two.

    I think Kelly’s earlier biting was “teenage” biting and the biting later on is jealousy of the other birds and the attention that you give to them.

    It’s also pretty common for hens to bite, there is not always much that can be done about it, I’m glad that the Avicalm is working for Kelly. How are you administering it to her?

    1. It certainly could be a vicious cycle of jealousy leading to biting, leading to less attention, and around we go! We try to keep up a lot of verbal attention but I know it’s not the same.

      I am doing a half dose of the avicalm powder mixed in with her seed/pellet mix.

  2. I was just wondering if you were giving her more attention as a result of giving her the avicalm. Like if you were sitting and talking to her to get her to take it and if that behaviour was making her calmer.

    Glad it is helping, I know it can be a pain if birds are aggressive.
    Mine are going through a moult at the moment and one of my birds that is usually a little sweetie keeps jumping on another and starting fights!!

    1. That would have been a really interesting correlation! It has definitely been easy to see that the behavior changed first, enabling more contact, although hopefully the increased contact does have a further positive impact.

      Ours are all embarking on a molt as well! Cranky days ahead 🙂

  3. Wow, this post came at the right time. My two ladies are pretty good all day but at bedtime Scooby goes after Caspar in a rage. I am getting worried she will draw blood soon. They are both good about bedtime in general. But Caspar gets to a swing first (whichever she is near) and it seems like Scooby gets mad at her choice.
    Can AviCalm be used by both birds? They don’t have individual feeding cups per se.
    Does Kelly ever attack Kevin badly?

    1. It’s tough because night time squabbles are how Toby and Kelly started out, and then they ended up having to be separated because blood was drawn. But I know each situation is unique so I don’t want to say that would definitely happen with your ladies.

      In my experience AviCalm can be used by all the birds, I’ve been putting it in all of our food bowls because they share and anyone who didn’t need it hasn’t shown any change in behavior.

      Kelly has never attacked Kevin badly but she’s bit Toby’s feet and drawn blood several times. I think it’s territorial stuff because they are both girls. Kevin she’ll take a snap at but he just moves away, and they don’t share a cage either so that helps.

  4. With my bitting budgie I had tried everything which just made her bite more and get more riled up. One day I got so frustrated that I gently blew in her face and told her, NO BITES. She looked at me so confused, BUT did not bite me again as she usually would have. This was a couple months ago and her biting has gone down by 3/4. As long as we stay calm, gently blow and say no bites, she will stop. Sometimes we now go a day or TWO without her biting!! (She still bites my teenager though because she gets a big drama ‘OWWW’ out of her before she is told not to bite, but still, not NEARLY as often as she was!!!

    1. That’s awesome! When we have tried gently blowing in response to a bite it ramps Kelly into full rage mode, although I’ve read it works for many budgies! We tried lots of the conventional methods before exploring a supplement. I’m so glad that it has helped reduce biting so much for your girl! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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