A common mistake people make is if they get bit, to immediately assume it is the bird’s fault, their parrot has “turned mean” and doesn’t love them anymore. Let’s think about this for a minute. First, one parrot biting another is not an occurrence in the wild. Conflict tends to be handled with body language and vocalizations, not infliction of pain to one another.
So, why do parrots sometimes bite their owners? —- First of all, one of the most common reasons bird bite is out of fear. The owner should evaluate the surrounding circumstances to see if there could be any environmental component that would have been a cause of fear. Some things that can make parrots feel nervous are: disturbing them when they are sleeping, eating, etc., unexpected noises, sudden movements (common in children), neglect, abuse, and habitual negative reinforcement. However, when parrots feel threatened they will react in a number of way -, running away, screaming, flapping wings, hissing, growling, posturing, pinning eyes, and biting.
Parrots are very adept at picking up on human energy. This is most likely due to birds’ color vision acuity. They can actually see the change in the color of our faces which is a result of capillary action when our mood changes. Parrots can see when we have become uncomfortable handling them. They can also read our body language and when people demonstrate fear and/or apprehension around birds, the latter also become uncomfortable and likely to bite.
Another reason parrots bite is protecting their mate. In most cases, your bird’s mate is YOU. If they sense impending danger, which could simply be the presence of another person, the bird may bite you to try and chase away what they perceive as a dangerous situation.
Additionally, birds may bite out of frustration from lack of attention. If you cannot devote the proper amount of attention, predominately out of cage attention to a bird, it is best not to bring these intelligent and emotional creatures into your home.
Finally, hormone changes can trigger some aggression and ultimate biting. These changes are usually seasonal and birds can become moody and irritable. The good news is hormonal changes are not long-lived and owners need to understand and respect the accompanying behaviors.