Height Dominance Issues in Birds

Many bird owners allow their birds to perch on their shoulders as they go about their day. We are left with our hands free and our little buddies get to spend part of the day with us. Although this seems like a wonderful idea, it is not appropriate in all situations or for all birds.

Why can this be inappropriate?

Generally speaking, a place of height is a place of dominance or superiority. It can be a territorial claim and position of control. It is top of the "pecking order." On the whole, birds placed high than the shoulders are more likely to try and "run the show." They may passively refuse the "up" command to hands, they may aggressively strike out or bite, and they may scream.

Incidents of inappropriate biting of ears, nose, lips or eyes are eliminated if the bird is never on your shoulder… unless you have a well-trained bird that will always step up on command!

Are there any recommendations that will avoid these problems?

Although height is not an issue with all birds, temperamental or dominant birds should follow some simple rules 

1. NO high perches above the mid chest of a standing owner.
2. NO perching on the shoulders.
3. NO free flight.

The best way to assure your bird can come out and stay on a perch is to begin training your bird within the first week you bring it home. If you have had your bird for a while, begin training now. 

  • Birds need to understand that boundaries must be established within the house.
  • You, the owner must decide what is acceptable in your family.
  • All family members MUST follow the same rules.
  • You, the owner should be in control your bird within a relationship of respect NOT fear.

Like a child or a puppy, a well-trained, obedient bird will be happier being allowed some freedom and you will be happier with a well-trained bird.

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