Amazon parrots are known for their vibrant colors, intelligence, and curious nature. However, they can also be more aggressive compared to other parrot species. This aggression can stem from a variety of factors, including hormonal changes, territoriality, and socialization (or the lack of it).
In this article, we will discuss the aggression of Amazon parrots and how to deal with it.
Are Amazon parrots more aggressive than other parrots?
Amazon parrots have high energy levels and specific behaviors that contribute to their sometimes aggressive nature. They are naturally assertive and can become easily frustrated if their needs for mental stimulation, exercise, and attention are not met.
Changes in their environment, such as the introduction of new household items or the absence of a favorite perch or hollow, may also trigger aggressive behaviors.
During mating season and adolescence, Amazon parrots may exhibit hormonal aggression. This is a natural part of their reproductive cycle and is more common in adult parrots, especially females.
As a parrot parent, it will go a long way if you can recognize these hormonal changes through a change in their behavior. This will help you to be prepared to provide your birds with extra attention, and mental stimulation during that period.
Important to note that a varied and balanced diet helps to minimize aggressive behaviors, be it any bird.
Similarly, positive reinforcement based training can help you shape the behavior of an aggressive bird without coercion. We will talk more about training an Amazon parrot in this article.
Why is your Amazon parrot aggressive?
Some of the reasons why a bird might display aggressive behaviors like lunging and biting can be a lack of mental or physical stimulation, hormonal behaviors, territorial aggression, a lack of attention or stimulation, environmental changes, or a lack of training.
Let us discuss these one by one.
1. Hormonal Aggression or Sexual Maturity
During mating season, sexual maturity and adolescence, Amazon parrots can experience hormonal changes that may lead to aggressive behavior. This is a natural part of their reproductive cycle.
During times like these, parrot owners should be prepared to provide extra attention, mental stimulation, and a varied diet to help minimize this aggression.
Providing engaging activities like playing, problem-solving in terms of foraging for food etc can also help redirect the parrot’s energy.
Toys specifically designed to challenge and entertain birds can provide a healthy outlet for their aggression. This can include puzzle toys, chew toys, and foraging opportunities.
You can either buy these toys online or even make them yourself at home and save some $$$.
To regulate a parrot’s hormonal activity and temper aggression, mimic winter sunlight by adjusting their lighting to shorter daylight hours.
And, if nothing works (in extreme cases), consult a bird behaviorist or avian veterinarian for hormone-balancing medications to stabilize temperament.
2. Territorial Aggression
If your Amazon thinks that you, another human or a pet is invading its (or its mate’s territory), it is quite likely that your bird will show aggression towards the perceived “intruder”.
To counter this, it is essential that you understand what your bird considers as its “territory” and respect that. You also need to understand who the bird considers to be its “mate”.
Territorial aggression can be countered using positive reinforcement based training.
3. Lack of Mental Stimulation and Exercise
These intelligent birds require mental stimulation to thrive. If their needs for mental enrichment and physical exercise are not met, they can become easily frustrated and exhibit aggressive behaviors. Providing plenty of toys, puzzle feeders, and opportunities for flight or playtime can help prevent boredom and aggression.
4. Lack of Attention
Amazon parrots are social creatures and crave interaction and attention. When they feel neglected or lonely, they may display aggressive behaviors as a way to seek attention.
Spending quality time with your parrot, and engaging in activities such as training or interactive play, can help fulfill their social needs and reduce aggression.
5. Environmental Changes
Changes in the parrot’s environment, such as the introduction of new household items or the removal of a favorite perch or hollow (space they consider their own), can trigger aggressive responses.
Parrot owners should ensure a stable and consistent environment for their Amazon parrots, minimizing sudden changes that may cause stress and aggression.
6. Lack of Training and Boundaries
A lack of training and clear boundaries can also lead to aggression in your Amazon. To counter it, train your parrot actively to manage aggression effectively. Engage them with positive reinforcement techniques like target training and clicker training to channel their aggression into acceptable behaviors.
Enforce clear boundaries with consistency to cultivate a respectful and balanced relationship.
By proactively addressing the causes of Amazon parrot aggression, you can foster a harmonious and well-adjusted companion. These vibrant and clever birds will flourish with proper care and training, creating a fulfilling connection with their owners.
Screaming in Amazon parrots
While not exactly aggression, screaming and loud vocalization can be a big nuisance for any parrot parent. At 120 decibels, an Amazon parrot can be as loud as a gasoline lawn mower at full blast or a race car going at 150 mph.
Understanding the reasons why your bird is screaming is the first step toward resolving this behavior.
We always recommend learning about your bird’s behavior from their corresponding natural behavior.
In the wild, Amazon parrots rely on contact calls to communicate with their flock members and establish their territory. They may also use their loud vocalization to seek attention from their mate or ward off potential predators.
You will need to observe your Amazon’s behavior and understand what exactly is it trying to communicate with the loud vocalization.
Amazon parrot energy levels
Amazon parrots are known for their outgoing and energetic nature. These birds have high energy levels and require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to maintain good behavior.
To manage the energy levels of Amazon parrots, it is important to provide them with ample space.
These birds need a spacious cage or aviary to move around and stretch their wings. Additionally, engaging toys that challenge their minds are essential.
Puzzle toys, interactive toys, and foraging opportunities can all help channel their energy in a positive way.
Daily free flight is highly recommended for Amazon parrots.
Allowing them to fly in a safe and controlled environment not only provides exercise but also fulfills their natural instinct to explore and play.
Training sessions can also help manage their energy by giving them a focused task and mental stimulation.
Dealing with Amazon parrot aggression
While some people believe that Amazon parrots can be more aggressive than other parrot species, it really is the study of one. To you, it is important how your Amazon parrot behaves with you.
So, if you have an aggressive bird on hand, do not despair. There is a lot that you can do about it.
We require a whole article for each of the interventions that we have mentioned below. So if you are interested in reading about a particular aggression management strategy in detail, click through to the relevant section to know more.
Set the environment up for success
Start by setting things up for success. Look at its environment, cage or aviary setup, diet and the physical and mental interaction that it gets. A proper environmental set up will eliminate possible reasons of aggression at the outset.
Is the cage big and roomy enough? Does your bird have a variety of perches? Are the perches suitable for their foot health? What kind of toys does your bird have?
These are the questions that you have to seek answers to to ensure that your bird’s environment is set up for success right from the start.
At the cost of repetition, Amazons are energetic birds. They require regular physical and mental stimulation to keep them engaged and active. There are ways and means that you can provide this without being at the beck and call of your bird 24 hours.
Diet and nutrition
Once you have made sure that the environment is set up right for your bird, look at your bird’s nutrition. Their food should consist of a healthy, balanced diet. The right nutrition can reduce the chances of aggressive behavior.
Some people like to keep things simple and go with a pellet based diet. While others like to feed their bird more natural food and go for fresh food items and chop.
In my opinion, neither is better than the other. If you select right, either of the two will make sure that your bird gets the right nutrients. A pellet based diet is definitely easier to put together although, some parrot parents might find it more costly.
Parrot body language
This is a big one. Understanding your bird’s body language can help you predict aggression episodes. You can then work to diverting your bird’s aggression before it takes place.
All birds (animals, for that matter) give body language cues before they aggress. Some birds give clear body language cues like pinned eyes, slicked feathers, a streamlined body, ready for flight, while others like cockatoos might not give very clear body language signals.
For Amazons, one of the most common body language signals that you would like to look out for is a flared tail. Depending on the context, a flared tail can represent a precursor to aggression or excitement. You would have to read this signal in context.
This is an example of an Amazon parrot’s tail flaring out. This video shows both instances – an Amazon parrot flaring its tail as a sign of aggression and also in excitement.
In either case, the body language cue is easy to read in the context of what is happening.
Know their history
If you have a rescue bird on your hands, knowing their history can help. If there are certain traumas that they have faced in the past, some common, innocuous things might present triggers to them that can set off episodes of aggressive behavior.
If you have this knowledge, you can avoid those triggers till you have worked on their aggression.
Having said that, we are firmly in the camp that the past is an ingredient of the present not a recipe for future behavior.
If you do not know the past history of your bird, don’t despair, you can still use positive reinforcement based training to mold their aggressive behavior.
Positive reinforcement based training
Finally, one of the most important ways that you can redirect your Amazon’s aggression is by participating in positive reinforcement based training.
With the right training methods, you can not only shape your bird’s behavior away from aggression, you can also teach it tricks that will keep it physically and mentally stimulated and add years to its life!
But for your parrot to learn from you, you would first have to learn to train. We have a library of parrot training courses that you can use to learn how to train your bird quickly and effectively.
Amazon parrots can make for wonderful pets. They are beautiful, intelligent and at times, loud.
Amazon parrots live for 40 to 50 years in captivity and are long term companions. Their high energy levels also means that they need regular physical and mental stimulation.
If you have an aggressive Amazon parrot, there are steps that you can take to manage and reduce the aggression.
Your best bet is to let nature be your guide. Look at your bird’s behavior in the wild and see how that translates to its behavior at home. Set up the environment right, provide a healthy diet and plenty of physical and mental exercise.
Finally, when it comes to training, use positive reinforcement based training methods. you may have to learn yourself how to train your bird. But that time investment would be worth it.