Understanding Parrot Behavior

a cockatoos in aviary

Understanding Parrot Behavior

If you’ve ever wondered why your parrot screams or how to train them to be well-behaved, this guide is for you!

Let’s start by thinking about screaming. Imagine your bird starts screaming because crows flew over. The crows leave, and your bird stops screaming. Seems simple, right? Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Occasion: Time of day or specific events (e.g., crows flying over).
  2. Behavior: The bird screams at the crows.
  3. Outcome: The crows leave, and the bird stops screaming.

While this might seem like a simple analysis, understanding what we really want to understand is how we can help our birds through environmental modifications and building skills helps us understand why our birds behave the way they do. But remember, behaviors don’t exist in isolation. There are many factors we can consider to manage or modify these behaviors effectively.

Making Informed Decisions

With the right information, you can make decisions that improve your bird’s behavior and overall well-being. Here are some considerations:

  • Creating Privacy: Ensure your bird feels safe, especially when they’re reacting to something like crows, dogs, or tractors. This might involve creating a more private space for them.
  • Diet and Environment: Rearrange their diet or location to mitigate problem behaviors. For example, if they scream when the mailman comes, try feeding them at a different time.
  • Human Interaction: Sometimes, the way we interact with our birds can influence their behavior. For instance, having your teenage kid clean the cage might amp up your bird. Either double your kid’s allowance to calm them down, or just do it yourself!

Understanding these factors and making informed decisions sets a strong foundation for effective training. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the fun part—training techniques!

Practical Training Techniques

Station Training

Station training involves teaching your bird to stay at a designated spot, which can be super helpful for managing behaviors like food aggression.

Example with Garcon: Garcon, an older Blue Throat Amazon with food bowl aggression, was trained to stay on a station while food was placed in his bowl. This training helped reduce his aggressive behavior towards the food bowl.


  1. Start by rewarding your bird for staying at a specific spot (the station).
  2. Gradually increase the criteria by having the bird stay on the station for longer periods or while you move around.
  3. Use consistent reinforcement to make sure the bird understands that staying on the station is a positive behavior.

Tap Targeting

Tap targeting is another useful behavior to teach your bird. It’s like target training but with your fingers or another object. This can help with guiding your bird to different locations or moving them away from problem areas.

Example with Two Birds:

  1. Introduce the Tap Target: Start by luring your bird with a treat close to your fingers or the target object.
  2. Reinforce Small Movements: Even if the bird just orients towards the target, reward them.
  3. Fade the Lure: Gradually reduce the use of the treat to lure the bird and rely more on the tap target as a cue.

Pro Tip: If your bird tends to bite the target stick aggressively, don’t let them grab it. Instead, reinforce them for just looking or moving towards the target.

Let’s Train Together!

I’m super excited to see everyone working on these behaviors! Whether it’s station training, tap targeting, or building confidence, there’s so much we can do to help our birds.

We have been holding live workshops inside the Avian Behavior Lab to help members work through their training issues. Come join us for the last Parrot Workshop session, July 8 at 4 pm. PDT! Join the Lab FREE for 2 weeks with the code AVIAN and experience the in depth training courses and live trainings to uplevel your bird training skills!

Be sure to check out our Parrot Training courses inside the Avian Behavior Lab – here are a few to improve your skills:

  • Training Your Animal To Station
  • Screaming Parrot Masterclass
  • Building Trust With A Nervous Bird

Need a challenge? Take our FREE Parrot Screaming 5 day challenge!

We can’t wait to see you at the workshop and hear about the progress you’re making!