Baby B&G macaw sweet but nippy

by Andrew
(Boston, MA)

Blue and Gold Macaw

Blue and Gold Macaw

I am the (very happy) new owner of a baby B&G macaw, who is still being weaned. When we visit, he is very friendly and sweet-- he doesn't show any fear response to our hands, he steps up from his perch and from person to person, etc.

However, when he's being held he'll sometimes decide to lean down and nip my finger, or if my hand is closed, my knuckle or wrist. He'll stop if I distract him and offer a small toy, but I don't want him to be 'trained' to nip when he wants a toy to play with. I've also heard that making him wobble is a bad idea, because it may cause him to lose trust. Does anyone have suggestions on how to best deal with this?

Comments for Baby B&G macaw sweet but nippy

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Nov 17, 2010
by: lilly

maybe he bites because he dosent want down. my parrots do that. (he likes you)

Aug 03, 2010
Nippy macaw
by: John

Since your macaw is still a baby, he is still exploring and does not know the power of his bite. You must teach him bite inhibition (controlling the force of his bite). Since your bird is a baby and probably thrives on human attention, attention is a reward/reinforcement. We could use this to our advantage. Whenever he bites, say "NO" in a firm voice, and either get up and leave or put the bird back in his cage and leave the room. This teaches the bird that hard bites will cause humans to go away. Or in other words, the reinforcer is removed whenever he gives a hard bite. It's important though, to come back in 2-5 minutes later and resume playing with your bird and give him a second chance. This is important because it will teach your bird not just what not to do, but how to play properly.

This method will only work with birds who love human attention, which is probably your case. But with birds that are not tame, they will not like human attention; so you leaving the room will act as a reinforcement for the bird to continue biting. I mention this only to caution readers that this strategy will only work in certain cases, not every case.

Sep 30, 2009
Let the Training Begin!!!
by: Linda

Hi, thanks for writing and sending us the gorgeous picture of your new friend. Baby parrots are mouthy little creatures as it is a way to explore their world, and they can get special foods and treats using their beak. It is part curiosity and part not understanding that it hurts you when he nips your hands. Instead of distractions, when he nips you, say "OWWWWW" and then a firm but gentle NO to him. Let him know that 1. IT HURTS FOR HIM TO NIP YOU, AND 2 YOU NEED FOR HIM TO STOP THIS BEHAVIOR. You must not get rough with him and do not play tricks on him like letting him think he may fall as all this is LOST on the bird. Though they are highly intelligent, they are also not capable of understanding complex human thinking, and he will just feel that you are teasing him and bite you harder to keep from falling. Birds ALWAYS reach out when being changed from person to person and hold on for fear of falling. This is, of course, not a bite but just a hold. When he bites you, take beak lightly between thumb and pointer finger and say Ouch, that hurts and NO. Or just to make it simpler for your bird, JUST SAY NO and mean it! There is no need to ever yell or shout at your bird just as there will never be a reason to physically hurt your bird. Birds respond to repeated words and actions like taking his beak lightly in your fingers and saying a firm NO. What you are seeing and experiencing now is just the tip of the iceberg if you don't get this under control. Babies are mouthy and they and should not hurt when they are exploring your hands and parts of your body. Once he learns that he is actually hurting you, he will stop this behavior. Don't ever laugh at your bird when he is naughty as this reinforces the negative behavior. If you need further assistance, there are some training links on this site, and you may wish to make use of them as you have one of the most intelligent and hard-headed birds in the parrot world. I love Macaws, and they are always a handful, so you may as well start learning about training right now before he even comes home! If you are trained by the time he comes home, you both will do just fine.No kidding, WE have to be trained to know how to "train" our birds--much like with dogs.

Take your bird to an Avian Vet for a checkup first thing to make sure he has no infections which are common to baby birds. Once he has a clean bill of health, you can proceed with the bonding, learning and teaching. Once YOU ARE WELL TRAINED, all will be well in your home. You are now owned by a parrot and we wish you all the best there is!!!

Thanks for writing, and keep in touch.


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