Why does my Bronze Wing Pionus Step on her White Cap cage mate?

by Taryn
(Brooklyn, NY)

Hello, I have a 6 year old female bronze wing Pi who likes to step on her 4 year old male white cap cage mate. By that, I mean, she raises her leg, and places it on his wing or his back, and then he begins to whine a little. It doesn't appear to hurt him, but he seems to be a little humiliated or dominated.

She also occasionally does this to her BFF, a 14 year old male lutino cockatiel, but he doesn't put up with it, and walks away. Am I correct in thinking it is a dominance ploy? Is there something I can do to discourage this behavior?


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Jan 24, 2011
by: Taryn

Thanks for the advice! We had her wings clipped right away which helped immensely. After closely supervising their interactions since, I can happily report that the stepping and dominance has ceased. It was a puzzling new behavior for her, as there was no history of violence or dominance between the two birds before. Therefore we have decided to wait and monitor them closely to see if separating them is absolutely necessary. They are very close and fond of each other. That said, on the basis of your concern, we are watching them very closely for any return to dominant behavior patterns.

Also, the Lutino is very much in love with his own cagemate, a pied 'Tiel, so there was never any risk of putting him in the cage with the Bronze Wing.

Jan 17, 2011
Why does my Bronze Wing Pionus Step on her White Cap cage mate?
by: Linda

Yes, this is dominance behavior and is usually done by a male with females. The mounting you described is exactly how a male mounts a female for breeding.

You must separate the two birds who are in the same cage. All three birds need their own cages. What you are seeing is the beginning of very nasty things to come like killing the cage mate. Overly aggressive birds have to be housed in a cage by themselves, and I do not recommend putting a Cockie in with a Conure as the Conure will hurt the Cockie in a living together situation.

Get another cage for the female, and keep her in her own space forever. You are walking on very dangeous ground here, and the bird being dominated will eventually be hurt very badly if not killed. Make sure all cages are adquate sizes and also make sure they have wooden toys to chew on and pass the time. Your female's wings need to be clipped again. Clip only the 6 long primary flight feathers at the ends of each wing. Do not cut up any higher as this causes chronic pain and birds fall like a rock. If your bird's wings were clipped correctly as above mentioned, she would gently glide to the floor and not have lift enough to fly onto anything. Please have this done by an Avian Vet and make sure only the 6 long primary feathers are clipped. This will settle her down quite a bit. Also, when birds are out of their cages, make sure you are right there watching them every minute because someone is going to get hurt or killed here if you are not always watchful.

For now, get her out of the cage with the other bird and do not delay having her wings clipped either as this is a dangerous situation for you and your other birds. Parrots are exotic wild animals and act like it much of the time. It does not matter if they were handfed or not, as their natures are still and always be wild like their counterparts in the wild. An overly aggressive parrot can cause severe injuries to people and other birds, so take safety measures as quickly as you can.

Thanks for writing,

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