A Readers Advice for Patrick’s Biting Senegal

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Lynn H. replied to Patrick B.


I have a 27-year old Senegal.  


I was reading your post (below) and thought I would offer a few suggestions to you.


First, as Mitch said, try clicker training.  


It is basically positive operant conditioning.


Birds do not understand the word “no” and yelling at them will teach them how to scream. 


So please give it a try. 


A few questions… How long have you had your bird?


Did you just get him?


You mentioned that he is 3 years old.  


If he is new, I would suggest that you figure out how much time you have to spend with your bird each day, and then keep that amount consistent. 


For example, if you have 1-2 hours a day to spend with him, keep that constant.  


How I teach our new 7 yo Senegal
that change is essential for your bird to accept it. ~ Video


What is the environment near your cage?


 Are other people or animals nearby?  His environment may affect his behavior.  


Also, unlike some birds that I have had, I have found that you need to read your Senegal’s mood every day (like a person).  


Look at how your bird is behaving/responding.


In particular, look at your bird’s eyes.


Are they dark?

Is he all fluffed up, bracing himself for an attack?  If so, that is not the time to try to get him/her out of the cage.


If you see more green color and less black pupils, he will be more approachable. 


On biting, if he tries to bite, immediately drop your hand and leave the area.

Do not give him a chance to bite you.

Stay calm and gentle, but be alert when you approach the cage in a few minutes.


I did notice that your Senegal does not have much to play within his/her cage.


Senegals are shredders and foragers.


They are very bright and need things to do to occupy their day.  


They love to shred wood, untie knots, and clip objects with their beaks to just watch them fall.


I would suggest that you hang some toys in the cage for him to play with.  My Senegal also likes to attack some toys.  


Mitch and Catherine have a lot of cool bird toys in their shop.  


Does your bird respond to music, to the t.v.?


Mine is addicted to television.


I work full time and prior to COVID, off-site.


I set up a timer to break up the day.


Maybe that will help.


My Senegal and I whistle tunes to each other when we are not in the same room. 


Keto’s wolf whistle ~ Video


For example, she starts the wolf whistle and waits for me to finish.


Then, she repeats my whistle.


Editors note: We do that with Keto Endnote


When I respond, she repeats my response as if saying “that’s right.” 


She literally stops in the middle of whistling the Andy Griffith theme song, waiting for me to continue whistling my part.


Exactly who is training who here?


Also, figure out where you can approach your bird (with a stick to climb onto).  


He may climb up if you introduce the stick slowly, perhaps just under his sternum, and then move it slightly away from him so that he can start learning how to “step up.”  


Remember to click to reinforce the behavior at the “Kodak moment.”


And give him a treat or praise as he does what you want.  


In time, you can fade the stick and use your finger.  


And even then, sometimes a Senegal will perch on your finger if you approach him from one side of the cage and get upset if you approach from another angle.  So some of it is trial and error.  


I hope you can use some of these suggestions.


Senegals are super birds. 


They can be very sweet and loving. 


Mine looks out for me if someone drops off a package outside or comes into my apartment. 


I call her my little “birdlar” alarm. 


And yes, she can imitate the burglar alarm’s sound as well as the smoke detector, etc. 


So why do I pay ADT? 


Well, good luck with the clicker training and let us know how you are doing.


Best regards,

Lynn H.

Mitch Rezman

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Reply to Lynn H. on my Senegal parrot::

    Since my original post regarding my Senegal parrot a number of changes have been made, thanks to the recommendation of Mitch.

    The perches (NU perches) were replaced with rope perches. 6 new toys were added to her cage. TheJo overhead lamp was replaced to provide more light.

    JoJo likes to shred balsa wood, so I keep a stead supply one hand for her to shred. Some of the new toys I bought for her are also shredding type toys.

    Yes, I have owned JoJo for 3-years. JoJo is a biter, she always has been from the time I got her. She also screams. She will scream every 5-10 seconds even with me sitting next to her cage. She will scream when she is eating. I’m not quite sure I understand this behavior.

    I allow JoJo to come out of her cage on her own. I never reach into her cage to try and get her on my finger. She is fully flighted, and she does some out of
    her cage and prefers to sit on my shoulder.

    There are no other animals in the room. In terms of her eyes, Her pupil is always black, and she ‘eye pins’ me alot, so I’m never really sure what’s going with her in terms of me.

    I hope this helps. Please let me know if there are any other issues you would like to know about…Thank You for your assistance.

    ~ Patrick

    Her diet has been changed also – she is now on Higgins Safflower Gold.att

    There is another person in the home. My partner also resides here, and JoJo has a very strong bond and preference for him. As soon as she see’s or hears him she gets very excited in her cage and starts calling out, she likes to sit on his head or his stomach.

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