Is My Senegal Biting Due to an “Estrous” Type Cycle?
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Is My Senegal Biting Due to an “Estrous” Type Cycle?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Hello Mitch,

I have a female Senegal parrot that is three years old. I have read about biting due to an “estrous” type cycle.  This is my first time owning a female.  I wanted to know if this cycles more than once a year as she seems to be in a biting phase on and off.

Thanks ~ Howard

Greetings Howard,

Let’s begin with the basics and then we’ll drill down further

Parrots, including Senegal parrots, may bite for a variety of reasons. Understanding the underlying cause of the biting behavior can help you address the issue and prevent future bites. Here are some common reasons why a Senegal parrot might bite:

  1. Fear or Stress: If your parrot is afraid or stressed, it may bite as a defensive mechanism. This can happen if the bird is introduced to new people, objects, or environments that it finds intimidating.
  2. Territorial Behavior: Parrots can be territorial and may bite to defend their space, especially if they perceive a threat to their cage, toys, or perches.
  3. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes during breeding season can lead to increased aggression and biting behavior in parrots. This is more common in mature birds.
  4. Lack of Socialization: Parrots that are not properly socialized may not know how to interact appropriately with humans and may resort to biting.
  5. Pain or Discomfort: If your parrot is in pain or discomfort due to illness or injury, it may bite when handled. If you suspect your bird is unwell, it’s important to consult an avian veterinarian.
  6. Attention-Seeking: Some parrots bite to get attention from their owners. If your bird learns that biting results in attention, it may continue the behavior.
  7. Miscommunication: Parrots use body language to communicate, and biting may occur if their signals are misunderstood or ignored. For example, a parrot that wants to be left alone may puff up its feathers or pin its eyes, and if these signals are not heeded, it may bite.

To address biting behavior, consider the following steps:

  1. Observe your parrot’s body language and behavior to identify potential triggers for biting.
  2. Avoid situations that provoke fear or stress in your bird.
  3. Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep your parrot engaged and reduce boredom.
  4. Use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior. Avoid reinforcing biting behavior by giving attention or reacting strongly to bites.
  5. Handle your parrot gently and with patience, and respect its boundaries.
  6. If your parrot is showing signs of illness or discomfort, seek veterinary care.
  7. Consider consulting an avian behaviorist if biting persists despite your efforts to address it.

Remember that each parrot is an individual, and the reasons for biting may vary from bird to bird. It’s important to be patient and consistent in your approach to addressing biting behavior.

In dovetailing with the statement “Remember that each parrot is an individual” we rescued a Senegal a while back, had her for a couple of years.

She had spent her entire life literally in a private rescue with clipped wings and had never been fledged although she was 7 years old when we got her.

I don’t know if it holds true with all Senegals but she was clearly a one-person bird.

If Peaches were on my shoulder and Catherine walked by within 6 inches I would get a hypodermic needle in the neck –  that’s all it took.

Let’s clarify some things here.

When you speak of the “estrous” type cycle. –  I’m assuming you’re referring to hormonal behavior which can happen at any time to any bird.

Stress ramps up in a bird after daylight saving time because 100,000,000 years of instinctual expectations tell the bird darkness at 5:00 PM is troublesome.

Some parrots can be stressed by moving a piece of furniture or hanging a new piece of artwork on the wall.

A major prophylactic treatment is light therapy, something we learned from Dr. Greg Harrison, the founder of Harrison’s bird foods.

Birds and Full Spectrum Lighting. We Got It Wrong.

In short, it involves leaving your bird in the birdcage for 72 hours with the light shining the entire period. 

The moods of birds are controlled by their circadian rhythms.

We mammals also have circadian rhythms that cause us to get SAD in the winter.

The science behind light therapy is a consistent 72 hours of artificial literally resets the existing circadian rhythms of the bird.

Assuming the initial 72 hours is successful the lighting stays over the cage incorporating a timer providing 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

2 bird cages coverd with fullspectrum lighting under the covers 24/7

The science behind the 12/12 lighting is it helps maintain circadian rhythms. 

Most parrots are indigenous to the equatorial regions of Earth and their instinctual expectations are looking for 12 hours of light and 12 hours of Darkness similar to their habitats surrounding the middle of the globe.

What is happening physiologically is that a bird’s pineal gland sends “unexpected signals” ie early sunsets and the birds will react by biting, plucking, and screaming prolific egg laying ~ you get the idea

You’ll need to refine the term “biting” because bird bites are relative.

Chili our Quaker’s bites are like “tag you’re it.”

Keto our ringnecks bite is like a closing vise grip with razor blades.

We handle Keto with perches and toys and never allow him close enough to bite.

We rescued him 4 years ago when he was probably around 15 to 16 at the time.

With no history, it’s impossible to determine the origins of this behavior.

Along with light therapy, I advocate clicker training as a highly effective way to control biting.

You’ve got your work cut out for you Howard.

Because I find the whole pineal gland thing really fascinating but difficult to explain, you inspired me to write a series of posts on the subject.

Here’s a first look at the intro – not edited – not published.

Share your thoughts:

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there lived a Flock of African Grey parrots who loved to party all night long. These greys were no ordinary birds; they had a special organ in their brains called the pineal gland. This gland was like a magical disco ball that could sense light and help the birds keep track of time. It was the ultimate party planner, helping the greys know when to dance the night away and when to take a nap.

Now, the pineal gland was a busy little organ. It had a lot of responsibilities, like organizing the birds’ daily routines and seasonal shenanigans. It made sure the greys knew when to find love, and when to stuff their beaks with delicious snacks. It was like a personal assistant, calendar, and weather app all rolled into one!

One day, a group of curious scientists decided to take a closer look at the pineal gland of these party-loving greys. Unfortunately, some of the greys had gotten into a bit of a pickle during a wild storm and were no longer able to boogie down. The scientists, being the kind-hearted folks they were, decided to study the pineal glands of these greys to learn more about their groovy ways.

Read the whole story of birds and pineal glands here

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

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Mitch Rezman

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