Quaker Biting Very Hard, Taking Chunks Out Of My Skin – Ouch!

Quaker Biting Very Hard, Taking Chunks Out Of My Skin – Ouch!

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

From Ria,

I’m probably going to type a lot, but I figure the more details the better when asking for advice.

I hope you don’t mind!  I have a Quaker parrot. 

He is 13 years old and DNA-proven male.

I got him when he was a baby, and I was a teenager.

I didn’t do any research first.

All I did was clean my room to convince my parents to let me get a pet, then I went to the pet store and picked out the cute little ball of feathers that tried to chew the zipper off my jacket.

For the first two years, he and I were amazing friends.

He had a play gym near everywhere that I went (one in the computer room, one in the living room, one in my bedroom) and would fly over my shoulder when I switched rooms.

He’d play on his play gym chewing rope, destroying toys, tearing apart Q-tips, preening, taking baths, etc. While I did my own thing. 

Sometimes he’d fly over to me for head rubs, then he’d fly back to the closest play gym when he’d had enough.

Sometimes he’d bite me – and sometimes very hard, taking chunks out of my skin – but I always understood the reason why. 

I hit a sensitive pin feather, someone came in the room and startled him, his eyes were pinned and he got overstimulated, I gave him too much attention, I didn’t give him enough attention, etc.

I knew the warning signs before a bite or, if there were none, I understood the reasons after the bite. Bites weren’t frequent, either. 

I was in for quite a surprise when he reached around the 2-year-old point.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how much trouble Quakers get to be around that age… but being I’d done no research, I had no clue. 

That time coincided with my parents not allowing him out on the lower floor of the house anymore.

He was banished to my upstairs bedroom, where I didn’t spend much time.

I let him out of the cage when I was up there but, that play area was comparable smaller than what he’d had downstairs.

He’d end up biting me from what seemed like him being bored. 

He’d had so much to do when he had free roam downstairs, my bedroom really limited him.

And he seemed mad that he went from seeing me every spare second, to only an hour or two each day. When I let him out it was like he’d charge right at me with a bite. 

I don’t know how much of it was the change in schedule/scenery/interaction with me, and how much of it was him reaching puberty. I guess it was a combination of both.

But I found that I no longer understood most of his bites.

I don’t remember how I knew this but, I did know not to pet him below his neck so I wouldn’t make him think I was his mate. 

But yeah, I’d be happily head scritching, and then bam, he’d turn and Quaker-war-cry scream and clamp onto my skin and flap and screech.

It was an angry, vicious, continuous bite and he wouldn’t stop.

There was no warning sign. There was no trigger that I could see.

Just completely changing from a peaceful happy bird to a vicious kill bird, like the flip of a switch. This made me terrified of him, and I stopped taking him out. 

Fast forward 10 years (and lots of research) later. I moved out into a place of my own.

Finally out of my parents’ house with their “no bird outside your room” rule, I put his cage in the living room right by the TV and computers.

When I’d take him out he’d barrel out and fluff up for cute head rubs, then bam crazy biting.

So again I stopped taking him out, I was scared of him and decided I’d figure it out later. 

Now is “later.”

My husband and I got him a new 32″ wide cage.

He doesn’t sleep unless he has darkness so, we used his old cage as his sleep cage and put it in another room.

So we take him out in the morning, bring him to his main cage, then take him out in the evening to bring him to his sleep cage.

He usually flies a few laps around the room both in the morning and at night and gets some head rubs before he goes in. 

But we have to cover our hands with a towel, because of his unpredictable random biting.

And now he’s started a new thing, where he’ll fly while screaming his war cry, and aim right at our faces.

It’s random and unpredictable as to when he’ll launch, and we have to duck or else he’ll get our faces. 

I know that by ducking we reinforce the behavior, but I don’t know what else to do.

We do our best not to yell or make any other noise. 

We want him to come out and play like he used to when I was a teen.

But he flies at us for attention instead.

He’s like… Velcro attached to us, desperate for attention.

And while we want to give him that attention, we don’t want to get covered in blood and bruises, either. 

Over the years he became less and less interested in toys.

He likes fraying rope, so I try to make lots of rope toys for him… but I wish he’d get into something besides fraying, you know?

Rope, shoelaces (undyed/no chemicals from a bird toy parts store), and Q-tips are the only toys he even sometimes touches.

How am I supposed to keep him entertained, or teach him how to play, when he likes so little? 

I tried balsa wood, he was terrified of it for weeks. He’s scared of a lot of things.)

He’d hiss and swipe at the balsa if he got near it. He used to like shredding paper and styrofoam blocks, but he doesn’t touch those anymore.

For reference, a green-colored perch that I put in his cage 7 months ago, he still doesn’t walk on – he goes the long way to get around it.

I just… I don’t know what to keep him entertained with. I can’t help but think that if he used that little birdy brain of his more, he’d be much less…well, angry. 

I know the whole “play with a toy in front of him to make him want to play with it” thing but, all that does is make him war cry and angry scream at it.

He’s scared of everything and jealous of anything that gets my attention.

Surprisingly though he likes my husband. He switches which one of us he’s velcroing to for attention.

One day he’ll flock call to and stare at me, another day he’ll ignore me and flock call and stare at him.

But yeah, if we hug in front of him, or if I try to play with a toy in front of him, he latches onto the front of the cage screaming and flapping angry and/or scared. 

I kind of wish I had another bird that he could latch onto.

I have two parakeets, and watching them interact and keep each other entertained has been very cute.

I wish my Quaker had that… instead of endlessly pining for attention from me.

I feel like he deserves better, you know?

But I will never in my life get another quaker – or any bird with a beak larger than a parakeet’s. 

So, that’s my story. What do I do?

How do I teach him to play and un-velcro from me?

How do I solve this mystery of the random, unexplained biting?

How do I discourage the “launch at my face” behavior?

How do I regain my trust in him again?

What do I do? I know he will (hopefully!) be with me for another 30 years.

I want him to be happy. 

Thank you for reading.


It sounds like you have your hands full Ria.

Quaker parrots are known for their unique personalities and behaviors. While they can be playful and curious, it’s important to note that they can sometimes exhibit nippy behavior just because.

However, it’s crucial to remember that all parrots can learn and adapt their behavior throughout their lives.

In addition to their potential nippiness, Quaker parrots possess remarkable intelligence. They have been observed using tools in the wild, such as sticks, to manipulate objects like rocks or seeds to access food. This demonstrates their problem-solving abilities and resourcefulness.

To address any concerns about handling a Quaker parrot, it might be helpful to start with simple stick training. This involves teaching the bird to step up onto a stick, creating a safe distance between the bird and your hand. It’s worth noting that overcoming any fear or apprehension you may have towards handling the bird can positively impact the training process.

By acknowledging the potential nippiness of Quaker parrots and offering a solution through stick training, you can take steps in the right direction to foster a positive and safe relationship with your bird. Understanding their unique personalities, as well as their ability to learn and use tools, can help you appreciate the intelligence and fascinating behaviors of Quaker parrots.

It’s been my personal experience that Quakers can be nippy ~ we have a blue Quaker.

“I understand your concerns about handling your Quaker parrot and the challenging behavior you’ve been experiencing. It is important to address the root causes of his aggression and work towards regaining his trust. Let’s delve into the intelligence and personality traits of Quaker parrots, shedding light on possible reasons behind his behavior.

Quaker parrots are known to be confident and loyal companions. They possess remarkable intelligence, which often manifests in their ability to entertain and engage their owners. These birds thrive on mental stimulation, and their curious nature leads them to explore various objects and play with household items. Their instinctual nest-building tendencies contribute to their fascination with different materials. Offering building materials like popsicle sticks can provide them with an outlet for their natural instincts.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge that Quaker parrots also have assertive personalities. They possess the ability to express their dissatisfaction when something doesn’t suit them. This may include occasional biting, especially when they feel threatened or unsure in their environment. It is important to supervise children around these birds, as their assertiveness can sometimes lead to defensive reactions.

During the spring breeding season, Quaker parrots may exhibit territorial behavior, becoming overly protective and aggressive towards people approaching their cage. This behavior stems from their instincts to protect their nesting sites and chosen mates. It is essential to understand that most aggression in parrots is fear-based, and they are highly attuned to changes in their environment.

In your specific situation, it is vital to consider that your Quaker parrot spent a significant amount of time alone in your room, lacking the socialization and nurturing that these birds require. This lack of early socialization may contribute to his current behavior. Furthermore, it’s important to be aware that biting can become a pattern when fear is present. Your bird can sense your fear and respond accordingly, creating a cycle of apprehension.

To help reset his behavior and establish trust, it may be worth considering wing clipping as a temporary measure. This can help alleviate the dive-bombing behavior and allow you to rebuild a positive connection with your bird. Remember, approaching your bird with calm and confidence is key. Be patient, as it will take time to regain his trust after years of isolation.

By understanding the intelligence, personality traits, and behavior patterns of Quaker parrots, we can develop strategies to create a more harmonious relationship with your feathered friend. Together, we can work towards fostering a sense of security, trust, and companionship.

It’s important to remember that all parrots can learn new behaviors and skills throughout their life.

That said you might want to start with some simple stick training.

This is where you train your bird to step on it up on a stick creating distance between the bird and your flesh.

I’m certain your fear of handling the bird is not helping the situation in the stick training might be a step in the right direction.

Never poke the bird with the stick or wave it at it.

Like anything else let him get used to the stick by making it close when he’s out of the cage. 

Seeing it from your bird’s point of view, he was very unhappy all those years he languished in your room alone and it will take time to regain his trust.

You say that he attacks “us” but it’s important to see if the bird is making a distinction and perhaps attacking your husband more than you.

This would be behavior where he’s protecting you as his chosen mate.

At this point, because of the dive-bombing, you may want to consider clipping his wings to “reset” his behavior. This helps a LOT in cutting out the dive-bombing.

I would also advocate 5 minutes of clicker training daily.

Please remember that in the parrot’s natural state, there is a lot of competition for nesting sites.

This makes parrots protective territoriality and they may be protecting their cage and their mate – you.

Most aggression is based on fear.

Parrots are keenly aware of the slightest change or detail of the changes in their environment.

If your bird was not well socialized while he was young which we know he was not, because he spent a lot of alone time in your room.

He’s not had the nurturing parrots need from their keepers.

It’s also important to note that biting becomes a pattern of you being afraid of the bird.

He picks up your energy and he will carry that energy towards you which becomes a vicious cycle.

You must approach your bird with calm and confidence all the time.

When he’s in the cage, drop (you and hubby) a high-value treat in the bird food feeder dish when you pass.

We want to let the bird know something good will happen every time someone comes near the cage

There are other issues that you don’t get into despite your lengthy problem description. You talk about the one toy/perch that freaks him out of the cage. I would get it out of the cage if you want your bird to be comfortable in their cage. Also, you want your bird to have lots of toys they feel comfortable around. The toys not only serve as foraging opportunities but places to hide behind and feel comfortable.

Think about if somebody placed a 6 foot x 2 foot pole middle of your bedroom – the first thing you would do is get rid of it.

At this point, I’m going to ask you to commit to 10 minutes per day of one-on-one training with your Quaker.

Please keep us  apprised of your progress

We received a message one night on Facebook and thought we’d share the problem-solving process
My reply
It sounds as though one of two things happened.

Either your husband had a tremendous time with the bird and lavished on huge amount of attention on him or more likely didn’t pay attention to him at all or very little.

Can I fix it?

Mitch Rezman

I’m assuming the latter.

Your bird is pissed off and it will just take you some time and patience to regain your bird’s confidence.

You’re going to have to spend a lot of time interacting with him providing him with favored treats.

Talk to him sweetly and let him come to you – in the meantime keep him away from your face just to be safe.

Keep small chew sticks and toy parts, etc on hand to stick into your bird’s beak if it appears that the beak is looking for skin.

If you spent a lot of time with your husband the former, he may have begun to bond with your husband so it’s still going to take time for the three of you to share each other’s company.

Hubby says he only spends two or three hours an evening out of his cage, usually, he is out all day with me. Will he get over the biting?

Hubby just uncovered him and turned the TV on when he went to work.

Mitch Rezman
He’ll get over it once he re-learns how much fun mom time was.
He’s pissed and it will take time but things will go back to normal, especially with so much more “out of the cage time”.

Think about – what if your mom went out of town & your dad locked you up when you usually were out having fun all day – you’d be pissed but you’d get over it.

That makes sense. Thanks. Love my Feather Baby.

Mitch Rezman

We’re happy for you & your bird – glad we could help 

Update…..I have my Feather baby back.

After a lot of treats, scritches and a couple of rides around the mobile home park in the car, now Raff is back to being a Momma’s Baby. Thanks for the advice.


We love happy endings
Quaker parrots are prohibited from being owned or sold in certain states across the United States. The specific states where Quaker parrots are illegal to own or sell due to concerns regarding their potential impact on native bird populations vary. It is advisable to research and consult the individual laws and regulations of each state to determine whether owning or selling Quaker parrots is permitted.
Quaker parrots in the wild commonly face a range of health issues.
These can be attributed to various factors such as endocrine or liver diseases, food allergies, environmental factors, and the lack of mental stimulation. One prevalent issue is feather plucking, which involves the parrot compulsively removing its feathers.
Additionally, some Quaker parrots may suffer from Quaker Mutilation Syndrome, which goes beyond feather plucking and involves the bird mutilating its flesh on the chest, wing webs, and thighs.
These health concerns require proper diagnosis from a veterinarian who specializes in avian care. With their expertise, they can guide caregivers through the necessary steps to nurse a Quaker parrot back to health.
What are the concerns and regulations regarding owning a Quaker parrot?
Owning a Quaker parrot can raise several concerns and give rise to specific regulations. Due to their ability to cause extensive damage to crops and their invasive nature, the Quaker parrot has been deemed illegal to possess in several US states and various other countries.
In jurisdictions where ownership of a Quaker parrot is permitted, there are certain regulations in place to ensure responsible ownership. One common requirement is mandatory wing clipping, which involves trimming the flight feathers of the bird to limit its ability to fly.
This is intended to prevent potential escapes and mitigate the risk of damage to people or property. These regulations serve as a reminder to prospective owners to be aware of the responsibilities and potential consequences associated with owning a Quaker parrot.
How has the Quaker parrot become an invasive species?
The natural diet of a Quaker parrot consists of a variety of elements to meet its nutritional needs. These include flowers, tree bark, and fresh seeds, which provide essential nutrients. Additionally, during the breeding season, Quaker parrots consume small insects like caterpillars as a source of protein supplementation. By incorporating these diverse food sources into their diet, Quaker parrots can thrive in their natural habitat.
How do Quaker parrots construct their nests and how do they defend them?

Quaker parrots, indigenous to Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, have a unique approach to nest construction and defense. Unlike many other parrot species, Quakers opt to construct nests rather than seek out preexisting cavities or holes in trees. These nests are distinctly different, as they tend to build large “complexes” where multiple pairs of Quaker parrots can cohabit and breed together.

Watch til the end!

To ensure the structural integrity and cleanliness of their nests, all occupants actively collaborate in maintaining and safeguarding their living quarters against potential predators. These collaborative efforts serve to promote the overall stability and security of the nest. Each pair of Quaker parrots within the complex possesses a private entrance that grants them exclusive access to their specific nest area. The entrances can expand to over 1 meter in diameter, offering enough space for the parrots to enter and exit comfortably.

With great dedication and fierce loyalty, Quaker parrots fiercely defend their nests, even against other members of their species. When it comes to protecting their homes, the parrots exhibit remarkable vigilance and bravery. Their defensive actions include vocal displays, aggressive posturing, and engaging in physical combat if necessary. They spare no effort in ensuring the safety and security of their nests, preventing any potential threats from intruding.

In summary, Quaker parrots demonstrate remarkable nest construction techniques by building large complexes where multiple couples can live together harmoniously. They actively collaborate in maintaining cleanliness and safeguarding their nests, while each pair possesses a private entrance to ensure exclusivity. These resourceful birds fiercely defend their nests, exhibiting fearlessness and determination against any potential intruders, even those from their species.

How can the nesting instincts of a Quaker parrot be addressed?

Addressing the nesting instincts of a Quaker parrot involves providing suitable outlets for their natural nest-building behavior. To accommodate these instincts, it is beneficial to include sticks or weaving material within the bird’s cage. These materials enable them to engage in their nest-building activities and fulfill their innate instincts. However, it’s essential to supervise them carefully when they are outside their cage, as they may attempt to construct nests using other objects. By providing appropriate materials and monitoring their behavior, you can effectively manage the nesting instincts of a Quaker parrot.

What is Quaker Mutilation Syndrome and how can it be diagnosed?

Quaker Mutilation Syndrome is a condition observed in Quaker parrots where they engage in self-plucking of their feathers and also resort to mutilating the skin on their chest, wing webs, and thighs. This can be distressing for both the bird and its owner, but with the guidance of a veterinarian, steps can be taken to diagnose and address this issue, aiming to restore the Quaker parrot’s wellbeing.

To diagnose Quaker Mutilation Syndrome, a veterinarian with avian expertise should be consulted. The veterinarian will typically conduct a thorough examination of the bird, looking for physical signs such as missing feathers, damaged skin, or other obvious indications of self-mutilation. Additionally, they may inquire about the bird’s behavior, including any changes in mood, appetite, or activity levels.

During the diagnosis process, the veterinarian may also request certain tests to rule out other potential causes or underlying health conditions that could be contributing to the self-mutilation behavior. This may involve conducting blood tests to assess the bird’s overall health, checking for any deficiencies or imbalances, and evaluating organ function. Radiographs or other imaging techniques might also be employed to check for any abnormalities.

Once a diagnosis of Quaker Mutilation Syndrome is confirmed, the veterinarian will work with the bird’s owner to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. This plan may include a combination of medical intervention, environmental modifications, and behavior management techniques. Medications might be prescribed to address any physical discomfort or underlying medical issues, and topical treatments may be recommended to aid in healing and preventing infection in the affected areas.

Equally important is addressing the underlying causes or triggers of the self-mutilation behavior. These may include stress, boredom, or anxiety, which can be addressed through environmental enrichment, providing mental stimulation, and establishing a routine that includes regular social interaction and physical exercise. The veterinarian will guide the bird’s owner on implementing changes to the bird’s diet, cage setup, and daily routine to foster a positive and enriching environment for the Quaker parrot.

Regular check-ups and ongoing communication with the veterinarian will be essential to monitor the bird’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as necessary. Quaker Mutilation Syndrome can be a complex condition, but with timely veterinary intervention and a comprehensive approach, it is possible to help the Quaker parrot recover and enjoy a healthier and happier life.

What are the possible causes of feather plucking in Quaker parrots?
Feather plucking in Quaker parrots may stem from various factors, which include endocrine or liver diseases, allergies related to food or environmental factors, and a lack of mental stimulation. Additionally, it is crucial to determine whether the bird is suffering from Quaker Mutilation Syndrome, which involves not only feather plucking but also self-mutilation of the flesh on its chest, wing webs, and thighs. By consulting with a veterinarian, these issues can be properly diagnosed, and they will assist in guiding you through the necessary steps to restore the health of your Quaker parrot.
How can the nesting instincts of a Quaker parrot be addressed?
Addressing the nesting instincts of a Quaker parrot involves providing suitable outlets for their natural nest-building behavior. To accommodate these instincts, it is beneficial to include sticks or weaving material within the bird’s cage. These materials enable them to engage in their nest-building activities and fulfill their innate instincts. However, it’s essential to supervise them carefully when they are outside their cage, as they may attempt to construct nests using other objects. By providing appropriate materials and monitoring their behavior, you can effectively manage the nesting instincts of a Quaker parrot.
What is the natural diet of a Quaker parrot?
The natural diet of a Quaker parrot consists of a variety of elements to meet its nutritional needs. These include flowers, tree bark, and fresh seeds, which provide essential nutrients. Additionally, during the breeding season, Quaker parrots consume small insects like caterpillars as a source of protein supplementation. By incorporating these diverse food sources into their diet, Quaker parrots can thrive in their natural habitat.
What is the natural habitat of the Quaker parrot?

The Quaker parrot, also known as the Monk parakeet, thrives in the natural habitats of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. These countries are the native range of this bird species. In these regions, Quaker parrots can be found in abundance. However, they are often seen as agricultural pests by local farmers due to their fondness for crop consumption.

One distinguishing characteristic of Quaker parrots is their unique nesting behavior. Unlike many other parrot species that utilize existing tree holes or cavities, Quakers are known for constructing their nests. These nests are quite remarkable, as they often develop into large complexes, capable of accommodating multiple pairs of birds. Within these dwelling structures, all the occupants work together to maintain cleanliness and protect against potential predators.

The complexity of these nests is further demonstrated by the fact that each pair of Quaker parrots has its own private entrance to the nest. These entrances can grow to be more than a meter in diameter, allowing easy access for the birds. The Quakers display a remarkable sense of loyalty and devotion to their homes, fiercely defending them even from other Quakers.

In terms of diet, Quaker parrots primarily feed on flowers, tree bark, and fresh seeds in their natural habitat. However, during the breeding season, they supplement their diet with small insects like caterpillars, which provide them with an additional source of protein.

Overall, Quaker parrots thrive in the diverse landscapes of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Their adaptability, nesting characteristics, and dietary habits enable them to flourish in these vibrant environments.

What is the common name and Latin name of the Quaker parrot?

The common name of the Quaker parrot is the “Quaker Parrot (Monk Parakeet)”, while its Latin name is “Myiopsitta monachus.”

Mitch Rezman

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Clip his wings conservatively, just to prohibit his ability to fly at you and bite you. Fix up several play stations in areas of the house where you and husband will be hanging out, and with stick move him from station to station, handling him when it feels like he may be receptive. I think he is remembering the banishment to the bedroom. I have worked on animal stuff with a remarkable man name who can help you directly communicate with him, he’s a Dr. Dolittle kind of man. You can read about him on line, he is the real megillah: Charles Peden. He lives in Arizona. Best wishes I sure hope you stay with it.

  2. I have a 27 year old severe macaw who is the same way. she gets angry if i pay attention to anything except her even if its the cats. if i am in the room and my husband walks in she will immediately fly at me for a bite. my husband can do anything and she will not make any attempt to bite him. sometimes if i can grab a throw pillow off of the coach i will use it as a shield. if not i try and duck. once she landed on my neck and wouldn’t let go and really took out a chunk of flesh. i could have rolled on the carpet and knocked her off but even though she was hurting me i didn’t want to hurt her. my husband had to pry her beak off of my neck. i am her mate and she doesn’t want me to have any interaction with anyone or anything but her. she has mellowed out as she gets older but i still have to watch her and try to confine her to the cage when hubby is around. sometime in the morning when i let her out she will actually fly upstairs and then walk into my husbands office to see him. he loves her but cannot abide her loud screaming. he will give her snacks when she screams but i won’t since i feel they are not healthy. anyway i am glad you are continuing to care for your quaker and not giving up on him. many people don’t. my friend who has a quaker buys reams of paper at the printing store and has built a rope thing that goes across her whole living room from his cage to his play area. she teaches so he is confined all day long until she gets home and then lets him out. mine played with toys when she was young and then for years didn’t play with anything. i took her to the vet and she had some major health issues and have gotten them resolved and she has started destroying her toys again. thinking if there is an avian vet around it might not hurt to have some bloodwork done and see if she might be lacking in some sort of nutrition or having any health issues. it is expensive but worth it and cheaper than waiting until they become quite ill and then the cost can skyrocket. also sometimes just moving the cage to another area in the room or something simple like that can help with aggression. sorry i don’t have any experience with quakers but just giving advise as a parrot owner

    1. Carol, a thoughtful response! Are you sure your husband isn’t the mate, and you’re the competition? :0 Cheers to not giving up. My uncool Amazon boy used to attack me, got him in 1989. It is having another of his species that worked for me… if you have any way to consider that. They are SO social.

      1. no i am definitely the mate. she is with me from after dinner until bedtime pressed against me wanting scratches and wants me to play with her non stop.she likes the husband but always wants to be with me and will scream and scream until she is. she is just super jealous if i do anything that doesn’t involve her

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