Hormonal Behavior in Parrots: How Parrot Food Affects Hormones

Hormonal Behavior in Parrots: How Parrot Food Affects Hormones

Did you know that some popular parrot foods and treats induce hormonal behavior in parrots?  When a bird has access to a diet rich in protein, minerals and healthy fats and a perceived pampering mate and nesting site its body becomes hormonal.  Very hormonal.  And, anyone who’s felt “hormonal” knows that hormones have noticeable effects on behavior.  Emotions are ramped up and behavior becomes erratic and impulsive. 

And, for parrots, well, they've got one thing on their mind.  Making babies. You might notice that your bird is biting and screaming more.  A hormonal parrot feels the clock ticking and it wants to mate now.  Out of sexual frustration, your bird may engage in stress induced over-preening and repetitive behaviors.  Most wild parrots only get hormonal once or twice a year but captive parrots may have hormonal behavior constantly, to the novice owner.

Hormonal parrots are constantly seeking out nesting opportunities and they can get down right aggressive when you try to put the back int their cage.  To the unaware, these behaviors look like your bird needs much more training.  Some people come to believe that they’ve acquired a “bad bird” and look to re-home it.  Hold off, though.  If your bird is consistently screaming, biting and anxious, take a look at its dietary intake and other hormone inducing conditions.

Parrot Food and the Hormone Cycle in Wild Birds


Parrots eat nutritious fauna during breeding season


Imagine the flora, fauna, seeds, nuts and bugs available for wild birds.  Seeds and nuts in particular become especially abundant in the winter and before spring rains.  Seeds and nuts are nutrition power-houses.  They provide the concentrated nutrition that parrots need for breeding and rearing of young.   Bursting with protein, minerals and healthy fats, an abundance of seeds and nuts is a major dietary breeding stimulus for wild and pet birds alike. With the spring rains seeds and nuts become less available and parrots increase their intake of flora, fauna and bugs.  The nutrients in these food items put tell a parrots body that breeding season is over.  While African Grey’s and Eclectus parrots have been known to breed throughout the year, the majority of parrots that we keep as pets only go into breeding season once a year.  In the wild, it would be a bird’s respective winter months when nests are dry and safe, seeds and nuts are abundant and the days are starting to get longer.

Wild Lory
Even though pet parrots need some of the nutrients available in seeds and nuts, too much of protein, mineral and fat, parrots can get too much of a good thing.   A lot of well-meaning people routinely offer their birds too much nutrient rich seed, nuts and fatty treats.  It’s easy to do.  Birds love them!  Some birds even go on strike when it comes to eating a healthy diet But, the high nutrient status of these tasty foods induces an on-going hormonal state that is not natural and that causes hormone related aggression and anxiety. Common culprit fatty foods include some seed mixes, nuts, dried fruit, pasta, white rice, snack foods, and some table food.  Always feed these foods in moderation. Instead, opt for a well-balanced pellet.

Minimize health problems and help your bird keep hormones in check by providing it with a brand name well-balanced diet such as Harrison’s Bird Food or Roudybush Bird Food.  Vets recommend that about 70% of your pet birds’ dietary intake consist of a well-balanced pellet.  Supplement pellets with plenty of fresh, nutrient rich green, yellow and orange vegetables and low-sugar fruits and berries, and a small amount of nuts and seeds.  A widely varied Goldenfeast Blend Parrot Food like Caribbean Bounty is a good choice, too.  Ask your vet about any special dietary needs for your particular species of bird. References:



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  • Diane Burroughs