Biting can become a huge problem for some cockatiel owners. Sometimes the owner unknowingly rewards the cockatiel whenever it bites. This makes the cockatiel think that biting is a behavior that allowed and praised. Even though a cockatiel’s beak is small, it may go right through skin and cause you bleed. Here are some reasons and techniques to stop a cockatiel from biting.
Be aware of the situation in which your cockatiel bit you. Were you sticking your hand in its cage? Was there a stranger in the house that is unfamiliar to your bird? Was there a loud noise outside that startled your bird? In these types of situations, cockatiels will bite out of fear. Biting out of fear is easier to control because you need to teach your bird that you are safe and will not hurt him. Never hit or throw your cockatiel from your hand if he bites you because this will further damage the relationship you have with him. Allow your cockatiel to feel safe by placing part of cage against the wall. If it is possible move them away from loud noises such as stereos, televisions and noisy children. All of these will make a cockatiel stressed and place it in defensive mode.
Sometimes cockatiels bite for control. This one is harder to cure because it is a behavior that has been learned over a long period of time usually. Whenever a bird bites, usually the owner will hit the cockatiel’s beak or yell at the bird. Cockatiels are unable to distinguish between negative and positive reinforcement, so that light tap on the beak or scream is perceived as a reward. This may be difficult for some to understand, but any type of acknowledgment to the bird after it bites will actually make the cockatiel want to keep biting. Cockatiels crave attention at all times of the day, so you give it attention only after it bites your hand or finger it actually thinks that biting is the way to get your attention.
Biting could also mean several other things. If you just recently introduced a new mate to your bird, he or she may be trying to protect its mate. Territorial biting can be rather disruptive to you and your bird’s home. The cockatiel does not understand why you would be invading his home and starts to lose trust in you, hands, and other people. Give the cockatiel its space and never stick your hand in the cage or try to grab the bird and force it out. This will definitely cause trust issues.
A cockatiel that bites can be rather frustrating to say the least. It is hard to communicate to the bird that you are not trying to hurt him. If you cannot break your cockatiel of this learned behavior then ask your avian vet for some assistance.