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Parrots/Male Sun Conure Sexual Behaviour

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Question
Hi, I have a 4 yr old Sun Conure (Sunny).  I am pretty sure he is male due to the characteristics he is displaying such as trying to make love to me and my husband.  Sunny rubs himself along my arm, on buttons on clothing I am wearing, over my watch if I am wearing it and chunky pieces of clothing such as the collar of my dressing gown.  I can tolerate this behaviour, after all he can't help it, but I don't know what to do to discourage it.  Can you help me?

Answer
You're right about birds not actually going into a ‘heat’, but they sure do engage in some similar behaviors once they’re sexually mature.  Some of these signs are first noted by a change of mood, becoming more nippy, protective of their territory (cage), less vocalizations (or more) and possibly preferring one owner over the one who might have, until this point, felt they were the favorite.  

Males tend to rub forward against a perch or object, being particularly attracted to a mirror or anything he might catch a glimpse of a very pretty bird in (himself).

Females might back up against objects while holding their heads down and making different noises, clucks, chortles or purrs.  When you reach to touch or pick up the bird they may lift their wing and try to tuck you underneath, they may nip or actually bite (‘beaking’)  and in both males and females, there may be human or object regurgitation (they will attempt to feed someone or something. )


Steps you must undertake is to be sure you aren’t encouraging mating behavior by how you handle or interact with your bird. Once they are ‘mature’, you shouldn’t be touching below the upper to mid-back and avoid ‘beaking’ (kissing or gentle tugs on the bird’s beak).  Never feed a bird from your own mouth (in all cases this is just very dangerous since the bacteria in our mouths may cause serious health events in a bird).

 You might want to increase their nighttime hours to 13 or even 14 sleep instead of 12+12.  

Another option is to move things around inside the cage. Change out toys, switch perches, rearrange feeding and water cups - make it look 'new' .  Even moving the actual location a little bit can help.

Other precautions are to not pet under the wings or touch consistently from the mid-back down (this can trigger egg laying in females).

No feeding from your mouth, which is just a good idea anyway since we have far too much bacteria there to be safe for a bird.  
No feeding soft foods from your fingers which may be perceived as regurgitation, another mating behavior.  

For more about nutrition, behavior modification and overall problem solving

http://www.4animalcare.org/birds  

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Rev. Dr. S.August Abbott

Expertise

Certified Avian Specialist; Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council member; Own animal rescue org; National Wildlife habitat #66378; bird care, nutrition & behavior consultant; International Assoc. of Animal Behavior Consultants Associate; National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club member; published bird care, info and behavior articles and guides. Ongoing education in exotic bird behavior and nutrition I can answer behavioral, nutritional, environmental, characteristic/personality questions as well as general health and health care. No animal emergency can ever be addressed on the internet. We cannot see your animal, perform an examination, provide necessary care or medication. Please value your companion for the priceless, living creature they are; not for what you might have paid for them.

Experience

Certified Avian Specialist. For more than 30 years I've worked with veterinarians, protective facilities, nature centers, preserves and on my own in providing care and education with regard to multiple animal species, including raptors (hawks, kestrals, owls, etc) and marsupials. In recent years I've focused on parrots, usually rescued from abusive or less than ideal situations and helping educate owners as to proper care. Expert in behavior studies and modification of problem behavior.

Organizations
4AnimalCare is the organization I run as an animal ministry; World Wildlife Association, Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club and more

Publications
Bird Talk Magazine articles about rescued and problem macaws.

Education/Credentials
Doctorate, Ordained Minister

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