Parakeets are rarely aggressive by nature: their burst of temper will come and go quickly. They may fight over food, and will often clash briefly over friends, toys or territory; but all of this is normal in parakeet society. 99% of the time, these aggressive outbursts are to do with food, personal space or mating. A cock bird will jealously guard his hen during the nest-building and mating period. A hen can also become aggressive during this period. AS long as things don’t get out of hand, then there’s nothing to worry about.
If you notice that a bird’s aggression is increasingly becoming focused on one individual in particular, it may be time to separate the two. On rare occasions this can be because two birds are simply not compatible, for reasons we still don’t understand. This is unfortunate if they are your only two birds, but for the well-being of both of them, it is best to separate the two and perhaps re-introduce them at a late date, first by putting the two cages side by side and then, if that goes well, allowing them to cohabit once more.
With mating season testosterone bubbling in his brain, a dominant cock bird might try to make life miserable for his neighbours. This can also be the case with a hen during nesting season. It’s important not to overreact in these situations, as this will normally bubble-down once the mating/nesting season is over, and as long as it’s not just one bird having to put up with all the grief, the flock will sort it problems out on its own. If a single bird is being bullied all the time, you may have to remove it while the aggressive one is attempting to be king or queen of the roost.
An aggressive parakeet will use its beak as a weapon
Parakeet Dominant Behavior
A dominant bird, whether cock or hen, will show aggression by squawking and biting. It will often raise its wings as it squawks -- the kind of behaviour you will encounter daily if you own lots of parakeets.
Actually spotting aggression in your birds may be hard for beginners or first time parakeet owners, as these little birds are more often than not hyperactive, vocal and socialising physically without being aggressive. Here are some of the tell-tale signs to look out for:
- Raised wings – the parakeet equivalent of raising your fists.
- Hissing – the throaty hiss of the parakeet says “keep away!”
- Biting another bird’s feet – this is never done as part of a mutual grooming session, and is always meant aggressively.
- Picking at another bird’s feathers or head – if done gently, with a happy recipient, this is simply mutual grooming, which is what contented birds do. If the action is violent, you’re witnessing a fight. It will usually fizzle out once the less dominant bird has had enough and retreats.
- Chasing birds around the cage – if an aggressive bird pursues another individual for any length of time, you might have a problem on your hands. If this happens regularly, one of the two birds will need isolating for a week. Keep a close eye on the birds once they have been reintegrated.
- Not letting another bird eat or drink – small outbreaks of bad temper around food and water are normal. Providing more than one feeding station – or a sufficiently big one – usually sorts this problem out. If a parakeet is going out of his way to keep another bird from feeding for any length of time, you have a similar problem to the chasing issue mentioned above.
- Targeting a new bird – a restocked flock will need to find its own balance. Keep an eye on behaviour, and only intervene if there is persistent, detrimental bullying. Jealousy may be an issue in a smaller cage set up – your established bird may resent the attention you are giving the newcomer. Keep the older bird happy with finger treats and attention, and his tantrum should subside.
- Defending a perch or food bowl – this is usually a symptom of overcrowding. Make sure you’ve given your birds enough space and provided plenty of different perches and bowls.
Parakeets will defend their territory if the cage is overcrowded
- Biting your finger – your hand may become a target if inserted into an angry parakeet’s cage, but a parakeet’s beak (unlike larger members of the parrot family) cannot inflict much damage on an adult hand. Children might find it off-putting, however, if their beloved pet launches an attack on their inserted finger. Discourage them from interfering with a grumpy or dominant bird. If he’s been finger-trained, some gentle belly-stroking will often calm the parakeet down, or he will hop onto your finger and nibble the spray of millet you’ve very thoughtfully wedged between your forefinger and thumb.
Kelly, 7 February 2023
Bragger, that is a great cage! May I ask where you got it? I have two male parakeets, both still fairly young. They have come from the same place but they were not in the same cage together (I’ve had them together, same cage, for 3 weeks). While they groom each other and get along most of the time, I do notice that one of them, the larger one, pushes the smaller one around periodically. I would love to have that cage just in case I do have to separate. I’ve been keeping a close eye out to see if it gets better for the little guy. Any recommendations are welcome.