02/08/2016

As the days lengthen, many of our pet birds start gearing up for the reproductive season, just like their wild counterparts. The reproductive cycle and activity is governed by day length in birds, which makes sense as we all know that birds start to nest and lay eggs in spring, which is when the days start getting longer after winter.

Many of our parrot species will also have other behaviours with their owners that mimic the behaviour of breeding pairs in the wild, such as mutual grooming, calling, and some parrots may even try to regurgitate food to feed their human owners! This can become a problem, and persistent egg laying can also worry owners, as well as lead to further complications such as egg binding.

The first step to correcting an overly hormonal bird is to investigate the husbandry, particularly where it relates to reproduction. The day length should be reduced to 10-12 hours by placing a heavy cloth over the cage to mimic night. If the bird is on a fatty diet, encourage gradual change to a healthier diet that incorporates pellets. Remove any nest boxes, and try to discourage owners from participating in pair bonding behaviours; for example, if their bird feeds them, give them a time-out if that occurs. Reducing contact below the head and neck can also help.

The next step if husbandry does not quite do the trick is to consider a deslorelin implant. This implant can be placed either intramuscularly in the pectoral muscle or subcutaneously behind the neck. It usually lasts about 6-12 months, and takes about 2 weeks to take effect. These implants can be done about 2 weeks before the onset of spring, and hopefully by the time it wears off, winter will be here and there will be more natural forms of negative feedback, holding off the hormonal tide until spring starts to come about again.