How to Keep Pet Birds From Being Destructive

Why is my pet bird so destructive? How can I keep it from chewing on everything?

We get this question a lot. Bird owners need to understand that birds aren’t intentionally destructive. What’s natural for them is to use their beaks all the time — either for eating or for climbing and moving around especially in the wild. Birds will chew on everything available to them. What we can do as bird owners is to set up an environment that encourages appropriate chewing.

Dr. Laurie Hess shares below how she keeps her animal hospital’s bird, Target, out of trouble by providing appropriate things to chew on.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Dr. Laurie Hess, and this is my bird, Target, and we’re going to talk to you a little bit about a common concern many bird owners have which is why birds are so destructive. I hear all the time “My bird is so destructive. He’s chewing on everything. What am I doing wrong?” The fact is, you’re doing nothing wrong.

Birds like this parrot are very, very oral. They chew on lots of things, almost like little infants do (human infants) and they use their beaks in the wild a lot, not just to chew on food. We know that birds should be eating appropriate parrot food (in this case, this is a parrot) but they also use their beaks to climb, to move around, and sometimes, that’s something that people are not familiar with.

What I want to encourage you to do is to set up your bird’s environment to encourage appropriate chewing – chewing of food that’s right for a bird and chewing things that are safe like toys, and not chewing on things that are dangerous, things like furniture that they could ingest and destroy or electric cords or sharp objects or things that can have toxins in them.

Given the choice, birds will chew on everything. It’s really up to you, the bird owner, to provide them with the appropriate things to chew on so they don’t get into trouble and they don’t damage your environment.

What do I mean? Well, Target loves to chew on everything so we want to give her her appropriate diet, appropriate parrot food, and we do recommend pelleted bird foods like these different kinds, but you might want to try something normal. So if you’re eating one kind of pelleted food – we know that there are a lot of different kinds of bird foods out there – change it up. Try another pelleted food. This is pelleted food for birds shaped like pasta and they love this so this is something that she might want to give a try. She’s a little excited to be here so she would normally be chewing this up. Do you want to try this? OK. So other things that you can try beside their normal diet are things that are fun for them like instead of just giving a carrot, you want to give instead of a piece of carrot, you might want to give a whole carrot. So this is a toy. She’s going to check this out and she’s going to chew it and taste it and she can even — actually, she’s not that excited. She can try it, you know, and hold the whole carrot in her hand. We know that normally she loves apples so you can give a little slice of apple. You can actually core out that apple and let them chew on it. And then even little treats like this, this little rice cake is something that’s very safe for their teeth. You want to try that? You’re not so sure? You want to taste it? Oh, you’re being so excited for the camera. You’re not going to eat anything. But these are things that if you’re keeping your bird’s mouth busy chewing on appropriate things, they can’t be as destructive and as dangerous to get into so much trouble.

Now, you can get fancy toys for them, too, but you can also make your own bird toy. So this is a bird toy that actually we purchased that we know she really, really loves. Are you gonna chew on that? She’s like “I’m not so sure.” Or you can just do simple things like make this paper flower, and this is something that, you know, most birds will love to chew on. She’ll just sit here just like she’s doing now. So, this is an appropriate and safe toy for her.

So just remember giving appropriate toys, appropriate bird food, food meant for parrots – these are things that keep your bird’s mouth busy and out of trouble and out of being so destructive as they might normally be without your help.

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