Birds are amoral, not bad. Humans are at fault and the problem source.

The black-headed caique, Pionites melanocephalus, on white background
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I love your birdie brunch and read it first thing every Sunday. Thank you!

I hope you can help me. I have an 8 yr. old white-bellied Caique. Conrad has owned me since he was 3 months old. I am also a strong proponent of flighted birds (seems to me they were made that way), so Conrad is fully-flighted.

He’s delightful and we are strongly bonded. He’s really a great bird and good company. HOWEVER, I don’t seem to be able to stop him from chewing on everything in sight. He has numerous toys of varying types and textures in all his houses (currently 3, not including travel), bbut when he’s out he chews on furniture, window sills, molding, electric cords, shoes, to name a few.

I’ve tried rewarding him with cuddles and praise when he stops chewing when I tell him to, and giving him “time-outs” when he doesn’t stop, but either he doesn’t get the message or he doesn’t give a darn. I’m on the East Coast (CT), do you know if any bird whisperers in this area?

He’d be so much better company and have more out time if I could get him to stop the destructive chewing.

Thanks for any help.

Maeve Lucey


Maeve – Maeve – Maeve

The chewing birds do is called foraging. You’re treating it is bad behavior but it’s an instinctual behavior much like reading and making bird noises. Your Caique has no idea why you are trying to change his behavior through behavior modification.

He is toys in all of his cages which he chews. It is opaque to me why you are expecting his behavior to change while not in the cage. Bird has no idea that there’s a difference between a bird toy with buttons and bells and a remote control. A live electrical lamp cord is as attractive to him as a strand of leather hanging from a toy.

He’s not being a bad bird he’s being a bird. Your problem is not a behavioral problem it’s an environmental problem. You’ll not change the behavior of the bird but you can change the environment.

You mentioned he has lots of cages but I am not seeing the words birds stand. In our house there are 1 to 3 bird stands in every room in the house. Whenever he put peaches our Senegal, down – it’s on a stand. Some are fancy some are not but most have a cup for food or at least some treats. When possible I add toys to give her something to do other than eating furniture and household accessories

Here is a 20-year-old stand we still use. I’ve added a ladder that leads down to a foraging area on the stand base you cannot see but the video illustrates how I’ve repurposed a toy that normally hangs and made it vertical.

I place Peaches on the top. After a while she’ll get bored climb down the ladder for exercise and have some treats then climb back up. If I see she has that needy look in her eyes I will grab and pet her for a while then move her to another stand with another ladder, toys and treats.

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