How do I tame an older vicious African grey?

african greay parrot staring into camera lense
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This was most recent answer to that question on Quora:


“So, I did something that, again, I do not recommend for anyone else.


I got myself comfortable against the cage, and put my left hand into a balled fist, and let him hit me. Again. And again. And again.


Eventually blood ran down my elbow. He hit me 40+ times while I looked at him with my eyes half-lidded, calm & relaxed, glancing away as if bored from time to time.


After around ten minutes, Sammie stopped striking at me. He had a long pause, looking at me sideways, then with his head upside down.


Then he put a foot on my bloodied hand.”

It was also my first down vote ever against 283 up votes


What are people thinking?


This is what I would do in that situation


First of all parrots are not vicious.


Prey birds (falcon, hawks and eagles) are vicious and only have one thought on their mind “where’s my next meal coming from”?


Parrots might lash out because of their instinctual fight or flight attitude.


If they feel encroached upon and they can’t fly away they will bite you – it’s that plain and simple.



Sticking your hand in a birdcage whether it be rolled up into a fist or open palm will certainly will draw a bite.


Now that the bird knows that it’s okay to bite you repeatedly.


You have an African gray with the mind and the memory of a high-powered SSD (Solid State Drive) computer server.


The bird will always think that if I can bite a person enough I can get on their hand.


Getting bitten by a bird is never acceptable.


It is not a badge of honor.


It is an indicator that you lack control over the situation and the animal.


This has nothing to do with just taking your time, especially with an animal that may outlive you.


Parrots can tell time as precisely as a Rolex and keeping one near you for six months is not an effective approach to training any animal.


I would first start by dropping a favored treat into the food bowl from outside of the cage several times a day for a week or two.


This begins to set up the birds thinking that every time you walk by something good will happen.


Next I would install a grooming perch (something with a rough surface) on the inside of the cage door.


This allows you to open the door to let the birds step onto the perch thus while leaving the cage they are still on the cage close to the inside of their familiar home.


Continue to offer treats even when the bird is on a perch. To avoid a bite place a single treat into the food dish so fingers are not exposed.

Also published on Medium.


He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.