Why Does My Bird Bite Me So Much?

Find Out If It's a Bite or a 'Beak'

Yellow-red parrot biting man's finger while sitting on it.
Charles Tsai (Cheng Yu, Tsai)/Moment/Getty Images

You love your bird, but biting your hands does not make for a happy pet experience. But you might be being "beaked," not bitten. The first thing that you need to do is establish which one it is. 

Biting is not a natural behavior for birds, so chances are that your bird is not trying to be aggressive.

Why Birds 'Beak' You

There are several reasons that a bird might "beak" you as opposed to giving you a true bite.

Birds use their beaks as a third "hand" or to "test" perches before they step on to them -- and bird owners often confuse this with being bitten. While being "beaked" may not be the most pleasant experience, it is much different from being bitten. A bird's beak contains a myriad of nerve endings, and it is used to sense taste, texture, resilience and in general check out its environment, including its owner's hand.

A True Bite

Birds will dish out a true bite now and then if they are frightened, startled or feel cornered. These bites are often quick and hard -- and the bird's body language will let you know that he or she did it with the intention of causing pain. Many times a true bite will break the skin or at least result in a painful "dent." It's easy to tell the difference between being bitten and being "beaked."

What to Do

Once you have determined what's happening, it will be easier to learn how to deal with the behavior.

If you are being "beaked," the only real option is to put up with it. It's a fact that birds use their beaks in this way and the most experienced bird owners understand that it's all just part of owning a bird. If you are in fact being bitten, however, there are steps that you can take to help put your bird at ease and curb this undesirable behavior.

For tips on taking the bite out of your bird, look over Correcting Bad Behavior in Birds.