You have just purchased your new Indian Ringneck and all is going well. Within days or weeks after settling into its new environment, your playful sweet parrot has turned into a monster. His eyes will pin (when the pupil constricts to a tiny dot) and you receive many nasty bites. These bites seem relentless and you cannot seem to get them to stop, even approaching the cage might trigger your ringneck to get aggressive.
You start to take the attacks personal, so you believe it is better to keep your parrot in his cage for awhile. You sit and wonder why your new handfed Indian Rigneck is biting because you feel you have done everything for him. Many questions run through your mind. Have I done something wrong? Does he hate me now? Is he going to be like this forever? Feeling helpless and confused, you have no idea what to do next or why this happened. Welcome to the topic of bluffing!
Indian Ringnecks go through a special stage after being weaned that may cause them to be aggressive. This stage is natural and is a critical learning period for your Indian Ringneck. How you deal with this stage has a long lasting affect on your ringneck’s personality and will probably mold your ringneck for the rest of its life. So why do ringneck’s bluff?
Thinking about this answer for many years, I have come to the conclusion that ringnecks bluff for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the first culprit could be a surge of hormones. During this period, ringnecks may receive hormones that trigger them to start to become somewhat independent. Though no scientific evidence has proven this to be true, I believe something chemical inside the ringneck starts to change. These hormones alter their attitude so much, that most ringnecks cope through biting. Most are edgy and try to bite for any reason. I like to think of this bluffing stage as their toddler years.
Secondly, the most important reason is to learn how to survive independently. A ringneck must learn to adapt and survive on its own without the aid of its parents. I have noticed that during this bluffing stage, Indian Ringnecks are fearless. They explore items without caution and are very careless. I am convinced this stage helps them understand what is acceptable and what’s dangerous.
Much like a toddler, who grabs at anything, ringnecks use their beak in this same manner. It’s their way of testing objects and learning about themselves, foods, and objects.
Thirdly, it could be a genetic trait helps them to avoid inbreeding (Indian Ringnecks are not monogamous).
Old literature points out that Indian Ringnecks went through this stage to test their limits with their owners, though this holds some truth, ringnecks, or any other parrot for that matter, I believe do not have pack mentalities like canines. I believe there is no alpha leader, instead Indian Ringnecks work together as one entity—known as a flock. With the birds I have studied and seen, no Indian Ringneck leads the flock or is more dominant then the others. They may get into quarrels, but they are quickly solved and the birds go about their business. So how should bluffing be addressed?
Start by interacting with the bird like you would normally do. This bluffing needs to be completely ignored. If the bird bites do not make a fuss about it and completely ignore it. Under no circumstances are you to yell or hit your bird during this stage — or any other time. Do not wobble your hand, do not spray the bird, or do not flick the beak. Ringnecks do not understand this type of punishment. If they are abused in this manner they become aggressive and fearful of humans. You need to gradually let your ringneck know that biting is not tolerated and will get no reaction out of you. At the same time, you need to be open to your ringneck’s needs and be understanding towards your bird’s attitude. They need to feel confident enough to trust you and they need time to let these hormones subside.
I have seen many ringnecks become biters during this stage because they were improperly dealt with. Some owners resorted to abusive tactics in hopes their ringneck would learn that biting equals punishment. Other owners choose not to deal with the bluffing, so they confined their parrot to a cage. Yelling at your ringneck or telling him to stop also resulted in chronic biting. In the ringneck’s eyes, any type of reaction given by you is a reward. The best and effective way to deal with this is to ignore it. Your voice should only be used to greet, praise, and coddle the bird—not for discipline.
Though some bites are predictable, some are not. To minimize these bites keep a toy or something your ringneck finds fascinating. Distract him as much as possible if you believe your ringneck is extra edgy or moody for that particular sitting. If your ringneck does choose to bite and will not let go, gently blow on its beak and ignore the fact you got bit. Do this until the bluffing has passed.
Remember to hang in there. Though it might seem like your ringneck will never stop biting, stay consistent and ignore any aggressive behavior. Avoid letting your parrot be around your face and away from children during this period. Once the bluffing has stopped, you’ll know when it has passed. Most ringneck owners report the change as immediate, it is like a night and day difference. If you deal with the situation in a loving and caring manner, you’ll have a ringneck that will never use its beak in an aggressive way. At times, I can’t believe some of my ringnecks ever went through this stage. They are gentile and loving parrots, but like any parrot, they all have their ups and downs.
Keep in mind that not all ringnecks go through this stage and it’s more prone to female ringnecks. Most owners believe that because their Indian Ringneck is going through bluffing it is automatically a female—not true. Keep in mind that this stage can last several days or weeks. Some get a severe case and it may last a few months. I’ll say it again and again, ignore any bluffing and you’ll get through this stage fine.