A friend of mine recently adopted a young conure.
Her bird has been experiencing some behavior changes lately, and she asked me what the cause could be.
While many possibilities sprang to mind, the first was if it could be hormone changes.
Just as we humans go through significant changes in temperament and attitude during puberty, so too do our feathered friends.
They can act like teenagers too!
If you are wondering if your conure could be experiencing these changes then keep reading.
When do conures go through puberty?
Conures go through puberty at 1-2 years of age, though this can vary slightly as every bird is unique. During this time, they may become more aggressive and reactive. This is due to significant hormonal shifts, just like humans. This change is temporary, and as they grow up their behavior will return to normal.
During a conure’s puberty it is critical that you manage your bird’s behavior well.
While their hormones will even out in the long run, you do not want to accidentally teach them bad habits or show them that they can get away with aggressive behavior.
Remember that patience is key.
Have faith that, with the proper care and handling, you will soon get your loving companion back.
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How long does a conure’s puberty last?
If your bird is acting more aggressive, perhaps being more territorial or even biting, then check their age.
If they are around 1-2 years old, they could be experiencing puberty.
Your next question will probably be how long will this last?
The answer is it depends.
Every conure is different, so there is not set length of time that your bird will experience these big hormonal changes.
Most commonly conures experience puberty for a few months, but it can last for over a year depending on the individual.
While it may seem endless, remember that this phase in their lives won’t last forever.
Stay patient and ensure that you are handling them well and keeping them physically healthy through this growth period.
What are the signs of puberty in conures?
The clearest signs of a conure in puberty will be changes in temperament and behavior.
Most commonly they will experience mood swings and become more aggressive.
This can range from a little frustrating to downright dangerous, so it’s important to know your bird’s habits and how they communicate.
Behaviors might include being more territorial over the cage, screaming excessively, unpredictable reactivity, and even biting.
Your bird may try to assert dominance as it would in a wild flock, causing conflict when you (a human) don’t respond the way a bird would.
Other behaviors like rubbing on the cage or on any other birds that are present could indicate puberty as well.
Keep an eye out for any other mating behavior as well.
This could include strutting, displaying feathers.
These are all indicators of hormonal changes.
How do I handle a conure going through puberty?
Conures will experience big shifts during puberty.
This may interrupt your regular routine and could call for adjustments in how you handle them.
Because your bird will begin to assert more dominance during this stage it is critical that you gently reassert your authority.
Simply using a stern tone and drawing clear boundaries can be enough.
One easy way to assert and maintain your dominance is to be taller than your bird.
When handling your conure keep them at eye level or below and avoid letting them sit on your shoulder.
If your bird does become more aggressive, and especially if they bite, then handle them with ample care.
Never yell or hit the bird, but make sure that you stay safe.
This could mean wearing gloves when handling them and teaching them to step up onto an object like a stick rather than your finger.
Avoid any rough play as well.
Play bites can become strong very quickly, and we want to avoid teaching them that it’s okay even in play.
Whatever you do, do not frighten your bird.
While you must remain confident in your dominant position in the “flock”, a frightened bird will quickly learn not to trust you.
That is a lesson that will last beyond puberty.
No matter how frustrating they may be, always avoid yelling, thumping, or spraying your parrot.
A firm “no” and placing them back in their cage is always a better response that will teach them skills rather than fear.
Another factor to keep in mind is their environment.
They will be experiencing big changes and will need to have a safe place of their own.
It is perfectly healthy for your conure to establish their cage and territory, so long as this does not become a danger to you or other birds.
Make sure to provide them with lots of toys and activities.
They will be extra active during this time, so help your conure out by making sure their environment is stocked with entertainment.
They should also be given lots of time to exercise.
An active, entertained conure will be much more pleasant for everyone in the home.
Can they experience hormonal changes at other stages in life?
Yes, your conure may experience hormonal changes at other times as well.
Namely breeding season.
Don’t worry though, these are rarely as intense as adolescence and will not last as long.
Conure breeding season comes around in early spring.
If you notice your older bird acting up more around February or March, then this could be why.
However, many owners report that there is no major change. Again, it will all come down to the individual bird.
If you are worried about handling the puberty phase, then just remember we’ve all been through it.
Your bird’s adolescence may come with many highs and lows, but in the long run investing time with your bird will be well worth it!
On the other side of all the mood swings and temper tantrums will be a well-trained, well-mannered adult conure.