Banjo, the African Grey

I have an African Grey who simply loves only me. However, when I let him out of his cage to wonder around, he insists on biting my woodwork! Is there anything I can do to stop this behavior? When he does this, I put him back in his cage. He really doesn’t want to go, and ruffles his feathers.



Dear Catherine,

Thanks so very much for your quick response.

I don’t let Banjo out of his cage everyday. Usually once or twice a week. I have a cat, too and simply can’t trust them unsupervised. He doesn’t care for my significant other either. He really only like women, especially me. I am surprised that he took to me so well. I inherited him at age 8, and that was 4 years ago. He’s bitten me a couple of times, but only because I had the cell phone up to my ear and him on the other shoulder. He’s so very jealous I guess of anything else near my ear except him. He calls me “mommy”, too. So sweet!

I’m gonna try the nutri berry & cracker idea. I do have a large plastic peanut that I can hide huts in. He has toys in his cage which he plays with ofter. Love to come out of cage for a bath once a week, too. I just spray him with luke warm water. He always goes to the top of his cage for that and flaps & flaps his wings. He doesn’t know that he can frly. His wings have never been clipped. He just waddles around like a little old man.

The woodwork is by the refrigerator. No he really doesn’t have to go that far if I can divert him. I’ll try. He wonders around and usually end up there. Now today I had him out but sat on the floor with him, and he just stayed close to me. He scraps his feet on the floor like he’s playing a banjo, hence his name. Not once id he try to go for the woodwork. I also put 2 new toys in his cage. Let’s see. I’ll give it a try. Thanks again.


Dear Joanne

Sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your Grey. And you want to keep it that way. Putting the bird back in the cage after it tries to chew your woodwork or does something else that you don’t want him to is not the best response.

Your bird does not understand the relation between the two events. All he knows is he has come out and while he is doing so, gets grabbed and caged. I can understand his frustration. And yours.

Where is the cage in relation to the woodwork? Does he have to pass it to get to you or his stand, toys? If so, can you rearrange the room so he bypasses the woodwork?

Is he out a bit and then wanders over to the woodwork? Does he comes out and zero in on the woodwork?

What does he have to do when he is out of the cage? Ideally you should have something set up for him to go right to when he is out. A stand with toys, a special toy box filed with surprises? Like a small child a parrot will look for something interesting. You need to provide that.

When he is let out pick him up and set him on a stand with something fun to nibble or play with. By pass the woodwork. He should everytime he comes out be diverted to a stand or play area with fun stuff, not just the way it was left the day before and the day before that. Wrap a nutra-berrie in paper and leave in a food dish, leave a paper towel wrapped cracker.

Distract, distract, distract. You may also want to try Clicker Training. You devise fun little games and tricks for your bird that he will soon look forward to being rewarded for and not give the woodwork a second look.

Also keep in mind, that a pet that wants attention will do things that make you react to them and that you do react by coming over and picking up the bird, so it then becomes the bird training you.

We wish you the best


your zygodactyl footnote

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written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

your zygodactyl footnote

English budgie with a splayed leg that chews on his wing – conundrum

Hi Mitch, We are looking for a travel cage big enough to hold a Sun Conure and Umbrella Cockatoo. They are bonded and need to travel together if need be. Also what size is appropriate for 2-3 Conures. Thankyou! Customer

We are expecting to have the #602 and #603 carriers back available in one to two weeks. The #603 would work well for the Sun Conure and Cockatoo. If that is too large then the #602 would work fine. The #601 or #602 should be fine for the 3 conures.

Thank you – Catherine

from: Mary Jo Harrison

I have an active and a little too smart African grey. She is a hand fed baby. My problem is bird toys. She prefers toys with knots, rings etc.

But she can untangle knots, I have used crochet, knit, paracord and different styles of braiding. She unravels them in a day or less no matter how long I make it. She can remove things from key rings and open any kind or snap or clip. She does little damage to them. I am at a loss on how to secure toys in her cage.

Also cats (daughters) have fleas that she let get out of control. I didn’t notice them until they moved out of cats area. I have always taken care to avoid getting fleas in house. So I don’t know if bird can get fleas.

I do know about mites. We go to vet for beak, nails and such. He gives her a check for mites twice a year. I live in central Texas. So we are never really have a flea or mosquito free time.

We want to build an outside aviary for our macaw. I would like to have a secure structure, safe from predators. Our location will be Clarksville, TN. I’m looking at ideas online but thought perhaps asking an authority on the subject would be the best way to start researching.

What materials do we avoid?

If the area was spacious enough, can we use 12′ galvanized dog pen sections?

Our birds live in separate cages. We have two male Timnehs (19 and 26) and a male B&G (13). Could they safely be housed together in a spacious aviary, or will they fight?

They have never had physical interactions with each other, although they are in the same room and in close proximity to each other.

I know I have more questions but I can’t think of everything right now.


Knots? get some leather strips, tie knots in the strips – soak the knotted leather in water for a few hours, let dry over night and see if your bird can untie them now.

need something to hang toys your grey cant undo? Watch this.

Find Kabobs here

Hi Lil

I love the question and I don’t know if you read our blog. I can get long-winded so it’s going to take a while to answer.

I will give you two short answers and you’ll read about everything else right here

Galvanization, or galvanisation, (or galvanizing as it is most commonly called in that industry), is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron, to prevent rusting. The most common method is hot-dip galvanizing, in which parts are submerged in a bath of molten zinc.

Zinc is highly toxic to birds thus galvanized wire is less than ideal. You’ll see it used for housing smaller birds like finches and budgies but because your macaw will be climbing on the wire he or she will be licking zinc

This question has come up before and the answer still opaque so I invested $27 on your behalf to buy this e-book – you can copy and paste the link into your browser to read the book.

Personally I think it’s abit of a rip off (it’s actually supposed to be five books) understates the value – I’m going to wrestle with the author because there are pictures of macaws on his website

but no mention of how to build an aviary for macaw

btw – 10gauge is suited for macaws 12gauge is more suited for African grays in Amazon’s – more to follow

New subject

Hi I have a 7 month old english budie that was born with a one splayed leg that sticks straight out. His wings were overclipped when I got him at 2 months of age. I have waited unpatiently for his wings to grow out as my other parakeets are flighted.

I see from the way he perches like a kick stand mostly on a ladder. that he has close access to his one wing with bad leg and over preens and chews on just this one which makes him flutter lopsided. He doest seem to know he can start flying, but gets around quite well. Do you have any advice on how to stop this chewing of the one wing.

I would love to see him fly with his friends. They have free time out on top of four cages with tons of perches and toys.They have never figured out in seven years they could go around the corner down the hall, which is a great plus for me. They are my little babies, I refer to them affectionately as keebler elfs. Thanks for your help. Michelle


ME-> 6/9/2016 12:24:38 AM Yikes!

fyi – 

Chances are this bird is too old so before we resort to extreme measures I’m going to advocate the introduction of at the very least one flat perch so your budgies good foot isn’t getting overworked.

I would like to know how often he gets bathed? Perhaps with the introduction of more moisture into the feathers praying could be reduced. We can also recommend products like Natra and Featheriffic

This is where I would start – please send feed back so we can try to fix this together


Follow up

Hi Mitch, I wrote to you a while back about my handicapped english budgie Kenny a while back. He has one splayed leg that sticks straight out and up. He likes to perch at a angle where he looks like a kick stand. I thought he was chewing his wing feathers on one side, but he now seems to have almost finished a long molt cycle.

He has started to fly with my other parakeets, although wobbly he can now do 90 degree angles. It has been the longest six months waiting Kennys feathers to grow back. He was only 8 weeks old when I rescued him, and if you remembered his wings were over trimmed .My 4 other parakeets are all flighted and out most of the day as I am home.

Kenny had an extra cage set on the floor next to the table (with one of 3 large cages I have in a cluster) with a long ladder up to side of cage on the table,with many wooden clothes pins clipped to side of table cage he used as a ladder (as this side had vertical bars). Being on the top of this cage is the favorite Cool Spot for all the birds.

I believe many, many times Kenny fluttered to the floor over the six months and then the long climb up three flights actually made his leg and foot stronger. The Lord works small miracles everyday. Thanks for your reply and I go have three shelf perches that he sometimes used but doesn’t favor them now that he is King of the Hill. Thanks for your blogs.Many prayer thoughts for you and Popcorn. RIP.


As you are finding out animals don’t know they have sustained an injury – all they can do is work around pain in order to – at the verybleast attempt to achieve “normal”

kudos on your persistence

Thank you for engaging with our content

Interesting question – anyone??

Do you know of anyone who would be interested in cleaning 4 birdcages once per week? The cages are located in the Elmwood Park, IL area home of a leukemia patient who is unable to clean them due to a compromised immune system.

If someone is interested, please have them email me with their contact information and the cost for their service. Thank you for any help you may offer. Customer

10/5/2015 4:07:24 PM actually this is a good idea – let me work on it


your zygodactyl foot note


How do I stop my Indian ringneck parrot from biting me?

From: Sharon McArdle 

Date: Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 7:06 PM

Subject: two separate advises needed: ringneck parrot-biting and unsalted sunflower seeds

To: “” <>

Sunnie- not sure if a male/female (DOB=4/27, took him/her home 6/27) and is a little over 3 mos. old now. I held her a few times @ the owner’s shop starting @1 1/2 mos. old while she was still being hand-fed.I brought her home when she began to eat (pellets) on her own. She was cuddly, would snuggle in my hands and sit on my shoulder at length.

Recently,when I approach her cage, put my finger out and say “step up”, Sunnie lunges at me and BITES my finger a few times (and draws blood). WHY? When I give her (all are raw)a sugar snap pea, a slice of a baby carrot or a kernal of corn -she takes it and eats it in my hand. Why is she biting? Are ring necks territorial?

Also, I give him/her a “treat” (unsalted sunflower seed)-maybe 5-10 throughout the day, which she loves. The owner of the pet shop said sunflower seeds are “no good because they have a high fat content.” Is that true and are they a no-no?

Please give me your advice on both of the above.

I have another 4 mos. old male ring neck who never did/does the biting. They’re both in separate cages, with their doors open. They “socialize” with each other; the male chases Sunnie on the living room rug- no attacks, hurts, etc. while they “play”.

Please respond when you can. I will surely appreciate your wisdom and advice.


A well bitten….Sharon

Hi Sharon, Thanks for contacting Windy City Parrot with your questions. Mitch has been tied up with an important project and asked me to help you.

You have several dynamics going on with your two ringnecks. If you are reaching into Sunnie’s cage when you get bit, then s/he is just protecting her territory. Let Sunnie come out on her/his own and then request the “step up”. Training a behavior like “step up” is best done away from the cage to prevent territory issues. You can teach Sunie to step up onto a spare perch when inside the cage to prevent bites.


Also at about 3-6 months parrots tend to go through a stage of testing how hard they can nip before it is a “no-no”. Wait until Sunnie comes out of the cage by her/himself and then ask Sunnie to step up. My African Grey was taught “gentle” because when he takes my finger in his beak, if he gets a bit rough, I simply say “gentle” and he releases the pressure.

When you get nipped hard, remove yourself Sunnie’s sight immediately for 2 minutes or so. The only discipline birds understand if removal of the attention. Soon Sunnie will learn not to bite as much, but when you enter the cage with your hand, the bird is frightened or someone is paying you too much attention, you will likely get bitten. Nips are simply normal behavior in these situations, so avoid picking Sunnie up or take her/him back to the cage if already on you if one of these situations is about to arise. Learn Sunnie’s body language and you’ll soon be able to notice clues that a nip is coming and can avoid the blood loss.

Sunnie may be considering the other ring neck as a flock member and as a result has begun to consider you an outsider. This often happens when there are two birds of the same specie in a home.

You mentioned not knowing Sunnie’s sex. With two birds of the same species in your home, I strongly suggest you learn the gender with a simple home DIY mail-in DNA test kit. You can find the inexpensive kit here: DNA Kit. If the two birds are a potential pair, you may experience some real challenges during breeding season next year or so.


You mentioned you are only feeding Sunnie raw veggies to supplement the pellets. You may find s/he also enjoys them lightly steamed. Birds enjoy the different textures.


Let’s address the question about whether sunflower seeds are a “no-no”. Yes, sunflower seeds are high in fat and if mixed into some birds’ food on seed and supplement diets they will pick out just the sunflower seeds, refusing to eat all the other nutritious food in their dish, even the fruits and veggies. The addiction to sunflower seeds is quite common and has resulted in improvements in quality bird food lines that have added blends like Safflower Gold No Sunflower choices.


However, you mentioned Sunnie eats a pellet diet and you are giving her sunflowers only as treats. Sunflowers are great for treats and perfect for training sessions while in the “perform for food” stage of training a new behavior. A lot of sunflower seeds is a “no-no” but a limited amount as a treat is just fine. I’d suggest limiting it to 5-6 on a normal basis and never more than your limit of 10. You might consider skipping a day and using other treats as well. Young birds of all species love a bit of millet spray as a treat or give her a bit of fruit such as a grape cut in half, a small slice of apple or some banana.


I hope this helps, Sharon. If we can help you in any other way, please let us know.

Nora Caterino

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