Reducing Aggression among Birds

Overcrowding birds and/or placing incompatible birds together may lead to aggression within the flight or aviary. Additionally, when finches are stimulated to breed, they often become territorial, resulting in increased aggressive behavior. For instance, parents may become aggressive toward their chicks as they are preparing to lay another clutch of eggs.5 In this situation, the weaned chicks should be removed from the enclosure and placed in a separate cage.

The following steps should help to prevent or alleviate aggression within the aviary:
  • Make sure the birds are not overcrowded.5,7
  • Never simply introduce new finches into an already-established group of birds. If you have purchased and quarantined new birds and would like to add them to a cage with finches already living in it, you must remove all of the birds from the enclosure, rearrange the perches, feeding dishes, etc., and then replace all of the birds simultaneously.5,7 Of course, never add new finches to an enclosure with breeding birds, as disturbing the breeding birds may cause them to abandon their young.
  • Provide the birds with multiple feed and water stations, and make sure enough perches are available.5 Be careful not to overcrowd the cage with accessories.
  • Take away any nests and nesting material to reduce any territorial aggression brought on by the breeding stimuli. If your goal is to breed birds and your birds become aggressive when breeding, separate each breeding pair into its own cage for the breeding season. Note that even finches that normally prefer to sleep in nests will be fine sleeping on perches.
  • Remove any sick or injured finches from the enclosure.
  • House only compatible finches together.
  • If only one bird seems to be terrorizing the rest, remove the culprit to its own enclosure and pair it with a suitable companion (one that the bird gets along with well).
  • If space allows, try housing 6+ finches to a cage. In my experience, I have found that housing more than 6 birds together reduces their ability to single out any one bird from the group.
  • Without overcrowding the cage, place some visual barriers in strategic places to allow finches to hide from one another.5,7 Out of sight is out of mind. Appropriate barriers include burlap squares, nontoxic silk plants, and nontoxic live plants such as those pictured below.
  • If possible, place multiple perches at the same height so that birds will not fight for the highest perch.2

Hibiscus Tiger Lily Dandelion
Tiger Lily
Hibiscs rosa-sinensis Lilium spp. Taraxacum officinalis
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