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Chances are, if you have a bird, then you’ve probably had them trying to bite your mouth or lip off before! The result is ALWAYS nasty! You may start to wonder: “why does my bird bite my mouth?!”. I was so curious about this that I did some extensive research on this topic from forums and found an answer. Here’s what I found:
Birds like to bite human mouths and lips because of the following reasons:
- To express their desire to bond with their owner
- To indicate their desire to be fed from their parents’ beaks
- To feed their bonded mate beak to beak
- To preen their bonded mate
- To express irritation and frustration
Birds are wonderful little creatures, but when they bite or peck us on the lip, it can be extremely painful and traumatizing. In this article, you’ll find out more about the reasons why birds bite our mouths, followed by some answers to other FAQs. Read on!
Why Does My Bird Bite My Mouth?
Birds are somehow obsessed with biting our mouths. It’s almost that they have an intention to rip it all off! The worst part is that it hurts really bad all of a sudden! You’re probably really curious as to why this happens.
No worries, I’ll be running you through all the reasons I compiled from my research here, so you will fully understand what’s the rationale behind their behavior! However, if you’re also curious why birds like to pick at teeth, check out this article I wrote.
Here are the 4 reasons why birds like to bite our mouths:
1. To Express Desire to Bond With Their Owner/Mate
If you’ve brought up your pet bird since it was young, it’s likely that it has been tamed by you for its whole life. It’s only normal for them to express some desire for affection and bonding to you once in a while! However, out in the wild, birds can only do this by gently nipping or picking at each other’s beaks.
When it comes to us humans, we are a little different. We are non-feathered, overgrown, protective, lack-of-a-beak parents! We don’t have any hard beaks to nibble and nip at each other. Despite this, birds still attempt to nip at our mouths (most similar to beaks) to show their affection for us.
However, this gentle nipping and biting of mouths and lips are done gently and without aggression with no ill intent. Birds simply do it show affection naturally! If your bird bites hard, then it could be due to another reason.
2. To Express Desire To Be Fed From Their Parents’ Beaks
In natural settings, young birds may nip at parent bird beaks to show their desire to be fed directly from their parents’ beaks. However, with pet birds being tamed by humans, the birds now have no chance to do so. By targeting humans’ mouths instead of beaks, they bite humans’ mouths for this reason.
Here’s a video of how birds are being fed by parent birds in the wild:
3. To Feed Their Bonded Mate Beak To Beak
Beyond showing affection and receiving food from their parents, birds also feed from their bonded mate’s beak from time to time. For birds like lovebirds, this is more common as the bonded male-female pair can practice this habit, even if they live in the same cage and not in the wild.
When birds can find no other substitute for a beak in humans, they target our mouths. This could be a natural way that birds interact with their bonded mates and an expression of a bird’s desire to be feed from you.
4. To Preen Their Bonded Mate
Birds also can use their beaks to preen their bonded mate. Sometimes, your bird can interpret you as a bonded mate, and begin to use their beak to pick at your mouth like how they would do so for their bird partners.
Birds typically help each other preen and clean up after meals to stay clean. This could be an attempt for the bird to look out for you and take care of you.
Here’s a video of birds preening and pecking each other:
5. To Express Irritation and Frustration
Lastly, if your bird bite is extremely painful and caused an injury, it is most likely due to this. Birds have different types of temperaments and body language, that if not interpreted well, can lead to some serious lip or mouth injuries. I have read that in some forums, there have been owners who are so upset by this.
It’s always a risk to let your bird go near your face because you never know how they will react because not everyone is used to reading a bird’s body language.
(a) Birds Act On Instinct
Birds typically act on instinct. This means that if a bird is sitting on your shoulder, there could be something that could make the bird feel stressed or in a panic mode, causing them to bite hard at the nearest appendage on your face. This could be your ears, nose, or even at the most painful location: your lips.
(b) Birds Are Territorial
Birds can be very territorial about their cage and objects. This is a natural instinct to defend their nest/roosting spot when out in the wild. If, for example, if you happen to touch an object that they love, or approach their cage when they are a little grumpy, it could be an opportunity for them to bite your face/mouth hard to defend it.
Birds can also feel threatened when another bird of the same gender is around. This is especially so for female birds that become more sensitive to the presence of other birds during mating season.
However, with training and persistence from owners, many owners have overcome the problem of biting. Here’s a video to help you out if you have a problem with your bird constantly biting you:
Why Does My Bird Nibble On My Lips?
Birds nibble on lips to either get their owners’ attention or to express their affection to their owners. However, if birds nibble harder on their owner’s lips, they could be stressed about something in their surroundings.
Why Is My Birds Obsessed With My Mouth?
Birds are obsessed with their owner’s mouths because it is similar to beaks in birds. Birds can use their beaks to nibble, bite, and nip at their owner’s mouths to express affection, express desire to bond, show territorial dominance, express being stressed, and even express their desire to be fed.
Why Does My Bird Bite My Lip?
Birds like to bite their owner’s lips because it is similar to beaks in birds. Birds can use their beaks to nibble, bite, and nip at their owner’s mouths to express affection, express desire to bond, show territorial dominance, express being stressed, and even express their desire to be fed.
Why Does My Budgie Nibble My Mouth?
Budgies like to nibble their owner’s mouth because it is similar to beaks in birds. Budgies can use their beaks to nibble, bite, and nip at their owner’s mouths to express affection, express desire to bond, show territorial dominance, express being stressed, and even express their desire to be fed.
Now you know how birds express themselves with their beaks, it’s actually quite obvious for birds to nibble, nip, and bite our mouths and lips.
However, this can lead to serious injuries for us, so we should avoid getting birds too up close to our faces or train them well not to bite. I hope you’ve learned something from reading this article – thanks for reading!
My Recommended Birding Resources:
Hey there, Justin here!
Here’s a list of all my favorite resources, products, and brands I trust and love.
Safe Paint for Bird Baths Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting bird baths.
Safe Sealers for Bird Baths Guide: Learn which sealers are safe for bird baths.
Safe Paint for Bird Feeders Guide: Learn what special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint.
Safe Paint for Birdhouses Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting birdhouses. (Not the same as bird baths!)
Bird Identification Apps Guide: 2 of my favorite birding apps are Merlin Bird ID, and eBird Mobile! Merlin is great for tracking and identifying birds, and eBird Mobile is great for tracking the birds sighted when birding.
Check out my resources page for the full list of resources I recommend!
Justin is the founder and author of Birding Outdoors. He is a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumnus with a Bachelor of Biological Sciences and a former data analyst.
Now, Justin runs the Birding Outdoors blog full-time, hoping to share his deep love for birds, birding, and nature with others.
To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.