african grey horomone and training issues


New member
Jan 19, 2021
african grey about 20 years old
for context, i have a rescue african grey parrot. we saved him from emotionally neglectful owners and he has made an excelent recovery. I have bonded with him and he has learned slowly to be more comfortable around my hands and he lets me rub his head and work around his cage without fear. he is almost 20 years old.

recently i have noticed he has been making "horny noises" when i do my daily round of playing with him and trying to train him to step up on my hands.

what exactly should i do? will it pass over time? what are signs of presenting? he hasent been showing vent rubbing behaviour, but i am worried about doing something wrong and causing sexual frustration in my bird. (note: we dont know what gender he is. we never got him tested)

another thing, how exactly do i go about teaching him to step up? i understand its harder to train older birds and i am more than willing to be patient with him. i would like him to learn to step up so it will be easier to care for him and do things with him.

help is appreciated! :grey:


Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
If you are sure it is hormonal, I would distance yourself long enough for him to cool down when it happens. I have just started flat out saying, "no sex with you" and walking away...probably not the best thing to say to a Grey, given their ability to mimic in such a like-like way lol!!! BUT, my bird is hormonal lately and when I walk up to her, if she starts shivering and doing that eye twitch that she does, I just say no nicely and walk off. Same with if I'm holding her and it happens--- I try to change the subject to something silly, set her down and walk away if it continues.

Step-up comes, in-part with time. If your bird already trusts you a lot and you think he just genuinely doesn't get it, try "target training". You can look that up as a phrase.

make sure your bird has no access to shadowy spaces in/around the cage...if he does, remove him when he is not looking if it is something he will notice.


Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
Full house
Its very common for neglected parrots to over react and get emotional when they finally get attention. They want to put a ring on it !! This will pass. Don't make him feel rejected. Over time you can redirect and praise other behavior.

Try target training. Work on trust. Don't focus on step up let evolve naturally, that worked for me and a hand shy bird took 2 months. Used the phrase come here, instead of step up as he has a negativeassociation with step up as a phrase as well. .


Staff member
Super Moderator
Parrot of the Month 🏆
Nov 22, 2015
Isle of Long, NY
Yellow Shoulder Amazon, Salty
The horney stuff you have an answer to above - all good advice. Training - greys are so smart that once you get your rapport with him, he can learn quickly. Training cues should be clear and consistent. I use the same phrase and a hand motion for a given trick or action every time, so he doesn't get confused. Reward should be immediate so the bird knows that what he did was right. If your doing a work in progress (like step up), you reward when there is any movement in the right direction, even just a little. If your grey has a favorite treat, like small bits of walnuts, almond slivers, I use small pieces of pine nuts, and that becomes your training treat and only training. If you can set up a routine for these training sessions, clear a training area, get your props and treats organized, make a big deal about it, your Grey will eventually come to these sessions ready to learn new things.

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