Corella Discipline


New member
Dec 8, 2017
Hello, very recently my boyfriend got a pet Corella. When I would play with him, he would occasionally bite or squawk loudly at me, so I'd give him a little tap on the head (I've owned dogs for years and this is common practise for dog owners). But I recently found out this is a big no-no for birds, and now he's scared of me. Whenever I get too close to him he flies away, or runs away from me, and sometimes hides under furniture. He has also begun to just sit in one place for hours on end. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated, I just want to be able to love and play with the lil guy again.
Yours truly- CorellaGirl
It's really good you're reaching out for help.

you're right, never hit a bird. you're lucky the flight instinct went over the fight instinct or you could very easily have been getting some stitches.

A dog and a parrot are nothing alike. A dog thinks the world of you and lives for your approval, a parrot does not need your approval, they do what they want when they want. Also remember that dogs are truly domestic now through millions of years of conditioning, parrots have only been kept in homes for the past few hundred years, and only humanely kept for about 50 or so years and as such are still 100% wild.

You have broken any trust that was there so you need to prove you're trustworthy. Guess what, birds squawk so telling him off for doing what his instincts tell him is pretty unfair on him. If he is biting then he was made to bite, you didn't listen to his communication. You need to reset your relationship and go back to simply talking to him inside his cage, slowly work at his pace to let him know you're not going to hurt him because right now he thinks you punish him for no reason. There's no correlation between his and your actions in his head. Offer treats and work with him. The only "punishment" that ever works is a time-out, if he does something naughty you say "no" calmly and place him either on the floor or a back of a chair and completely ignore him for about a minute. At that point the lesson is over and you go back to fun. Discipline is something that just doesn't work for a bird, it needs to be a lesson for them about what they can and can't do, much as they learn in the wild.

Shouting will never work as for a parrot noise=fun, hence why a happy parrot is rarely a quiet parrot.

Always remember though that a bite will happen and you cannot fault him for it. It's never the fault of the parrot, he was made to bite for a reason only he will know.
Cockatoos respond best to love, patience, and consistency. The "reset" LordTriggs suggested has a good chance of success as they are sociable parrots. Start from a bird-in-cage as security stance and work at your Corella's pace. There are many techniques for bonding and developing trust, including softly reading, using a tasty reward for positive behavior such as bit of almond or walnut as treat, and the use of "clicker training." Two threads may offer guidance:
Corella Girl,

Yeah, hitting is a a no-no, there was no trust to begin with, now unfortunately, you may never get it now. Good things is most humans learn from their mistakes.

You need to start slow now, try just dropping one of his favorites treats in his bowl for awhile, hopefully over time he will associate that your presence around his cage is not to do him any harm. This may take a long time to accomplish, but be patient, most cockatoo's want human interaction.

I had a similar problem when I adopted Daisy (a Lesser Sulphur Crest Cockatoo), she was very close with her former owner & the first night I got her she was on top of her cage, I had seen video's of her playing with her former owner so I approached the cage, put my hand out for her to perch & got bit, now having 2 other cockatoos for a few years, I knew what to do, I gave her space to get used to her new home, took a few days, I let her see me playing with Holly & Stewie & she came around, but like I said she was tame with her former owner, so I knew she would come around when she got comfortable.

Give him time & be patient.

Now a couple of questions for you:

where did you get him from?
how old is he?
If you adopted him were his former owner(s) able to handle him?
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I've had dogs all my life and it is not common for me to tap my dog on the head as discipline. Dogs live to please their humans and all you have to do is express unhappiness with something they've done.

Parrots are entirely different. They don't care if you're happy with their behavior or not. I have an umbrella cockatoo, a mature male, and it's a matter of communication. He yells and shrieks sometimes. I don't like that. He doesn't care. But if he gets what he wants, he stops screaming. If he bites -- and with me, his chosen person, he doesn't bite so much as pinch, just a warning shot across the bow -- I say, "No chomping mama!" and TOUCH (not tap, not hit, just a gentle touch) his beak so he connects the words with the action. He'll stop and look at me and I immediately say "That's a good boy" (because he stopped). It took months and months and months for him to understand what I wanted, and the more he trusts me, the gentler those pinches are. Often he doesn't even actually pinch, he just touches my arm with his beak, and it's always because he's warning me of something. He hears a noise, he wants me to take him to his newspaper to poop, I've bumped against a sensitive blood feather accidentally. With cockatoos especially, you have to constantly work to gain and keep their trust. This is a 2-year-old who can't communicate clearly any other way than biting and squawking if something is upsetting him. You have to figure out what it is, and you have to fix it. So as others have said, start over. Go slow. Follow his lead.
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Hello LordTriggs, thanks for the advice and for replying to my post, I understand quite a bit more than I did. I'm still just unsure how to proceed from here? He's quite often out of his cage, so he just flies away squawking any time I try to get close to gently chat to him (as a reference, how long should he spend out of his cage every day?) Also, you said a loud parrot is a happy parrot, he often sits in one spot making no noise and only sometimes says 'hello' when someone enters the room? Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Scott’s post has some great links - those are a couple of fantastic threads. See, parrots aren’t domesticated animals. Dogs, cats, cows, and horses are examples of domesticated animals that have lived with humans for millennia. Over that time, the tamest wolves evolved into dogs, to the point where dogs accept humans as pack mates - and hopefully the human is the alpha dog. Dogs observe their favored humans and will work for no more reward than the human’s praise.

Parrots are not domesticated, only tame. They haven’t been raised with humans for millennia. They are still poached, captured in the wild, in many places. Many parrots bred in captivity are only one or two generations away from a wild caught parent. Their wild behaviors and instincts are fully intact. They will work for reward, but they don’t seem to consider human praises a reward. They are more likely to respond to food bribes, and sometimes attention - that’s where a lot of screaming comes from. Bird screams, people fuss to make it stop, bird learns that screaming creates entertaining drama and attention. The only way to extinguish an unwanted behavior is to ignore it. If bird is screaming for attention, leave the room instantly. Wait out of sight until the bird is quiet or making a nicer noise, then come and praise or reward it. Parrots are really smart, and they will get you trained in a hurry!

Member Sailboat says “It’s never the fault of the parrot. It’s always the fault of the human.” It’s true, the parrot will let you know exactly what it wants and it’s up to you to figure it out with your big human brain. You can do it!

There are some great books - “The Second Hand Parrot” is great. Also “The Comoanion Parrot Handbook” which is still available from the author and shows up online from time to time. “Parrots for Dummies” is great. The more you read, the more it will start to click. Pull up a chair near the bird and read to them out loud.
It is well worth the effort to win the heart of your Corella. They are somewhat similar to Goffins and are delightful little clowns and great cuddlers.

While they are not domesticated companions as previously posted, it is possible to earn a lasting bond. One of my female Goffins was wild caught and is in some ways more gentle than her 3 offspring. I believe there is a threshold of trust that when reached, is lifelong.
Yep, never use punishment for fear or agression. Punishing a fearful animal (most agression is due to fear) makes them more fearful, and punishing an aggressive animal who is aggressive NOT due to fear makes them angrier, thus leading to more aggression. As others have said, the corella was aggressive towards you because he was scared and was forced to bite because you ignored his body language. Now, he's too afraid to let you go anywhere near him.

My advice would be not to go near him. Before entering the room, announce your presence. While in the room, hum and sing (silence makes birds uncomfortable, since it usually means a predator is nearby). Sit a good distance away from him, and let him come to you. Animals in captivity have very little control over their lives, which makes them stressed and anxious. By letting him come to you, you've given him control over the situation which will make him calmer and increase his confidence.

When you're in the room with him, calmly look at him for a moment, then blink slowly, holding your eyes closed for a few seconds before opening them again, and repeat (depending on how comfortable he is with this, you might want to do this for less than 10 seconds). This shows him that you are calm and don't intend to cause trouble, and that you trust him (by closing your eyes for so long, you're leaving yourself vulnerable).

Basically, pretend he suffers from severe autism. No sudden movements, no sudden sounds, only make brief eye contact, don't overstimulate him, etc.

What I find really helps is reading to them. Get a children's book, sit at least 4' away from him, and read to him like you would a child (just make sure you don't scare him). I also encourage you to find out what music he likes. Play different songs for him, and see what he's interested in. If he starts bobbing his head, swaying, and "singing", odds are he enjoys the song. Try:

Stuttering by Fefe Dobson
Let the Bodies Hit the Floor
Cotton Eye Joe
Lets Get it Started by the Black Eyes Peas
Everytime We Touch
Come With Me Now
Mr. Taxi by Girls' Generation
Völlig Losgelöst
Well I'm much less a cockatoo expert than others here like Scott ETC haha.

Just sit on the couch and talk to them wherever they are, no need to be right up next to them. It's going to take you months, maybe even over a year but as long as you take your time she could very well come around.

As for noise, they don't make noise 24/7 but you can hear when they're having a good play, and so can the surrounding area! They have vocalizations for fear and for boredom too. You just need to learn what noises are what with yours

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