Q: I have a little green-cheeked conure, and she will sometimes chew on clothes when you are not paying attention to her. Recently, she has started destroying clothes. We sometimes let her in our dresser, and she climbs down into other drawers and has chewed up jeans and other clothes. It seems like she’s getting worse. Does anyone else’s pet bird do this?
A: Your pet conure is doing what comes naturally. Parrots, especially females, love to root around in anything that can be shredded and used for nesting material, and doing so can increase her breeding behavior.
My best advice is to shut the drawers so she can’t play in your drawers or keep her on a stand where she can’t reach chewables. It is also normal for parrots to chew on clothes, and many people solve this problem by having special clothes that they wear that the bird can chew on.
Can we stop these behaviors? Every time we tell the pet bird to stop the behavior, we can actually increase the problem by providing the bird with attention and drama. In situations like this, it is best to avoid or manage the situation than to try to change the pet bird’s natural behaviors.
I talked to a woman who had a conure that chewed on the kitchen cupboards. She wanted to train the bird to leave them alone. Chewing and exploring is so natural for healthy parrots that the solution was to move the cage so he couldn’t reach the cupboards and give the conure a lot more wood to chew on in the cage and on his playgym.