Is masturbation in birds ok?

Is it ok to let my bird masturbate on a toy?

Masturbation is a normal activity for captive birds and to some degree, a harmless activity. However, any bird engaging in masturbation is a bird with elevated hormonal levels and as talked about in many previous postings, hormonal activity is best discouraged in non-breeding pet birds.

In a male, masturbation is usually a non-invasive, non-offensive activity (although I did have one client who told me her budgie liked to sit on her glasses and masturbate on her nose!!) and often does not go further than the act itself. However, hormonal male birds can become territorial and aggressive with regards to the specific toy or the cage
that it is in.

Females that masturbate may not only act aggressively, but can become hormonal enough to start egg laying. Both sexes can obsessively regurgitate to the chosen object.

Based on the basic principle of trying to direct pet bird behavior towards flock activity rather than pair bonding, masturbation should be discouraged. Remove the toy – or, in
the case of the wee budgie, take off your glasses!!

Respectfully submitted,
Dr. Kerry Korber
Calgary Avian & Exotic Pet Clinic