Whether your budgie bites you, your guests or himself, he may have one of several reasons for his erratic behavior. Stress, boredom and even sickness can all explain his tendency to nip, so it's up to you to pay attention and determine what triggers a snap of the beak.
Keep track of what triggers your budgie to bite humans. For example, maybe he only bites strangers, or maybe he bites anyone who tries to hold him. While budgies are social creatures, not every single one of them enjoys perching on humans. Similarly, a budgie who feels comfortable being held by you may be apprehensive about a stranger—or someone he sees as competition for your affection. If this is the case, teach your budgie that strangers are nothing to be afraid of by having them offer him treats.
Watch for the warning signs that your budgie might bite. Your bird will usually bite as a last resort, not a first, so look for signs that he wants to be left alone. He'll usually fluff up his feathers if he feels ready to bite. Don't forget that the eyes are a window to the soul: if your bird's pupils are dilating and constricting back and forth, he may be a little too excited too approach.
Give your bird rest before approaching him. Just like anyone else, budgies can get cranky when they haven't had enough sleep. Make sure that he gets a solid 12 hours of uninterrupted rest per day, or else he'll be irritated enough to take it out on you with his beak.
Acclimate the bird to your presence before trying to hold him. If your budgie simply isn't trained, biting is his natural response to anything he deems threatening, especially creatures as large as a human. Show him that you mean no harm by hanging out with him, even when he's in the cage. Something as simple as watching TV or reading next to your caged budgie can help him understand that you aren't a threat. Gradually move on to putting your hand in the cage without prompting him to step on, then gently press your finger against his stomach or breast to encourage him to step up and perch on your finger. It may take weeks or even months to get your budgie's courage up, so if he nips you here and there along the way, be patient.
Take your bird to the vet if he bites himself. Feather-picking and self-mutilation are signs of either mental distress or a physical ailment, so it's best to rule out illnesses like infections before addressing psychological factors. If your budgie bites too much for you to grab him and take him to the vet, gently wrap him in a towel to keep him constricted.
Inspect your bird's environment to make sure that he is in a calming place. Budgies can bite themselves when they feel anxiety, which may be caused by environmental factors like noise. Even placing the cage next to an open window can make your budgie feel threatened by the sights and sounds of the outdoors. But you don't want your budgie to get bored either. Keep his cage stocked with toys to keep his mind active, and rotate them out every two weeks or so. Budgies are smart and crave stimulation, so occupying him with toys and taking him out for regular socializing and playtime are crucial to staving off the boredom that can drive him to bite.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.