Asks Wendy Marchant, from Cambridge
Laurence Beeken replies: My first answer is always to give him a pastry overcoat – but that doesn’t really help does it, and I know it’s not big or clever…
Your solution to the problem lies in understanding why he acts so aggressively in the first place, strutting around like the Lord of the Manor. Well, in effect, this is what he is; he is guarding his harem and looking out for contenders to his throne. If you approach, invariably his hackles raise and wings are elevated slightly, and, just before he attacks, he will jump at you sideways often with a guttural squawk and slash with his spurs – and, believe me, this hurts with the larger birds.
Some keepers think that the best way to stop this is to plan your own offensive and mimic his behaviour. Well, this may work for some… besides, like the school bully, I think retaliation will just encourage him.
Personally, the method I have found to work well is to clamp your (gloved) hand over him when he is close, and it can be done easily with practice, flattening him down at the shoulders to prompt the reflex hunch, and then pick him up (see photo above); this confuses him and diffuses the aggression and, if you walk around with him tucked under your arm, I’m sure he will find it embarrassing and forget all about what he was getting so aerated about in the first place (remember to wear a good thick shirt, though, as the little b…….s do like pecking exposed skin and then twisting …. Ouch!)