Parrot Body Language

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Solicitous Behaviors

These include all the more passive ways a parrot asks for attention. If we ignore these, they can lead to more outright demands, such as screaming, or neurotic behaviors that become obsessive, almost ritualistic, habits such as constant flipping or circling in the cage, or toe-tapping, beak wiping, and odd looking head movements. The basic solicitous behaviors include the following:

Food Begging: Recently weaned babies often cry and “baby bob” repeatedly. They sit low on the perch, heads turned up, slightly quivering their wings, with heads bobbing rapidly. This needs to be addressed! Often, newly weaned babies revert after moving to their new home. It’s a good idea to continue regular body weight checks, as anything over a 10% loss is cause for concern. I don’t believe in time-table weaning, and do not feel it is inappropriate to continue, or re-start, hand feeding of young birds. Ask for guidance on how to best handle it

Happiness Behaviors

These are my favorites! They are also the most subtle and most often missed signals that our parrots give us. Learn to recognize them and you’ll enjoy a whole new level of richness in your communications.

Tail Wagging: Often in one on one interactions, you’ll see your bird give his tail a quick “fan” and a vigorous side-to-side shake. This means “I’m content, I’m enjoying myself and feeling quite relaxed!” It’s always a happy sight!

Excitement and or Aggressive Behaviors

Eye pinning: The pupils dilate and constrict rapidly, back and forth, indicating excitement and interest. Definitely means you need to pay attention and look out.

Feather Puffing: The bird fluffs his feathers out all over, but especially the head and neck, and with Cockatoos, the crest is erect. In the wild, birds use this to appear larger, and thus be more intimidating to foes.

Tail Fanning: Especially in Amazons, the bird fans his whole tail out (like a mini-horizontal peacock), again, to appear large and “scary.”

Blushing: Bare-faced birds like Macaws, allow you to visually observe the facial redness that accompanies excitement. (Actually, ALL parrots so this – we just can’t see it through the feathers! Some birds blush a light pink, others (Like my Amber), go a deep red. I find babies blush more than adults, as they experience new things in the world.

Head Bowing: The bird, while puffed up, eye-pinning, tail fanning, and blushing, also lowers his head, stretching out his neck. Often accompanied by a “growling” sort of sound, or with African Greys and Cockatiels, it’s more of a “hissing” sound.

Parrot Sensitivity to Emotion

Parrots are highly empathic – simply put, they feel our emotions. Some might call this statement a classic case of anthropomorphism, but I guarantee you, they’re people who don’t live with birds, as all of us who do have no doubts about our companions capacity for empathy! This is an important factor in dealing with all aspects of sharing your home with a parrot, as it directly affects behavior and is a common undercurrent in behavioral problems. If you feel anger towards a bird, he’s going to pick up on it

Spring Fever

It starts around March and often lasts until June, when things tend to even out again. It’s that time of year again–flowers are blooming, robins are nesting, bees are buzzing–and your sweet companion baby bird is suddenly moody and unpredictable. “Oh no, What do I do? My baby is turning mean!” Luckily it’s not a sign of a “good bird gone bad,” or an indication that you messed up as a bird parent–it’s simply the raging hormones of adolescence. Recognizing “spring fever” for what it is–simply, a transitional hormonal phase young birds go through in adolescence–will greatly ease their stress, as well as yours during this time of year.

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