The loud noises of thunder and sudden flashes of lightning can be terrifying for some pet parrots. When a storm arrives, the change in environmental conditions can startle and scare birds.
The reaction of pet birds to storms varies. Some parrots fear loud thunderclaps, leading to fearful vocalizations, stereotypies, loss of appetite, and stress.
However, thunderstorms excite other parrots because it signifies that food will soon be abundant and the breeding season is approaching.
When thunderstorms occur, scared parrots must be kept comfortable so they don’t panic and harm themselves or experience long-term psychological damage.
Do Parrots Get Scared of Storms?
Research suggests that parrots can detect when storms and bad weather are coming. The Journal of Experimental Biology explains how birds alter their behavior based on ambient pressure changes.
Parrots can detect barometric pressure declines before a storm (thunder, lightning, and heavy rain) arrives. As a result, parrots can detect storms, preventing them from becoming fearful.
Storm detection can have the opposite effect, as parrots will ready themselves for danger. Some parrots may show signs of stress before the storm arrives.
Do Parrots Get Scared of Thunder?
Much depends on the parrot’s personality regarding whether it becomes afraid of thunder.
Parrots sensitive to noise won’t like loud thunderclaps. More confident parrots with untroubled pasts (no owner abuse) are less likely to be fazed by the experience.
Many wild parrots live in rainforests, where storms are relatively common. So, they’re accustomed to the sound of thunder and aren’t bothered by the sudden change.
During the monsoon season in Australia, rainy, stormy weather signifies that food will soon be available. Warm, wet conditions provide the perfect ecosystem for plant growth, which parrots need to thrive.
These plants also support insect life, providing food for parrots whose diets consist of insects.
Consequently, thunder can be seen as a positive thing for parrots because the weather it accompanies provides parrots with the sustenance needed to survive and grow the species.
Thunder signifies that breeding season is about to commence. In the Amazon rainforest, the rainy season is from February to early March.
During this period, parrots become sexually mature and experience hormone surges that ready their bodies for nesting and laying eggs. Therefore, parrots may react to thunder by vocalizing as they’re excited about the commencement of the breeding season.
Do Parrots Get Scared of Lightning?
Some parrots have no problem coping with lightning and may not even notice the sky lighting up. Other birds will be confused about what lightning means and become unsettled.
Wild parrots understand that lightning means thunder, wind, and rain. To avoid being too elevated, where the weather can whip around them, they’ll shelter or enter tree hollows where parrots nest.
In dense rainforests and woodlands, lightning causes fires, which can destroy large sections of the forest. Therefore, many parrots are on high alert when lightning strikes should they need to flee for safety.
Do Parrots Mind Loud Noises?
Pet parrots accustomed to a noisy living environment will likely cope better with these sounds. However, birds that live in a quiet, peaceful home may feel unsettled by the experience.
The hearing ability of parrots is comparable to a 60-year-old man. Parrots can hear noises relatively well, so they’ll be troubled by them if they’re sudden and loud.
How To Tell If A Parrot Is Scared of Thunder?
Parrots scared of thunder may show symptoms before and after the storm:
Noises And Vocalizations
Some parrots will scream or hiss. If a parrot is usually quiet, excessive vocalization signifies a problem. Similarly, if you have a noisy parrot that’s gone silent, it’s upset by the loud thunderclaps.
When scared by a storm’s sudden noises and flashes, parrots instinctively flap their wings frantically and seek to escape their cage, possibly harming themselves.
Storm-affected parrots may avoid handling, even from bonded owners. The parrot’s behavior will be temporarily changed as an act of defensiveness and self-preservation.
Puffed Up Feathers
Parrots fluff their feathers when scared to make themselves appear larger and more threatening. Parrots confronted by predators usually do it to appear larger, but it’s also a natural reaction to fear.
When parrots are stressed by thunder, they may puff up their feathers. This can be a fear-based reaction or a response to falling temperatures the storm introduces.
Fearful parrots may perform abnormal repetitive behaviors, called stereotypies. So, if you see a bird pacing, rocking, spinning, or head bobbing, it’s adversely affected by a storm.
Feather picking only affects captive parrots, not wild birds.
Not only do parrots pluck feathers from the skin, but they dig into the skin with their beaks. Very stressed parrots may harm their muscle and bones, causing lasting damage to these areas.
According to the Exotic Animal Veterinary Center, self-mutilation can be life-threatening.
It’s most commonly observed in lovebirds, cockatoos, African greys, and Eclectus parrots. Once self-mutilation begins, stopping it after the thunderstorm (or stress trigger) ends is difficult.
Loss of Appetite
Scared parrots may refuse to eat because they’ll be unable to focus on anything other than their fear. Usually, a parrot will regain its appetite shortly after the thunderstorm has ended.
Stress bars are small lines that run horizontally across the feather shaft. If a parrot is in the process of molting, which commonly happens in spring, the development of feathers can be hindered.
When a parrot is stressed, essential nutrients will be drawn from new feathers to sustain its organs. Consequently, the feather structure, especially the barbs, will be compromised.
Once the feather has formed, the damage won’t be reversed until the next molt occurs. So, the only way to avoid stress bars in birds is to remove the triggers.
How To Keep Parrots Calm During A Thunderstorm?
Some of the most effective ways to calm a parrot during a storm include:
If the thunderstorm is accompanied by lightning, keep the parrot’s cage away from the window where it can’t see lightning flashes. If you have them, blackout curtains will keep the room dark.
If you don’t have blackout curtains, move the cage to a room with small windows to minimize exposure. Alternatively, you could place a blanket over part of the parrot’s cage.
Provide toys and games to occupy the parrot, and check on it to ensure it’s feeling alright.
When thunderstorms are raging, play calming music for the parrot to distract it from what’s happening and drown out the unwanted noise.
Also, white noise machines provide natural background sounds that make parrots feel more at ease.
Stay Near The Parrot
Parrots that prefer human company will appreciate your presence when a thunderstorm arrives. During the storm, remain in the parrot’s room and engage together so it stays calm.
If the parrot realizes you’re not afraid, it should feel less scared. Conversely, the parrot will sense this if you show fear, leading to heightened anxiety.
Read a book to the parrot, or turn on the TV and watch it together to take its mind off things.
Dried chamomile or chamomile tea is believed to soothe stressed parrots. It can even help birds sleep and prevent them from feather picking or other negative behaviors.
If a parrot displays destructive behaviors brought on by stress, place some warm chamomile tea into a shallow dish for the parrot to drink.
While wild parrots know what thunderstorms mean, pet parrots may be unfamiliar with the loud claps of thunder. If so, comfort the parrot. Once the storm has ended, most parrots’ behavior normalizes.