Home » Can Parrots Die from Stress? (Physical + Behavioral Warnings)
is my parrot stressed?

Can Parrots Die from Stress? (Physical + Behavioral Warnings)

(Last Updated On: September 22, 2023)

Stress is among the most basic emotional responses, which can aid survival in birds. Short bursts of stress, called acute stress, enable parrots to escape dangerous and life-threatening situations.

Unfortunately, chronic, long-term stress can harm parrots’ health and even be fatal.

If the parrot feels threatened or afraid, its body will be flooded with adrenaline. If the parrot produces too much adrenaline, this can lead to adrenal gland fatigue, high blood pressure, and obesity.

These are unlikely to kill the parrot immediately but can cause premature death. This occurs when a parrot is exposed to a constant threat. For example, a cat stalks a parrot constantly.

Stress in Captive Parrots

Wild parrots are surrounded by threats and dangers, which leads to a heightened sense of awareness. They have frequent bursts of adrenaline that give them the energy and reaction time necessary to survive.

Captive parrots rarely face these threats. However, they still have these evolutionary, psychological, and physical tools needed when faced with a real or perceived danger.

This can make parrots jumpy, suspicious, and resistant to change. It can also mean parrots can die from stress due to long-term physical and emotional exposure.

Parrots lack control over their home environments, so they can’t do the following:

  • Fly away from danger.
  • Choose healthier food.
  • Avoid predators.
  • Avoid loud noises like TVs, radios, sirens, and car noises.
  • Find cleaner environments.
  • Choose companions or mates, as they’re not part of a flock.
  • Choose their sleeping patterns.

These expose pet parrots to different kinds of stresses.

How Are Parrots Affected By Stress?

Unless a parrot has heart complications, issues with its adrenal gland, or other health issues, it’s unlikely to die from stress suddenly.

However, if a cat stares the parrot down or stalks it constantly, it’s likely to grow sick. Chronically stressed parrots are more likely to develop illnesses. The negatives of stress include:

  • Weaker immune systems.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Less willing to eat.
  • Difficulty processing nutrients.
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Adrenal gland issues.
  • Heart complications.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Slower recovery from illnesses.

A parrot that’s routinely frightened will have a shorter lifespan.

stressed parrot behavior

Is My Parrot Stressed?

To reduce a parrot’s stress, you must recognize when it’s stressed out. There will be indicators in its body language and habits. For example, a parrot’s feathers can reveal problems.

Physical Signs of Stress in Parrots

Parrots are good at hiding injuries, illness, and fear, but they’ll be difficult to miss in a stressed parrot: 

Stress Bars on Feathers

You can see stress bars. These thin, horizontal lines form across its feathers, running perpendicular to the shaft. The stripes may appear as discoloration or gray blemishes across several feathers.

Long-term stress will affect how a parrot grows its feathers, as it won’t process nutrients efficiently, taking them away to sustain its vital organs.

Feather Loss

A parrot that’s stressed might begin plucking its feathers. As the parrot attempts to self-soothe by preening, it’ll remove feathers.

Eventually, it’ll develop into a compulsive habit and a desire to destroy things to relieve fear or frustration.

Lack of Appetite And Weight Loss

Stressed parrots might refuse to eat or struggle to process nutrients, resulting in weight loss.

You may be unable to tell if the parrot is too thin at a glance. Some parrots have thick feathers, while others are naturally thin. So, check the keel bone to see if it’s too close to the chest.

Behavioral Signs of Stress

Sometimes, only the parrot’s behavior will tell you it’s stressed, including:

Sudden Aggression

If parrots are poorly socialized, spoiled, or hormonal, you may observe an increase in aggression. However, sudden aggression can be a warning sign of stress if the parrot was once friendly.

You may also find the parrot fights with other birds or pets, biting or rebuffing other household members. It could also hiss, scream, and growl at others.

When a parrot shows aggression, it feels scared, threatened, and needs protection. So, it’ll defend itself by trying to be scarier than the perceived threat.

Changes in Vocalization

There’s no such thing as a silent parrot, as even the pionus will squawk, click its tongue, and make other sounds. It’s a negative sign if the parrot refuses to speak, sing, or click its tongue.

Stressed parrots may scream and shriek. If flapping wings and hissing accompany this, it signifies the parrot is terrified. Even if there’s no obvious threat or danger, it may scream at all times.

Nervous And Repetitive Behavior

Stressed parrots repeat behavior as a nervous tic. This will verge on obsessive, with the parrot:

  • Toe-tapping.
  • Rocking its head back and forth.
  • Pacing back and forth.
  • Knocking on items.

The parrot is stressed out if these behaviors are paired with a refusal to eat or aggression.

How To Reduce Stress in Parrots

If the parrot exhibits some of the above symptoms, you must identify the cause of stress. Here are common stress points for parrots:


The parrot may feel overwhelmed by the people or animals in its space. If you recently introduced a new parrot to its cage, the original parrot may feel crowded and stressed.

Likewise, inviting guests who talk loudly, interact with the bird, or move about a lot can unsettle the parrot. Even forcing the parrot to dance, talk, and interact with you for too long can stress it.

Although parrots live in flocks and need socialization, they can get overwhelmed. If the parrot keeps trying to leave or hide, let it spend time in its cage by itself for a while.

Sudden Frights

Wild parrots interpret sudden sounds, movements, and touch as a threat. For this reason, parrots seldom react well to sudden frights. Parrots can be startled by the following:

  • Barking dogs.
  • Screaming from a child.
  • Honking cars.
  • Sirens.
  • Dropped objects.
  • Pet activity.
  • Fireworks.

Keep the parrot away from windows near the street. Don’t put the parrot in with the home theater if you’re playing loud or busy action movies.

If you have an energetic toddler or pet, keep them separate from the parrot. Even something that whizzes by, such as a dart fired from a Nerf gun, could unsettle the parrot.

New Toys or Cages

Parrots are easily upset by change. If you place a new toy in its cage, the parrot might think it’s a predator. This can cause them to retreat to the far edge of the cage, scream, or attack the toy.

A new cage can stress out a parrot because this is a place of retreat where it feels unsafe. If you suddenly transition it to a new space, the parrot will feel unsettled, insecure, and uncertain about its surroundings.

The parrot may be unable to sleep, unwilling to go into the cage, and afraid.

Changing Surroundings

Even if you keep the parrot’s items steady and familiar, it can get upset about changes.

For example, painting a wall a different color, changing furniture, or rearranging your home is enough. The reaction may be more severe if you move home or the parrot is newly adopted.

The parrot won’t recognize its surroundings and may see them as unsettling. This can leave them disturbed and uncertain. In the wild, such drastic changes rarely occur.


A dog that barks, a puppy that runs around at high speeds, or other birds that screech and dance may stress a parrot. However, the most stressful animal is cats, as jaguars are a natural enemy of parrots.

A cat may sit near the cage and stare at the parrot. This may seem benign as the cat isn’t technically doing anything wrong, but it harms a parrot’s mental well-being.

The parrot knows the cage prevents it from flying away and that the cat may attack at any moment.

Yelling And Aggression

Parrots don’t react well to loud human voices. Even though parrots live in large, noisy flocks, these sounds register differently.

Parrots are adept at reading body language and tone, so speaking in a comforting voice is encouraged when interacting with parrots.

Staying Caged Or Limited

A parrot shouldn’t be left in its cage constantly. Also, your living space may be insufficient for the parrot to explore if you live in a small apartment. A parrot may grow stressed if it can’t:

  • Stretch its wings.
  • Move from place to place.
  • Spend time with you.
  • Mimic foraging behavior.
  • Engage in new activities.

The University of Guelph noted abnormal behavior in captive parrots. Even if parrots were given some freedom, they’d rebel if it didn’t match what their instincts demanded.

In contrast, wild roaming parrots showed little abnormal behavior. A parrot that wasn’t given enough space to forage became so frustrated that it resorted to self-mutilation.

A parrot can’t be left in its cage or a small living space constantly; it needs to move around, see new sights, and spend time with others. Otherwise, the parrot may resort to destructive behavior.

stress in captive parrots

Too Little Sleep

Parrots need to sleep consistently; if they don’t, they become stressed, frustrated, angry, and self-destructive. For the most part, nightlights and sudden noises keep parrots awake.

The parrot needs light if it’s prone to night frights, which happens when it awakens from a nightmare or is startled by outside noise.

However, if the parrot has no such issue, the night light may keep it awake. According to the University of Antwerp, night lights can disrupt a parrot’s sleep cycle.

Excessive Heat

High temperatures cause undue stress on a parrot’s body, especially larger birds with more muscle mass. Since parrots don’t have sweat glands, they cool off with the following:

  • Water.
  • Shade.
  • Wind.
  • Fast respirations.

Parrots thrive at 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If they’re constantly exposed to high temperatures, they’ll grow stressed. If you live in a much warmer climate, monitor the parrot for signs of overheating.

Parrots can die from stress if their owners don’t provide solutions soon enough. Parrots are hyper-aware and cautious of their surroundings. By resolving any stress points, you can keep a parrot healthy.