Last Updated on: 21st November 2023, 10:32 am
Parrots experience a broad spectrum of emotions. They react instinctively to situations, and their mood dictates their response. This means we should never underestimate parrots’ emotional intelligence.
Although parrots have tear ducts, they don’t cry tears when sad, unhappy, or upset. Instead, parrots express their feelings and emotions through their behaviors and vocalizations.
Parrots can’t communicate their feelings through tears, so we must understand the signs. They grow noisy, pluck their feathers, self-mutilate, and experience inappetence when grieving.
Can Parrots Shed Tears?
In a study on Science Focus, researchers looked into how tears worked in various animals, including owls, hawks, tortoises, sea turtles, and macaws.
It was found that their tears have similarities to ours and are made up of water, sodium, calcium, urea, chloride, and proteins. Parrot tears have similar electrolyte levels to human tears.
While parrots have tear ducts, they don’t shed tears to show their emotions. Birds’ eyes comprise a higher percentage of their head in weight and size.
Their eyes are larger, compensating for their lighter skeletons to assist with flight. Therefore, parrots shed tears to protect their eyes from dirt and debris while flying.
Eye problems are a cause of excessive eye wateriness. If a parrot develops an eye condition, it’ll secrete tears due to discomfort or when the body attempts to remove foreign bodies.
Some of the common parrot eye issues include:
- Bacterial and fungal infections.
- Trauma or injury.
- Foreign body.
- Psittacosis (parrot fever).
Never mistake a parrot’s tears for crying because it could have a medical condition.
Do Parrots Have Emotions?
Parrots are capable of experiencing a spectrum of emotions similar to humans.
Many owners report that their parrots respond to emotional cues. This is anthropomorphism, where humans attribute their characteristics to certain parrot behaviors.
A parrot’s emotional range is more primal than ours, and they can’t experience empathy, sympathy, or other complex emotions, so parrots don’t cry.
Parrots show their emotions through other instinctual behaviors, including:
- Sharing food through regurgitation.
- Crouching and other body language cues.
- Biting and lunging.
This isn’t an exhaustive list because birds communicate their emotions subtly.
Why Do Parrots Make Crying Noises?
As parrots don’t cry, they vocalize their emotions by making unpleasant sounds. This is the easiest way to tell if the parrot is sad, scared, or lonely.
Here are the likely emotions the parrot feels when making such sounds:
Worry triggers various vocalizations and behaviors in parrots. They don’t cry but scream and squawk to warn their kin of danger. This could be due to:
- Aggressive pets.
- Overzealous children.
- Bright lights at night.
- Unfamiliar sounds.
- Insects and bugs around the cage.
Night frights can occur when parrots are spooked by something they see or hear at night. Putting a sheet or cover over the cage at night can make parrots feel more comfortable.
Parrots grieve when they lose companions. They mourn the loss of a mate, owner, or friend. Parrots form strong bonds with flock members, and their owner is part of their group.
When someone close to them dies, their behavior differs. Signs of grief include:
- Reluctance to leave the cage.
- Change in sleeping habits.
- Loss of appetite.
- Lack of interest in toys, play, and activities.
- Change in vocalizations (e.g., talking less than usual or screaming).
- Aggression and irritability.
- Stereotypic behaviors (pacing, head-bobbing, toe-tapping).
It could take days or weeks before they recover.
Even the smallest things can trigger unhappiness, so monitor the parrot’s mood to make positive changes. Various things can make a parrot depressed, including:
- Poor living conditions.
- Sudden routine changes.
- Stalked by other pets.
Depressed parrots make sad, unpleasant sounds, like:
Some parrots associate depression with their owners, especially if they’ve done something to upset them.
Parrots are sociable creatures who enjoy interaction with their owners and other birds. If they’re left alone for too long, they may cry out due to loneliness.
In captivity, most parrots see you as flock members, so they need attention to stop them from becoming bored. If you leave the parrot alone for too long, it’ll vocalize for attention.
If parrots experience pain, they’ll cry out or scream. Usually, pain is accompanied by:
- Loss of appetite.
- Aggression, such as biting.
- Inability to move.
- Perching difficulties.
Fluffed-up feathers can signify pain, injury, or depression.
Do Baby Parrots Cry?
Baby parrots vocalize to get attention from their mothers. This is usually when they’re hungry because crying is a form of encouragement for the parent to provide more nourishment.
Wild adult parrots leave the nest for long periods throughout the day to forage food. Some baby parrots will cry out for reassurance they haven’t been abandoned.
How Do Parrots Show Their Emotions?
Owners must check for other signs of sadness, especially if they don’t vocalize their feelings. Some parrots are quieter than others, making it difficult to tell. Signs include:
Some parrots resort to feather-destructive behavior to show their emotions.
Alongside pain and distress, feather-picking is a sign of boredom and frustration. You’ve likely heard the expression ‘bored to tears.’
Avian Biology Research describes how captive parrots perform feather-damaging behavior when their welfare is compromised. It’s only seen in captive birds for psychological stresses.
The reasons for this behavior include:
- Lack of exercise.
- Sexual frustration.
- Restricted playtime.
Provide the parrot with a more comfortable environment or increased mental stimulation.
This is where they pluck their feathers and chew their skin and muscles, causing long-term nerve and tissue damage. Birds may damage their feather follicles, preventing them from regrowing.
Self-mutilation is a stereotypy, which means that the parrot is driven to do it for no apparent purpose. It’s a compulsion requiring behavioral-based therapy sessions for recovery.
Loss of Appetite
Boredom, stress, sadness, grief, and other negative emotions that make humans cry cause parrots to lose their appetite. As they struggle to express themselves, owners don’t always cater to their needs.
If you don’t deal with this swiftly, the parrot could lose weight and become malnourished. Parrots also get mental stimulation through their food, which is essential for their happiness.
If they refuse to eat, they’ll slip into a cycle of sadness and stress.
Some parrots develop stress bars (thin, horizontal lines appear crosswise along the feathers, running perpendicular to the shaft). Some stress bars appear grey, while others become discolored.
Stress bars indicate something’s amiss but don’t tell us what’s wrong. If you suspect the parrot feels low, note its different vocalizations and body language.
Parrots cry through their vocalizations rather than tears. Parrots can feel and experience deep emotions, so you must provide them with a happy environment.