Parrots develop close bonds with their owners, showering them with love and affection. Unfortunately, that can turn sour due to jealousy and envy, leading to possessive behavior and tantrums.
Parrots get jealous due to the strong bonds they form. Most parrots are monogamous, capable of feeling love for one special animal or person.
This imprint will start at an early age and grow stronger with time. It could lead to the parrot’s jealousy of the owner’s partner, another pet, child, other birds, or toys.
Jealousy increases a parrot’s aggressive, hostile, destructive, and self-harming tendencies.
Do Parrots Feel Jealous?
Parrots are often compared to human toddlers.
Without your constant care and attention, they can feel neglected. So, a common trait they share with toddlers is jealousy, so your parrot may throw tantrums when feeling scornful.
A parrot’s envious behavior can sometimes resemble how it behaves when stressed or lacks one-on-one attention. Of course, it’s easier to determine jealousy when directed at various people or animals.
You can assess the parrot’s jealousy by introducing it to other animals and humans and monitoring their reaction. However, parrots may direct their anger at the person, causing them to feel jealous.
Signs of Jealousy in Parrots
You can recognize when a parrot’s jealous without putting anyone in harm’s way. Behaviors include:
The parrot may stand up straight and alert to confront or attack someone it dislikes.
Flared Tail Feathers
The tail will be flared when feeling angry.
Parrots will crouch and flap their wings briskly to make themselves look bigger and more threatening. Larger parrots, such as cockatoos, are prone to this behavior.
A parrot will pace around the person it dislikes as intimidation. This is to monitor the person or animal that might get too close to its favorite human.
Parrots use sounds to communicate their positive and negative feelings. Excessive screaming and squawking are how many parrots voice their dislike for other people.
More relaxed parrots will hide behind their owners when the person or animal it’s jealous of moves closer.
Talkative parrots will warn their owners by saying their name or words it considers hostile.
A parrot may fly about to get the owner’s attention. Flying also shows the person that the parrot dislikes who is in charge of that territory.
Why Do Parrots Get Jealous?
Parrots are affectionate with their owners, but the closeness of the bond can lead to jealousy. Other pets get jealous, but seldom to the same extent as parrots.
There are various theories as to why that’s the case:
The first theory posited is parrots’ intelligence and their ability to pair bond.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, parrots have a similar number of neurons in their forebrain as primates. Monogamous primates can grow jealous to the same extent as humans.
This indicates that complex feelings of envy are present in intelligent animals. If parrots are capable of developing emotions that are non-instinctual, jealousy is to be expected.
Another study looked at how the early breeding method influenced parrots as adults. In Applied Animal Behavior Science, the behavior of the following parrots was observed:
Hand-reared parrots were fed and raised by humans from the time they were born. These birds were much more aggressive and selective than those caught in the wild or cared for by their parents.
Scientists believe the domestication of parrots is responsible for their problematic behavior as adults.
Dependency on Humans
Wild parrots are cared for by their parents after they hatch. However, they’re left to fly around and forage when the time is right.
They eventually mate and have a family. While the parental bond between parrots and their chicks is still there, the pair’s bond is much stronger, especially before the female lays eggs.
With captive parrots, the situation is different. Pet parrots may mal-imprint on their own, especially if raised from chicks. There’s no stage where the parrot reaches independence. Even when fully grown, the parrot is always cared for by that person.
The parrot forms a parental and pair bond with its owner, leading to more intense jealousy.
Types of Parrot Jealousy
Jealousy in parrots is something that must be addressed. There’s an underlying amount of stress that a parrot goes through when dealing with jealousy.
This stress will make your parrot’s behavior almost unmanageable. Identifying jealousy in parrots is the first step to finding a way to calm down your parrot. You need to know the following:
- Behavior patterns of jealous parrots
- Which situations trigger envy
By understanding when a parrot may feel jealous, you can prepare for and avoid these situations. It’ll also enable you to differentiate between jealousy and normal behavior.
A parrot will bond with the human that it:
- Has known the longest
- Spends the most time with
- Cares for its day-to-day needs
Usually, one person bonds with the parrot more than the rest because the others are:
- At school
- At work
- Aren’t as attentive
- Don’t feed the parrot
Of course, this doesn’t mean the parrot won’t become fond of other household members.
Toys And Objects
This form of jealousy usually occurs between two parrots that share a cage.
One of the parrots will feel possessive of a toy and become jealous if a person or another bird uses it. This results in the jealous parrot attacking the other one, especially if the jealous bird is bigger.
Parrots can also get attached to everyday household items, like:
- TV remotes
Some owners aren’t aware. They may write off the random attacks from the parrot as general aggression. However, the parrot is envious that you’re using its favorite object.
Pets and Babies
Whenever a new pet or newborn is brought to the house, it’s common for the parrot to feel jealous.
A decrease in attention usually sparks feelings of jealousy. The parrot will begin demanding more attention than before, which can be difficult to give when caring for a crying newborn or energetic puppy.
The birth of a baby is often the cause of a parrot needing to be rehomed. The parents can’t keep up with the parrot’s antics, which makes them act out more until the owner chooses to put it up for adoption.
Parrots consider you to be part of their flock. Unfortunately, this causes issues when there’s another bird in the house. If the parrot believes any other bird threatens its bond with you, it’ll let you know.
A new bird may arrive, and the parrot will form a pair bond with it. If so, you’ll no longer be the parrot’s favorite person, and it may get jealous whenever you interact with the other bird.
How to Deal with A Jealous Parrot
Of course, just because you understand the behavior doesn’t mean you must tolerate it.
Here are ways to deal with a jealous parrot’s behavior:
Keep The Cage Closed
Keep the cage closed if you have visitors the parrot hasn’t met, and don’t let it out until it feels comfortable around new people. Depending on how friendly your parrot is, this may take several visits.
Use this same method with two new parrots by keeping them in separate cages, and don’t allow physical contact until they’ve grown accustomed to each other.
Distract your parrot with learned behaviors. For example, you may tap your knuckles on the table or whistle a tune before feeding the parrot.
The parrot will associate that sound with food. Use that knock or whistle if your parrot is ready to vocalize loudly or attack. Then, feed it as a distraction.
You can teach your parrot to bond with the person it’s jealous of by allowing your partner to care for the parrot. Give them some care responsibilities so they can learn to trust and value that person.
Parrot jealousy is natural. The more attached and dependent the parrot is on you, the more these feelings will manifest. Correct your parrot whenever this happens. With time, it’ll make adjustments.