Parrots are long-lived birds that 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 animal or person. This imprint will start at an early age and grow stronger with time. It could lead to the parrot growing jealous of the owner’s partner, another pet, child, and other birds.
Jealousy increases a parrot’s aggressive, hostile, destructive, and self-harming tendencies. This possessiveness doesn’t end with living beings, though. Parrots can even become jealous and possessive over objects, such as toys.
Parrots and Jealousy
Parrots are often compared to human toddlers. Without your constant care and attention, they can feel neglected. As such, a common trait they share with toddlers is jealousy. 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 it’s directed at various people or animals.
You can assess the parrot’s jealousy by introducing it to other animals and humans, monitoring their reaction. However, parrots may direct their anger at the person who is 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. Observe other behavior:
The parrot may stand up straight and alert in readiness to attack someone it doesn’t like.
Flared Tail Feathers
The tail will be flared when feeling angry.
To make themselves seem bigger and threatening, parrots will crouch and flap their wings briskly. Larger parrots, such as cockatoos, are more prone to this behavior.
A parrot will pace around the human it doesn’t like as a form of 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 owner when the person or animal it is jealous of moves closer.
Talkative parrots will warn their owner, perhaps by saying their name repeatedly. Usually, the parrot will just talk to the owner. However, it may also threaten the person it’s jealous of with words that it considers to be hostile.
A parrot may start frantically flying from corner to corner 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, such as dogs, 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 to do with how smart parrots are. That’s matched to 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 part and parcel.
Another study looked at how the early breeding method influenced parrots as adults. In the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, the behavior of the following parrots was observed:
Hand-reared parrots were fed and raised by a human 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 that the domestication of parrots is responsible for their problematic behavior as adults.
Dependency on Humans
In the wild, parrots are cared for by their parents after they hatch. However, they are left to hunt, fly around, and leave their group when the time is right.
They eventually mate and have a family of their own. While the parental bond between parrots and their chicks is still there, the pair’s bond tends to be much stronger. That’s especially true before the female lays eggs.
With captive parrots, the situation is different. Pet parrots, especially those raised by their owners since they were young, mal-imprint on their owners. There is no stage in which the parrot reaches independence. Even when fully grown, the parrot is always cared for by that person.
This means that 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 in finding a way to calm down your parrot. You need to know:
- 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 will also enable you to differentiate between jealousy and normal parrot 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. That’s because the others are:
- At school
- At work
- Aren’t as attentive
- Don’t feed the parrot
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the parrot won’t become fond of other members of the household.
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, such as:
- TV remotes
Some owners aren’t aware of this. They may write off the random attacks from the parrot as general aggression. However, the parrot is envious that you are 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 is what usually sparks feelings of jealousy. The parrot will begin demanding more attention than before. This can be difficult to give when taking care of a crying newborn or an energetic puppy.
The birth of a baby is often the cause of a parrot needing to be rehomed. The parents aren’t able to keep up with the parrot’s antics. This only makes the parrot act out more until the owners choose to put the parrot up for adoption.
Parrots consider you to be part of their flock.
Unfortunately, this causes issues when there’s another bird in the house. It will start letting you know which birds you can and can’t interact with. If the parrot believes any other bird threatens the bond it has with you, it will let you know.
A new bird may arrive, and the parrot will form a pair bond with it. If so, say goodbye to your title as the parrot’s favorite person. 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 need to tolerate it.
Here are ways to deal with a jealous parrot’s behavior:
Keep The Cage Closed
If you have visitors, but the parrot hasn’t met them, keep the cage closed. Don’t let the parrot out until it feels comfortable around the 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. Don’t give them physical contact until they’ve grown accustomed to each other.
Distract your parrot with learned behavior. 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. If you think your parrot is getting ready to make loud vocalizations or attack, use that knock or whistle. Then, feed it as a distraction.
Give Your Partner Responsibilities
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 that 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 will make adjustments.