Home » Do Parrots Grieve? (Loss of Babies, Mate, Bird, Owner Dies)
how long do parrots grieve?

Do Parrots Grieve? (Loss of Babies, Mate, Bird, Owner Dies)

(Last Updated On: October 16, 2022)

Parrots can experience a range of complex emotions. If a bird has recently lost a close companion, you may be concerned that your parrot is grieving. Parrots form strong bonds with humans and other birds, becoming visibly distressed when separated.

Parrots go through grief and sadness when they lose a close companion. A parrot may mourn the loss of its owner, a mate, or another animal. If your parrot is mourning, you’ll notice a change in its behavior, and it may seem less interested in playing, exploring, or eating food.

Some parrots continue mourning for days, weeks, or months. You must adhere to a normal routine to help your parrot recover from its loss. Give your parrot things to do and one-on-one attention.

Do Parrots Mourn the Loss of Another Bird?

Parrots have high social and emotional intelligence. While their emotions and relationships may not be as developed as humans, they’re still remarkable.

Wild parrots live in large social groups. A study in the Journal of Field Ornithology describes the interactions of a flock of 85 red-tailed amazons.

Parrots form strong bonds with other birds in the flock, particularly their mates. When a bird it is bonded with dies, this can be a source of sadness and grief.

In captive parrots, a similar phenomenon occurs. However, because most parrots are housed with just one other bird, their grief is often more pronounced.

This is because there are no other parrots left to socialize with, so they become lonely and depressed. Parrots can also mourn the loss of their offspring and occasionally lost eggs.

Do Parrots Grieve When Their Mate Dies?

Most parrot species are monogamous. When they choose to mate with another bird, they won’t usually mate with anyone else. The mated pair will stay together for life, even outside of the breeding season.

This means that mated parrots have close social bonds. Parrots love each other deeply, preferring to spend time with their mate, becoming distraught if separated.

If a male parrot cohabits with a female, they’ll likely see each other as mates. Even parrots of the same sex (two females or two males) can form close bonds.

Losing a mate or bonded parrot is extremely distressing. When one parrot dies, the surviving parrot often goes into mourning and grieves for its lost companion. The survivor may exhibit signs of depression, aggression, or obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Fortunately, the grieving period doesn’t last forever. The surviving parrot will eventually begin acting normal again, especially if it’s allowed to bond with another parrot.

grieving process for a parrot

Do Parrots Grieve When Their Babies Die?

Parrot chicks can die if they’ve hatched with a genetic condition or mutation incompatible with life. Chicks are also more sensitive to toxins, parasites, and infections that may not kill an adult parrot.

Not all parrots make good parents, and it may take several attempts at breeding for your parrot to learn how to care for its young.

Most parrots won’t grieve the loss of a young chick, especially if there are other chicks still living. That’s because their attention will be too focused on caring for their remaining offspring.

However, if her last (or only) chick dies, a parrot may show signs of confusion or grief, but this usually won’t last longer than a few days.

Do Parrots Grieve Lost Eggs?

Female parrots are less likely to lay eggs unless there’s a male parrot present. However, it’s not uncommon for single parrots to lay unfertilized eggs.

Hormonal surges often cause egg-laying during the breeding season. Also, it may be responding to you touching your parrot on the back or sides, which are areas normally stimulated by a mate.

Unfertilized eggs won’t grow into chicks and will eventually rot or break. Fertilized eggs may also fall out of their nest or fail to develop. If this happens, you may wonder if the mother will mourn the loss of her egg.

Most parrots will notice if you take an egg away. However, they won’t grieve a lost egg like they’d grieve another parrot.

When your parrot lays an egg, leave the egg in the cage until it loses interest. If the egg breaks, remove it and clean up the mess. Your parrot shouldn’t become overly distressed.

Do Parrots Mourn the Loss of Their Owner?

Parrots are known to form close bonds with their owners and can grieve their loss. After all, we are usually a parrot’s main companion.

We feed them, show them affection, and play with them daily. A parrot may form an especially close bond with its owner if the parrot has the following:

  • Lived with the same owner for many years.
  • No other parrot companions.
  • Always spent one-on-one time with its owner.
  • Confused its owner with being its mate.

If a parrot’s owner dies, it can grieve as much as it would if it lost an avian companion.

This applies to rehoming, where the original owner can no longer keep the parrot. The new owner may find the parrot exhibiting stress, trauma, or mourning.

Because some species can live for 80 years, many parrots outlive their owners. Fortunately, most parrots can form strong bonds with new owners, but this is easier when the parrot is young.

Do Parrots Mourn the Loss of Other Pets?

A parrot’s ability to form relationships isn’t limited to humans and other parrots. Also, parrots can bond with animals of different species. For example, some pet parrots may develop relationships with dogs.

Wild parrots wouldn’t naturally bond or form relationships with different animals, but it’s different with pets. This is because most captive parrots don’t have the opportunity to socialize with other parrots. 

Wild parrot flocks comprise dozens of individuals. Captive parrots are housed alone or with one or two other parrots at most, so they may bond with another animal in the house.

Parrots can mourn the loss of other pets, even those of different species. A parrot may grow to love the family dog or cat as it would another parrot.

The parrot will go through a grieving period if that pet passes away.

What Is the Grieving Process for a Parrot?

When a parrot loses its mate, owner, or companion, it’ll go through a period of mourning.

All parrots grieve for lost loved ones. Like us, the way each parrot deals with its emotions can vary from bird to bird, and the strength of grief each parrot experiences can also differ.

Some parrots will initially seem distraught but will get over their grief quickly. Other parrots may become depressed due to their loss, and grief may continue to affect them for a long time.

The grieving process depends on the strength of the parrot’s bond with the animal or person who has died. If the parrot regarded them as its mate, its distress is usually more pronounced. 

Likewise, the longer the bond is held, the longer it’ll take the parrot to recover. If a parrot only knew its owner for a few months, it likely wouldn’t grieve for as long as it would if it had known them for years. 

The parrot’s grieving process can also be affected by its personality and past experiences. Parrots that have experienced trauma in their lives often have a harder time dealing with negative emotions.

Signs A Parrot is Grieving

Initially, you may not notice that a parrot is acting differently because it may take time to realize that its companion is gone. Unfortunately, there’s no way to explain death to a parrot.

You may spot your parrot searching for its missing loved one. If your parrot can talk, it may say its companion’s name. Within a few days, your parrot will realize its companion is gone.

At this point, you’ll start to notice signs of grief, which may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reluctance to leave the cage
  • Lack of interest in toys, play, and activities
  • Change in vocalizations (e.g., talking less than usual or screaming)
  • Aggression and irritability (e.g., biting)
  • Stereotypic behaviors (pacing, toe-tapping, head-bobbing)

One of the most extreme expressions of grief in parrots is self-mutilation. Your parrot may pluck its feathers or start chewing or picking at its skin.

This signifies that your parrot is upset about its companion’s death. According to Veterinary Clinics of North America, some parrots are genetically predisposed to developing these behaviors.

How Long Do Parrots Grieve?

Parrots go through a lengthy recovery process after losing a loved one.

Most parrots start to feel better within 1-2 weeks of losing their mate, owner, or friend. Over this time, you’ll notice your parrot slowly engaging in normal behaviors again.

It’ll show an interest in toys, activities, food, and socializing with you. To aid this process, provide your parrot with a predictable routine.

Most parrots won’t require extra assistance to feel better, as time is the only true healer. However, some parrots take longer than others to recover from grief.

Many parrots show signs of stress, anxiety, or depression several months after their companion’s death. This is most likely if the parrot lost an owner or mate with whom it had a particularly strong bond.

The emotional healing process for a parrot isn’t always fast or straightforward. Rest assured, your parrot will feel better before long. You can’t take away your parrot’s grief.

do parrots mourn the loss of another bird?

How to Help A Grieving Parrot

There’s no way to make your parrot feel better instantly, but these things can be beneficial:

  1. Stick to a daily routine. Encourage sleep, waking, eating, and playing at normal times.
  2. Provide distractions, such as toys, foraging, training, climbing apparatus, and puzzle feeders.
  3. Provide one-on-one attention. Let your parrot spend extra time with you. Talk and sing to your parrot regularly, and offer it regular affection and head scratches.
  4. Don’t change your behavior. It’ll affect your parrot if you’re distressed, upset, or behaving strangely.
  5. Adopt a new companion. If it’s lonely, getting another parrot can eventually be beneficial.

If you follow these steps, you should notice your parrot’s behavior normalizing. Take your parrot to a veterinarian if it is self-mutilating or if its mood doesn’t improve within a few weeks.

Your vet may be able to prescribe medication that can help. According to The Telegraph, an African Grey was prescribed animal-safe antidepressants after its owner died.

Can Parrots Die of a Broken Heart?

You may have heard that certain parrot species, such as lovebirds, can die of a broken heart.

Owners often report that when one parrot dies, its mate sadly passes away soon afterward. The second death may occur days, weeks, or months after the first, following a period of apparent depression.

Though it may sound far-fetched, a parrot’s grief can be strong enough to cause its demise. Most of the time, if a parrot dies soon after its mate, it’s because it developed a disease.

Viruses and other contagious illnesses can pass easily from one parrot to another, especially if they live together. Parrots are also sensitive to toxins that can be found in the home, such as:

If both parrots were young when they died, they might have been exposed to the same toxin or illness, which would cause them both to die within days or weeks of each other.

A parrot can die from grief; this is rare, but it happens. This usually occurs because the grieving parrot stops eating due to depression, so it dies from malnourishment and not a broken heart.