Parrots are playful birds that love joking around with each other and their human owners. If you get a parrot, you’ll likely find it has a distinct laugh that suggests a finely-honed sense of humor.
Most parrots can imitate a range of sounds, including human laughter.
A parrot will watch you and your family interact and notice your happiness and contentment when you laugh, encouraging them to repeat any noise that brings such joy.
You’ll likely join in when a parrot laughs, so it’ll also start laughing when it wants attention. This is usually harmless, but ensure the parrot isn’t making laughing sounds to denote a concern, like pain.
Parrots also laugh when playing with other birds, like the kea parrot. This bird emits a specific call, which sounds like laughter and encourages conspecifics to play.
How Do Birds Laugh?
Avian laughter arises from the syrinx. The syrinx (the lower larynx) is found above the lungs and below the windpipe. Like the human larynx, the syrinx acts as a voice box for a parrot.
The parrot takes in air through the nares – small, nostril-like holes in the beak.
The air travels through the throat and into the windpipe. Once the air reaches the syrinx, the parrot can transport oxygen straight to the lungs or create noise.
Most birds, especially a chatty parrot, will do both. As per Music Perception, birds can create 2 different sounds if they wish or breathe and verbalize.
That’s why some wild birds seem to sing constantly, never needing to stop for breath.
If a parrot is laughing, it results from vibrations in the syrinx. Intelligent birds like parrots can adjust the frequency of this vibration, creating a noise of their choosing, which could include laughter.
Why Do Parrots Laugh?
Keeping a parrot in the home is akin to keeping a court jester as a pet. Parrots are a good source of amusement, especially if taught humorous sentences. They’ll also keep themselves entertained.
As clever as parrots are, they don’t necessarily understand human speech. If you crack a joke, a parrot won’t laugh because it understands a nuanced build-up and expectation-subverting punchline.
Parrots often laugh at humans because they have studied us and consider this an appropriate response. Parrots learn through imitation, and the sound of laughter will likely be fun to replicate.
Parrots also enjoy joking around with each other and different bird species, so laughter could be a consequence of playful behavior. Alternatively, a parrot may be looking for some interaction and finds that laughter is the fastest way to gain attention.
Parrots like to imitate noises in their environment if they find the noise pleasurable, which is how they learn to speak. They also copy sounds like musical beats, alarms, and human laughter.
Scientific Reports explains how parrots have an enlarged medial spiriform nucleus in the brain, comparable to a primate. This helps them understand human behavior and noises. So, a parrot will assert that laughter is good and imitate the noise.
A parrot won’t necessarily understand a joke being told and why it is funny, but it’ll notice that telling a joke makes a human smile, laugh, and show other positive responses. These are all positive associations for the parrot, so they’ll be memorized.
Anything that makes humans laugh will be noticed. A parrot will know if you have a baby or a small child who laughs when you pull a face. Parrots can distinguish facial expressions and thus may also laugh when you make a face, as they consider this an appropriate response.
Consequently, be careful about what parrots associate with laughter.
You may laugh at your clumsiness if you slip and fall, and parrots don’t understand nuance and may laugh every time somebody falls over. In the case of an elderly relative, it won’t be funny.
When a parrot laughs, you’ll likely laugh along with it.
Parrots’ laughter often leads to attention, petting, and even a treat reward. This will not go unnoticed by a parrot, which will add laughter to its vocalization repertoire when it wants your attention.
There is nothing wrong with a parrot laughing to gain your attention. If you respond, it can be a great way to bond, and laughter is a more pleasant way for parrots to interact than squawking. Laughing and whistling simultaneously is a key sign of contentment.
Remember that parrots don’t always understand the meaning of laughter. Listen out for other sounds or behaviors if a parrot laughs for no reason. The parrot may be expressing pain, fear, or discomfort.
Watch the bird carefully if the laughter is dispersed with crying, screeching, or squawking. Something may be wrong, so check for signs of physical discomfort or emotional distress.
Play with Other Birds
Laughter is contagious among humans, and the same is true of parrots.
Current Biology explains how the kea parrot responds to live or recorded calls that encourage play and positive emotional responses, which include laughter.
You can try this yourself with a pet. You can find videos of the kea parrot play call free on YouTube. Test how the parrot reacts to such a sound.
Other species may be indifferent or grow suspicious, but some may react positively.
If these sounds don’t encourage the parrot to laugh, fall back on actions and sounds that encourage this response. A happy parrot will love playing with human owners and won’t need much encouragement to act as an avian jester.
What Parrot Breeds Have the Best Sense of Humor?
Most parrot species willingly seek opportunities to laugh and amuse a human audience.
The caique arguably has the best sense of humor of any parrot. This species has a well-earned reputation as the clown of the bird world due to its unending curiosity and desire to amuse. These parrots can also be temperamental and have particular care needs.
The African grey has the most expansive vocabulary of common domesticated parrots. This species can be taught entire sentences, including jokes, and will laugh with human owners when it says something funny. Even if it doesn’t understand the joke, an African grey will enjoy that it made you laugh.
Cockatoos and parakeets are smart and can read emotional cues from humans. As they’re among the most loving parrots, their desire to be with humans will lead to sharing good times.
Parrots have lots of personality, which leads to a great sense of humor. If you meet a parrot’s needs and care for it well, expect to be rewarded with fun and laughter.