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is my parrot happy?

How Can I Tell If My Parrot Is Happy? [Body Language + Sounds]

(Last Updated On: January 23, 2023)

Parrots are very intelligent birds that display various emotions. Parrots can sometimes be upset or stressed, but they can also display deep joy and happiness.

Parrots will sing and whistle to show happiness and communicate with other birds. Singing expresses pleasure and a good mood, while whistling is a means of gaining attention and encouraging you to join in the fun. Contented parrots also grind their beaks and can even purr when petted.

If your parrot feels great, it’ll bob its head, shake its tail feathers, and flap its wings up and down on the spot. If you’ve bonded with a parrot, you’ll observe these reactions when you enter the room.

Is My Parrot Happy?

As the bird’s owner, you’ll know the parrot best, which means you should have an innate understanding of when the parrot feels happy and contented.

If you’re a new bird owner, look for these signs of contentment:

  • High levels of activity and excitement about out-of-cage time.
  • Actively playing with toys in the cage.
  • Hearty appetite and remaining hydrated.
  • Sleeping well during scheduled times, but not to excess.
  • Not hiding or attempting to bite when approached.
  • No signs of verbal fear or aggression, like screaming, squawking, or growling.
  • Perching at an elevated height, not the bottom of the cage.

Just because your parrot isn’t miserable doesn’t mean it’s happy. It’s important to learn what makes a parrot happy and to inspire this positive emotion wherever possible.

What Do Parrots Do When They are Happy?

There are many signs of a happy parrot, encompassing vocal reactions and body language.

Discover more about the signals that your parrot is feeling joyful and content, and invest time into promoting these uplifting behaviors with greater regularity.

Vocalizations

Parrots are vocal animals, so you may be able to glean insight into your bird’s state of mind by the sounds it makes. Place less emphasis on what your parrot says and more on vocalization patterns.

While parrots will reserve longer, complicated speech patterns for times they’re content – a sad, stressed, or otherwise unhappy parrot is likely to squawk – you can’t take all words at face value.

Parrots that speak in sentences don’t understand the meaning of what they say. Often, they repeat something they heard and find it pleasurable to repeat. So, a parrot could say, “I feel great,” when the opposite is true.

Three core verbalizations linked to parrots suggest a parrot lives a happy life. Listen out for these sounds and continue whatever action is inspiring them:

Singing and Whistling

Singing and whistling are among parrots’ main signs of an upbeat mood. When a parrot is perched in a cage and singing and dancing to the radio, this signifies that it feels great. 

Parrots will often interject cheerful singing with whistling, which is usually a plea for attention. Your parrot wants you to play and interact, enhancing its mood further.

Beak Grinding

Parrots grind their beaks when feeling relaxed and happy. You’ll usually see and hear a parrot grinding its beak after exercise and before falling asleep.

It’s commonly believed that beak grinding is an instinctive behavior from parrots that keeps the beak trimmed. Your parrot will only indulge in this habit if it’s happy. If your parrot is excited to see you, it may grind its beak while clicking its tongue.

Be mindful that this grinding – which will involve the parrot moving its beak from left to right – isn’t mistaken for clicking the beak in a snapping motion.

Purring

Purring isn’t common, but you’ll hear it if your bird is extremely happy, especially during petting. As parrots don’t purr freely, this should be interpreted as a sound of pure pleasure and bliss.

Your parrot may not purr long, but the sound will be unmistakable. You’ll likely find that purring accompanies other sounds and body language.

Like a cat, purring can switch to growling if a parrot grows overstimulated. If you hear this sound from your parrot, switching your attention from physical to mental stimulation may be advisable.

Body Language

You have to learn what a parrot’s body language means.

It’s easy to determine when a parrot feels relaxed because this will be reflected in the bird’s posture and absence of unusual behaviors. The parrot will not stare at you, fan its tail, or puff its feathers.

A relaxed parrot isn’t the same thing as a happy parrot. Anthrozoös explains how the bond between an owner and parrot is considered even stronger than the bond with a cat or dog by some owners. This means a parrot should be outright happy to see you.

Thankfully, parrots are quite expressive birds and find it difficult to contain their joy when feeling happy. Here are the displays of body language that suggest your parrot can’t hide its delight:

Flapping Wings on the Spot

If a parrot is happy, it’ll spread its wings and flap them, often without leaving the perch.

Provided a parrot lives in a cage large enough to accommodate movement and exercise, this behavior will always be a welcome sign.

Just ensure your parrot isn’t flapping its wings in frustration because it can’t fly free and stretch its wings to their full extent.

Head Bobbing

Parrots bob their heads when they’re excited and happy, especially when they see a favored human for the first time in a while. Consider this an enthusiastic greeting if your parrot starts to bob its head when you walk into a room.

You may notice your parrot bobbing its head when you approach the cage with food or prepare meals in its vicinity. Feeding time is a highlight of the day, and head bobbing implies the parrot is excited.

The only time to be cautious about head bobbing is if your parrot starts to violently jerk its neck back and forth with force and starts to quiver, as this is a warning that the bird is growing overstimulated.

Tail Wagging

The famous blues song “Shake a Tail Feather” suggests that this is an action associated with happiness and contentment, and that’s certainly the case where parrots are concerned.

If a parrot wags its tail like a dog, it’s expressing excitement and happiness. This could also signify that it’s about to poop, but if the tail flips after being shaken, it’ll usually be an act of joy.

Monitor how a parrot reacts following this shaking of the tail feathers. The tail shouldn’t be fanned, as this is again a warning that the parrot is trying to make itself look large and intimidating.

What Makes Parrots Happy?

You know the signs of happiness to look out for in parrots, so you may be disappointed if you’re not seeing them regularly. If you need to bring more joy into your bird’s life, do the following:

  • Provide a nutritious and varied diet.
  • Establish a consistent routine.
  • Move the cage to a better location or increase its size.
  • Provide entertainment because parrots are intelligent birds and need lots of stimulation.
  • Increased out-of-cage exercise time.
  • Actively talk to and play with your parrot more.

A happy parrot will be healthier and bring more joy to your life. Always uplift your parrot’s mood by doing what your bird enjoys and making the most of your time together.