Parrots are highly intelligent birds that display a broad spectrum of emotions. They can sometimes grow upset but often display deep joy and happiness about things they like.
Birds don’t have facial muscles, so they can’t express their happiness by smiling like humans. Instead, parrots sing and whistle to show happiness and communicate positively with other birds.
Singing expresses a positive mood, and whistling is a means of gaining attention and encouraging other birds (and humans) to join in. Parrots may grind their beaks or purr contentedly when petted.
If a parrot feels upbeat, 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 often observe these behaviors upon entering the room.
Is My Parrot Happy?
An experienced bird owner will have an innate understanding of when a parrot feels happy and contented. If you’re a new owner, look for these signs of happiness in parrots:
- High levels of activity and excitement about out-of-cage time.
- Vocalizing cheerfully, especially at sunrise and sunset.
- Actively playing with toys in its cage.
- A hearty appetite.
- Not overweight or underweight.
- 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 a parrot isn’t miserable doesn’t mean it’s enjoying life. It’s important to learn what makes a parrot happy and to inspire this positive emotion whenever possible.
What Do Parrots Do When They Are Happy?
Happy birds have positive vocal reactions and body language, including the following:
Parrots are vocal animals, so you can gain insight into a bird’s state of mind based on the sounds it makes. Place less emphasis on what a parrot says and more on its vocalization patterns.
Parrots will reserve longer, complicated speech patterns for times they’re contented. However, a sad, stressed, or unhappy parrot will likely squawk or scream.
Parrots that speak in sentences don’t understand the meaning of what they say. Often, they repeat something they’ve heard and find it pleasurable to repeat.
A parrot could say, “I feel great,” when the opposite is true.
Three core verbalizations suggest a parrot feels happy and healthy. Listen out for these sounds:
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 it feels great.
Parrots often interject cheerful singing with whistling, which is usually a plea for attention. A parrot wants you to play and interact, enhancing its mood further.
Parrots grind their beaks when relaxed and upbeat. You’ll usually see and hear a parrot grinding its beak after exercise and before falling asleep.
Be mindful that ‘beak grinding’ isn’t mistaken for ‘beak clicking,’ which involves the parrot moving its beak from left to right in a snapping motion. This means a bird feels threatened or is protecting its space.
Purring is uncommon, but you’ll hear it if a bird is extremely happy, especially during a petting session. Parrots don’t purr freely, so this should be interpreted as a sound of pleasure.
A 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 a parrot, switching your attention from physical to mental stimulation is advisable.
It’s easy to determine when a parrot feels relaxed due to 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 as a happy parrot. Anthrozoös explains how the bond between owner and parrot is sometimes considered stronger than our bond with cats and dogs.
Thankfully, parrots are expressive birds and find it difficult to contain their joy when feeling happy. Here are the displays of body language that suggest a 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. Ensure a parrot isn’t flapping its wings in frustration because it can’t fly free and stretch its wings to their full extent.
Parrots bob their heads when excited and happy, especially when they see a favorite human after returning home. Consider this an enthusiastic greeting when you walk into a room.
You may notice a parrot bobbing its head when you approach the cage with food or prepare meals nearby. Feeding time is a highlight of the day, and head bobbing implies the parrot is excited.
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 a parrot is attempting to make itself look large and intimidating.
Hanging Upside Down
A happy bird is playful, meaning you may observe a parrot hanging upside down. This position makes a bird more vulnerable, so it shows that it’s feeling relaxed and unafraid in its environment.
A parrot that pins its eyes (called flashing) can signify excitement. When this happens, you’ll observe the eyes changing in size multiple times. It’s a mood-reflective behavior in response to certain stimuli.
What Makes Parrots Happy?
If you need to introduce further joy to a pet bird’s life, try the following:
- Provide a diverse and nutritious diet.
- Establish a consistent daily routine.
- Practice good husbandry, regularly cleaning the cage and the items within.
- Buy a larger cage and add more perches and toys.
- Provide a bathing tub and occasional misting because birds like to remain clean.
- Move the cage to a quieter location (no TV, human voices, etc.) when it’s time to sleep.
- Avoid strong-scented fragrances, candles, diffusers, cigarettes, and air fresheners.
- Ensure the bird gets ample sunlight.
- Provide entertainment, exercise, and stimulation.
- Offer regular petting sessions because wild birds preen each other.
- Let the bird sit on your shoulder and preen your hair.
- Play with the parrot more often on a one-on-one basis.
- Teach the bird new words and clever tricks.
- Leave the TV or radio on when out of the house.
- A lone parrot may need a bonded same-species companion.
- Ensure the bird gets annual vet check-ups to keep it in good health.
A happy parrot will be healthier and bring more joy to your life. Always uplift a parrot’s mood by doing what it enjoys and making the most of your time together.