Parrots originate from far-flung hotspots like Madagascar and Indonesia, thriving in warm and sunny weather. Unsurprisingly, psittacines are less likely to be happy and healthy in cold temperatures.
The optimal temperature range for parrots is species-specific, depending on their geographical origin.
Parrots from tropical climates, like African greys, should never be kept in temperatures less than 60F (16C). Those from Australia, like cockatiels, will find temperatures below 40F (4C) difficult.
While pet parrots can temporarily endure lows of 40-60F (4-16C), they shouldn’t live in these conditions. Signs a parrot is too cold include squatting, fluffing feathers, pooping less, eating more, and shivering.
Do Parrots Like Cold Weather?
Parrots come from hot, often tropical, climes, so they dislike prolonged, low temperatures. However, parrots are adaptive creatures that can temporarily survive in cold weather.
According to the RSPB, the Ring-Necked Parakeet, hailing from West Africa, is a species that has adapted to colder temperatures. Some pet parakeets escaped from UK homes in the 1970s, resulting in a small but stable population of wild parakeets in the UK today.
This shows that some parrot species can adapt to the cold. However, crucially, it’s a process that has occurred over time, and a single pet parrot released into the wild is unlikely to survive.
Also, parakeets come from climates like Australia, where a range of temperatures is normal. Other parrots come from tropical climates, like equatorial Africa, where cool weather is almost non-existent.
What Temperature Is Too Cold for Parrots?
Most parrots prefer an ambient temperature of 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 degrees Celsius).
Anything colder than 60F (16C) will feel very cold for tropical parrots (like African greys and macaws). Less than 40F (4C) is too cold for parrots from Australia (like budgies and cockatiels.)
The coldest temperature is never recommended for parrots. Rather, it’s the coldest possible temperature a healthy parrot may tolerate in the short term.
If you have a sick or elderly parrot, a higher-than-average temperature is recommended.
The table below documents the lowest tolerable temperature for each parrot species:
|Parrot Species||Climate Zone||Bird-Safe Temperature||Coldest Temperature|
|Macaws||Tropics||68-72 °F||60 °F|
|African Grey||Tropics||68-72 °F||60 °F|
|Quakers||Tropics||68-72 °F||60 °F|
|Ring-Necked Parakeet||Temperate – Tropics||65 – 75 °F||40 °F|
|Budgerigars||Temperate – Tropics||65 – 75 °F||40 °F|
|Cockatiels||Temperate – Tropics||65 – 75 °F||40 °F|
|Lovebirds||Temperate – Tropics||65 – 75 °F||40 °F|
How Much Cold Can Parrots Tolerate?
Although some parrots can tolerate lows of 40F (4C), they shouldn’t live in these conditions.
If a parrot is exposed to low temperatures for over 6 hours, it’ll become withdrawn and unhappy. After about 24 hours, it could develop physical and mental health problems.
For this reason, PDSA recommends a minimum temperature of 68F (20C) at all times. Keeping the temperature stable is advisable because highs and lows stress out a parrot.
Can Parrots Survive in the Cold?
If the temperature dips below 40-60F for an extended period, a parrot may not survive. However, it’s better to be cautious and keep the temperature at 65-68F.
One of the most dangerous things is if a parrot’s cage is left in a drafty location with an open door or window. Even poorly fitting doors and windows can let in drafts.
How To Know If My Parrot Is Cold
By monitoring a parrot’s body language and behavior, you’ll know if it’s feeling too cold.
Here are the most common signs that a pet bird is feeling cold:
A parrot will fluff up its feathers if it feels too cold (or hot). When a bird is too cold, fluffing up the feathers traps air, providing additional warmth.
Burying Beak in Chest
Tucking the beak into the feathers is common when birds sleep and preen their feathers. However, a cold parrot may bury its beak in its chest to stay warm and cozy.
A cold parrot will squat so its feathers cover its bare legs. Many parrots tuck one foot into their feathers, perching on the other leg. Then, they’ll switch legs when the need arises.
Cold weather makes parrots feel sluggish and void of energy. If a parrot stays in one place and barely moves when it’s normally energetic, it likely feels cold and unhappy.
Parrots poop less in the winter, so witnessing less bird waste isn’t necessarily of concern. However, if a parrot is pooing less than normal, it could be because it’s too cold.
How Do Parrots Keep Warm?
According to NCBI, taking a parrot’s temperature is invasive. That’s why it’s not recommended that the average owner does so unless specifically advised by a veterinarian.
Buy a digital infrared thermometer to check the temperature in the bird’s living environment.
Parrots have various ways of modulating their body temperature, including the following:
Eat More Food
According to The Parrot Society, parrots eat more food if faced with colder temperatures because the extra food boosts their metabolic rate and provides more energy.
Give the parrot a varied, species-appropriate diet, especially during the winter.
Winter inevitably brings fewer hours of sunlight, which is essential for vitamin D.
The parrot’s body will struggle to absorb calcium without sufficient vitamin D. Low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) will adversely impact parrots’ bones, feathers, and eggs.
For this reason, you may need to supplement a parrot’s vitamin D, perhaps through supplements, but preferably through natural sunlight or full spectrum UVA/B lighting.
Find a Nesting Area
Provide a nest with insulating materials. If the room becomes drafty at night, a parrot can stay warm.
Wild birds may huddle together to stay warm in the wild. Some pet parrots will also huddle together to stay warm if they have a bonded partner or companion.
Avoid Cold Water
Even if a parrot seems happy to bathe in cold water, it’ll be hard to warm up, which increases the risk of hypothermia. That’s why you should provide lukewarm water for bathing.
If the water temperature drops due to non-usage, add more hot water.
Once it has finished bathing, dry the bird off with a cloth or small towel. Just pat the parrot’s feathers (don’t rub too hard or against the grain of the feathers) to soak up the excess moisture.
Hazards To Avoid When Keeping A Parrot Warm
Parrots have efficient respiratory systems for flying but are vulnerable to airborne toxins. Unfortunately, some electric and gas heaters emit dangerous fumes for pet birds.
Never bring a pet bird’s cage into the kitchen, even if it’s warmer than other areas of the home. There are various dangers, ranging from Tefal cookware to food ingredients like cooked onions.
According to Bucktons, heating the home excessively can cause dehydration. Small parrots are unlikely to survive for 24 hours without water. Even larger parrots may not live for more than 48-72 hours.
Parrots need 8-12 hours of undisturbed sleep to stay healthy, so you may need to move the cage to a warmer room. Temperatures fall after sunset, and many families turn the central heating down.
Squatting, feather puffing, shivering, eating more regularly, and pooping less signify that a parrot is cold. Adjusting the temperature should be straightforward if a parrot lives inside the home.