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Can parrots have conversations?

How Do Parrots Communicate with Each Other?

(Last Updated On: June 28, 2023)

Parrots are social animals that live in large flocks, sometimes numbering hundreds of same-species birds.

Parrots can be territorial and protective of their eggs, mating partners, and nesting locations. To minimize conflict, parrots communicate through body language and vocalizations.

A parrot’s feathers reveal a lot about its mood. A calm, relaxed parrot will have fluffed-up feathers, with the wings held loose by the side, perhaps quietly grinding its beak.

If a parrot is agitated, angry, or afraid, it’ll hold its feathers close to the body, pin its eyes, spread its wings to their widest natural span, and may repeatedly click its beak.

Vocalizations are essential to inter-parrot communication. Happy parrots chirp, chatter, and sing. A relaxed parrot will likely whistle for attention from another bird.

Parrots squawk and scream, which can be a greeting to other flock members but a warning that something in the environment is amiss. Aggravated parrots hiss and growl at each other.

How Do Parrots Communicate with Other Parrots?

Parrots talk to each other, in a way. If you ask, “Do parrots have conversations?” like humans do, chatting in a recognizable spoken language like English, Spanish, or French, the answer is no.

Instead, parrots communicate through body language and vocalizations. Even a parrot’s subtlest movement or sound can carry significant meaning which others understand.

Parrot Body Language

Body language is a vital form of communication among wild parrots.

The posture and behavior of a bird will reveal how the parrot is feeling, sending a message to other members of a flock about sources of food, bad weather, and nearby predators.


While a parrot may bite in self-defense if left with no choice, biting other parrots is rarely observed in the wild. In their natural habitat, parrots defuse disagreements before biting becomes necessary.

If a parrot sits calmly and grinds its beak, it’s calm and contented.

Parrots don’t have lips, so they can’t smile, but this is the avian equivalent. Upon noticing a flock member or mate, a parrot grinding its beak may click once as a cheerful greeting.

Prolonged beak clicking is a warning of potential aggression.

A bird constantly opening and closing its beak doesn’t want to be bothered or approached. Other parrots will acknowledge this and maintain a safe distance.

A parrot may also use its beak to regurgitate food for another bird. The male demonstrates his desire to breed, proving he can act as a provider for a mate and his offspring.

do parrots talk to each other?

Feathers And Crests

The position of a parrot’s feathers can reveal a bird’s mood. Every feather can be independently controlled, with a bird fluffing or flattening its feathers based on its emotional state.

There are infinite interpretations of parrot feathers, many of which are too subtle to interpret. A relaxed parrot has soft and puffy feathers, while tightly holding the feathers against the body denotes fear.

Some parrots, like cockatiels, have feather crests atop their heads. Like body feathers, a crest can be controlled independently and will be used to denote mood.

A parrot holding its crest feathers flat against the head is usually frightened or angry. An erect crest usually means a parrot is calm. An erect crest pointed forward is typically a sign of curiosity.


The position of a parrot’s wings is a common indicator of the bird’s emotional state. A happy and calm parrot keeps its wings flat by its sides in a relaxed stance.

Shaking, slightly horizontal wings suggest a parrot is preparing to fly at short notice, usually because it worries that it may need to flee a predator.

If a parrot is afraid, it’ll extend its wings to its maximum span. Expanding the wings suggests the parrot is too large and intimidating to be attacked. The intention is to frighten away this potential threat.

If a parrot raises its wings directly above its head, it’s usually expressing a greeting. This behavior is most commonly observed when parrots return to a roost and reconnect with flock members.


A parrot will rarely bite another bird. If a parrot doesn’t feel comfortable, it may use its feet to push another parrot away to keep a safe distance.

Some parrots, most notably cockatoos, also use their feet for communication.

If a cockatoo wants to deter another bird from approaching, it’ll stamp its food multiple times. This is considered a warning that the cockatoo won’t welcome interaction.

How a parrot walks can also be a form of communication.

Bird Behavior explains that Amazon parrots incubating eggs take turns performing an “aggressive walk” –strutting around the nest to warn away other animals.


Parrots can control their eyes, widening and narrowing them at will.

A parrot pinning its eyes (rapidly contracting and dilating the pupils) is usually aroused and excited by something it has spotted, but it can signify aggression.


Parrots, especially macaws, can blush. While blushing may not always be visible to humans, parrots have tetrachromatic vision because they have 4 color receptors in their eyes.

The benefit of tetrachromacy is that parrots can see additional colors in the spectrum, including UV light rays that are invisible to humans.

A blushing parrot will often be in a state of arousal. Wild parrots blush when confronted by a bird considered a potential mate or one that poses a potential threat.

PLoS One explains how blushing frequently accompanies a ruffling or contraction of the feathers, suggesting this action can be judged alongside additional body language.

Parrot Vocalizations

Parrots have distinctive vocal communications, all of which carry meaning.

As with body language, a parrot’s sense of safety and contentment influences noise and sends a message to other birds, whether they’re part of the parrot’s flock or attempting to infiltrate.

Chirping and Chattering

Chirping and chattering suggest that all is fine in the parrot’s environment.

A flock of wild parrots will chatter among themselves to attract other birds, denoting that terrain is devoid of predators while food and water are plentiful.

These contented sounds can sometimes drop an octave or two, switching from a high pitch to a more raspy or agitated noise. This suggests that something is making the parrots uncomfortable or upset.

This could result from a change in the atmosphere. The Journal of Experimental Biology suggests that birds can predict incoming storms or the sight of a predator in the distance.

Other parrots will heed this warning, and the flock may move to a safer location.


Singing is a common communication style in all birds, with the “dawn chorus” greeting most people upon waking in the morning. Smaller parrots like cockatiels and budgies sing more than others.

Scientific Reports suggest that a parrot singing is the closest a wild bird comes to communicating in human language. A study found that budgies’ songs break down into a range of vowels and consonants, creating a dialog other birds will understand.  

Wild parrots frequently sing when imitating other birds in their environment. Just as captive parrots imitate words and phrases they hear from humans that the bird finds pleasing, a wild parrot will imitate birdsong that captures its imagination.

Singing can signify that a bird is interested in mating. Female parrots choose a mate based on various factors, including aesthetic appearance and singing voice.

A robust vocal performance, especially a note-perfect imitation of a tune previously sung by a female, is deemed a sign of good health and superior genes.


Whistling is a cheerful, contented sound in parrots, often used as a greeting. Wild parrots whistle to express pleasure at encountering a familiar bird or to welcome a new bird into an established flock.

how do parrots communicate with other parrots?

Hissing and Growling

Hissing and growling sounds warn that a parrot’s agitated and threatened. A parrot hissing at another bird is announcing that it wishes to be left alone and that further encroachment will be met aggressively.

Parrots are likeliest to hiss when they feel their territory is being invaded. Female parrots guarding eggs often hiss and growl when anybody other than the bird’s mate approaches.

Hissing and growling can occur during the breeding season when parrots experience a hormonal surge. This is called mating aggression.

A female may hiss at a male that shows interest in breeding that isn’t reciprocated. A male may attempt to dominate a female, hissing to assert authority or growling at another male considered a love rival.

As parrots are often monogamous, many wild parrots form pair bonds.

As per Animal Behavior, a female may breed with another male outside the flock (extrapair sexual behavior) if she considers them a more suitable mating match.

If this occurs, the female concludes her association with a former bonded partner and forms a new union with her extrapair mate. Parrots experience a range of complex emotions, including jealousy, so hissing may be used to scare off a virile male rival.

Squawking and Screaming

Squawking and screaming are among parrots’ most common communications.

Parrots can reach very high volumes with these noises. The larger the parrot, the louder it will be. Fittingly, a large flock of wild parrots is called a pandemonium.

Wild parrots, especially macaws, squawk upon waking. Loudly verbalizing attracts the attention of all other flock members, announcing that it’s time to come together to travel and feed.

A wild parrot may scream if it sees an approaching threat, with other birds joining in to spread the message and warn nearby parrots, including those of other flocks.

Wild parrots constantly communicate with each other, whether to express pleasure, distress, or discomfort. Increasingly complex body language is paired with vocal expressions interpreted and understood by fellow psittacines.