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what to do if your parrot is scared

How To Calm A Scared Parrot (in 7 Easy Steps)

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Something in the bird’s environment has triggered a terrified reaction. Sudden changes, loud noises, bright colors, unfamiliar objects, predatory pets, and unknown visitors can all spook parrots.

Threats may be real or perceived. As prey animals, parrots understand their vulnerability and take evasive action to avoid capture and death. When confined to a cage, parrots realize they can’t escape.

If a parrot is afraid, avoid approaching because you could get bitten due to its heightened emotional state. Speak calmly and reassuringly from a distance without looking directly into the eyes.

Things That Scare Parrots

Things in and around the home that scare parrots include:

  • Loud and unexpected noises, including slammed doors, high-volume TVs, raised voices, balloons popping, earthquakes, and storms (thunder and lightning).
  • New items and toys in the cage or its line of sight. For example, a life-like toy.
  • Bright colors, like shades of red, because they signal danger.
  • Darkness, especially if accompanied by shadows and unexpected sounds.
  • The presence of predatory pets that stalk birds.
  • Sudden changes to routine, including relocation of the cage.
  • Unexpected handling by unfamiliar and untrusted people.
  • People who resemble past abusers, like a man with a beard.
  • Going to the vet if it had a prior bad experience.
how to calm a frightened parrot

What Parrots Do When Scared

If a parrot is frightened, it’ll show fear through its troubled verbalizations and body language.

It’ll likely make loud noises, like squawking and screaming. A frightened parrot may also hiss and growl at a perceived threat or purr to self-soothe its anxiety.

A parrot will showcase its fear through physical behavior. Signs include:

What To Do if A Parrot Is Scared

All parrots occasionally grow anxious and afraid. If a parrot is visibly distressed, follow these steps:

Keep A Distance and Stay Calm

If a parrot is visibly afraid, you may believe you should reassure it through handling. Unfortunately, this is the worst thing you can do. A parrot may bite if it’s agitated and distressed.

Maintain a safe distance from the parrot, ideally several feet away. Remain composed and don’t make any noise because this will only exacerbate the situation.

Don’t make eye contact with the parrot because this could be interpreted as a threat.

Monitor the parrot from a side angle and smile. Ethology explains how crows – a bird often compared to parrots in terms of intelligence – notice subtle factors, like body language and facial gestures.

Reassurance with Calming Words

While looking around and taking in what’s frightening the parrot, open the lines of communication. This isn’t so you can engage in conversation. Instead, focus on calming and soothing words.

The parrot won’t understand the meaning of what you say, but it’ll likely understand the positive intent behind your words and tone of voice.

Assess The Situation

Look around the room to decipher what’s making the parrot so frightened. Consider the following:

  • Have you placed a new toy in the cage or left a strange life-like object nearby?
  • Did somebody in the house make a loud noise, or were there sounds from outside?
  • Is another predatory animal in the vicinity, like a cat or dog?
  • Did someone try to grab the parrot?

Reflect on previous verbal or body language cues you may have missed.

Remove Stress Triggers

Removing the stress trigger is easy if it’s an object in the parrot’s presence. You must show patience if it’s an external problem, like street noise, building work, or emergency vehicle sirens.

Distraction

The initial panic has subsided, you’ve removed what upset them, and the parrot has started behaving more rationally. Now, take steps to change its mental focus.

Don’t release the parrot from its cage. In a state of heightened emotion, it may begin flying erratically and hurt itself. Ways to distract a parrot include:

  • Lightly jingling a bell or a set of keys.
  • Singing softly. If a parrot knows the song, it may join in.
  • Ask the parrot questions it regularly answers.
  • Provide puzzles to solve.

Avoid distracting the parrot with food until later.

how to help a traumatized parrot

Praise for Calming Down

Once it welcomes handling, start stroking its feathers. Avoid cuddling and other forms of constraint.

This calming gesture demonstrates care, but a terrified pet parrot may misinterpret physical restraint. Once a parrot is calm, you can hand-feed it treats.

Let It Cool Off

Remain with the parrot, offering petting and soothing words until its behavior moderates. Don’t be in a hurry to cheer a parrot up through play. Instead, give it personal space.

Remove other pets or items that make noise before letting the parrot rest. Leave the room so the parrot feels safe and can recuperate from its terrifying experience.

If it’s still early in the day, see if the parrot is awake 1-2 hours later. Let it enjoy a short nap, especially after being traumatized and scared.

Parrots have excellent memories, so whatever caused this fright will be retained and recalled.