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how do you comfort a dying pet parrot?

How To Comfort A Dying Parrot (in Its Remaining Hours)

(Last Updated On: May 5, 2023)

We develop deep connections with our parrot companions. Unfortunately, like all living creatures, even long-lived parrots eventually succumb to old age, illness, and disease.

During a parrot’s remaining hours, it may feel unsettled and afraid. You can make a dying parrot comfortable by doing the following things:

  1. Separate the sick parrot from other birds.
  2. Avoid anxiety and stress triggers.
  3. Keep the parrot in a calm state.
  4. Ignore negative behaviors.
  5. Wrap the parrot in a soft, warm blanket.
  6. Maintain a comfortable room temperature.
  7. Dim the lights in the room.
  8. Keep the parrot occupied.
  9. Assist with eating and drinking.

It’s an emotional time when you realize your parrot isn’t long for this world. You’ll need to temporarily set aside your grief, as the parrot needs your care and attention at this difficult time.

If you learn how to comfort a dying parrot, you can provide the same tenderness and empathy in sickness and death you always have.

How Do I Know If My Parrot Is Dying?

Once parrots become seriously ill, they decline rapidly. Common signs of a dying parrot include:

  • Not eating or drinking.
  • Wheezing and struggling for breath.
  • Constantly puffing their feathers.
  • Shedding feathers, exposing dry skin.
  • Swollen, discolored, or streaming eyes and ears.
  • Shivering as though struggling to stay warm.
  • Blood in the feces.
  • Lack of movement or verbalization.

A vet may be able to save the parrot’s life if action is taken early, but it won’t always be possible. If not, you have our deepest sympathy, but your parrot is likely heading to a better place.

Remember that all living things, including our cherished pets, eventually pass on. Focus on the good times you spent with your parrot. It enjoyed a wonderful life, and now the time has come to rest.

How Can I Help A Dying Parrot?

Once a parrot becomes extremely ill, most medical treatments only prolong the inevitable. If so, an important question arises – how do you comfort a dying pet parrot?

The days before the parrot passes away will be hard for you, but don’t go through the experience alone. Lean on friends and family members who love your parrot (and you) for support.

1/ Isolate The Sick Parrot

Parrots are flock animals that relish company. However, be aware of contagious diseases, as other birds’ lives may be at risk. You must keep all birds separate from each other for their safety.

A dying parrot will also appreciate this solitude because it must avoid stress. Being surrounded by other birds can be noisy, antagonistic, and exhausting for a sick bird.

Your parrot will be less friendly than when it was healthy. Staying alive is exhausting for a parrot, so it’ll likely grow antisocial. Other birds that once provided joyful companionship will no longer do so. 

Parrots prefer to pass away in a peaceful, secluded location.

How To Comfort A Dying Parrot

2/ Avoid Anxiety And Stress Triggers

While these clever birds live full and active lives, interacting with their surroundings, they can grow stressed. Parrots are aware of what’s happening to them and around them.

There’s no scientific proof that parrots understand their mortality. However, they hide sickness from others, and such secrecy suggests that birds understand and fear the changes their bodies undergo.

Consider everyday stressors, like the following:

  • Other pets, like cats.
  • Handling.
  • Bright colors.
  • Unexpected loud noises.
  • Being ignored.

This step is often taken in conjunction with isolation. Even while a parrot is in quarantine, visit it regularly. Leaving the parrot alone without companionship increases its stress level.

Talk to the parrot during these visits as if nothing has changed. You’ll understandably be upset about seeing the parrot in its diminished state, but chatting will take its mind off the illness.

Don’t be surprised if the parrot responds less than usual. When unwell, parrots are less communicative. Just because the bird isn’t talking doesn’t mean it’s not listening to your comforting words.

Tell the parrot about your day and take the opportunity to express how much it means to you. Even if the parrot can’t understand the meaning and context of words, it’s important to release your feelings.

3/ Keep The Parrot in A Calm State

Keeping a parrot calm and avoiding stress isn’t the same thing. Stress is an immediate and visceral reaction to external circumstances, so maintaining calmness relates to how you interact.

Think about the environment your parrot is living in. As established, the parrot will want to be somewhere quiet, away from other birds or human footfall.

Think about where this location is, though. Will the parrot be subjected to external noise (traffic, roadworks, people walking past your home, etc.) from outside a window?

An alternative is to offer a constant, low-volume background noise. Music can be ideal, especially classical. According to Zoo Biology, rock or heavy metal agitates most birds.

Be mindful of how you talk to an unwell parrot. Always use a soft and soothing voice because raised voices are unsettling, and an agitated parrot’s final days will be more traumatic.

Dying birds often vomit and suffer from diarrhea, so never force the parrot to live surrounded by its waste. Parrots are dignified animals, so keep the cage clean in a non-disruptive way.

4/ Ignore Negative Behaviors

While a long-term parrot will have adjusted to life in captivity, it may revert to instinct.

A dying parrot may behave in ways you don’t expect or condone. Understandably, emotions will run high at this time. If the parrot does something you disprove of, ignore the behavior.

Behaviors considered unwelcome include feather plucking. If the parrot is already losing feathers, it may be upsetting to watch it remove more. Sick parrots pick feathers to self-soothe.

As discussed, the parrot may also be more aggressive than usual. Pecking can be an act of self-defense and preservation. If a parrot is in pain, it may lash out.

Naturally, you’ll want to spend time with your parrot. Do so by offering praise in a soft, gentle tone whenever the parrot’s body language signifies it’s calm.

5/ Wrap The Parrot in A Soft Blanket

Wrap dying parrots in a soft blanket. Initially, this blanket will provide a familiar sensation.

Dying parrots also lose strength in their legs and feet, so perching becomes a strain. A blanket gives the bird somewhere to rest its feet, removing the risk of injury and trauma from falls.

Wrapping a parrot in a blanket will make petting more pleasurable. It may instinctively spread its wings and fly when out of the cage. Very sick parrots struggle, even if instinct compels them to try.

Loosely wrap the parrot in the blanket and hold them close to you. It’ll feel calmer knowing you’re on hand to offer care and protection.

The blanket will also increase the parrot’s fast-falling body temperate. Warmth is essential, as dying birds shed feathers. The colder a parrot gets, the quicker its demise.

6/ Maintain a Comfortable Room Temperature

Birds approaching the end of their lives struggle to stay warm. In addition to offering a blanket, keep the ambient room temperature at 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

It may be hard to heat a large room. A heat lamp may be a better solution, as long as it isn’t pointing directly at the parrot. Use a lamp that doesn’t produce illumination.

Install a thermometer on the cage so you can monitor the temperature.

While dying parrots relish warmth, getting a parrot too hot is just as troubling. If the parrot regularly flaps its wings but makes no attempt to fly, it’s likely overheating.

signs of a dying parrot

7/ Dim The Room Lights

Dying parrots need more relaxation and sleep. When parrots start to wind down, they’ll sleep more and move less. A dimly lit room makes it easier for parrots to rest.

Get a dimmer switch for the room that houses the parrot. If this isn’t an option, avoid overhead lights. The more bright light shines into a parrot’s eyes, the more agitated it’ll feel.

In addition, consider covering the cage. Putting a blanket or towel over 3 sides of the cage will calm the bird and encourage dozing. Darkness coupled with strange, unexplained noises can be frightening.

When a parrot isn’t resting, seize the opportunity to spend more time together.

8/ Keep The Parrot Occupied

The parrot should be distracted from its ailing physical condition. While a dying parrot is unlikely to be interested in play and interaction, do your utmost to keep its mind occupied.

Placing a favorite treat, like unsalted peanut butter, inside a hollow toy may instinctually stimulate appetite and foraging activity.

9/ Assist with Eating And Drinking

Dying parrots lose their appetite and won’t last longer than 1-4 days without eating. The smaller the parrot, the closer it’ll be to the lower end of this timeframe.

Eschewing water for just 24 hours will likely be fatal. If a pet parrot doesn’t drink or eat of its own accord, you may decide to take steps to prolong its life, but that’s a personal decision.

Hand-feeding a parrot is the most effective way to provide sustenance. Here’s how:

  1. Take the parrot’s favorite foods – pellets, fresh fruit, or vegetables – and grind them up.
  2. Place the parrot on a safe, stable surface.
  3. Hold the parrot still, which will be easier if you’ve already wrapped it in a blanket.
  4. Place the ground-up food into a syringe or a small plastic spoon.
  5. Gently tap the lower corner of the beak with the spoon or syringe.
  6. Wait for the parrot to open its mouth, repeating the step above until it does.
  7. When the parrot’s mouth is open, place the spoon or syringe to the right of its beak.
  8. Let the parrot take the food at its own pace. Never force-feed it.

You can repeat this process as required, offering the parrot foods it enjoys the most. Many parrots love human foods that would ordinarily be verboten as they’re too fatty. Just avoid toxic foods.

If a parrot starts to twitch and shake before dropping its head, it’ll likely vomit. In this instance, clean it up. Then, reassure the parrot to let it know that you’re not angry and will make everything better again.

Losing a parrot is a painful experience that leaves you sad and empty. Once your pet parrot has passed away, you can begin the mourning process and deal with your grief.

Until such a time, remain focused on comforting your dying parrot. That way, you’ll always know you’ve done everything possible to make it feel comfortable in its final hours.