Parrots are sociable creatures that form close bonds, so owners often consider getting a second parrot. The new parrot can serve as a friend for the original parrot, leaving you with more time to get on with your life. However, adding another parrot to the same cage must be managed carefully.
To introduce two parrots, start by housing them in separate cages in different rooms. Once the new parrot calms down, place its cage in the same room and move them closer together. Then, set the new parrot inside the cage with the original parrot and monitor them. Separate them if they fight.
Focus on helping the pair bond with positive reinforcement. If they form a bond, avoid separating them. Unless you have an aviary or a very large cage, don’t put more than two parrots in the same cage.
Can Two Parrots Live in the Same Cage?
Two or more parrots can live in the same cage together if the:
- Cage is large enough
- Parrots are of the same species
- Parrots are similar in size
- Introduction is managed correctly
- Sufficient toys, food, and drink are available
If one of these factors is not present, then your parrots may fight. This can lead to stress and injury, but also food-hoarding and self-mutilation. In the best-case scenario, the parrots will become traumatized and develop an unhealthy bond with each other. They will refuse to spend time with humans and will be inconsolable if they’re parted from one another.
Unless you have a large aviary, it’s never wise to keep more than two parrots in the same cage. Likewise, this works best for smaller parrot species that don’t need as much space. If you intend on housing two macaws together, you will need a sizable enclosure to handle them both.
How Much Space Do Parrots Need?
The amount of space a parrot requires depends on its species and the size of the bird. Large species, such as an African grey, will require a cage that has at least the following dimensions:
- 2 feet deep
- 3 feet wide
- 4 feet high
A parakeet can have a smaller cage. However, this species is also very active, so they require lots of space to move around. For a single parakeet, you’ll need a cage that is at least:
- 1.7 feet long
- 1.5 feet deep
- 1.5 feet wide
If you add a second bird, the cage size should be doubled. Some owners provide 50% more room when adding another parrot. This is acceptable, provided that both parrots are let out of their cage to explore, play, and socialize. However, smaller cages are more likely to trigger aggression.
How To Make Two Parrots Get Along
Two parrots will get along better they’re introduced to each other the right way. Here’s a guide for introducing parrots:
Keep The Parrots In Separate Rooms And Cages
When you first bring the new parrot home, do not let it meet your existing parrot. You should take it to a separate room and set it up in its own cage. Avoid letting them see, speak, or otherwise interact with each other.
That’s because the new parrot will be very unsettled by this new environment. It’s encountering new smells, sights, and people. Seeing another parrot will only confuse or agitate it more.
The most important step will be to help it calm down and adjust to its new space. Keep it separate from your existing parrot for at least 1 week, if not 2. The time will be extended if the parrot shows:
Your new parrot should calm down after a week. However, if it continues to be highly strung, give it more time. Try to avoid moving anything in the room or the cage. Keep the lighting, types of food, and even your tone of voice consistent. Parrots are upset by change, but especially when they’re already stressed.
The parrot is more likely to stay upset if it’s wild-caught, rather than hand-raised from domesticated parents. According to Oxford’s Society for Experimental Biology, wild parrots exhibit higher stress levels than their captive counterparts as they are exposed to new challenges daily.
This separation time also works as a quarantine period. Your new parrot may have illnesses or diseases from the pet store or the breeder’s cages. Any diseases your new parrot is carrying may not be noticeable right now. However, it can still be contagious, and symptoms won’t appear until later.
If it seems like your new parrot is suddenly under the weather, extend the separation time. This should be for a month or more. Look for any signs of illnesses, such as:
- Discharge from their nose and eyes
- Sudden changes in energy levels or vitality
Allow the Birds to See Each Other
Once the quarantine and settling-in time are over, you can allow the parrots to see each other. Bring the new parrot into the same room as your existing one. Both parrots should remain in their respective cages.
At first, the cages should be kept several feet apart. If the room is small, each cage should be placed at an opposite end. You can then gradually move the cages closer to each other over the course of several days. During this time, you should observe the behavior of both parrots.
Take note if one of the birds is ruffling its feathers or receding in the back corner of its cage. The presence of the other bird may stress it. You should avoid moving their cages closer until both parrots seem comfortable.
After enough time, you can set both cages a few inches apart from each other. This will allow each bird to see the other up close, without fear of an attack.
Let the Birds Meet
The next step is to let your new parrot into the cage with the original one. This is the most sensitive step, so handle it with caution. Pick up your new bird and place it carefully into its new home.
You can also take both parrots out of the cages and let them meet face-to-face in an open area. However, it may be more difficult to catch or separate them if fighting occurs. A cage is a tight space, so fights can get heated. It also keeps them from flying away.
If your existing parrot starts ruffling its feathers or acting aggressively during this introduction, you should try again at a later time. Pick up the new bird and return it to its cage.
With that said, it’s normal for birds to investigate their new roommate. You may see your original parrot walk up to say hello to the new one. Let them smell, talk, and look at each other without your intervention.
You should only intervene if they begin to fight. If they bite, scream, or hiss, then separate the birds immediately. If both parrots are the same size, they probably won’t inflict significant damage onto one another in such a short period of time. However, if any injuries do occur, they should be treated.
Help The Parrots Bond
If your parrots accept each other, then keep them under close supervision. You can leave them in the same cage and monitor how they interact. If they get along but still have mild tension, then put them in separate cages at night. You don’t want a fight breaking out when you’re not there to resolve it.
At this stage, you must help the two parrots bond. Use these steps, and you should see a relationship form within a few days.
Be sure to reward your parrots for good behavior. According to the Journal of Comparative Medicine, birds are responsive to training through positive reinforcement.
- Offer both parrots a treat whenever they are in the same cage together.
- Scratch their heads affectionately when spending time with them
- Encourage them whenever they act friendly toward one another
Provide Equal Attention
During the introduction, avoid letting your existing parrot feel as though the new one is replacing it. Of course, you’ll be focused on helping your new parrot adjust and feel comfortable. Just be sure to give equal attention to your original parrot by:
- Speaking to it softly.
- Petting it whenever you pet the new parrot.
- Offering treats equally.
- Making eye contact and talking to it when you check on the new bird.
- Letting the original bird see and play with any new toys you offer.
Identify Good And Bad Behavior
Even if the parrots are doing well, they may still run into conflicts over the next 1-2 weeks. These fights shouldn’t break out suddenly, and will instead have warning signs. To defuse the situation, or separate them if needed, you should watch out for good and bad behavior:
Raising Their Wings
Parrots often flap their wings when they are excited. However, if your parrot is raising its wings and holding them still for an extended period, then it’s trying to dominate the other parrot. The raised wings make your parrot look bigger and more intimidating.
Some parrots groom each other by gently picking at the other’s head. This is a positive behavior that should be encouraged. However, if one parrot does this aggressively and the other is backing away, it may be trying to assert dominance.
Parrots make different sounds based on their mood. Yours may chirp or whistle at each other, which is a good sign. However, if your two parrots hiss, then it’s aggressive. It’s trying to threaten and warn the other parrot.
If you notice one parrot chasing the other around the cage, it could be a sign of aggression. It’s not uncommon for birds to chase each other playfully. However, if only one parrot is giving chase for a prolonged length of time, it may be attempting to harm or intimidate the other.
Defending Their Food Bowl
One parrot may stand by the food bowl and prevent the other one from coming closer. This could be an intimidation tactic. However, it may also happen when the parrots have insufficient space. Upgrading to a larger cage may help resolve this type of dominant behavior.
What to Do if Your Parrots Fight?
Whether they fight right away or after a few days, your two parrots may run into conflict. Here’s how to handle fights when introducing parrots:
Parrots can’t fight something that isn’t present. If the conflicts aren’t one-time strikes but happen two or more times, then separate them. You can introduce the parrots again in a few hours or even the next day.
Provide Activities to Do
Parrots also fight if they have excess energy. You can help them channel this energy towards other activities, such as playing with:
- Bells in the cage
Despite being social creatures, parrots can also get overwhelmed by too much company. Your original or new parrot may want some alone time. If the cage is too small, they won’t be able to section off space to themselves. You may need to invest in a larger cage or let them stay in separate cages that are placed close together.
If the aforementioned strategies aren’t working, you may be putting either parrot in danger. These birds have powerful beaks that are capable of inflicting significant damage. Owners who are concerned about their parrots being injured may need to house both of them separately.
You can do this by moving each one to a separate cage or setting up a cage divider. If you feel the parrots are fighting due to insufficient space, consider upgrading to a larger cage or even an aviary.
How Many Parrots Should I Have?
The number of parrots you own all depends on how much attention you can give them. Parrots are not solitary birds and require a great deal of social interaction. Ideally, this will come from you.
A popular misconception says you only need to spend 2 hours a day with your parrot, but this is untrue. You should be spending 8 hours or more with your bird. If you cannot provide this yourself, your bird will need a parrot companion.
In the wild, parrots live in flocks that consist of up to 30 birds. In domestic settings, parrots often live in cages with nowhere else to go. If their favorite human is not around or is distracted, they will feel lonely.
Getting A Second Parrot
If you can’t fulfill your parrot’s social needs, it’s wise to get a second parrot to help keep the first one entertained. This ensures they always have each other to talk, play, and eat with. However, there are concerns you should be aware of.
The confined nature of a cage means each bird has a limited amount of room to move around in. Placing multiple parrots in a space that is too small can lead to the birds:
- Feeling stressed
- Behaving aggressively towards one another
Owners bringing a second parrot home should be aware of any aggressive tendencies their new pet may have. Aggression in parrots can be caused by many different factors, such as if:
- The parrot was not socialized properly when it was young.
- The parrot belonged to an owner who neglected or mistreated it.
- It was not hand-fed back when it was younger.
- It feels its territory is being invaded.
- It is jealous of other birds for receiving attention from its owner.
Mixing Parrot Species
When buying another parrot, you need to consider the species. Mixing a new type of parrot with your existing one can have risks, especially when you mix:
- Large parrots with small parrots
- Docile parrots with more active parrots
- Parrots that eat passively with those that hoard or steal food
- Parrots that have very different body language
You may run into issues with one species annoying or over-stimulating the other with its constant activity. It might steal the other’s food and the more docile parrot won’t know how to respond. It might have misunderstandings with different body language, interpreting normal behavior as a threat. At the very least, if there is a squabble, a large parrot is more likely to injure a small parrot.
Because of this, it’s not wise to keep a macaw with a budgie. Likewise, you should avoid putting a temperamental cockatoo with a lovebird. If there’s a notable age difference, a younger parrot might also out-pace an older parrot and exhaust the bird. The best approach will be to choose:
- Parrots that are similar in size
- Parrots that are around the same age
- Parrots from similar regions, so they’re more likely to share body language
- Parrots with similar beak shapes and sizes
Keep in mind that differences in aggression are usually more prominent between the males and females of a species. Male parrots are more likely to display aggression than female parrots. However, female parrots display higher aggression levels during the breeding season. According to the Journal of Zoology, females will be defensive toward other females.
You should pay attention to the temperament of your parrots. It may be hard to tell in advance, but personality has an important role in the bonding process. Before you buy a parrot, try asking about its personality and habits. Find out if it’s picky about its food, its space, or its sleeping hours. You may be able to accommodate its wishes in the cage, or you may find conflict arising between it and your equally temperamental parrot.
What Is Parrot Bonding Behavior
The best way to know if your two parrots are getting along is with bonding behavior. Since parrots are very social creatures, they form tight bonds with their companions. They will prefer each other’s company and defend each other in times of danger. In some cases, these bonds can last a lifetime. When you notice those signs, it means your parrots have accepted one another. The parrots will:
- Groom each other through preening.
- Nestle up close to one another to sleep.
- Share toys and play together.
- Offer each other food or even bring back treats to one another.
- Avoid being separated, instead of walking and flying in pairs.
- Regurgitate for each other.
Do Bonded Parrots Fight?
Even bonded parrots may fight from time to time. While their tight-knit relationship will make these conflicts rare, disagreements can break out.
That’s because captive parrots do not get to choose their mates. Parrots have a large pool of options in the wild, but your pet parrot will have to bond with whomever you choose. As a result, the parrot may be unhappy with the new companion you’ve introduced.
Likewise, hormones play a major role in male-female parrot aggression. If you house an older female parrot with a younger male that hasn’t reached sexual maturity yet, the older parrot may display aggression towards the younger one. This aggression is rarely present for parrots with hormone levels that are in sync.
However, these hormones can be controlled by a variety of factors. According to The Royal Society’s Proceedings of Biological Science, hormone levels in birds tend to differ when they are exposed to artificial lighting at night. This finding suggests that male-female parrots in captivity may be more prone to aggression since they’re away from their natural setting.
Separating Bonded Parrots
You should avoid separating bonded parrots. It can lead to stress, depression, and other mental issues for both parrots. This applies to cases of male-female bonding, but also same-sex bonding. Keeping these animals apart once they have already bonded can be distressing.
This separation anxiety may not be fixed by offering either bird a new partner. In fact, your parrots may react aggressively toward any newcomer. It will be resentful of the separation. For this reason, always avoid separating bonded parrots if you can.
The best way to introduce parrots is slowly, over the course of several weeks. By watching out for aggression and encouraging bonding, the parrots are more likely to accept each other. Just be sure to have patience and keep a close eye on any negative behavior.