Home » How To Towel Wrap A Parrot
how to hold a parrot in a towel

How To Towel Wrap A Parrot

Last Updated on: 7th July 2023, 10:01 am

There will be times when a pet bird must be restrained. If you must restrict a bird’s activity to keep it still and prevent it from hurting itself, wrapping the parrot in a towel is the safest method.

One person can towel wrap a parrot. The secret is to manually restrain the bird’s head and feet. Then, drape and swaddle the parrot in one fluid motion to restrict its wing movement.

While a parrot is wrapped in a towel, don’t apply pressure to the head. This can cause bruising or restrict airflow. Parrots don’t have a diaphragm, so their chest mustn’t be interfered with during restraint.

A parrot will dislike towel wrapping. So, practice the technique before it needs to be done. The more frightened a parrot is, the harder it’ll be to restrain it with a towel.

Why Do Parrots Need To Be Restrained?

A bird denied its freedom may panic, becoming frightened and defensive.

While restraining a parrot shouldn’t be an everyday activity, reasons owners may need to restrict a parrot’s movement include the following:

  • Inserting an identification microchip.
  • Attaching a ring to the bird’s leg.
  • Trimming claws.
  • Preparing the bird for transportation to a vet or for travel.
  • Clipping wings.
  • Examination for signs of illness or injury.
  • Conducting first aid after an impact injury.
  • Administration of prescription medication.
  • Removing a curious parrot from a dangerous situation.
  • Calming an agitated parrot.

Restraint shouldn’t be used as punishment or corrective behavior.

How Do You Restrain a Parrot?

The best way to restrain a parrot is size-dependent. So, use a towel three times the size of the parrot’s expanded wingspan. This table summarizes the safest restraint method:

Small parrotBudgie, cockatiel, parrotlet, lovebirdDishcloth
Medium parrotConure, lorikeet, cockatooHand towel
Large parrotAmazon, macaw, African grayLarge towel or beach towel

Restraining a parrot will trigger a fight-or-flight response. Animals explain how wildlife rehabilitation centers frequently train parrots scheduled to be returned to the wild to resist restraint.

Wrapping a parrot in a towel or cloth won’t be enjoyed by the bird, but this protective measure prevents painful scratches and bites. It also hides your hands, avoiding a phobia of handling.

Don’t use treasure cotton towels because the claws will likely become trapped and unpick the thread. Use a towel that you don’t mind damaging, but that remains comfortable for the bird.

Prepare the Area

Before restraining a parrot, prepare the room and the area. Once the restraint starts, you must conclude the process as quickly as possible. You won’t have time to react to emergencies.

The steps to prepping a room for restraining a parrot are as follows:

  1. Ensure the room is quiet and devoid of distractions. Nobody should enter the room.
  2. Close doors, windows, and other escape routes.
  3. If the room is subject to external noise, play some music. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction have found that parrots find classical music calming and soothing.
  4. Remove bright colors from the room, especially red and orange, as these colors agitate parrots.
  5. Dim the lights to enhance the parrot’s comfort. Bright, artificial light will hurt the bird’s eyes.
  6. Ensure the area has a suitable ambient temperature (65OF – 80OF) and humidity level (60 – 80%.)
  7. Disinfect and clean a flat surface, ideally a large table, to complete the task.

Once the room is ready, gather everything you need to restrain the parrot.


You’ll need a washcloth or towel to restrain a parrot. Ensure you also have the following items to hand because you won’t be able to pause and search for things during restraint:

  • Spray mist bottle.
  • Velcro straps (available at hardware stores.)
  • A cushion or gel pad for additional comfort.
  • First aid kit in case of bites or scratches.

You can wear gloves, but this isn’t recommended. While bare hands increase the risk of bites, you’ll find it easier to gauge how much pressure you apply to the parrot’s body without gloves.

Calm The Parrot

If a bird is upset about the prospect of handling or carrying excess weight, take the spray mist bottle and apply this liberally. This will reduce the parrot’s temperature and calm the bird down.

Allow the parrot to get its bearings in the room before attempting to restrain it. Speak in a low, calming tone, reassuring the bird that everything is fine.

As parrots have neophobia – the fear of new and unfamiliar objects – don’t be surprised if a parrot is afraid of a towel. This fright will be magnified if you immediately seek to wrap the parrot.

Allow the parrot to see the towel, and lay it on the surface. Let the parrot investigate the towel. The bird will relax as it learns that the towel is soft and not a predator (like a bird of prey).

towel training parrot

Swaddle The Parrot

Physically wrapping the parrot in a towel is the most challenging aspect of bird restraint. There are two approaches, depending on the bird’s mentality and physical activity:

How To Towel A Parrot

Wrapping a bird in a towel will be easier if it’s calm and receptive to handling. The steps include:

  1. Hold onto the parrot’s feet and drape the towel over its body from behind. Cover most of the head and the entirety of the body.
  2. In one fluid motion, restrain the wings using the towel to prevent flapping and tuck the towel up over the body, cover the feet and wings, and tuck it under the neck.
  3. Restrain the head. Small parrot heads should be secured around the cheeks, while a larger bird’s head should be held below the lower beak. Don’t touch the parrot’s eyes or beak.
  4. Move the parrot to the cushion or gel pad to enhance comfort. Then, turn it around to face you.
  5. Apply the Velcro straps to hold the towel in place and fasten them – not tight enough to restrict breathing, but not so loose that the parrot can wriggle free.

A parrot’s head may bruise if you apply too much force, and incorrect handling of the head can choke a bird. Never apply pressure to the parrot’s chest, releasing it immediately if the bird gasps for air.

Task Completion

Once the bird is restrained, complete the task quickly and safely. While a parrot will be keen to be released from restraint, it’s preferable to conduct this task correctly and infrequently.

Reassure the parrot throughout the process, praising it for accepting the restraint. If the parrot bites, do what you can to avoid injury but don’t reprimand the bird because it’s just scared.

Only release the parrot if it shows considerable distress, like labored breathing and gasping for air. Once the work is done, release the parrot and let it fly about for a while.