Parrots can be demanding pets. They need to be mentally stimulated for hours each day, or they start to grow bored and restless. Inactivity or a lack of stimulation stresses parrots out, potentially causing aggressive and destructive behavior. Most owners can’t entertain their parrots all day, so TV seems like a good source of enrichment.
Some parrots enjoy watching TV with their owners but really dislike watching it alone. Other parrots have their favorite shows that they find exciting or dance to when they come on. Some parrots dislike watching television and can even start to become agitated by hearing or seeing what’s on the screen.
Aside from occupying bored parrots, TV can assist with learning how to speak. However, television shouldn’t replace the time owners spend bonding with their parrots. TV shouldn’t be its primary teacher because studies have shown that parrots learn better when a human’s teaching them words.
Can Parrots See TV?
Before we can understand if parrots like watching TV or if TV is good for them, we need to know if parrots can see TV. If so, do parrots process images in the same way as humans?
Some people think that parrots can’t see what’s on the screen. So, they only look at the TV because of the different sounds and noises. However, this is untrue. Unless your parrot is blind or visually impaired, it can see the images on the screen while watching TV. However, parrots see images differently.
Can Parrots See Different Colors In TVs?
Most TVs work by combining three main colors:
That’s because humans have three color receptors. The receptors then allow us to view any color combinations that originate from these three colors. People that are colorblind have color receptors that don’t work as they should. As such, they are unable to perceive the colors around them properly.
Parrots have a fourth color receptor for ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet is a color human beings can’t even perceive, so we have no idea what it looks like. Because parrots have this fourth receptor, they can see additional colors.
That’s why people believe that parrots cannot understand what they see on television. TVs only reflect the three colors we can detect with our receptors. However, there is no evidence to suggest that parrots don’t understand what they see on TV. It’s designed for human vision rather than parrot vision, but that’s not a problem.
How Parrots See TV
After all, humans can understand black and white images. Our perception of what we see doesn’t exclusively depend on color. It also relies on:
There’s no reason why parrots can’t do the same when looking at a screen that only reflects three colors instead of four. This is just a theory based on anecdotal observations from long-time owners.
No official studies have been conducted on whether parrots understand what they see on TV. However, we can accurately assess how parrots behave when a television is turned on.
Do Parrots See TV As Skewed?
There’s also the matter of depth perception. Because of the position of their eyes, parrots have a wider field of view. The trade-off is that they lack depth perception.
Parrots are prey animals, so they need to be able to see as much as they can. However, the world they see is a lot flatter than ours. Despite this, it’s believed that parrots have no trouble seeing what’s on television.
Do Parrots Watch TV?
Parrots are loved because they act in human ways. For example, they talk, have amusing behaviors, some species have the intelligence of 5-year-old children, and like to watch TV with you.
Of course, all parrots are different. Not just species-wise, but personality-wise, too. One owner might gush about how excited their parrot gets while watching TV. Another owner may complain about not being able to turn on the TV because their parrot gets angry.
Every parrot behaves differently when watching TV. You can’t just assume that yours will be excited to watch something with you. Still, it’s worth figuring out what applies. That’s because there are various benefits to adding TVs to your parrot’s routine. For example, it can:
Most parrots feel less lonely when they watch TV. A television show can stimulate a parrot and make it feel like it’s interacting. This is done with the:
- Active images
- Interactions between people on-screen
It’s not the same as the parrot spending time with its owner. However, it’s far better to have simulated interaction instead of no interaction at all. When compared to silence, the parrot will enjoy the activity as a distraction.
This is useful for owners with busy schedules. You can have the TV on in the background if you’ll be gone for a few hours and it’ll be left by itself. It’s also good to leave on when you’re too tired or busy to entertain your parrot.
Should Your Parrot Watch TV To Avoid Loneliness?
TV works as a stand-in for loneliness. If that seems like an exaggeration, make no mistake that parrots get lonely very easily. These parrots are very sociable, but this means that they require hours of attention daily. In the wild, parrots live in a flock of hundreds of birds and are rarely alone. It’s in their nature to want company and companionship.
Most people say that parrots need 4 hours of attention a day. The truth is, they need more. However, providing 8+ hours to one parrot can interfere with many people’s lives.
Loneliness stresses parrots out. That stress is what causes them to display stereotypes. These are what researchers call displays of stress-induced behavior in parrots. Common stereotypes include:
These stereotypes can cause harm to your parrot and the members of your household. As such, TV can be a necessary substitute to calm down an aggravated parrot. It can also prevent self-destructive behavior.
Teaching Tool for Parrots
If you’re teaching your parrot how to repeat words and phrases, TV is a good way to get your parrot to talk. Parrots don’t just repeat the first words they hear. They repeat sounds that they like and that sound pleasant to their ears.
Are you having trouble teaching your parrot to expand its vocabulary? Maybe it doesn’t like the way you’re pronouncing the words or your tone of voice. Watching TV will expose your parrot to different words that it’s more inspired to learn and repeat.
Can TV Teach My Parrot To Talk?
However, don’t rely solely on the TV to teach your parrot language skills. According to the Journal of Comparative Psychology, researchers found that parrots have trouble learning when videotapes were used. Educating the parrots worked when they had live tutors, so television should only supplement the parrot’s education.
Socializing a parrot from a young age is crucial. When a parrot lacks social skills, it will become aggressive towards other birds and humans. It’s also more prone to jealous behavior. In some cases, a parrot will be anti-social due to past trauma. That makes it difficult to teach the parrot how to trust again.
One of the easiest ways to socialize a parrot is by getting it accustomed to human voices. This can be done by introducing it to new people. However, the presence of strangers in the home may stress the parrot. Instead, you can use TV shows. The people will not be physically present, but your parrot will learn new:
- Types of voices
- Different languages
This will all be in a safe, controlled environment. With enough exposure, your parrot will learn that most human voices are safe. This makes it easier to transition them to more immersive social interaction.
Do Parrots Like Watching TV?
Start by observing your parrot’s behavior when the TV is on. Sometimes, parrots will react to something positive or negative in the same way. It may take you a while to understand how your parrot feels about the television. Here are some body language signs to watch for:
Parrots can control the size of their pupils, which is called “pinning.” They do this when they are happy, interested in something, or excited. However, they also display the behavior when scared or warning someone not to get closer to them. If it’s an aggressive move, this pinning will be accompanied by other negative signs.
Besides shrieking when unhappy and singing when pleased, parrots also purr. However, a parrot’s purr is different from a cat’s purr. Parrots only purr when they’re unhappy and annoyed. Parrots usually purr as a warning.
If your parrot purrs when you turn on the TV, consider turning the volume down or the TV off altogether. It may be overwhelmed by the noise or hate the distraction.
When a parrot bows low to the ground with flared feathers, it’s getting ready to attack. If your parrot behaves this way when you turn on the TV, turn it off immediately. It may have seen something on the screen that it didn’t like. That made your parrot aggressive, so it’s best to de-escalate the situation.
Parrots will flap their wings when happy. However, they’ll also do so when they’re feeling hot. The motion drags fresh air up under their wings.
If your parrot flaps when the TV is on, it may be having a great time. However, it may also be flapping for unrelated reasons. If it continues to flap and the temperature is fine, construe this behavior as a good sign.
When angry, parrots fan their tails to intimidate enemies. If this is combined with eye pinning, turn off the TV.
Should You Force A Parrot To Watch TV?
Leaving the television on can adversely affect your parrot’s mood and opinion of you. If you force your parrot to watch TV against its will, it may:
- Become agitated
- Begin to scream
- Become more rebellious
- Show more destructive behavior
- Grow stressed when the TV is on
By forcing the situation, you’re making your parrot feel more isolated and uncomfortable. After all, its environment is no longer safe and secure. If your parrot dislikes watching shows or only likes watching them with you, then accommodate its wishes. You can always work on training the parrot to enjoy TV later on.
TV Shows for Parrots
Every parrot will have its own favorite shows. Some will watch anything, while others will squawk if you change the channel. It’s wise to try different channels to determine what your parrot reacts to.
If your parrot seems happy with certain TV programs, then keep it on. Your parrot may also grow fond of your preferred shows. After all, they associate watching those programs with spending time with you. If you want a good starting point, then here is what most parrots like:
Parrots like watching and listening to other birds. As such, nature channels are a good choice for your parrot. However, this can be a double-edged sword. They can frighten your parrot just as easily as entertain it. Parrots are prey animals, and nature shows often depict predators. Watch out for any programs that feature:
- Large cats
There are many predatory animals on nature channels that could trigger a parrot’s survival instincts. If nature shows are your parrot’s favorite, pre-record ones that are deprived of anything upsetting. By doing so, you can leave the TV on with confidence that your parrot won’t be frightened when you’re not there.
Shows for pre-school children are also well-loved by parrots. They’re educational, and there’s no way for your parrot to learn any swear words from those kinds of shows.
If you’re socializing your parrot, sit-coms are a good way to begin. Depending on the genre, your parrot will:
- Hear a range of voice types and accents
- See people of all shapes and colors move around
- Get used to new tones of voice
As long as it’s not a violent or fast-paced show, the parrot may find it calming. After all, action films have lots of sharp cuts and showy displays.
Sit-coms are more about walking around and hanging out. That’s a type of interaction a parrot will need when learning to accept any visiting friends. With that said, sitcoms are bad for traumatized parrots. The laugh tracks may happen too suddenly for parrots to find comfortable.
When using the TV to socialize a parrot so that it becomes comfortable with other humans and birds, it’s always best to turn the volume down. This may be to a lower setting than you normally would.
Parrots have better hearing than humans. Things that may not seem loud to us can disturb and unsettle parrots. The same thing applies to horror movies or thrillers since parrots don’t like to hear people screaming.