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Is TV Good for Parrots?

Parrots need to be mentally stimulated for hours each day or they grow bored and restless.

A lack of stimulation stresses parrots out, sometimes causing aggressive and destructive behaviors. 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 dislike watching TV alone. Other parrots have favorite TV shows that they dance to or find exciting. Some parrots dislike watching television, becoming agitated when they see or hear certain images 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.

Can Parrots See TV?

Before we can understand if parrots like watching TV or if TV is good for parrots, we need to know if parrots can see TV. If so, do they 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 from humans.

Can Parrots See Different Colors In TVs?

Most TVs work by combining three colors:

  • Red
  • Green
  • Blue

That’s because humans have three color receptors. The receptors allow us to view any color combinations that originate from these three colors.

People who are colorblind have color receptors that don’t work as they should. As such, they’re unable to perceive the colors around them properly.

Parrots have a fourth color receptor for ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet is a color humans 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 can’t understand what they see on television. TVs only reflect the three colors we can detect with our receptors.

However, there’s 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.

TV shows for parrots

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:

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Context
  • Familiarity

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 assess how parrots behave when a television is turned on.

Do Parrots See TV As Skewed?

There’s 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 flatter than ours. Despite this, 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 which scenario applies. That’s because there are various benefits to adding TVs to your parrot’s routine. Television can:

Prevent Loneliness

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 following:

  • Music
  • Voices
  • 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 rather than 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.

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.

Most people say that parrots need 2-3 hours of attention a day. The truth is that they need more. However, providing 8+ hours to one parrot can interfere with many people’s lives.

Loneliness stresses parrots out, causing them to display stereotypes. These are what researchers call displays of stress-induced behavior in parrots. Common stereotypes include:

These stereotypes can harm 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?

Don’t rely solely on the TV to teach your parrot language skills.

According to the Journal of Comparative Psychology, parrots have trouble learning when videotapes were used. Educating the parrots worked with live tutors, so television should only supplement the parrot’s education.

Socialization

Socializing a parrot from a young age is crucial. When a parrot lacks social skills, it’ll 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:

  • Words
  • Tones
  • Types of voices
  • Different languages
  • Pronunciations

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?

Certain body language will tell you if your parrot enjoys TV:

Eyes

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 pin their eyes when scared or warning someone not to get any closer to them. If it’s an aggressive move, this pinning will be accompanied by other negative signs.

Vocalization

Besides shrieking when unhappy and singing when pleased, parrots may 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.

Bowed Head

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. It may have seen something on the screen that it didn’t like. That visual caused your parrot to act aggressively, so it’s advisable to de-escalate the situation.

Wings

Parrots will flap their wings when happy. However, they’ll do the same thing when feeling hot. The motion introduces fresh air underneath 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 tolerable, you should see this behavior as a positive sign.

Tail

When angry, parrots fan their tails to intimidate enemies. If this is combined with eye pinning, turn off the television.

can parrots sleep with TV on?

Should You Force A Parrot To Watch TV?

Leaving the television on can negatively affect your parrot’s mood. This can lead to:

  • Agitation
  • Screaming
  • Rebelliousness
  • Destructive behavior
  • Stress

By forcing the situation, you’re making your parrot feel more isolated and uncomfortable. After all, its environment is no longer safe and secure.

TV Shows for Parrots

Each parrot will have its favorite shows. Some will watch anything, while others will squawk if you change the channel. Try different channels to determine what your parrot reacts to.

Your parrot may 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, we’ll look at the different types of shows:

Nature Programs

Parrots like watching and listening to other birds. As such, nature channels are a good choice for your parrot.

However, 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:

  • Eagles
  • Bats
  • Snakes
  • Large cats

There are many predatory animals on nature channels that could trigger a parrot’s survival instincts.

Children Shows

Parrots enjoy Shows for pre-school children. They’re educational, and there’s no way for your parrot to learn any swear words from those shows.

Sit-Coms

If you’re socializing your parrot, sit-coms are a good choice. Depending on the genre, your parrot will:

  • Hear a range of voice types and accents
  • See people of all shapes, sizes, 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.

Quiet Shows

When using the TV to socialize a parrot to become comfortable around humans and birds, turn the volume down. This may need to be on a lower setting than normal.

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.