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Parrot Beak Color Change

Parrot Beak Color Change – Why it Happens + What It Means!

(Last Updated On: March 21, 2023)

A parrot’s beak color is species-dependent. Due to genetics, each species has pigments responsible for the beak’s color, just as they have different feather colors.

Most of us assume parrots’ beaks are always black, but beaks can be pink, red, orange, or grey. However, you may feel concerned if the parrot’s beak changes colors.

It’s normal for the color of a parrot’s beak to start as one color and change to its permanent shade with age. Parrot’s beaks also change color due to diet, malnutrition, fungus, injury, and bruising.

Also, beaks turn white because dead keratin flakes off (sloughing), exposing the color underneath.

What Color Are Parrots’ Beaks?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science stated that the beak’s color is due to carotenoids, specifically red and yellow pigments.

These parrot species have the following beak colors:

Black beak:Some macaws, including the hyacinth, red-shouldered, and blue-and-gold macaws.
Pink beak:Eclectus parrots.
Ivory beak:Green-winged and Catalina macaws.
Red-purple beak:Indian ringneck parrots.
Orange beak:Great-billed parrots.

Why Is My Parrot’s Beak Changing Color?

It’s normal for owners to worry that a parrot’s beak color change signifies something’s wrong. However, that’s not always the case. The most likely reasons for a beak color change are as follows:


Many parrots’ beaks change color while they’re growing and developing.

Some chicks are born with a jet-black beak that turns a dull grey as they age. Others have beaks that are lightly colored but gradually get darker.

For example, baby budgies’ ceres (above their beak) change color as they age. A female’s cere changes to white, brown, tan, or pale blue, while males mostly develop a vivid blue band.

While this can cause concern, it usually means the parrot is developing its permanent beak color.

Poor Diet

Malnutrition is a leading cause of health problems. A parrot’s diet should consist of the following:

As described by Niles Animal Hospital, all parrots’ diets should include ample vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin fundamental to growing and repairing body tissue.

Parrots fed an all-seed diet are most prone to this deficiency. To introduce more vitamin A into a parrot’s diet and avoid beak discoloration, incorporate the following foods:

A beta-carotene supplement is beneficial if a parrot has a vitamin A deficiency (hypovitaminosis A). Parrots’ bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol).

However, just as a vitamin A shortfall is damaging, excessive vitamin A is toxic, leading to bone abnormalities and general physical weakness.


If a parrot’s beak turns black or purple, it’s likely due to injury, such as a bite from another bird or trauma from a hard object. As beaks are made from hard keratin (mostly protein), the damage shows underneath.

Similarly, blood vessels run throughout the beak. If the beak is injured, the blood vessels may bleed, appearing blue, grey, brown, or purple. Parrots with lightly-colored beaks will show bruising more noticeably than parrots with dark-colored beaks.

Bruising isn’t a concern unless the parrot is in pain or struggles to pick up food and eat. The damage will heal underneath the keratin, similar to when you get a bruised fingernail or toenail.

what color are parrots beaks?


If you notice the parrot’s beak turning white, it’s likely due to sloughing. This is a natural process where the beak’s old, dead layers are shed, exposing a healthy layer of white beak underneath.

All parrots go through the sloughing process throughout their lives. Molting the different layers of keratin is normal, allowing new and healthy keratin layers to emerge.

However, too much dryness indicates a vitamin A deficiency or nutritional imbalance.

Territoriality And Fighting

If you have more than 1 parrot in a cage and regularly notice discoloration (bruising) on their beaks, they may be fighting. The dominant parrot may be bullying or attacking the submissive parrot.

Several factors can cause parrots to fight, including:

  • Jealousy.
  • Tiredness.
  • Poor cage conditions.
  • A noisy environment.
  • Food guarding.
  • Territoriality.
  • Insufficient space.

They’ll use their beaks, pecking and biting at the other, causing trauma. If parrots grow hostile toward each other regularly, you must separate them into cages until they can be reintroduced.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections can be seen through the beak’s keratin, causing discoloration. A white crust may develop around the infected area where the yeast has grown.

The most common causes of fungal infections of the beak include:

  • A weakened immune system.
  • Overcrowding.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Dirty cage.
  • Poor ventilation.
  • Humid environments.

As well as a change to the beak’s color, you’ll notice the following symptoms:

Fungal infections can be treated with itraconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, and amphotericin B. Keep the cage clean and sanitized, and use a humidifier if the environment is overly humid.

Scaly Leg And Face Mites

Scaly face and leg mites (Knemidokoptes pilae) can be found on parrots’ beaks, especially budgerigars. They burrow into the keratin, causing scaly and crusty lesions.

This leads to a bright white appearance that thickens as time progresses. The crusting occurs because mites dig tunnels (also called paths), creating a coral-like appearance.

Treatment for scaly face and leg mites involves vet-prescribed topical medications. For example, Avimec (which contains Ivermectin) is directly applied to the affected area for about 3 weeks.

Psittacine Beak And Feather Disease (Circovirus)

Beak and feather disease can lead to lesions on the beak, claws, and feathers, making the beak brittle and necrotic, becoming malformed.

The clinical signs of infection rarely manifest for months, but it’s most common in parrots under 3. If you’re concerned that a parrot has been infected, this can be determined with a blood test and biopsy.

Unfortunately, Circovirus doesn’t have a cure. Isolate any infected birds to minimize exposure to viral particles and focus on providing supportive care for the sick parrot.

Avipoxvirus (Avian Pox)

Avian pox, also called parrot pox in psittacines, is caused by the poxvirus, resulting in crusted areas on non-feathered areas of the skin, including the beak.

However, the plaques and skin lesions from parrot pox can appear similar to bacterial and fungal infections, abscesses, and tumors.

Parrots kept outdoors are most susceptible to avian pox because it’s commonly transmitted by mosquitoes, mites, and fly bites. Then, the virus can enter the body through a cut or open sore.

Antibacterial therapy (antibiotics), assistance with eating, and supplements are used to promote recovery.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Cancer)

If you find a discolored mass, the parrot could have a malignant melanoma (tumor) on its beak.

Exposure to excessive sunlight (ultraviolet rays) is among the most common causes of neoplasms. This is a life-threatening condition, so early identification and surgical removal are essential.

parrot beak turning black

How To Maintain A Healthy Beak

A beak is among parrots’ most valuable tools because they’re used for eating, preening, drinking, climbing, and defense. When the beak changes color, it could signify a health condition.

Consider the following factors to ensure the parrot’s beak stays healthy:

Dietary Improvements

Improving the parrot’s diet is one way to ensure keratin doesn’t flake away. This is one of the leading causes of beak discoloration and the most neglected areas.

Provide Accessories

Because parrots’ beaks are continuously growing and go through a sloughing process, changing the beaks’ color, parrots must keep them filed down. With the right tools, they can do this themselves.

However, parrots need conditioning perches, cuttlebones, and chew toys. Parrots will rub and tap their beaks against them, naturally removing the dead layers of keratin.

Mineral and wooden blocks, ropes, beads, and coconut pieces are recommended for the parrot’s beak because they have enough texture to exfoliate the flaking keratin.

Keep The Cage Risk-Free

Parrots rub their beaks against their perches, so keeping them in good condition will minimize the risk of cuts and scrapes. Also, broken toys can chip and break the beak, causing the beak to change color.

The beak may feel sore for a few days, but the injury should clear up. However, all wounds risk bacterial infections and diseases, so preventative measures are recommended.