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Why Is My Parrot Scared of Everything?

Last Updated on May 20, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Parrots can be scared by sudden movements, loud noises, other pets and people, and moving or reorganizing their cages. They may claw, bite, lunge, scream, or exhibit other defensive behaviors.

New pet parrots will be fearful until they learn to trust you and their environment.

Parrots are commonly afraid if they haven’t been tamed or socialized. Also, birds mistreated, abused, or had negative past experiences can easily be spooked or frightened.

You can stop a parrot from being afraid through training with rewards, like a snack treat. A parrot can learn not to fear your hands, toys, or cage as it learns and adjusts.

Corrections can be made if a parrot moves away, won’t leave its cage, or bites. However, you may need to use desensitization techniques and positive and negative reinforcement methods.

Why Parrots Get Scared of Their Owners

Parrots become scared when they feel threatened or fear that their life is in imminent danger. This could be for a seemingly valid reason, especially as parrots are prey animals.

Here are some common reasons why parrots are scared of their owners:

Broken Trust

Parrots develop bonds with their owners. If the parrot is upset by you, it may believe its trust has been violated, resulting in it fearing you.

The following factors can lead to broken trust:

  • Scary noise. You yelled, raised the TV volume too high, or played loud music. There may also be a problem with noise from outside the home, like thunder and lightning or roadwork.
  • Jarring. You accidentally bumped into the cage.
  • Moved. You reached for the parrot suddenly or leaped to your feet due to an emergency.
  • Harsh correction. You reprimanded it too firmly during a training session.
  • No time together. If you leave the parrot alone, it may feel lonely and distrustful of you.

Naturally Fearful

The parrot is easily startled and needs comforting, which will become apparent when:

  • It’s withdrawn, anxious, and cautious upon first meeting you.
  • It acts distressed when allowed out of its cage.
  • Even after bonding, the parrot is easily startled when you approach.
  • It seems happy but suddenly becomes defensive.
  • It’s startled by familiar sounds or movements, such as turning on a light or fan.
  • It’s constantly checking the area for dangers.

New things unsettle all parrots because they’re neophobic. For example, moving around furniture, painting a room a bright color, or rearranging the cage can trigger fear in a parrot.

why is my parrot scared of me?

Scared Parrot Body Language

A fearful parrot might display these signs:

  • An extended neck, moving its head downward.
  • Pinned eyes.
  • Feathers tight against the body.
  • Slightly unfurled wings in anticipation of a flight as a means of escape.
  • It sounds like hissing or growling.
  • Biting or lunging.
  • Moving away from whatever it fears.
  • Hiding in a corner.

Some traits, like eye pinning, can mean a parrot is happy or excited.

Parrot Scared of Hands

The parrot might have no problem flying to a perch, standing on your head, or scaling your shoulder. If it feels afraid once you extend a hand to pet, feed, or hold it, there are other reasons:

  • Wild-caught. Perhaps it was brusquely grabbed and mishandled.
  • Poorly raised. The person who reared them may have been too rough or never handled the parrot.
  • Past abuse. The parrot will fear your hands if abused by a previous owner.

Unless you have a strong bond with the parrot, all birds naturally avoid hands thrust into their space. The parrot isn’t afraid; it doesn’t know that it can trust you yet.

So, you need to follow this process to gain or regain the parrot’s trust:

Show Them Your Hands

Start by putting your hand in the cage for 1-2 minutes. Avoid touching or attempting to hold the parrot so it can realize your hands are non-threatening.

Appealing Treats

Hold the treat out to the parrot for 1-2 minutes. Even if the parrot doesn’t accept the treat, the enticing odor will make your hand far more appealing.

Daily Hand-Feeding

If the parrot is warming to you, hand-feed it some food. A small meal in the morning or evening can help the parrot trust your hands.

Parrot Scared of Toys

Parrots are neophobic, so they’ll worry about changes to their living environment.

If you recently attached a bell, mirror, or new perch to the inside of the cage, this might cause stress. The parrot doesn’t yet understand why this object is there or what it is.

The parrot might also be scared of toys due to their:

  • Shape. They may be too long and angular, resembling a predator like a snake.
  • Color. Bright colors will entice one parrot but might intimidate another.
  • Size. If the toy is large and lifelike, a parrot might fear the object might attack it.
  • Material. Furry and fluffy toys might seem like real animals.

If you’ve bonded with a parrot, handle and play with the toy in front of it.

That way, if you can trust it, so can the parrot. If the parrot hesitates, don’t place the toy inside the cage. Instead, let it play with the toy outside its cage while you supervise.

Parrot Runs Away from Me

If the parrot runs away whenever it sees you, it may distrust or fear you. Signs of fear include:

  • Hissing sounds.
  • Flying Away.
  • Standing in the corner of the cage.
  • Rocking from side to side.
  • Biting at you.
  • Refusal to go near you.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Picking out feathers.

Not all reasons for running away imply the parrot is scared. For example, the parrot may think running away and rushing back is a fun game.

Parrot Scared To Leave Cage

When a parrot doesn’t leave its cage, it’s cage-bound.

It’s akin to the human disorder agoraphobia or a fear of people and the outdoors. The parrot feels compelled to stay in its cage, just as someone with agoraphobia stays at home.

Agoraphobia can happen in the following situations:

Left In Cage Too Often

You or the previous owner may have left the parrot caged constantly.

The parrot will become so used to this area that it won’t want to leave. It’ll be unaccustomed to wide-open spaces and new sounds/people, so it’ll be afraid of the outside world.

Past Abuse

A past owner may have mistreated the parrot, or it may have had a bad experience. Perhaps it was harassed by another pet or flew into a window or ceiling fan.

Untamed

An untamed parrot might see you and its surroundings as a threat. It’ll want to break free and escape to a safe area but doesn’t know where to go. However, it knows what’s inside the cage won’t harm it.

Always Scared

Even a well-tamed, socialized parrot may become cage-bound. This usually happens if the parrot has undergone some sudden change, such as:

  • The furniture has been moved around.
  • Moving from one home to another.
  • Sudden death in the family or that person leaving.

You can assist the parrot by taking small steps toward exiting the cage. If the parrot isn’t pressured, it should adjust to leaving the cage. Here’s what to do:

  1. Set a perch outside the cage.
  2. Place a snack on or around it, enticing the parrot to venture outside.
  3. In a few days, set the perch a few inches farther away.
  4. Slowly move the perch farther away until it lets you pick it up and move.
parrot is really afraid of me

Parrot Scared of New Cage

Losing its old cage will make the parrot feel lost and unsafe. The best approach is to:

  1. Place the 2 cages, old and new, close to each other.
  2. Leave both cages open while you supervise.
  3. Place some of the parrot’s toys inside the new cage.
  4. Encourage the parrot to investigate.
  5. Set the parrot on top of the cage and let it walk around.
  6. Repeat this over a few sessions.
  7. If the parrot goes inside the cage, praise and reward it with a treat.
  8. Avoid closing the cage door on the parrot until it’s done this several times.
  9. If the parrot becomes distressed, let it out.

Eventually, the parrot should feel comfortable. Then, you can remove the old cage and let it adjust.

How To Calm A Scared Parrot

Parrots are perceptive animals, so they’ll take cues from you. Do the following:

  1. Move slowly and talk in a calm and even tone of voice.
  2. Remove the parrot from whatever is scaring it.
  3. Avoid grabbing it suddenly or forcing the parrot into its cage.
  4. Let the parrot retreat from its source of fear and stay nearby while it calms down.
  5. Provide distractions like fun toys and snack treats.

Some parrots, like cockatiels, fear the dark or have night terrors. Provide a soft night light if your parrot screams during the night or panics when its cage is covered.

Taming A Scared Parrot

Two techniques will assist with taming a scared parrot:

Desensitization

According to Good Bird, desensitization therapy is among the best ways to make parrots more confident. Training in increments will let it adjust to the feared object or person. This works by:

  • Slowly expose the parrot to the source of stress.
  • Allowing it to experience anxiety for a short while.
  • Comforting the parrot after the terrifying experience.

This enables the parrot to feel more comfortable around the source of the fear.

Positive And Negative Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement involves rewarding behavior we want to encourage. This can be done by:

  • Offer treats or play together when the parrot shows the right behaviors.
  • Ignoring undesirable behaviors you’d like to eliminate.

Negative reinforcement aims to correct bad behavior by removing the reward. Maybe you were giving the parrot a treat to calm it down when it suddenly became fearful.