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6 Signs of Parrots Mating (Courtship Behaviors)

Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

The avian body acknowledges the changing seasons, leading to a hormonal surge. Breeding-age parrots will be acutely aware that the weather is warmer and the days are longer, signaling abundant food.

Even with no opposite-sex, same-species bird, a sexually mature parrot will still feel compelled to mate.

Hormonal behaviors in parrots include feather preening, biting (bluffing), territoriality, being increasingly vocal (screaming), vent rubbing, tail fanning, regurgitating food, and nesting activity.

If a female has suitable environmental conditions, her body will produce eggs, even if no male is present. Of course, the eggs will never hatch because a male’s sperm hasn’t fertilized them.

Signs A Parrot Wants To Mate

Small parrots have shorter lifespans, so they reach sexual maturity earlier in life.

This table outlines the ages when some species of parrots experience puberty:

Budgies, cockatoos, and lovebirds:6 – 12 months
Conures:1 – 2 years
Lorikeets:2 – 3 years
Macaws and African grays:3 – 7 years

Male parrots reach sexual maturity later than females. If a parrot has a hormone-driven desire to breed, you’ll notice this in its physical appearance and behavior. Sudden changes include:

Feather Preening

Bright, well-maintained feathers signify fertility, good health, and strength. Females seek these attributes in males because it maximizes their chances of producing healthy offspring.

You’ll notice other courtship behaviors if there’s an opposite-sex parrot in the same cage or room.

You may find the parrot puffing its feathers, prominently displaying its attractive and colorful plumage while strutting around the cage. You may also observe the parrot pinning its eyes (eye blazing).

Some males will dance to show off their physical prowess to females. Species like Indian ringneck parrots are known to bow their heads when trying to win over an eligible female.

Pair-bonded parrots will also spend more time preening and arranging each other’s feathers.

parrot Courtship Behaviors

Biting

If your parrot is usually relaxed but has taken to biting, this is likely in response to sexual frustration. As parrots mature sexually, they go through a “bluffing” phase.

Parrots usually issue a warning before biting. The bird will make itself look bigger (stand tall or fluff up), squawk or hiss, avoid handling or interaction, and make lunging motions.

Nippy behavior will likely be accompanied by increased territoriality. For example, the parrot may guard its favorite toys or not allow anybody to approach a favored human.

If a parrot is more nippy than usual, show more caution and ignore the behavior. It’ll eventually cease.

Increased Verbalizations

The parrot will likely squawk or scream at a higher volume and more frequently than usual.

You may also find parrots singing, especially males, who do so to attract desirable females. Like healthy plumage, a strong singing voice signifies robust health.

Vent Rubbing

A parrot’s cloaca is where it releases eggs. The tail feathers usually conceal the cloaca.

If you lift the posterior feathers during the breeding season, the cloaca will be swollen and more visible. The reproductive organs are inside the body, so swelling makes reproduction possible.

It’s common for a parrot that wants to mate to rub its vent against specific objects and humans. Parrots who show this level of intimacy toward us may be sexually attracted to their owners.

It’s common for female parrots to engage in tail lifting, although this action has other meanings.

Food Regurgitation

Regurgitation is instinctual in females because it’s how a parrot feeds her hatchlings (chicks). In males, regurgitation demonstrates that the parrot will make a good provider for his partner and young.

You may find that a parrot who lives alone regurgitates food on your hand or elsewhere. If a parrot regurgitates food on you, return it to the cage to show you’re not interested in being its mate.

Nesting

The parrot will find a dark corner of the cage and start lining its nest with insulation materials. These could include torn-up bits of paper and fabric or removing feathers from the body.

If you don’t want the parrot to mate, keep the cage base bare (just a cage liner) to discourage nesting. If you intend to breed parrots, add a nesting box lined with safe materials.

how long does it take for parrots to mate?

Health Risks of Breeding Parrots

Producing and laying eggs adversely affects female parrots, exposing them to health risks like egg binding (eggs lodged in the oviduct). It can even shorten their lifespan.

Provide regular meals, especially calcium-rich foods, for healthy eggshells. Otherwise, calcium will be taken from the bones. This can result in bone decalcification, leading to osteoporosis.

If a pair of parrots breed together, the female will lay fertilized eggs that will be incubated. They’ll sit on the eggs, incubating them for 2.5 to 4 weeks until they hatch or are discarded.

Not all parrots care for their young, usually due to inexperience. If so, you’ll need an incubator.

How To Tell If Parrots Are Mating

The mating process of parrots differs from mammals because males don’t have a penis. Both sexes have internal reproductive organs, so breeding involves pressing the vents together (the cloacal kiss).

When a male is invited to breed with a female, he mounts her and starts rubbing his swollen cloaca against her while flapping his wings to balance.

Once the mating process ends, sperm from the male’s sperm storage tubules (STTs) enters the female’s oviduct. A shell that hosts an embryo will form and be laid 1-2 days later.

If the embryos survive, as evidenced by a web of blood vessels, the eggs will hatch in 2.5 to 4 weeks. If the egg is a dud, it’ll never hatch. Once the mother loses interest, infertile eggs should be removed.

How Long It Takes Parrots To Mate

The entire courtship process in parrots continues for about 1-2 weeks. If the parrot goes through this period without breeding, its hormones and behavior will normalize. This happens 1-3 times annually.