Home » 7 Signs of Parrots Mating [Courtship Behaviors]
how do I know if my parrot wants to mate?

7 Signs of Parrots Mating [Courtship Behaviors]

(Last Updated On: March 7, 2023)

If you have 2 bonded opposite-sex parrots in captivity, reproduction is likely. Most veterinarians decline to spay or neuter parrots unless its life is in danger due to related health concerns.

A parrot will undergo hormonal changes that trigger the desire to mate at the onset of spring. You’ll observe various behavioral changes as the days grow longer and the temperatures warmer.

The parrot will experience the hormonal shifts associated with the mating season and feel compelled to act on them. This can lead to courtship behaviors directed toward inanimate objects or human owners.

These include preening to display the plumage and feathers, biting and growing territorial, vocalizations, rubbing the vent against humans or “love toys” in a cage, regurgitating food, and building a nest.

Be mindful of mating behaviors in a sexually active female parrot. Captive females don’t need a partner to lay eggs, which can impact the bird’s health.

How Do I Know if My Parrot Wants to Mate?

Wild parrots breed once or twice a year. As per Animal Behavior, parrots are socially monogamous, forming a pair bond with a preferred conspecific and remaining together after mating to raise chicks, but sometimes breeding with other birds to further propagate the species.

When spring arrives, a parrot’s circadian rhythms will acknowledge the changing seasons, resulting in a surge of hormones. Even if you don’t have a same-species bird, a sexually mature parrot will have the desire to mate.

Smaller parrots have shorter lifespans and achieve sexual maturity sooner than larger birds. This table outlines the age common species of pet parrots undergo puberty and maturation:

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. Pay particular attention to a female displaying hormonal behaviors related to the reproductive cycle, as they’ll lay eggs if a mate isn’t present.

If a parrot has a hormonal desire to breed, you’ll notice this in its appearance and behavior.

1/ Preening

Preening body language is a common sign that parrots are seeking a mate.

You’ll likely find that the parrot puffs up its feathers, displays its plumage prominently, and regularly struts around the cage or home. Some parrots will even dance or bow.

In the wild, bright and well-maintained feathers signify fertility, health, and strength. The parrot is trying to impress a potential mate.

parrot Courtship Behaviors

2/ Biting (Bluffing)

If a parrot usually has a relaxed disposition but has taken to biting without provocation, this is likely a hormonal response to sexual frustration, known as bluffing.

Bluffing usually has warning signs, as the parrot will likely hiss, lunge, and avoid physical interaction. Wild parrots bluff to assert dominance over another bird.

An increase in territoriality will likely accompany biting behavior. You may find that the parrot jealously guards its favorite toys in a cage or won’t allow anybody else to approach its favorite human.

Protect yourself by wearing gloves during handling and ignore unwelcome actions.

3/ Increased Verbalization

Another common hormonal reaction to a bird entering the breeding season is increased vocalization. So, a parrot may squawk at a higher volume and frequency than normal.

As with bluffing, ignoring this unwanted behavior is the only effective way to manage it.

You may also find a parrot singing during mating season, especially in male parrots, who sing to attract a female. This is considered a demonstration of intelligence while marking territory and warning other males to stay away. 

4/ Swollen Cloaca

A parrot’s cloaca is the orifice from which the bird also releases urinary and fecal waste and where eggs are laid. The cloaca is found under the parrot’s tail feathers and is usually covered.

If you lift the parrot’s posterior feathers at the onset of spring, you’ll likely notice the cloaca is swollen and more visible than usual. This is because a parrot’s reproductive organs are located inside the body, and this swelling makes breeding possible.

A swollen cloaca during mating season is to be expected, but as per the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, this shouldn’t be a chronic concern.

If the cloaca remains expansive and always visible, the parrot may have cloacal collapse.

5/ Vent Rubbing

As discussed, when a parrot is ready to mate, its cloaca will become swollen, enhancing the sensitivity of the sexual organs of a parrot.

So, it’s common for a bird that wants to mate to rub its vent against inanimate objects or humans.

This should be discouraged. Avoid letting a parrot regularly rub its vent against toys or permit the bird to do so while perching on your shoulder.

While vent rubbing can offer relief to a parrot that wishes to breed, it can lead to a female laying unfertilized eggs.

Proceedings of the International Aviculturists Society Convention also warn that parrots who develop this familiarity with humans can become sexually attracted to their owners.

This will lead to jealousy, territoriality, and separation anxiety in your bird.

6/ Regurgitating Food

Regurgitating undigested food is common in parrots that wish to mate.

In females, regurgitation is instinctual because it’s how a parrot feeds her hatchlings. In males, regurgitation demonstrates that the parrot is an effective provider and partner.

You may find that a parrot who lives alone regurgitates food into your palm or otherwise presents this to you. The parrot is displaying affection to you.

If the parrot regurgitates food on you, return the bird to its cage for a time-out. This sends a message that you’re not interested in being its mate.

7/ Nesting

Female parrots ready to breed will display nesting behaviors.

The parrot will find a darker corner of its cage and start lining it with nesting materials, which could include feathers plucked from the body.

Feather plucking in parrots can become a compulsion. The Veterinary Record associates this act with high levels of corticosterone caused by environmental stress.

If you don’t want the parrot to mate, keep the cage base bare to discourage nesting. If you plan to breed parrots, create a nesting box lined with safe materials.

how long does it take for parrots to mate?

Should I Breed A Sexually Active Parrot?

Producing and laying eggs takes a physical toll on a parrot, potentially shortening its lifespan and exposing its health risks such as egg binding (dystocia).

If a parrot successfully breeds, it’ll lay eggs. While parrots have maternal instincts, you’ll likely need to provide an incubator to keep the chicks warm and assist with feeding.

How Do I Know if My Parrots are Mating?

When the time comes for parrots to mate, the procedure differs from mammals as male parrots don’t have a penis. Both male and female parrots have internal reproductive organs, so breeding involves pressing together the vents.

When a male has its invitation to breed with a female accepted, it’ll mount the female and start rubbing its swollen cloaca against the female and flapping the wings. This enables the male to retain balance and not fall off during breeding.

After mating between two fertile parrots, sperm from the male’s vent enters the female’s oviduct. A shell that hosts an embryo will form, and eggs will usually be laid within 48 hours.

If the embryos survive, the eggs will hatch in around 2.5 to 4 weeks.

How Long Does it Take for Parrots to Mate?

The entire process of courtship and mating in parrots lasts 1-2 weeks. If the parrot gets through this period without breeding, hormones will calm down again, and the cycle will cease for around a year.

At this point, you should notice the parrot’s behavior returning to normal. It should stop being so verbal, cease feather plucking, and not show sexual interest in humans or objects.