Parrots have keen observational skills and are highly attuned to the emotions and actions of others, which translates to a wariness of their surroundings.
Curious as they might be, parrots are neophobic and dislike new situations and unknown people.
It’s normal for parrots to hiss to express dissatisfaction. If a parrot is annoyed, scared, or feels threatened, it’ll hiss to get you to back away.
If you don’t move away or remove your hand from its cage, it can be a precursor to getting bitten. When a parrot hisses, give it time and space to calm down.
Why Do Parrots Hiss?
A parrot will hiss in response to extreme fear or stress when it fears its life is in peril. This may not be a real danger, but a parrot may see it as such. The problem may be one of the following:
- Nearby sounds.
- Another bird or pet.
- Friends and house guests.
As neophobes, parrots are naturally cautious of anything new in their environment. Hissing is a way to warn animals to back away or express their aversion to the situation around them.
If a parrot has started hissing, it may be for one of these reasons:
1/ Feels in Physical Danger
A parrot will hiss if it feels threatened or fearful in some way.
A non-bonded parrot in its cage can be considered dangerous. Trust hasn’t been established, so the parrot doesn’t know if the other bird will be friendly or aggressive.
Also, it doesn’t know if it’ll take its territory or if there will be enough food and water for both birds.
New birds should always be introduced slowly. Rather than putting them in the cage immediately, integrate them after 30-40 days of quarantine.
New non-avian pets should be introduced slowly, even though they’re not entering the parrot’s cage. A dog or cat’s presence may be scary because they’re predatory animals.
Children should be kept at a distance so the parrot can warm to them from afar.
2/ Space Has Been Invaded
Parrots are highly territorial for their size. Even budgies (American parakeets) may get upset at anything entering their cage, including your hand, if they’re not yet used to it.
A parrot may hiss at you when you reach in to change food bowls or hang a new perch. Be wary if you hear a hiss at this time, as it may not understand your motivations and bite.
3/ Nesting Behavior
Even if a parrot doesn’t get to hatch her eggs or the eggs are unfertilized, it’ll still fiercely protect them. During this time, hormones will make her more defensive than normal.
No matter how strong your bond is, the parrot may hiss if you approach its cage, nest, or eggs. Parrots realize their offspring are highly vulnerable at this early stage of development.
4/ Something Near Bonded Human
If a parrot has a favorite person, it may dislike everyone else and be wary of them. Sometimes, it’ll even jealously defend its favorite person by hissing at other people or pets.
For example, if the parrot has bonded with you, it may hiss at family members or friends that approach. It may also get jealous when a cat or dog tries to snuggle with you and ward them off.
5/ Dislikes Person Nearby
Parrots can dislike or distrust certain people due to their unique personalities and temperaments. They have specific likes or dislikes and may decide they detest a certain person.
If this person mistreated the parrot, that might be the cause. In other cases, that person may remind the parrot of an old owner who mistreated them, as parrots have excellent memories.
6/ New Toy in The Cage
Sometimes, a new toy that mysteriously appears in the cage will seem threatening to a parrot. Parrots are very sensitive to new changes and will become stressed out by them.
This is common with stuffed animals, which can be mistaken for predators. Also, the color, reflection, or smell may disturb the parrot, so it may hiss at the toy to defend itself or show discomfort.
7/ Dislikes The Food
Parrots are picky eaters, so they may hiss at you if they’re disinterested in a certain pellet, seed, fruit, or vegetable you’ve put in their food bowl. If a parrot’s spoiled, this is more likely.
It’s hissing to show you its displeasure and that it wants you to make immediate changes.
8/ Wants Alone Time
Although parrots are social creatures, they also value alone time.
Their territory extends for miles in the wild, so they can seclude themselves from the flock when they need privacy. In the home, this is more difficult, especially if you insist on petting and playing.
A parrot may want to be alone if it refuses to leave its cage. The opposite can also be true. Perhaps you’re trying to put it into its cage, but it wants to stay outside.
9/ Too Close To A Favored Item
Sometimes, parrots develop an unhealthy attachment to inanimate objects. This is especially true with mirrors, as parrots often confuse their reflection for a mate.
Parrots also get attached to stuffed toys, perches, swings, and ladders.
It may hiss if you try to remove an item it’s obsessively attached to. This is to ward you off and protect the object. It may also hiss at other pets or birds that get too close to its favorite toy.
Outside of the mating season, you may find the parrot is hormonal.
This is most common with growing parrots transitioning through puberty, which can result in mood swings if there are abrupt temperament changes.
11/ Stressed Out
Narrowing down the reason for this stress will let you calm the parrot down. If the stress goes on for too long, it may result in the parrot:
- Refusing to eat.
- Biting and nipping.
- Plucking out feathers.
Some parrots want to be left alone while eating. If so, let the parrot have its space. Some parrots grow territorial over food bowls, especially if they feel other birds encroach on their territory.
Parrots have ample space to fly, play, and forage in the wild. You won’t be able to provide 50+ miles of territory in the home, but you should provide a large enough cage to explore.
Despite being loud, parrots dislike excessive noise. They can be set on edge by the following:
- Construction work.
- Overly loud stereos and TVs.
- Vacuum cleaners.
- Shrill laughter, shouting, and arguments.
- Barking dogs.
Kids should always be supervised when interacting with pet parrots, as they may not be as gentle as adults when handling them. If a parrot distrusts a child or has been mishandled in the past, it’ll hiss.
Parrots hiss out of fear, discomfort, and aggression. By removing the problem, it’ll no longer hiss.