Home » Why Do Parrots Blush? (What Macaw Blushing Means!)
macaw blushing

Why Do Parrots Blush? (What Macaw Blushing Means!)

Last Updated on: 2nd December 2023, 04:47 pm

Parrots blush due to excitement, anger, playfulness, sexual maturity, and feeling threatened. Blushing colors range from light pink to deep red, conveying the parrot’s hidden feelings.

Feathers cover the cheeks, so we can’t always see when parrots blush. It’s often observed in macaws because they have more bare white skin on their cheeks.

How Do Parrots Blush?

Facial blushing is common in parrots. According to the Department of Applied Biology, hemoglobin is a protein molecule in birds’ blood responsible for the red flushing colors on bare skin.

A journal in the National Library of Medicine explains how parrots lack the carotenoid pigments that most other birds have. These pigments give birds their vibrant colors.

Instead, parrots have plumage pigments called psittacofulvins, which give the skin and feathers their color. Psittacofulvins work similarly to carotenoids.

However, blushing can’t be seen due to a parrot’s facial feathers.

Underneath their feathers, parrots have bare white skin. Consequently, all parrots blush. We can’t see the color change because they fluff the feathers on their face, nape, and neck.

Parrots turn their cheeks pink or red to blush by increasing blood flow to the vessels and capillaries near the skin’s surface, like humans and primates.

do parrots blush?

Is My Macaw Blushing?

To learn more about a parrot’s facial expressions, a team of researchers led by Dr. Bertin conducted a study into the facial display of captive blue-and-yellow macaws.

Macaws were used for the study because their heads comprise mobile-colored feathers on the top of the crown and nape, along with mobile black feather lines on the cheeks.

They also have patches of bare white skin. The bare skin interested the researchers because it allowed them to check when blushing occurred.

In Plos One, the team observed feather position on the crown, nape, and cheek and blushing on the parrots’ bare cheeks during the parrot’s daily routine and while interacting with their owner.

The study found crown, nape, and cheek feather-ruffling were more frequent when the macaw sat still.

Similarly, crown ruffling was even more frequent when the parrots’ familiar owners actively engaged by talking to them and maintaining eye contact.

Blushing was also considered present in photographs taken of the various interactions.

While the study was small, the results proved that blushing is a form of communication many parrots adopt to convey their emotions.

People don’t associate birds with using facial cues and expressions to communicate, so this data is beneficial in helping owners better understand their pet parrots.

What Does It Mean When My Parrot Blushes?

When parrots blush, they’re attempting to send a message:


Parrots blushed when given attention by their owners. The reaction was less common when the person turned their back and ignored the parrot. Other signs of excitement include:

  • Singing.
  • Talking.
  • Whistling.
  • Chattering.
  • Purring.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Dancing or head movements.
  • Tail flaring.
  • Preening.
  • Feather ruffling.
  • Raised chest.

If a parrot does these things, it’s happy, contented, and excited to see you.


A multitude of things can cause a parrot to feel threatened, such as:

  • Predators.
  • Loud noises.
  • Boisterous kids.
  • Other birds.

A parrot may become territorial. Blushing is a common sign that parrots are feeling flustered. To calm a parrot down, identify the cause of its stress and remove it from the vicinity.


Parrots need mental stimulation to stay healthy. Similarly, parrots require social interaction and affection, often forming bonds with their owners. Parrots keen to have fun may:

  • Bob their heads.
  • Sway.
  • Hang upside down.
  • Make their head feathers stand up.

Parrots excited about the prospect of playtime will blush. At this point, provide toys. If you have time, a parrot will enjoy being let out of its cage to fly and explore the room.

Why is my parrots face red?

Sexually Selective

When parrots become sexually mature, they instinctively seek an opposite-sex mate. You’ll likely observe various hormone-induced behavioral changes.

When a mate isn’t available, parrots may become sexually attached to their owners. They become frustrated when bonded to their owner because their mating needs aren’t met.

Parrots may blush and ruffle their feathers to attract partners. You’ll also notice:

You can deter hormonal behavior with the following actions:

  • Cover the cage earlier (less daylight, so it’s not like Spring).
  • Prevent nesting by removing secluded spaces.
  • Avoid anything that can be chewed to provide nesting material, like paper.
  • Don’t pet certain body parts, like the back or under the tail.


Parrots that are stressed or want to be left alone may:

  • Crouch.
  • Hiss.
  • Fann their tails.
  • Raise feathers on their rump, back, nape, or crown.
  • Hold their wings away from the body to look bigger.
  • Flash their pupils.
  • Lower their bodies in readiness to lunge.

Blushing can also signify a parrot is unhappy. Understanding what’s causing negative feelings is imperative to avoid problems like feather-destructive behavior.

It isn’t always easy to see if you have a blushing parrot like a macaw. The more a pet parrot blushes in your presence, the easier it’ll be to understand the hidden meaning.