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what does it mean when a parrot grooms you?

Why Do Parrots Preen Humans?

(Last Updated On: November 18, 2022)

Parrots aren’t always seen as affectionate, but they’re very loving animals. Some parrots enjoy interacting with their owners and preening them as much as they enjoy being groomed.

Parrots preen their bonded owners as a form of affection and a sign of trust. They may chew on their owners’ hair, ear, nose, and clothes.

Parrots can sometimes be over-enthusiastic with their preening, which can cause discomfort due to their sharp, pointy beaks. If so, move your hair out of the way or wear a hat to discourage preening.

What Does It Mean When A Parrot Grooms You?

As mentioned, parrots preen their owners as a form of affection. If a parrot chews on your hair, ear, nose, or clothes, it’s because it likes and trusts you.

Preening is a way for parrots to clean and maintain feather quality. Sometimes, a parrot will transfer these techniques to its owner’s hair.

When a parrot does this, it’s attempting to groom you in the same way it does itself. Parrots only preen humans they’ve bonded with closely.

What Makes The Human-Parrot Bond So Strong?

According to AFA Watchbird Magazine, most parrots can be devoted to human companions because they can form strong relationships with humans.

While it’s suggested that it’s unnatural for parrots to develop such a strong bond with humans, they’ll do so without other parrots of the same species. Parrots recognize that humans provide care and attention and reward this behavior with companionship and affection.

Parrots and humans may bond so well together because parrots can imitate human speech, creating common ground and allowing them to interact with each other.

how to tell if a parrot likes you

How To Bond with Your Parrot

If you want to reach a stage where your parrot is comfortable to preen you, you’ll need to build a special relationship. Doing so is essential to create a lifelong companionship with your parrot, but it takes time, effort, and patience. To begin the bonding process, follow these steps:

Share Food

Sharing food is an effective way of inviting a parrot into your flock.

Wild parrots regurgitate food for each other. So, sharing food shows care for your parrot. Only share bird-safe foods, like certain fruits and vegetables, and hand-feed them to initiate bonding.


Parrots are wary of humans at first. Human-parrot interaction isn’t natural, so you must earn its trust.

To do so, desensitize the parrot to your presence by sitting near it and talking to it daily. Do things at the same time, as this will enable your parrot to build a routine and become more comfortable.

Don’t make sudden moves; speak in a soft, gentle voice. In time, you’ll be able to start handling your parrot. Rescued or rehomed parrots may need more time, so don’t worry if the bonding process is slow.


Once your parrot is comfortable around you, it may preen you. Before this happens, try grooming your parrot. Grooming is a good way to get your parrot to accept you and get it accustomed to handling.

Start by scratching the back of its head and removing any pin feathers. Take it slowly and move at its pace. Any overzealous grooming could cause your parrot to become wary of you.

How To Tell If A Parrot Likes You

Preening isn’t the only sign that a parrot is comfortable in your company. Parrots are intelligent creatures that are capable of showing a range of affection to their favorite humans.

Each parrot has a unique personality and will show its love for you in different ways, but the following are the most common signs that a parrot trusts you:


While parrots don’t have mouths to kiss you, they can administer a gentle peck.

This usually involves them placing their beak against your cheek or lips. A gentle nibble sometimes accompanies a parrot’s kiss; parrots might use their tongues to lick their owners.

Parrots can mimic speech and sounds by modifying the air that flows over the syrinx to make certain noises. Therefore, some parrots make kissing sounds as they peck you with their beak.

However, kissing your parrot isn’t healthy due to psittacosis. According to BMC Infectious Diseases, psittacine birds are among the most common sources of the disease. 


Some parrots are cuddlier than others. Cockatoos, cockatiels, and macaw breeds, in particular, enjoy snuggling up to their owners.

Parrots looking for affection will tuck themselves into your neck, hair, and clothing and may stay there for a while once they’re comfortable.

However, sometimes snuggling can sexually stimulate your parrot. If your parrot sees you as a mate, it’ll display signs of aggression toward other people it sees as competition.

It may also regurgitate its food for you or press its rear end against your body. If your parrot begins to do this, avoid stroking the full length of the body and underneath the wings.


Aggressive biting is a sign your parrot is anxious or stressed. However, if your parrot gives you a gentle nip, it’s comfortable around you and wants to be more loving.

This is reserved for people that parrots are bonded closely. However, this affection can turn into jealousy, especially if it needs to fight other birds, people, or pets for your attention.

If your parrot bites too hard, it may be tired, stressed, or injured.

parrots preening owners

Singing, Talking, Or Whistling

Parrots are vocal creatures, making different sounds with different meanings.

Squeaking and squealing signify distress, while whistling and singing show love and affection. Singing indicates that a parrot is happy and tapping into positive memories it wants to share with you.

Parrots also chatter and click their tongues when content. If you hear these sounds in a parrot’s presence, it feels bonded with you and doesn’t see you as a threat.

Regurgitating Food

In the wild, mated parrots regurgitate their food for one another.

While this might seem unpleasant, it’s a natural courting behavior between parrots. It’s common for parrots to regurgitate on people they like as a sign of affection and trust.

However, this behavior is undesirable, so you might want to stop it. To do so, you’ll need to find out what triggers regurgitation to prevent it from happening.

By strengthening the bond with your parrot, you can encourage it to preen and groom you like it would to another parrot. However, building up to that level of trust with a parrot takes time.