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parrot beak grinding meaning

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks on Things?

Parrots rub their beaks on different items, including their cage bars, perches, toys, or owners. This isn’t a sign of a behavioral problem as parrots do this to communicate certain feelings and needs.

Parrots rub their beaks on things to self-soothe, get to sleep, show contentment, and as a sign of affection. Parrots will grind to wear down their beaks to a manageable size or to sharpen them.

Beak grinding usually involves rubbing the beak side to side in a smooth motion. If your parrot routinely rubs on you or clicks to gain your attention, it feels comfortable in your presence.

What Does It Mean When Parrots Grind Their Beaks?

When a parrot grinds its beak, it can be loud, depending on the surface it chooses. If the parrot grinds on abrasive objects, you may be concerned that it’ll hurt itself.

However, most parrots won’t damage their beaks this way. Instead, it conveys an emotion, comforts the bird, and maintains its health. You can narrow down parrot beak grinding meaning to the following:

Contentment

A parrot will grind its beak when it feels contented and safe. It’s a self-soothing motion that enables it to calm down or brings on feelings of comfort. It also indicates that a parrot feels safe in its environment.

After all, the action generates noise and may require the parrot to keep its head down. Parrots are more likely to quieten down and keep their head up and alert during times of danger.

Sleepiness

If your parrot feels sleepy, it may start to grind its beak. The back-and-forth motion of sliding its beak across the perch can be soothing to a parrot.

In the way you may rock yourself to sleep or enjoy having a loved one brush your hair, parrots wind down with beak grinding. Don’t be surprised if your parrot doses off after a few moments.

Cleaning

Parrots can be messy with their food, and they don’t want any leftover bits of suet or seeds on their face. As such, they may rub their face back and forth to clear away debris.

Sharpening Beak

Depending on the parrot, its grinding behavior may be gentle. Its beak might glide across the perch in a smooth motion. However, others might whip it from side to side with more force, causing a louder sound. If your parrot does the latter, the meaning changes. Instead, the parrot is trying to sharpen its beak.

According to the Manual of Parrot Behavior, parrots use their beaks to:

  • Groom themselves
  • Crack and shave nuts and seeds
  • Defend themselves against predators
  • Attack rivals

Grinding the beak ensures that it’s sharp enough to perform all those tasks. If the beak was to grow too long, it might also cause health issues for the parrot.

Beak Clicking vs. Beak Grinding

You may notice your parrot clicks its beak. At a distance, it’s easy to confuse these two sounds. However, they’re different habits with different meanings.

Beak clicking usually involves the parrot:

  • Tapping the bottom half of its beak against the top half of its beak
  • Clicking its tongue against its beak

Communication

Unlike beak grinding, clicking is the parrot’s way of signaling other creatures. It may be:

  • Seeking your attention
  • Asking to be picked up
  • Telling you it’s bored

Greeting

Some domestic parrots click as a greeting, so they click at guests or even new pets.

If you’re meeting a parrot for the first time, clicking can be a good way to get it to like you straight away. It will respond by coming closer and making the sound back to you.

Threat (with Aggressive Body Language)

There are rare cases where beak clicking is a parrot’s way of issuing a threat. This will be accompanied by fluffed feathers, dilated eyes, and jerky motions.

The clicks will be continuous and persistent. If your parrot displays none of these signs and is calm, it’s no different than a dog whining for attention.  

why do parrots rub their beaks on you?

Entertainment

Most parrot species enjoy the company of their owners and prefer that you entertain them. However, some will be content to find out what weird sounds they can make.

Parrot Rubbing Beak On Cage: What Does It Mean?

If your parrot keeps grinding its beak on its cage, it’s not attacking the cage or trying to damage it. Instead, it’s picking the cage as an abrasive surface that won’t fall over or move away when the parrot pushes on it. Likewise, most parrots have a lot of contact with their cage.

As with most beak grinding, your parrot is:

  • Grooming
  • Sharpening its beak
  • Telling you it wants to get out of its cage

The cage may be the safest object for the parrot to grind on.

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On You?

If the parrot didn’t trust you, it wouldn’t let you so close to its eyes or throat. Likewise, it wouldn’t tuck itself up against your neck, lap, or arms to rub against you. Those actions place it firmly within your reach.

More importantly, it’s the parrot’s way of cuddling. In the wild, parrots will often nuzzle against each other and prod one another with their beaks. Providing that the motion is made close-mouthed and gently, it’s a sign of affection.

You’ll find parrots nuzzle their owners on the following:

  • Neck
  • Face
  • Shoulder
  • Arm

If the parrot rubs its beak on you more insistently, it may be seeking your attention. Nuzzle it back or pet it down the back of its spine. That mirrors the action of parrots cuddling each other in the wild.

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On Perch?

If your parrot rubs its beak against the perch in its cage, that’s usually for grooming purposes. The perch offers a steady surface for grinding off food, seed shells, or other debris from its face or beak.

It gives the parrot easy reach with its feet, should it need to be more detailed with the cleaning process. In the wild, this behavior would be used on tree branches. The perch is an easy substitute.

The parrot may also be trying to prevent its beak from growing overly long.

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On Floor?

You may find your parrot randomly scratching its beak across the floor. Since it’s not a precise perch, the action may seem nonsensical. On the contrary, it has these meanings:

Scratching

The parrot may be scratching an itch on its beak or face.

Once the parrot associates that motion with that satisfaction, it may incorporate this into its body language. By miming the scratching motion, it’s asking you to scratch or pet it.

You’ll know for sure if the parrot lifts its head, looks at you to ensure you’re paying attention, and makes the motion again. If done more than twice, you can be sure it’s sending you a message.

Cleaning or Filing

Depending on the type of floor, your parrot could be cleaning its beak. In particular, carpeting offers an abrasive and absorbent surface to rub off seeds or dust. Just be sure to vacuum up any leftovers left behind.

If you have hard floors, the parrot may also be using it as a way to sharpen or file its beak. Unless your floor is sturdy, you may want to stop this behavior. It could scratch or mark the surface.

Territorial Marking

If you have more than one parrot, they may wipe their beaks on the cage floor and other places to mark their territory. It alerts the surrounding birds not to touch what is now theirs.

This is especially common if you are introducing one parrot to another for the first time.

Signs That Your Parrot Likes You

Beak grinding can mean that your parrot feels safe with you. It may even grind against your neck to show love or click as a greeting. You can be sure your parrot loves you when these signs of affection accompany beak grinding:

Preening

Preening is when parrots clean dust, dirt, or parasites off their feathers. They use their beaks to pick at the feathers, separate them, or brush them. Parrots won’t do this unless they feel comfortable.

So, if your pet parrot feels confident that it can trust you, it’ll preen while resting on your shoulder or sitting nearby. You may find that your parrot preens you.

Grooming

If you find your parrot chewing on your hair, ear, shirt, or anything else on your person, that’s a good indication that it likes you. This is especially true if it’s the only bird in the home.

When parrots lack other birds to groom with, they’ll use their owners as substitutes.

parrot rubbing beak on cage

Flap Tails

Parrots will flap their tails when they’re happy to see you. If your parrot performs this motion whenever you enter the room, then it likes you.

However, be aware that tail shaking can signify that the parrot is about to go to the bathroom. Before taking it out of its cage, make sure that it isn’t about to relieve itself.

Dilated Pupils

While humans can’t control whether our pupils dilate or not, parrots can. They widen or narrow them depending on their mood or environment. If they dilate when you enter the room, they’re excited to see you.

Pay attention to their other body language, too. Dilated pupils can also indicate stress when accompanied by puffed feathers or defensive behavior.

Hanging Upside Down

If you’ve seen your parrot hanging upside down from its perch, it means it’s comfortable around you.

If the parrot felt threatened or scared, it would never risk hanging upside down, as that position makes it easier for predators to ambush. When parrots feel comfortable, they’ll play around.

They can hang upside down when:

  • Playing
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Sleeping

Regurgitating Food

Since parrots regurgitate food for their young, they might also do this for their owners. It may seem gross to us, but it’s a sign that they feel you belong to their pack and that they want to care for you.

Talk, Sing, Whistle

When your parrot talks, sings, or whistles at you, it’s proving that it’s happy and content. While parrots do make noises when they are upset and angry, the tone will be much different.

According to The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, parrots can manage complex communication and changing social affiliations.

Mimic

Parrots will also mimic you when they feel happy. By mimicking your words or even your actions, they’re trying to connect with you.

Eye Contact

If a parrot is nervous or scared, it won’t make direct eye contact with you.

However, if it feels comfortable, it will meet your eye when you come up to its cage or look at it. Even if it only looks at you with one eye, it’s at least interested in what you’re doing.

Should I Stop My Parrot from Beak Grinding?

If the grinding is particularly loud or the motion is rapid, you may grow concerned.

Is there a point where beak grinding becomes harmful? The only danger is the parrot damaging its cage, your floor, or other objects. If you find your parrot grinding its beak often, you can get a sturdier perch or metal cage.

If it’s damaging furniture or flooring, you can place the parrot back in its cage until it finishes cleaning or filing its beak. Once it’s done, it can be free to come back out and sit with you.