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parrot beak grinding meaning

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks on Things?

Last Updated on: 27th September 2023, 08:21 am

Parrots rub their beaks on various things, including cage bars, perches, toys, and people. They do this to communicate their feelings and maintain their beaks. It isn’t a stereotypie or behavioral problem.

Parrots rub their beaks on things to self-soothe, get to sleep, show contentment, and display affection. Birds also grind to wear down their ever-growing beaks to the right length and shape.

If a parrot often rubs its beak on you or clicks its beak to gain attention, it’s comfortable around you.

What Does It Mean When Parrots Grind Their Beaks?

When a parrot grinds its beak, it’ll create noise, depending on the surface used. If the parrot grinds on hard and abrasive objects, you’ll likely be concerned that it’ll harm itself.

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


A parrot will grind its beak when it feels contented. It’s a self-soothing motion that enables it to calm down or introduces 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 likelier to quiet down, keep their head up, and be alert during elevated danger.


If a parrot feels sleepy, it may grind its beak. The back-and-forth motion of sliding its beak across the perch, toys, or cage bars can be soothing.

Parrots wind down with beak grinding, meaning a bird may nap or sleep shortly afterward.


Parrots are messy with their food and don’t want bits of fruit or seeds stuck to their face. Birds will rub their face back and forth to remove food residue.

Sharpening Beak

The beak grinding behavior may be gentle, so it’ll glide its beak across the perch.

Other birds will move their beak quickly from side to side with more force, creating a louder noise. When a parrot does the latter, it’s sharpening its beak.

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

  • Preen themselves.
  • Break open nuts and seeds.
  • Defend themselves.
  • Send a warning message.

If the beak were allowed to grow too long or become misshapen, a bird would struggle to meet its care needs. This grinding process ensures the beak is shaped to perform vital tasks.

Beak Clicking vs. Beak Grinding

You may notice that a parrot clicks its beak. It’s easy to confuse these two sounds, but they’re habits with entirely different meanings. Beak clicking involves a parrot:

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


Unlike grinding, beak clicking involves a parrot signaling to others. It may be:


Some pet parrots click their beaks as a greeting, clicking at house guests or other animals.

If you’re meeting a parrot for the first time, clicking may be an effective way to get it to like you because it’ll likely respond by coming closer and making the sound itself.

Threat (with Aggressive Body Language)

In rare cases, beak clicking is a parrot’s way of issuing a threat. Fluffed feathers, rapid eye dilation (eye pinning), and jerky motions will accompany this action.

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


Most parrot species enjoy the company of humans and like you to entertain them. However, some birds are content to discover what unusual sounds they can make.

why do parrots rub their beaks on you?

Parrot Rubbing Beak On Cage: What Does It Mean?

If a parrot keeps grinding its beak on its cage, it’s not trying to damage it.

Instead, it’s using the cage’s abrasive surface because it won’t fall over or move away when the parrot pushes against it. As with most beak grinding, a parrot is:

  • Keeping itself occupied.
  • Relaxing and unwinding.
  • Beak preening.
  • Wearing down beak excess.
  • Letting you know it wants to leave its cage.

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

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On You?

If a parrot didn’t trust you, it wouldn’t allow you to get so close. Also, it wouldn’t tuck itself against your neck, lap, or arms to rub against you. Those actions place show affection and make it more vulnerable.

It’s a parrot’s way of cuddling. Wild parrots nuzzle against each other and prod one another with their beaks. Providing that the motion is made close-beaked, it’s a sign of love and affection.

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On Perches?

If a parrot rubs its beak against the perch, it’s usually preening. The perch offers a steady surface for removing food, seed shells, or debris from the face and beak.

It gives the parrot easy reach with its feet, should it need to be more thorough with the cleaning process. This behavior would be used on tree branches, but perches are a viable substitute.

A parrot will also rub against perches to prevent its beak from growing too long.

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On The Floor?

You may find a parrot scratching its beak across the floor for the following reasons:


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

Once a parrot associates that motion with the experience, it may incorporate this into its body language. By mimicking the scratching motion, it may be asking if you’ll rub the area.

Cleaning or Filing

Depending on the floor, a parrot could be cleaning its beak. In particular, carpet provides an abrasive and absorbent surface to rub off dirt and food waste.

If you have hard floors, a parrot may use them to sharpen or wear down the beak. Unless the floor is sturdy, you should stop this behavior to prevent damage to the surface.

Territorial Marking

If you have several parrots, they may wipe their beaks on the cage floor and other places to mark territory. This tells cagemates not to go near their possessions.

Territorial marking is normal if you introduce two new parrots.

parrot rubbing beak on cage

Signs That A Parrot Likes You

Beak grinding can mean that a parrot likes and feels safe with you.

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


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

Flap Tails

Parrots will flap their tails when they’re pleased to see you. If a parrot performs the same motion whenever you enter the room, it likes you.

However, tail shaking can signify that a parrot is about to poop.

Dilated Pupils

Parrots can widen or narrow their pupils depending on their mood or environment. If the eyes dilate when you enter the room, it’s showing an emotional response to your appearance.

Dilated pupils can also indicate stress when accompanied by puffed feathers or defensive behavior.

Regurgitating Food

Since parrots regurgitate food for their young, they might do this for their owners. It may seem gross, but it signifies that you’re part of their flock.

Talk, Sing, Whistle

When a parrot talks, sings, or whistles at you, it shows happiness. While parrots make noises when upset and angry, the tone will be entirely different.

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


A parrot attempts to connect with you by mimicking human words or actions.

Eye Contact

If a parrot is scared or nervous, it’ll avoid making direct eye contact with you.

Beak rubbing in parrots is a natural behavior that serves many essential functions in their lives.