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parrot beak grinding meaning

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks on Things?

(Last Updated On: March 15, 2023)

Parrots rub their beaks on different items, including cage bars, perches, toys, and people. They do this to communicate certain feelings and requirements, so it isn’t a behavioral problem.

Parrots rub their beaks on things to self-soothe, get to sleep, show contentment, and show affection. For example, parrots grind to wear down their beaks to the right length and shape.

Conversely, beak grinding involves rubbing the beak side to side smoothly. If a parrot routinely rubs its beak on you or clicks to gain attention, it feels comfortable in your presence.

What Does It Mean When Parrots Grind Their Beaks?

When a parrot grinds its beak, it can cause noise, depending on the surface it uses. If the parrot grinds on abrasive objects, you may be concerned that it’ll harm itself.

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


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 likelier to quiet down, keep their head up, and be alert during times of danger.


If a 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 parrots.

Parrots wind down with beak grinding, so don’t be surprised if it sleeps shortly afterward.


Parrots can be messy with their food and don’t want bits of fruit or seeds stuck to their faces. So, they may rub their face back and forth to clear away food residue.

Sharpening Beak

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

However, others might move the beak quickly from side to side with more force, creating a louder noise. When a parrot does the latter, it’s trying to sharpen its beak.

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

Grinding the beak ensures it’s sharp enough to perform those tasks. However, if the beak grew too long or became misshapen, it could also have health and well-being implications.

Beak Clicking vs. Beak Grinding

You may notice the parrot clicks its beak. From a distance, it’s easy to confuse these 2 sounds, but they’re different habits with different meanings.

Beak clicking usually involves the parrot:

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


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


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

If you’re meeting a parrot for the first time, clicking can be a good 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, eye dilation, 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 their owners and prefer that you entertain them. However, some will be content to discover what weird 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 attacking the cage or trying to damage it.

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

  • Preening.
  • 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 allow you so close. Also, it wouldn’t tuck itself against your neck, lap, or arms to rub against you. Those actions place show affection but make it more vulnerable.

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

The parrot may want your attention if it rubs its beak on you more insistently.

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On Perches?

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

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

The parrot may also try to prevent its beak from growing excessively long.

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On The Floor?

You may find a 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 the following meanings:


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

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

Cleaning or Filing

Depending on the floor type, a parrot could be cleaning its beak. In particular, carpet offers an abrasive and absorbent surface to rub off debris.

If you have hard floors, the parrot may use them to sharpen or wear down its beak. Unless the floor is sturdy, you may want to stop this behavior because it could scratch or mark the surface.

Territorial Marking

If you have more than 1 parrot, they may wipe their beaks on the cage floor and other places to mark territory because it alerts the surrounding birds not to touch what’s theirs.

Territorial marking is common if you introduce two parrots.

parrot rubbing beak on cage

Signs That A Parrot Likes You

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

It may even grind against your neck to show love or click as a greeting. You can be sure the parrot loves you when these 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 the parrot preens you.


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

When parrots lack other birds to groom them, they use their owners as substitutes.

Flap Tails

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

However, be aware that tail shaking can signify that a parrot is about to go to the bathroom.

Dilated Pupils

Parrots can widen or narrow their pupils depending on their mood or environment. They’re excited to see you if they dilate when you enter the room.

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 also do this for their owners. It may seem gross, but it’s a sign that they feel you belong to their flock and want to care for you.

Talk, Sing, Whistle

When a parrot talks, sings, or whistles at you, it’s showing it’s happy and content. While parrots make noises when upset and angry, the tone will be vastly different.

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


Parrots are trying to connect with you by mimicking your words or actions.

Eye Contact

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

Parrots rub their beaks on various items, and there are various reasons why it happens. Overall, beak rubbing in parrots is a natural avian behavior that serves several essential functions in their lives.