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Why Do Parrots Tap Their Beaks?

Why Do Parrots Tap Their Beaks? (Beak Banging)

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Parrots communicate in different ways, including tapping their beaks. It’s not something all parrots do, but some bang their beaks against their owners and hard objects to convey their feelings.

Parrots tap their beaks to communicate with you. If they want food, water, or out-of-cage time, they may tap their beaks against a hard object for attention. Beak tapping can also signify stress or boredom.

Some parrots enjoy the sound produced, growing fascinated by the reverberations.

Beak tapping can be confused with beak rubbing, which is done for similar reasons. Consequently, you’ll often see a parrot tapping and rubbing its beak at the same time.

Why Birds Tap Their Beaks On Things

Beak tapping is uncommon, but parrots do it for several reasons. Most explanations are behavioral, signifying that a parrot needs something, like sustenance or mental stimulation.

The most common reasons for beak banging include:

Communication

If a parrot needs food, water, or exercise, tapping its beak against its cage or another hard surface is an effective way to get human attention.

If you react to the sound, the parrot will learn that this behavior garners a response, resulting in it getting what it wants. Once it realizes this, it’ll continue to tap its beak in the future.

Boredom or Stress

Parrots that repetitively or obsessively tap their beaks are likely bored or stressed.

These feelings can manifest for several reasons, but the most common is parrots are sociable and friendly animals that like human and same-species avian company.

Without them, they become claustrophobic inside their cage and crave companionship. Self-mutilation is common among stressed and bored parrots.

Besides beak tapping, parrots develop destructive and stereotypic behaviors. This includes plucking their feathers, scratching themselves, foot tapping, and bobbing their heads.

Aggression

Beak tapping against a perch or other surface can be a territorial display or a sign of aggression. Scared or fearful parrots and those struggling to acclimate to captivity are likelier to grow hostile.

The causes of aggression in pet parrots include:

  • Changes to the environment.
  • Predatory pets, like cats.
  • Lack of socialization.
  • Jealousy of other birds, animals, or people.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Protecting territory.
  • Stress.
  • Lack of mental stimulation.

You can prevent aggression and territorial behavior by doing the following:

  • Move the parrot to a new place to stop it from becoming overly territorial of its primary area.
  • Make slow movements around the parrot to avoid stressing it out.
  • Don’t force contact if the parrot wants to be left alone.
  • Keep your voice soft and low whenever you speak to the parrot so it doesn’t see you as a threat.
  • Use treats to reward a parrot when it behaves appropriately.
  • Build trust with regular training.
why do birds tap their beaks on things?

Beak Shortening

Beaks are made of β-keratin (protein) and grow continuously throughout a parrot’s lifetime. Parrots grind their beaks down naturally by pecking at tough objects, chewing items, and eating abrasive foods.

If a parrot suspects its beak is getting too long, it taps it against a blunt object and rubs it against rough surfaces to shorten it.

It’s easier for wild parrots to maintain the length of their beaks. Unfortunately, pet parrots don’t have the same opportunities to do so and need to find other ways to grind their beaks down.

Parrots find eating, opening, and closing their beaks difficult without regular maintenance. To keep their beaks trimmed, you can provide cuttlefish bones and wooden toys.

Cleaning Themselves

Parrots peck and tear their food using their pointy beaks. Soft foods are messy.

When food sticks to the beak, it can irritate. Rubbing or tapping the beak against something hard loosens the excess, making the parrot more comfortable.

Enjoying The Sound

Some parrots enjoy the sound their beaks make when they tap them against hard surfaces.

These noises may reverberate, creating an echo. Parrots love sounds and music and commonly dance by bobbing their heads and moving their legs.

Frontiers in Psychology believes some large parrots perceive rhythmic structures and make music.

Some parrots also enjoy the vibrations caused by their beaks hitting their cage. This is a new feeling the parrot is attempting to understand.

why does my parrot tap its beak on me?

Why Parrots Tap Their Beak on Me

Parrots only get close to humans if they trust or fear them. It’s easy to tell the difference between the two by observing a parrot’s body language and demeanor.

If a parrot taps its beak on you, it’s for these reasons:

Territorial Behavior

Territorial parrots may tap you with their beaks if they’re bonded to another human and are jealous of you. If that person’s not you, you may be tapped as a warning to stay away.

Territorial behavior usually begins at the same time as sexual maturity. If it’s not stopped, the parrot will become braver, resorting to more extreme measures, including biting.

If you’re dealing with a territorial parrot, do the following:

  • Ensure that the cage is the right size and in good order.
  • Provide toys and games to play with.
  • Introduce the parrot to other people so that it doesn’t become too attached to one person.
  • When feeding, leave the parrot alone so it doesn’t feel threatened.
  • Cover the parrot’s cage at night so that it gets sufficient sleep.

Parrot Likes You

If the beak tapping accompanies rubbing, the parrot is fond of you. Parrots only get close to humans they trust. Tapping lets them get your attention and show they care.

Your parrot may preen you by prodding you with its beak and nibbling your ears and hair. When parrots don’t have other parrots to preen, they’ll turn their attention to bonded humans.

Stopping Parrot Beak Tapping

You know the parrot better than anyone else. There’s no need to intervene if it seems to be enjoying beak tapping, only if the parrot is in pain or distress.

If a parrot has behavioral issues, ensure it gets sufficient mental stimulation and exercise. Handle the parrot more regularly so it’s more comfortable in your presence.