Parrots communicate in different ways, including tapping their beaks. It’s not something that all parrots do, but some bang their beaks against their owners and hard objects to convey various feelings.
Parrots tap their beaks to communicate with their owners. If they need food, water, or a break from their cage, they will tap their beaks against a hard object to get attention. Similarly, beak tapping can be a sign of stress and boredom. However, some parrots enjoy the sound produced and may be fascinated by the reverberations.
Beak tapping is sometimes confused with beak rubbing. However, the two are also used by parrots conjunctively for similar things, so you’ll often see your parrot tapping and rubbing its beak at the same time.
Why Do Birds Tap Their Beaks On Things
Beak tapping isn’t common in birds generally, but parrots are known to do it for several reasons. Most explanations are behavioral but can signify that the parrot needs something, like sustenance or stimulation. The most likely reasons for beak tapping in parrots are as follows:
Communicating with You
If a parrot needs a food change, fresh water, or exercise, tapping its beak against its cage or another hard surface is a good way to get attention.
If you react to the sound, your parrot will learn that this behavior gets your attention and, subsequently, the things it’s asking for. It will continue to tap its beak once it understands this.
Parrots are intelligent and complex creatures. If your parrot attempts to alert you to something, you must find out what it wants. This is because your parrot has a need, whether it’s physical or mental.
Bored or Stressed
Parrots that repetitively and obsessively tap their beaks are likely to be bored or stressed. These feelings can manifest for several reasons, but the most common is because parrots are sociable and friendly creatures that enjoy the company of birds and humans.
Without them, they become claustrophobic inside their cage and crave companionship. Self-mutilation is common in stressed and bored parrots. Besides beak tapping, parrots sometimes develop a range of destructive and neurotic behaviors. This includes plucking their feathers, scratching themselves, and bobbing their heads repeatedly.
A Sign of Aggression
Beak tapping against a perch or other surface is a territorial display or a sign of aggression. Scared or fearful parrots are most likely to become aggressive, as are parrots that struggle to acclimatize to captivity. The main causes of parrot aggression are:
- Changes to the parrot’s environment
- The introduction of predator pets, like cats and dogs
- A lack of socialization
- Jealousy of other birds, animals, or people
- Hormone changes
- Protecting territory, like food and feeders
- Stress or lack of mental stimulation
This kind of behavior shouldn’t be allowed to continue because your parrot will end up hurting itself. However, you can prevent aggression and territorial behavior with these steps:
- Move your parrot to a new spot to stop it from becoming too territorial of its primary area
- Make slow movements whenever you’re around your parrot to avoid it from becoming stressed
- Don’t force contact if your bird wants to be left alone. You will only weaken the bond
- Keep your voice soft and low whenever you speak to your parrot so that it doesn’t see you as a threat
- Use treats to discipline your parrot and distract it when it’s acting aggressively
- Build trust with regular training
Keep Their Beaks Short
Beaks are made out of keratin and grow continuously throughout a parrot’s lifetime. To keep their beaks at a comfortable length, parrots grind them down naturally by eating and chewing.
If a parrot feels its beak is getting too long, it will tap it against a blunt object and rub it against rough surfaces to shorten it.
It’s easier for wild parrots to maintain their beak’s length. However, pet parrots don’t have the same opportunities to do so and need to find other ways to grind their beaks down.
Without regular maintenance, parrots find it difficult to eat or even open and close their mouths. Even the simplest tasks can be uncomfortable. Again, pedigree pouches enable parrots to keep their beaks trimmed down. You cal also provide cuttlebones and wooden toys to help.
In rare cases, when parrots can’t maintain their beak length by tapping and rubbing, they’ll need a beak trim from a vet to fix it. This is something you shouldn’t attempt yourself, as you may hurt your parrot or cut its beak too short.
Your parrot may not be tapping its beak but rubbing it. The two are easily confused as they’re similar. Parrots rub their beaks on stationary objects to remove excess food. To eat, parrots peck and tear their food using their hook-like beaks.
Soft foods, like fruits and vegetables, are messy. When the food sticks to the beak, it can be irritating for the parrot. Rubbing or tapping the beak against something hard helps to loosen dirt and debris, making the parrot feel more comfortable.
Fruits and vegetables should make up around 15% of your parrot’s diet. To prevent your parrot from becoming uncomfortable from the excess food sticking to its beak, provide pedicure perches that allow your parrot to take care of it naturally.
However, don’t clean their beaks for them unless you need to, as parrots need to maintain their instinctual behaviors, even as pets.
Enjoy The Sound
Some parrots like the sound their beaks make when they tap them against hard surfaces. It fascinates them, so they will continue to tap to entertain themselves.
These noises sometimes reverberate, creating an echo. Parrots love sounds and music and commonly dance along by bobbing their heads and legs.
Frontiers in Psychology suggest that some large parrot species perceive rhythmic structures. Parrots are essentially making their own music.
Some parrots also enjoy the vibrations that are caused by their beaks hitting their cage. This is a new feeling that they are attempting to understand.
Why Does My Parrot Tap Its 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 your parrot’s body language and demeanor. If your parrot taps its beak on you, it’s for the following reasons:
Territorial parrots may tap you with their beaks if they are more bonded with another human and are jealous of you. Parrots rarely bond with more than one person. If that person’s not you, you’re in for a beak tapping. This is a warning for you to stay away.
Territorial behavior usually begins at the same time as sexual maturity. If it’s not stopped, the parrot will become braver and resort to more extreme measures to fight you off. These measures include biting and scratching. If you’re dealing with a territorial bird, try to appease with these steps:
- Provide toys and games for your parrot to play with
- Introduce the parrot to other people so that it doesn’t become too attached to just one person
- Feed it regularly, as parrots are more territorial when hungry
- When feeding, leave the parrot alone so that it doesn’t feel threatened
Parrot Likes You
If the beak tapping is accompanied by rubbing, your parrot likes you. Parrots only get close to humans they trust. Tapping is an effective way for your parrot to get your attention and show you that it cares.
As well as tapping, your parrot may preen you. It will prod you with its beak and nibble your ears and hair. When parrots don’t have birds to groom, they will turn to humans they’ve formed a close bond with instead.
Should I Stop My Parrot From Beak Tapping?
You know your parrot better than anyone else. If your parrot seems to be enjoying it, then leave it alone. However, if your parrot appears to be tapping its beak out of pain or distress, intervention is required.
If your parrot’s issues are behavioral, ensure that it has enough mental stimulation to keep it busy. Try handling your parrot more often to get it more comfortable in your presence. If your parrot is physically unwell, seek veterinary treatment to prevent the situation from deteriorating.