Parrots don’t naturally gravitate to the bottom of their cage, preferring elevated positions. This mimics wild behaviors and gives parrots a wider vantage point to survey their terrain.
The bottom of a parrot’s cage is usually the warmest part, so ensure the room temperature is sufficient, especially overnight when ambient temperatures can drop significantly.
Check the parrot’s feet to ensure the claws aren’t too long and the footpads aren’t red and inflamed. These concerns make perching uncomfortable, so a parrot will head to the bottom of its cage for respite.
Female captive parrots don’t need a mate to lay eggs, so ensure this isn’t unfolding. Also, check the parrot isn’t frightened by something in its environment, like another pet or loud noises.
Why Do Parrots Go to the Bottom of the Cage?
It’s far more common for a parrot to perch on the highest perch. If a parrot prefers to sit or lay on the bottom of the cage, it could be for one of these reasons:
Although the laws of physics dictate that heat rises, the base of a cage will be the warmest part. So, a parrot may go to the bottom of a cage during a cold snap to stay warm.
This is especially likely if you have lined the bottom of the cage with paper or disposable towels. The parrot may consider wrapping itself in this lining to increase the ambient temperature.
Check the temperature in a room that houses the parrot if you notice this behavior in the fall or winter. The temperature should be 65–80OF. If it drops below this level, find a way to warm up the room.
Inability or Unwillingness to Perch
If your parrot is sitting near-constantly on the bottom of the cage, check its feet because it may be struggling to perch or is unwilling to utilize this vantage point.
Some parrots never learn how to perch as chicks, so they need to be trained on how to do so. This won’t apply if the parrot formerly used a perch and has ceased doing so.
Foot pain is among the most common reasons a parrot declines to perch.
Perching should be the most comfortable way for a parrot to relax, imitating the act of resting on a tree branch in the wild. If it hurts the parrot, something is amiss.
Check the parrot’s claws. If these have grown too long, they may be curling over a perch and piercing the soft skin in the feet, causing paint.
If the claws are an appropriate length, check for signs of plantar pododermatitis (bumblefoot).
According to Reviews in Veterinary Medicine, this is an inflammation of the footpads, often caused by bacterial infection, that makes it painful for a parrot to perch.
The parrot may need a course of antibiotics with bandages on open sores to fully recover.
As parrots age, they can show signs of joint pain and arthritis.
As with all animals, arthritis can be debilitating for birds. As per the American Journal of Veterinary Research, larger parrots will particularly suffer due to their higher body weight.
If a parrot is becoming arthritic, consider some lifestyle changes. Encourage the parrot to lose weight by adjusting its diet, focusing more on pellets with additional Omega-3 acids over fatty seeds.
An arthritic parrot may lose interest in exercise but encourage them to move as much as possible. The more mobile the parrot remains, the more mobile its joints will remain.
Eventually, you may need to seek veterinary help and get a painkilling prescription. NSAIDs will be prescribed, sometimes alongside Neurontin (an anti-seizure medication that soothes nerve pain).
Fear of Perch
Parrots are easily spooked, so they may refuse to perch as it fears such a vantage point. This is most likely if you have recently changed the perch because many parrots have neophobia (a fear of the unfamiliar).
Check the layout of a room that houses the parrot, and see if anything has changed that may be frightening them, like brightly-colored wall art.
Think about what’s inside the cage, as some parrots are startled by the sudden appearance of a new toy or decoration. Introduce new items gradually and not all at once.
A parrot may be at the bottom of the cage because it’s hiding. Ask yourself if you have given the parrot any reason to fear you, such as unwanted handling or shouting.
There may have been external factors that spooked the parrot, too, such as loud noises from outside the home. If so, seek to reassure and calm the parrot.
It’s also possible that a parrot is playing with you. Parrots love to play games with their human owners, with hide and seek or peek-a-boo among the recreation activities parrots enjoy. If the parrot rises when you acknowledge it, it is likely having fun.
Preparing to Lay Eggs
If the parrot is female, is she preparing to lay eggs? While wild parrots don’t lay eggs without a mate, some captive parrots do so.
Parrots are likeliest to lay eggs in the spring and summer when the days are longer.
Covering a cage and leaving a room in silence from around 5 pm onward makes this less likely, but don’t leave anything that could be used as a nesting box in this dark space.
If you pet a parrot in certain areas, like down the back or under the wings, it’s more likely to lay eggs.
Changing the layout of a parrot’s cage periodically will deter your bird from laying unfertilized eggs, as birds prefer to lay eggs in familiar terrain.
Sickness or Injury
If you can’t find a compelling reason for a parrot to remain at the bottom of the cage based on the above, it’s likely injured or has an undiagnosed sickness.
Start by assessing if the parrot could have a head injury – it may remain at the bottom of the cage as it is dazed. Think back to any instances where the parrot may have hit its head while exercising or question if it could have fallen from the top of the cage.
Look out for any of the following uncharacteristic behaviors or habits in parrots:
- General aloofness and reluctance to engage with you.
- Drooping in one or both wings.
- Regurgitating food (not vomiting) or declining to eat.
- Struggling to fly.
- Sleeping during irregular hours.
It’s also possible that your parrot had a seizure outside when you weren’t around.
The act of a parrot’s seizure that we know – convulsing and jerking – only lasts a few seconds. Then, the parrot will likely spend several hours after this at the bottom of a cage.