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Parrot Behavior - Is my Bird Sick? Happy?

Parrots are known for their intelligence and playful behavior. They can be trained to do a variety of tricks, and many people enjoy having them as pets. Parrots are also very social animals and like to spend time with their human companions. However, parrots can also be noisy and demanding, which is why some people may not be suited to their companionship.

Parrot behavior can vary depending on the individual bird's personality, but there are some general things to look out for. If a parrot is excessively noisy or screaming all the time, it could be a sign of illness or stress. A fluffed parrot may be sick or just tired, while a playful parrot is typically healthy and happy. Let's explore some of the most common parrot behaviors and what they mean.

Common Parrot Behaviors:

1. A parrot that is fluffed up and sitting still during the day may be trying to nap or conserve energy. If your parrot is fluffed up, pay attention to their behavior. If they are eating and drinking fine and return to being alert and cheerful, then they were most likely just taking a nap, however if the the parrot is hesitant to move or leave the fluffed position, this could be a sign of illness. Another behavior to keep an eye out for is wing drooping which can also indicate that your bird is sick.

2. A parrot that is bobbing its head up and down may be trying to get your attention. Birds often do a head bobbing motion or swing their head side to side looking for a reaction. If your parrot is also bringing up food with the motion, they may be trying to regurgitate and "feed you". It is best to discourage this behavior as it could lead to hormonal issues in parrots. If they are swinging their head erratically and the contents are more fluidlike and covering the parrot, it is most likely vomiting, which is a sign of serious illness and you should contact your avian vet immediately.

A pair of Indian Ringneck Parrots Regurgitating

3. A parrot that is screaming may be trying to communicate something to you. If the tone is rapid and abrupt, your bird could have seen something they believe is a threat (like a vacuum cleaner) that they are trying to warn you of. They could also just be yelling due to excitement, to say good morning, and occasionally they have a nice yell to say goodnight.

4. A parrot that is making clicking noises or making a grinding sound is usually a sign that your bird is happy and content. You could compare the beak grinding noise of the eclectus to a bone grinding sound, but never fear, your bird is just letting you know they are relaxed. Many times this noise will occur right before sleeping or during a preening session.

5. Preening or plucking? A parrot that is plucking its feathers may be trying to tell you that it's stressed out or uncomfortable. Usual preening is just a cleaning of the feathers and does not cause any damage, however if your parrot is presenting with bald patches, it could be a sign of stress plucking, vitamin deficiency or illness and should be addressed by a professional. Occasionally plucking can be due to another flock member, so if you are noticing bald areas, see if there could be an issue with one of their flockmates over-barbering them. However, this is not typical and birds that are part of a flock will preen each other to help with pin feathers and to show affection.

6. Heart wings or dancing is a behavior displayed by many parrots as a sign of courtship and respect toward their owner. Many birds like indian ringnecks and cockatoos will strut their stuff to show you how impressive they are.

7. The angry bird: A display of absolute fury where your bird is letting you know they do NOT want to be bothered! Your parrot may squint their eyes and fluff their feathers to make themselves look more threatening. They may extend their neck and make abrupt biting motions, even hiss or stomp in an aggressive manner. If your parrot is in this headspace it is best to leave them alone for the time being, so not to cause them further stress.


Parrots are such diverse creatures, each with their own personality. You know your parrot best and if you think their behavior is out of the ordinary, don't ignore it! It's always best to consult with a veterinarian if you are unsure of your bird's health or a new behavior. Certain illnesses, such as psittacosis, can be deadly if left untreated. So if you notice any concerning changes in your bird's behavior, don't hesitate to seek help.

It’s always fun to learn about our feathered friends and see their quirky behaviors. If you have any interesting stories or pictures of your parrots doing something funny, be sure to share them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

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