Understanding Your Bird’s Body Language

Parrot with Ruffled Feathers

Understanding Parrot Body Language

Birds are an open book. They wear their feelings on their sleeve or feathers in this case. (LOL) If you pay close attention to your bird’s body language and vocalizations, it will be easy to understand what they are trying to communicate. Carefully observe your parrot as they are playing with their bird toys .  Watch intently as they exercise on their parrot gym and watch their slight movements, posture and certain sounds and they will inform you regarding what your feathered friend is thinking or feeling.

When Your Bird is Afraid:
A frightened bird will sit erect and still. He/she will stay on his perch without making a single move. His/her eyes will be wide and dilated. In this position, he/she is trying to make himself invisible.

In the wild, birds who feel threatened often sit extremely still, trying to blend in with their surroundings. If you notice your bird behaving in this way, do not walk up to him. He could lash out at you with a bite.  Instead, gently kneel down so your bird is sitting above you. This will make him feel more secure. Look intently at your feathered friend…  blinking gently. Birds view blinking as non-threatening behavior. It will help your bird relax, realizing that nothing is wrong. Wait until your parrot has truly settled down before picking him up.

When Your Bird is Angry:
Angry parrots are hard to miss! Ruffled feathers, bulging eyes, loud vocalizations and bobbing of the head are all classic signs of a perturbed parrot. If your bird is demonstrating this type of behavior do not approach him. Do your best to calm your feathered friend by talking softly, blinking or offering a treat. Wait until he is acting normal again before attempting to touch him. An angry bird can do some serious damage.

When Your Bird is Calm and Content:
Nothing is more rewarding than watching your bird happily playing with his  bird toys or sitting peacefully on his bird perch. A bird who is feeling calm and happy will preen himself,  sing in his birdcage or merrily grind his beak.  He will look happy and at-ease.

Parrots Communicate in a Number of Ways:
•    Your parrot may flap his wings when he is frustrated or trying to get your attention. So when you hear that flapping look over to  see what your feathered friend needs.

•    Your parrot may whistle, sing or talk when he is feeling content and happy!! Hearing your bird sing on his bird perch or parrot playgym should give you a happy feeling as well. After all when your feathered friend is content all is right in the world.  Seeing my birds happy always puts me in a great mood!!

•    Your parrot may tap his foot to try to tell everyone he is boss!! This is especially true if he or she is in the company of other parrots.  My Cockatoo Marshmellow taps her foot but for her I have observed this behavior as more of a touch type of behavior.

I hope these few tips help you in understanding some of your feathered friends body language.

If you have any questions please feel free to write me.

FunTime Birdy


  1. Simone on May 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Hi there,

    We just got our Nandy Conure today and when I was speaking to her softly she was in the cage & she puffed up and sort or purred or growled. Is this a sign of aggression? because my mum picked her up out of the travel box and she just sat there and didn’t even bite. Even let us pat her before she got into her new cage.
    We have other birds but she is the first big parrot, apart from Lewie our cockateil, that we have ever owned.

    Any help I would very greatful thank you so much!


    • funtimebirdy on May 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Hi Simone,

      When we first brought our Cockatoo Marshmellow home 21 years ago and took her out of her travel cage she was a total mush let us hug her and pet her her. The next morning my husband came running in and said ” Marshmellow hissed at me and puffed up” I could not believe that little mush hissed and puffed up till I saw it for myself.

      To answer your question…It is a sign of defense and sort of aggression. Your new baby is scared of her new environment (home) and needs reassurance that she is safe. She feels safe in the cage and is trying to defend herself from anyone coming in to her home (cage). It is just a defense mechanism.

      You need to work with her slowly to help her feel safe and develop trust. Offer her a treat and move slowly when approaching her while talking softly to her and reassuring her. In time she will start trusting you. The behavior she has displayed is perfectly normal when a bird arrives in a new home so there is nothing to worry about. Start working with her and I am sure in a few days she will acclimate to her new home with her loving Mommy.


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