Understanding Parrot Behavior


Parrot behavior is the subject of a great deal of study and research. Just as parrots in the wild have a social structure and behaviors that communicate their feelings, desires, and moods, companion parrots use behaviors to communicate their needs to their human flocks. You simply have to learn how to read parrot behavior to “speak parrot”.


A large part of a parrot’s behavior has to do with taking care of its physical needs each day. The parrot will wake up about the time daylight begins and, with short naps along the way, continue its day until darkness.

Many parrots adjust this pattern because of artificial lighting, but parrots need quite a bit of sleep time to be healthy. During waking hours that are not spent interacting with the human flock, a parrot will spend time eating and grooming. A great deal of time is spent each day preening feathers so that every feather is in perfect condition. Play is another parrot behavior you’ll see daily.

If you have a companion parrot in your home, you may notice that your parrot eats when it sees humans eating. This parrot behavior is because in the wild parrots eat as a flock frequently. Your parrot will probably love it if you include it in mealtimes, serving some healthy human foods to the bird and introducing new foods at this time. It is much more likely to try new foods when it sees its favorite humans eating them.

Generally, a parrot makes noise in the mornings shortly after waking and during the late afternoon. This is the parrot’s way of saying it is glad to be alive. It can also be a means of attempting to attract a mate and you may hear special sounds that are indicative of sexual calls.

A parrot behavior that simply can’t be changed is the fact that every parrot that is a companion parrot will make contact calls with its humans from time to time. Your parrot can be expected to call to you when you return home after being away for any length of time, from a few minutes to a few hours. It is telling you how happy it is to see you return. Some parrots also call when their humans leave them. It is not normal for a happy, healthy parrot to scream all the time, however. This can result from boredom, lack of attention, improper training or socialization, behavioral problems due to improper hand feeding or weaning, or illness.

Another parrot behavior that can’t and shouldn’t be changed is the desire to chew on wood and engage in other forms of play with its beak. Parrots in the wild chew wood to wear down their beaks, to create nesting cavities in trees, and as a form of play. Do not expect to teach a parrot not to chew on its toy. In fact, this parrot behavior should be encouraged because busy beaks are happy beaks.

If you notice your parrot’s behavior changes significantly suddenly, you should watch closely to be sure your parrot is not ill. A parrot that stops playing, grooming, interacting with humans, eating, or begins to sleep an abnormal amount is probably ill and medical attention must be sought quickly to ensure the illness is treated before the parrot becomes so ill it can not be saved.

Parrot behavior is a complex issue and many books have been written on this subject. If you watch your parrot closely, you’ll begin to understand the meaning of the parrot behaviors it exhibits. You’ll understand your parrot much more if you watch behaviors, keeping in mind what has just occurred that elicited the action on the parrot’s part.