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Understanding Pet Bird Body Language

What is Your Feathered Friend Trying to Tell You?

It can be quite a challenge to figure out what your pet is trying to tell you - even if you have a talking pet.

Many parrots and parakeets can talk, but they usually don't use this ability to communicate what they're feeling - although there are exceptions.

Such as an African Grey or parakeet loudly saying, "Hello!" when he wants your undivided attention. The most reliable method for understanding your bird's feelings is to read their body language.

An agitated or fearful bird will often try to defend himself with his only weapon - his beak. And this can be quite painful if you have a large pet bird such as an African Grey, Cockatiel, or Cockatoo. Even a smaller lovebird or parakeet bite can hurt - especially if they nip a tender area.

Fearful and Scared Pet Birds

Luckily, you can avoid a bird bite if you know what to look out for. It's fairly easy to tell when your bird is upset or fearful. He'll make himself as tall and skinny as possible.

His eyes (pupils) are often dilated, and he will hardly move at all. It's his attempt to blend into his surroundings - like he would do in the wild. He thinks that if he remains as still as possible, any possible predator will overlook him.

If you approach and try to handle your bird when he's displaying this posture, he may break his paralysis and attack you - he's only acting out of instinct to defend himself.

You should first try to make him feel at ease by placing him above your level. Squat down, slightly below his level. Look at him and then close your eyes for a few seconds. Slowly open and close your eyes, talking softly to him the whole time. Your bird should begin to relax.

As a general rule: birds feel more secure when they're higher than you; and they consider blinking a sign of unthreatening behavior - which gains their trust.

Once your bird relaxes, you should still use caution when handling her. She may still have feelings of fear and nervousness just under the surface.

Junaid cockatiel

Angry Pet Birds

Angry birds also display dilated eyes (pupils). Her head will often move around in a snakelike motion and she may squawk loudly. She'll be leaning forward so she can attack more easily. And her neck feathers may be standing up like a bristling cat.

You should not try and handle an angry bird. Try calming her first using the methods mentioned previously. You can also try to distract her with a special treat, but make sure you don't let her get too close to your hand - you might get a painful bite in return.

Excited Pet Birds

Excited birds also display dilated pupils, bobbing heads, and puffed-out or ruffled feathers. If he's extremely excited, his whole body may be moving a bit - or he'll go back and forth pacing about his cage.

He'll often be quite vocal and loud - letting loose some ear-piercing screeches or screams. Although he may be happy, he could still bite you out of excitement. Once again, wait for him to calm down before handling him.

Calm and Content Birds

A calm and contented bird is fairly easy to recognize. He'll feel safe and secure enough to groom himself right in front of you - even stretching out his wings. His posture will be relaxed, almost slouching.

He might be slightly drowsy or napping, with one leg tucked up under him. This is the best time to approach and handle him - but don't ever make sudden movements towards him, as birds are easily startled. It's always best to approach him slowly and gently.

Reading pet bird body language is very important and fairly easy, once you know what to look for - whether you own an African Grey, Cockatiel, Cockatoo, Macaw, Lovebird, Parakeet , or any other type of bird.