In keeping a parrot, it is important that you make sure he is comfortable and happy. After all, an unhappy parrot can be the reason feather plucking, biting and other undesirable behaviors happen.
In this article, we will talk about 10 things that make parrots feel afraid and how you can prevent them from being this way, plus what you can do to help them calm down.
You should also pay attention to your bird as he or she will have individual things that make him afraid; be sure you know what they are so you can help them feel okay.
Change can sometimes make birds feel uncomfortable, and we aren’t talking coins! If any changes are made to your bird’s home, such as the decor inside or even outside of his cage, he might end up feeling afraid.
Be mindful of what happens when you change up his decor inside or alter the appearance of the room in which you keep your pet. For instance, a colorful piece of art near his cage could make him feel threatened.
Suppose you remove him to stay in another room while an electrician installs a ceiling fan and then he comes back, only to find that there is what appears to be some sort of natural predator looming above him.
When you decide it is time to redecorate, take your parrot into consideration and talk to him about what’s going on. Be sure you watch for any changes in behavior and help them through the process.
2. Going to the Vet
In one of our articles, we talked about Pepperberg’s parrots Griffin and Athena being afraid of the vet when the name of the doctor, the phrase “avian vet” or “veterinarian” came up in the lab.
Although the vet is a very good person and your bird should not worry, many parrots still do when they come to the realization that they will be going to see her!
After all the vet delivers scary injections or may prescribe medicine that doesn’t taste very good.
You can help your bird feel better about going to the vet by taking him around the neighborhood on short trips.
You can put him in the carrier and walk around the house to show it is a safe place to be, you can take him for a walk in the neighborhood inside the carrier, or even put him in the car for a drive.
Try to get your bird used to the normal actions of the vet; that is, having a wing looked at, having feet touched, and more. The idea is to make handling a normal experience that is not to be feared.
3. Very Loud Colors
Dogs are color-blind. Birds on the other hand, can see all colors and more. If you buy a bright, new shirt, and wear it around your parrot, he could end up feeling very uncomfortable and afraid.
Parrots see all the colors that humans do, plus the colors in the UV spectrum.
Some colors really pop out to a bird, so if you find your feathered friend is afraid as you approach, consider your clothing if nothing else around you has really changed.
Many parrot owners opt for neutral clothing and decorations situated in and around their parrots’ cages, so their pets stay nice and calm.
Earthquakes are scary for humans, after all, it is not every day that you are minding your business when suddenly the earth begins to shake, belongings go flying off the shelves, and you feel disoriented.
Parrots, like all birds, are very sensitive to earthquakes. They may very well react with fright even before a human can sense it.
One story that shows the intelligent and intuitive nature of the African Grey is the story of Jing, the Grey who was able to predict when quakes would happen.
Depending on the magnitude of the quake, Jing would act strangely (this meant a large one was coming) or normally/a bit different (reserved for quakes of magnitude 5.0 and below).
The cage during a quake becomes not a place of comfort and rest, but a trap. In a cage, one cannot fly away from the problem at hand; rather they are stuck inside and cannot get away.
Much like you would calm down a scared human, a bird is the same. Be sure you are safe, then talk gently to your bird to calm him down.
Be sure he is checked over for any injury and render first-aid before calling the avian vet right away. If he falls off the perch, offer a helping hand and perhaps a special treat to help ease the difficult situation.
5. Hands, and Being Handled
As a parrot owner, the first question you probably get from newcomers is, “Wow, your bird is beautiful, may I hold him?” Some parrots do not mind sitting on the arms of a person they may have only met a few times, others will NOT have it.
Hands that are up too close and personal are creepy and uncomfortable for humans, and the same goes for birds, too. When hands are too close to a bird’s safe zone and personal space-their cage-things can get bad.
You should try to teach your parrot to come out of his cage on a perch, or even offer him a special treat as a means of enticing him out of the cage. Then once he is out, take him for a short time to a small space to acclimate.
Offer your pet things he likes by hand, such as treats, bits of fresh fruit, or pellets. Start by putting the treat or food into a small cup. Then, graduate to holding the treat in your hand once the trust has been established.
You can then use the treat to entice him out of his home.
If your bird is still learning about the people around him, or he is not a very sociable parrot yet, establish rules right away with guests and family members that you should not go near the cage.
It may seem that you are being harsh, but it is better to be firm about it instead of dealing with a frightened bird or worse, an injured finger.
Any animal is afraid of their natural predators. Although your dogs and cats may seem harmless and likely mean no harm to your parrot, your bird still may become fearful when they see your four-legged friend come around.
This may not be the case for larger parrots, such as hyacinth or blue and gold/scarlet macaws, but for smaller parrots like the Severe Macaw or other parrotlets, dogs and cats can be scary creatures.
You should always evaluate your pet’s personalities before you bring them together.
Even if your dog or cat is staring at your pet because he finds them interesting but means no harm, your bird may still get stressed out because he feels like he is being sized up as a meal. Still, dogs and parrots can get along pretty well! Here is how to make it work!
Be sure you always supervise your pets when they are together, even if both have friendly personalities.
What you should keep in mind is that you can be a predator in your parrot’s eyes, too! That’s why it is important to understand why your parrot might be afraid of you. We have created an article on that here!
7. Night-time Frights
As a parrot owner, you have likely been awakened by a huge barrage of noise and commotion underneath one of the cage covers.
You enter the room in which your bird was resting, only to find a parrot who looks fearful and has a heartbeat that is rapid.
Cockatiels can be especially susceptible to these episodes. Other parrots can experience these terrors, too. Just why do bird feel this way at night?
Things happen at night that birds who are asleep in covered cages can perceive as threats. For instance, a loud truck driving by, a flashing police or emergency light, vibrations from a super loud stereo speaker.
For a bird who cannot see what is going on-or who can see even a sliver of light but cannot make out what it is-this becomes a threat and the need to escape is imminent.
Cue the thrashing of the cage, the loud sounds and an owner who comes rushing in to comfort their frightened bird.
To help your bird sleep well, you might put in some “white noise” as a means of disguising any outdoor noises that may scare him.
For instance, a fan, an air purifier, or even a white noise machine can be helpful and provide a familiar sound for your pet. You should also read the following article if your parrot is experiencing night frights:
8. New Toys
If you don’t know parrots, or you are a new parrot owner, you might think this sounds a bit silly. Parrots are smart and they love toys-so how could a new one possibly scare them?
We may not know why a perfectly harmless toy could invoke fear, but we can certainly aid our pets in getting over their fears so they can enjoy their new toy.
The trick is to use positive reinforcement and be kind to your parrot, taking things slowly so he learns that the toy is nothing more than just that-an inanimate object designed for fun and exercise.
If you show your parrot the toy and he shows discomfort, take some steps back and hold up the toy until your parrot shows comfortable body language.
Then, move slowly closer with the toy. Do not force this to happen. Your pet may very well dislike the toy even when you stand far away with it.
Slowly work up to hanging the toy on the outside of the cage. Be sure while all this is taking place you talk to your parrot in a gentle tone, reminding him it is just a toy.
Once he is okay with the toy on the outside of the cage, place a small treat on top of the toy and put it inside the cage. The parrot will be forced to touch the toy and come to realize it is not dangerous at all.
It may be slow, but your parrot will likely come to realize the toy you picked out is fun and he will really love it!
If you want to get some new toys for your parrot, you should make sure that they have the right size and are made of non-toxic material. We created a couple of articles on toys that are absolutely perfect for parrots:
- Why baby toys are pretty good for parrots + 8 recommendations
- Why parrots love swings
- Why rope perches are pretty good for parrots!
9. All Hallow’s Eve
Halloween, Fright Night, whatever you call it, this holiday is not a great one for parrots. Some of us love to have parties in our home and when costumed guests come over, it becomes very stressful for parrots who cannot recognize just who has invaded their home.
Children and strangers ringing the door and calling out “Trick or treat!” can also be very stressful for a bird who is used to a certain noise level.
During this season, it is best for your parrot to be placed inside a quiet room away from all the activity. You might even have a television or radio playing so he can listen to that instead of all the noise in the main area of the house.
Be sure you visit him periodically and let him know everything is okay. Also, be certain you keep all candy and candy wrappers away from parrots.
Chocolate and other candy is bad for birds of any species, and the wrappers should be thrown away so they are not shredded and possibly swallowed.
10. Loud Sounds
Parrots can be very loud indeed, but loud noises may also make them feel uneasy. Slamming of doors, yelling to one another in other rooms of the house, or sirens going off may make your parrot become fearful.
The best thing to do is help them calm down by moving them to another room away from the noise, and of course, speaking to them in gentle tones to help them feel at ease again.
Like humans, every parrot is different and certain objects will scare your pet. Some parrots are afraid of balloons, for instance.
The best thing to do is get to know your pet and keep whatever scares him away. Or, if it is an object that is appropriate for him-such as a toy, for instance, get him used to it by slowly desensitizing him to it.
By knowing our parrots and being responsive to their needs, we can help keep their fears at bay.