How to Understand Your Bird's Body Language
Birds are highly intelligent creatures, with complex and specialized forms of communication. Each species has a unique way of using body language and vocalizations to communicate. However, there are some things that birds do in general that you can decode, no matter what type of bird you have. If you pay attention to your bird's regular mannerisms, you will be able to identify when they have changed. Also, you need to look at your bird's movements or behaviors in context to understand them. If you can do this, you will be closer to understanding what your feathered friend is trying to communicate to you.
Identifying Self-Care Behavior
Look for preening behavior.Birds are typically very clean creatures and they spend a lot of time cleaning, preening, and grooming their feathers. This is natural self-care behavior that is important for birds to do.
- While preening, birds straighten out their feathers by pulling them through their beaks.This allows them to pull out dislodged feathers, clean out pests and debris, and spread preening oil across their feathers. Preening oil is produced from a gland near a bird's tail and the bird spreads it around to all of its feathers. This oil helps protect the feathers.
- If your bird has stopped preening, has ruffled feathers, and looks shabby, you should have it looked at by a veterinarian. This could indicate that it is not well.
Make sure your bird is bathing.Bathing is an important part of feather maintenance for birds.If your bird stops bathing itself, that is a sign that it is no longer taking care of itself. This could signal depression, body pain, or lack of mobility.
- Your bird may simply take a quick bath in its water dish once in a while, so you may not catch it every time. However, you may notice water splashed all over the place in your bird's cage. This is a good indicator that your bird has taken a bath.
Look for vigorous wing flapping.Wing flapping can signal a lot of things, but one reason that birds do it is simply for the exercise. Birds in captivity still want to keep their wings in working condition, so flapping them around keeps the muscles conditioned to some degree.
- Your bird may also do this to get your attention or simply because it is happy.
Identifying Signs of Contentment
Notice singing or whistling.If your bird is singing and whistling a lot that is a good sign, as this is the behavior of a bird that is generally content and healthy. A bird that is singing or whistling a lot is likely very happy.
- Try singing or whistling along with your bird. This can be a great bonding activity for you.
Pay attention to soft chattering or talking.A bird that is content is likely to chatter or talk a lot. In fact, if you spend time with them, they are likely to increase this chatter when you come around.
- If you pay attention to the sounds that your bird makes on a daily basis, you will be able to identify the difference between the contented chatter or talking and unusual sounds that signal other things.
Identify beak grinding.Beak grinding is a perfectly normal behavior in which a bird slides its top and bottom beak against one another. It is usually a sign of contentment. It may be done at any time of day but is usually done when the bird is settling down for the night.
- It is thought that beak grinding is done to keep the bird's beak in good condition.
Looking for Signs of Aggression or Attention Seeking
Look for restlessness.If the bird is jumping from one perch to another continuously then your bird is restless. You should immediately pay attention because something is bothering your bird and it is trying to communicate with you. Birds also tend to show this behavior when they are seeking attention or just want to come out of the cage.
- If this behavior is accompanied by clicks and vocalization, such as loud chattering, more often than not, your bird wants to play with you and is demanding your attention.
Notice signs that your bird has spotted danger.If the bird remains still and its feathers are tightly packed close to the body, your bird has spotted some danger. It is trying to remain as still as possible to avoid being spotted. Birds have a lot of natural enemies and they exhibit this behavior to escape unwanted attention.
- Birds tend to fix their eyes on the source of the danger. Watch the bird closely. It is trying to warn you and point you to the source of the threat.
- Do not pick or move your bird while it is exhibiting these behaviors. If your bird is looking outside the window, close the window blinds and then go to your bird to comfort it.
- Your bird could feel threatened by anything, including a new couch or a new lamp in your living room. To find out if your bird associates danger with a new article in the room, walk towards the article and then stay there for a minute. Touch the new article and be relaxed. Birds will quickly learn there is no reason to be worried.
Identify signs of aggression.Your bird may be trying to show its dominance if it raises its head and perches above your eye level. It may also begin to "growl" to show its aggression.
- This behavior may occur if your bird feels threatened or protective due to having strangers in the room or a person nearby that your bird is not fond of.
Identifying Signs of Illness or Discomfort
Look for tail bobbing without previous exercise.Tail bobbing after exercise may be done while the bird is trying to catch its breath. However, if the bird is doing this behavior without having done any exercise, that can signal respiratory problems.
- If your bird is bobbing its tail without having done any exercise, have it seen by a veterinarian.
Pay attention to panting.Panting in birds can signal a variety of things, including that they are thirsty, that they have a respiratory infection, or that they just exercised. Make sure your bird has access to water immediately and monitor the panting. It it stops, then it was likely caused by physical exertion.
- If your bird likes to mimic sounds, panting can simply be a sound that they have heard that they are repeating. However, if your bird has had no way of hearing that sound, it is likely not a mimicked sound.
Notice changes in behavior.Birds are generally sick for a week or two before they actually show signs of sickness. Birds tend to mask their sickness in the wild to avoid being spotted by predators and pet birds are nonetheless. Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment. Rush your bird to an Avian Vet immediately.
- Make sure you check your bird’s eating habits and food intake regularly. Reduced appetite is one of the first signs of a sick bird.
- Never ignore it if your bird shows signs of sickness. There is no time to procrastinate. Get your bird veterinary care immediately.
Pay attention to a lack of vocalization.If your bird is usually very vocal but has not been singing or chattering lately, then you should have it checked out by a veterinarian. A lack of singing or chattering can be a sign that your bird it not feeling well.
QuestionWhat if my baby lovebird is opening and closing its mouth?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't worry. It is most likely trying to make sounds, but is still too young.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I bond with the bird so that he won't fly away when out of his cage (without clipping his wings)?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGently feed its favourite food from your hands. Always be gentle with the bird and don't show sudden actions. Be friendly and make it happy and satisfied -- then a special bond will be created in between you and your bird.Thanks!
QuestionI got a cat and she is trying to get in the kitchen where the bird is and I don't want her in there because I'm afraid that she might kill the bird. That said, her food is in the kitchen, what should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should move your bird out of the kicthen or move your cats food to somwhere else where the bird isn't. Both options will be good for your birds life and safety.Thanks!
QuestionCan they die of coldness?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, so keep your bird in a warm area.Thanks!
QuestionA sparrow sitting on top of the bird feeder appears to be shivering; another sparrow hops to the ground and then flies up and appears to be either feeding him or kissing, what does this mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe sparrow atop the feeder is most likely a fledgling. What looks like shivering is just the baby's way of getting parent's attention. The other sparrow is going up to regurgitate food into the fledgling's mouth.Thanks!
QuestionWhat does it mean if my parrot regurgitates food when I touch it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou probably touched their stomach which is sensitive in some birds. Do not touch the bird right after he has eaten and be gentle.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I figure out what is scaring my bird?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerConsider the bird's environment first. Think about sounds, sensations (like wind from an open window) or other factors, like pets, that may be scaring the bird.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get my bird to eat out of my hand?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt takes time, but put some of their favorite food in your hand and just slowly put your hand in the cage. Do not force the bird to eat if they do not want to eat, take your hand out and try again the next day.Thanks!
QuestionWhy is my parrot biting me so much?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour parrot is probably biting you because he/she feels threatened or scared of something.Thanks!
QuestionMy bird's eye is red. Should I take it to the vet?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt would be a good idea.Thanks!
I want to by a macaw and have plenty time for her. I heard they are noisy; can I raise her in an apartment without having problems with neigbors?
I found a fledgling robin and I have kept him alive for 9 or 10 days, but today I gave him a bath and he his shaking. What do I do?
- To keep track of your bird’s health, make it a habit to glance at the bird poop every day when you clean the cage.
- Spend time with your bird regularly, as it is the key to noticing changes in behavior. Unlike mammals, birds lack facial muscles attached to their skull. Therefore, they cannot show the common expression such as a frown or a smile. Observing your bird's body language on a regular basis allows you to notice when it changes.
- Never put your bird in dark and non-ventilated location. Birds need ample light and fresh air in order to stay healthy.
- Never neglect your bird when it is trying to communicate with you, as they can become withdrawn if ignored repeatedly.
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