Parrot behaviour 2/3: common behaviours

In part two of this mini series we will explore some common behaviours exhibited by parrots, using my cockatiel and rosella as examples.

Sleeping – this is an essential part of a parrot’s life – in the wild, cockatiels and rosellas will sleep through the afternoon due to this being the hottest part of the day in their natural habitat. When asleep the bird will tuck his head into his wing and puff out his feathers – he may also stand on one foot.


Preening – this forms a large part of a parrot’s day – in between eating and socialising with other flock members, the feathers are meticulously cleaned. The bird uses his beak and tongue to move along the length of the feather, ensuring that dirt and parasites are removed and that the feather is in the right position in relation to the others.

Stretching – a very common behaviour – birds will stretch throughout the day at regular intervals.


Chewing – cockatiels and rosellas are highly inquisitive and use their beaks and tongues to explore new objects – chewing forms a large part of their day as it keeps their beaks in good condition and burns a lot of energy.


Beak wiping – parrots will often rub their beaks on their perch to clean it after eating, although this can also be a territorial behaviour used to warn other birds in the area.


Head shaking – there is some debate as to what this means: some suggestions include that this happens when the bird hears a sound that he doesn’t like, or that he likes the taste of something. From my own experience I would be more tempted to believe the second theory, as Captain Beaky often shakes his head when I feed him apple or dandelion leaves.

Playing – this behaviour is seen in captive birds who have a lot of spare energy, however birds play in the wild too due to it reinforcing bonds with other flock members and also simply being a fun way to pass the time.


Hanging upside down is one of Rocky’s favourite games at the moment – he seems to be enjoying viewing everything from a different angle!


Flying in place – this is where the bird grips his perch tightly and flaps his wings. This is another way in which to burn excess energy, but it can be put down to attention seeking – before Beaky started living outside, I used to have him in my bedroom in the evenings. He quickly learnt that flapping about would gain my attention and began to use it to his advantage!

Vocalisation – most parrots vocalise in the mornings and evenings (at sunrise and sunset), and for a variety of reasons. Rocky and Beaky call out to each other, and will reply to me if I whistle to them. Beaky is generally quieter but Rocky often chatters and sings throughout the day.

The video below shows some clips from the past few weeks – several of the discussed behaviours are shown in these clips.

Stay tuned for the final part of the series!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s