How to Read Your Bird's Body Language. Butters excited and relaxed bobbing her head to invite me to play with her.

How to Read Your Bird's Body Language

How to Read Your Bird's Body Language

There's a core set of parrot behavior that applies to all parrots. A short list you can count on to begin ciphering your parrot's body language. Not every parrot says the same thing with the same body language. Like a human's wink. To know the difference between an invitation or a warning successfully, it helps to know that person well. And so it goes for our parrots. The better your relationship with your bird, the easier it is to understand their tics, tricks, winks, and fluffs. Understand these core parrot behaviors to help understand your parrot.

How to Read Your Bird's Body Language. Macaw parrot trying to sneak over to a computer keyboard to bite all the keys off. Why do I know this? Because that's Butters my macaw who already bit all the keys off the last keyboard.

Eight body language moves all parrots use.

  1. Pinning Eyes. Parrot pupils shrink to a pin-point size when they are excited. If your bird has pin-point pupils, they are on the edge of their seat, and the edge action.
  2. Almond Eyes. A parrot with almond-shaped eyes and a relaxed body is a very happy bird.
  3. Feather Shoulder Pads. Raised feathers on their shoulders only. A signal that something has caught them off guard, and they are requesting a minute to understand what's going on. Fun feather fact: Every feather on a parrot has its own muscle. This allows a bird to choose what feathers they feel like ruffling. Feathers are a strong body language tool for a parrot.
  4. Fight or Flight. Your bird looks like they could fly off or stand ground and bluff you off. Check their eyes for pinning. If your parrot is pinning and posing fight or flight, it's fight. Stop. Ask your bird what day it is. Not because he's going to tell you, but because a question ends on a high note, which will cause a parrot to pause. Seriously. Exaggerated questions are a great parrot pause button.
  5. The Blush. Whether your bird has the white face of a macaw or fully feathered of a cockatiel. A blushing around the eyes or face lets you know you've hit a soft spot emotionally. Consider it a smile.
  6. Stiff Body Flat Feathers. When your bird turns into a statue and their feathers lay perfectly flat, they are at full attention. Full attention and ready to fly. One part fear of the unknown and one part worry. If pinning eyes are involved, your bird is refusing whatever just caught their attention. Call it a hard pass. If your bird's pupils are full, call it an all-in.
  7. Head Bobbing. Slow with a lowered body. A throwback to baby bird life. A sign of invitation and agreement. If their eyes are pinning though, it's the opposite.
  8. Helmet Head and Crest Raising. Helmet head, when all the feathers on your bird's head fluff up. Crest raising comes into play for the cockatoo clan. An at attention signal. Raised awareness verging on physical reaction. Look for pinning eyes to determine whether you continue or stop whatever it is you thought was a good idea. Obviously, they haven't decided yet.
How to Read Your Bird's Body Language. Butters tasting a birdie bread cookie for the first time. She was very helmet head on that first bite. So good!

    Building your companion parrot relationship well guarantees you'll understand your bird's body language better. Every bird has their own way of mixing up a parrot's basic body language. They build their language skills based on your reactions to their attempts to communicate. Start with these eight behaviors to create that very personal language for you and your parrots. No two parrot’s body language are alike. But they all start here. Butters chose to start with a sneeze.

    Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


    • Wow, I thought I was pretty good reading Harleys body language but I like that you go abit further into the signs. I have a better understanding after reading your descriptions! Now when I approach her and she s perched so calmly and adorably inviting, I’ll know she’s really thinking “well stupid, I’m sending you all kinds of signals and you’re still not getting it” I’ll have better responses ☺️

      Dian Hamadyk on

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