A group of blue and gold as well as scarlet macaws looking for attention.

Find Your Companion Bird - How Can You Tell If a Parrot Likes You

Find Your Companion Bird - How Can You Tell If a Parrot Likes You

Parrots feel everything. Hyper aware and hyper certain of their awareness. They know if they like us within a few heartbeats. Theirs, not ours. So how can you tell if that cuddly bird in the pet store, or parrot rescue, or parakeet breeder's house even likes you? It starts with hello.

How To Introduce Yourself to a Parrot

  • Say hello. A parrot feels first, sees then hears next. Make a good first impression with the bird you hope to adopt by feeling relaxed. Take a few deep breaths. You're excited. You're running little films of happy moments you hope to have with this parrot. Slow down. Relax. The first feeling you want to offer a parrot is calm.
  • Let them come to you. Personal space is important to all living beings. A parrot will be looking for a way from you as much as a way to you. So, make sure your calm relaxed hello is a friend's distance away. Leave your hands by your side. They're looking to see if you're about demands or creating communication.
  • Hold a conversation. Speak as you would to a person you've just met. How are you. It's nice to meet you. Add a bit about the weather, the place you are in, or what you both see. The content isn't as important as your voice, tone, pace, and calm. Keep it friendly. Keep it silly and lighthearted. Parrots take nothing seriously. Except this first hello.
  • Wait for the lean. An intrigued parrot will lean toward, step toward, or turn their head toward what interests them. A very interested bird will lift one foot to let you know you are thoroughly interesting, and they need to get on your hand immediately.

How to Let a Parrot Step Up on Your Hand

  • Make a soft fist. Hold your hand as if to punch. Bend your wrist in a bit. You want to offer the top of your fist where the parrot can step onto your slightly curled finger, or the fat side of your palm. Let them choose. Every bird wants a different footing.
  • Offer your soft fist slowly by presenting it a few inches in front of their feet. Invite them to step up. Some birds take a good long look at you and your hand. And think. Others will step right up. When you see them move to find a place to put their foot, close the distance by moving close enough for a simple step. Now you have a parrot on your hand judging you.
  • Relax. A parrot can feel your breathing, blood pressure, and temperature through their feet. If you stay relaxed, they will, too. Don't try to kiss or pet your visitor, yet. Have a conversation.

How Do You Know if a Parrot Likes You?

  • You know when they are not interested in leaving your location. Whether your hand or perched near you. A parrot stays with and near the people and things they like, it is that simple. Birds fly. If they aren't liking where or who they are near, they fly away. There is no maybe in their calculation.
  • The most important step in saying hello and showing a parrot they can like you is a confident goodbye. When you or they are done, help them perch on an area that they feel comfortable. Parrots are notorious backseat drivers. You'll feel them shifting their weight leaning toward where they want to go. Let them drive.
  • Which brings us to the beginning. All parrots prefer to drive. They need to feel in control of interactions, space, and you. Let them have that control. This isn't a human's definition of control. Control to a parrot is the option to say no. Give every parrot you meet an Opt-Out Button.

You'll find as you visit potential companion parrots that eventually one will choose you. When a parrot chooses a human, there is no doubt about the future relationship they are seeking. You are it. You're the one for them. It's a powerful moment to have a magical flying being look you straight in the eye while perched on your hand, or arm, or if they are a strong opinion about what they want, your shoulder. I've been chosen a few times. I cried every single time. Then I laughed, because magic is joyful.

My book, The Art of the FlockCall - Creating Your Successful Companion Parrot Lifestyle, will take your lifestyle, and parrot relationship to the next level of best friends forever.

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 Amazon.com.


  • The most perfect moment ever for me was back in 2008 when I went to meet an African Grey named Alice. Her people were moving out of the country and wanted to find someone for her to love and share the rest of her life with.

    I had never had a Grey but had read everything I could about them since back in the ‘80s and knew that one would be a good fit with my life so I went to meet this bird. I thought it would probably take a few visits since I know that many Greys are skeptical of strangers. But that didn’t happen.

    I walked in the home and in to the living room and before I even saw a bird, I heard wings flapping. The owner of those wings landed right on my arm and then kissed me. And so began probably the most amazing, beautiful, loving relationship of my life. She would velcro herself to me if she could. She picked me.

    Of my 7 birds, 2 picked me right away. 4 of the others didn’t take long at all and one took about a year but she had just lost the person she had loved for 49 years.

    Thank you Kathy for another great article.

    Jan Granai on

  • My first parrot, a Nanday Conure named Chester, spotted me from his cage in the parrot store and immediately started across his cage to get to me. He loved to cuddle up on my chest.

    Stephanie on

  • This is beautiful, Kathy. Thank you for the refresher -it was sorely needed. 😊❤️

    Susan Friend on

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