Closeup photo of a blue indian ringneck parakeet's face and red beak.

What Is It With Parrots and Vacuums?

What Is It With Parrots and Vacuums?

Every Parrot has their own opinion on vacuums.

I vacuum. I vacuum with irreverent focus thanks to a vacuum that doesn't care what I'm aiming at. Kirby, steadfast on my shoulder, leans into the fray of dirt, dust, and tossed parrot food. We move forward with purpose and determination. Kirby, a general riding high and forthright upon my shoulder. As a general should upon his steed!

Kirby, the Indian Ringneck Parakeet, finds them exhilarating.

"HeeYA!" Kirby spurs me on to the attack. He needs a sword or something. General Kirby, crying above the fray of vacuum motor and other competing parrots' screams.

"HeeYA!" He raises his beak high into the air and then back to my ear to scream, "TURN RIGHT!"

We advance. Into the bird room. I bend over to reach under the table. General Kirby throws himself half off the saddle of my shoulder to ride forward and hang upside down. "HeeYA!!" His spurs of talon dig into my shirt. He roars orders of attack. General Kirby. Fearless and ferocious.

We advance! His voice echoes over the battlefield, over the voices competing, over the laboring complaint of a shop vacuum motor laboring. We advance to the line from which we came. The battle won! The vacuum bag full.

The soundwaves mimic rain showers.

A majority of parrots, no matter their size, turn into rabid water bowl bathers when a vacuum is running. Some go through the motions of being in a rainstorm. Opening their wings, flapping, holding a wing over their head, opening and widening the spaces between each feather. Still others want to out scream the vacuum itself. As a wild relative once did in the rainforest during the rainy season.

Using the vacuum can trigger territorial instincts.

Jealousy is a human term, but there is a mote of truth to the idea that you, the human, are now paying attention to something not your parrot. Territory defines ownership for a parrot. That vacuum has to go. A parrot attacking a vacuum is not unique.

What's a human to do to stop all the noise and water play?

  • There's no stopping the flock calls. Your companion is a parrot.
  • Before vacuuming, remove all your water bowls. Replace them after you've put the vacuum away. 
  • If territorial, leave the vacuum out in the vicinity of your bird's cage. Once a parrot becomes bored with an object the instinct recedes. Once bored, push the vacuum around while it's not running. Do this randomly. Again, we want to show your parrot the vacuum is not important at all. Just another object in his life.
  • If all else fails, I have witnessed the success of others in getting a new vacuum. Every vacuum has its own pitch and tone. No motor is the same. 
  • Finally, when in Rome. I was able to turn vacuuming into a game with Kirby while pushing it around while turned off. 
The vacuum isn't an issue for Kirby because it became part of "his" world, not just mine. Inclusion for a parrot is a key to most all solutions to the human and parrot communication glitch. Parrots flock. They expect to be included in all things.
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


  • @Kathy, window films are safe for parrots, and a great idea to keep those cold drafts from making them chilly. (I did email you directly, but yahoo rejected the address you used)

    Kathy LaFollett on

  • I have two parakeets in my office (a small bedroom, really). The cage is in front of the window, and the electric heater is on the floor the length of the window. I would like to put a film insulation over the window to keep the heat in a little better . Is there any danger to the birds from that kind of film, or from the film getting warmed up due to the heater being right under it? There’s about 3 feet between the heater on the floor and the bottom of the window/film?

    kathy on

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