Do Parrots Cry?

Birds don’t cry in the traditional sense as humans do.

And so, they don’t sob or shed tears to express their emotions.

Instead, parrots tend to vocalize their feelings of sadness, frustration, and boredom through unpleasant crying sounds as well as behavioral changes. 

This goes for Parrots too 

Now you may be wondering..

Why Do Parrots Cry?

Since we don’t speak the parrot language.

Therefore, a lot of what we know about parrot emotions are either observations or theories. 

Usually, parrots cry for the following reasons:

1. Fear

Since parrots are relatively small birds.

Therefore, they have a wide range of natural predators.

They get easily scared with the slightest of changes.

So, a parrot may cry out of fear because of:

a. Night Fright

Since parrots cannot see in the dark, they are exceptionally vulnerable during the night. 

Parrots consider all disturbances at night as a sign of a predator, thereby death. 

So, if there is a commotion at your place during the night, it may give your bird a night fright.

Sometimes, rechecking your bird in the dark hours may scare him enough to cry out loud.

b. Change In The Surroundings

Parrots may cry out loud for even a slight variation in the cage accessories.

These may also include:

  1. Relocation of the cage or a shift of home.
  2. A change in the decoration.
  3. A thread hanging above them or a printed curtain.
  4. Neon night lights.

c. Unfamiliar Sounds

These may include:

  1. Overzealous children
  2. Loudspeakers
  3. Police or ambulance sirens.

d. Others

These may involve:

  1. A view of raptors like hawks through the windows.
  2. Jumpy cats or dogs.
  3. Insects and bugs.
  4. Television showing things moving towards the bird.

2. Grief

The most common cause of bird sorrow include:

  1. Death of a mate or a flock member.
  2. Loss of a human owner.
  3. The sudden absence of chicks or eggs from an active nest.

If a bird is crying out of sorrow, it may also exhibit the following signs:

  1. Sitting at the bottom of the cage or reluctance to come outside.
  2. Excessive sleep and chronic lethargy.
  3. Loss of appetite for even its favorite treats.
  4. Lack of interest in usual activities.
  5. Aggression, irritability, or screaming incessantly.

3. Physical Pain

Birds may cry out of physical injury or pain. 

They may continue to do so until their injuries are healed.

This is typically accompanied by:

  1. Perching difficulty or stiff gait.
  2. Fluffed up feathers.
  3. Lack of movement in the lower half of the body.

4. Loneliness

Parrots are social birds that live in flocks.

They are so dependent on each other, that they become anxious when they cannot find their way back to their flocks.

So,

If you have a single parrot, odds are that your bird is crying because it is lonely. 

Since pet birds assume their human keepers as part of their flocks.

Therefore, your absence may have caused your parrot to cry out of loneliness.

This is most common among cockatoos.

That is why it’s very important to spend time with your parrot

You should give your parrot out of cage time so you can spend some quality time with your bird

Have a read of my article – How to keep parrots entertained

Or you could teach your parrot funny things to say!

Check out my article – 7 funny things to teach your parrot to say 

5. Contact Calls

Parrots are vocal learners that communicate with each other through specific sounds, called “contact calls”.

Since pet parrots lack a flock, therefore, they try to talk to their human keeper. 

Parrots tend to imitate sounds that can help them seek the attention of their human owners.

So, perhaps your parrot heard you rush to your child whenever it was crying.

Consequently, it learned to cry like a human baby because it wants you to come.

Related articles

Do parrots know what they are saying? 

How do parrots talk without lips?

6. Depression

A parrot may experience depression with poor living conditions.

Such a parrot may often cry or screech.

Some may even bite. (Related article – Can a parrot bite your finger off)

The depression may also be caused by abuse from some previous owner. 

7. Boredom

Parrots may experience boredom with a lack of activity or friends. And so,

A parrot may cry simply because your reaction or attention is too amusing. 

8. Others

These may include:

  1. Feather clipping.
  2. Egg binding
  3. Impressing a mate with vocal abilities.

While there is no evidence of a parrot feeling empathy or sympathy, we don’t know enough about parrot emotions to claim them devoid of such emotions.

Do Baby Parrots Cry?

They certainly do.

Again, their crying is not identical to human babies. 

Ornithologists explain that parrot babies cry for two main reasons:

1. Encouraging The Parents For More Food

A parrot hatchling is totally dependent on its parent for its food. 

While the larger babies may need to be fed every few hours, a smaller parrot like budgie or lovebirds, the parent may need to feed their babies every 40 minutes or so.

2. Reassurance From The Fear Of Abandonment 

Parent birds leave the nests for foraging, typically for hours

Baby parrots cry to ensure that they are not abandoned.

Again, parrots don’t cry with tears.

Also, they don’t sob like humans.  

You may be curious to know..

Do Parrots Shed Tears?

They do, but it’s to cleanse their eyes rather than to express emotions.

You see, parrots have quite large eyes compared to their body size.

While their hollow skeletons assist them in flying by lowering their weight. 

Parrots do need tears to keep their eyes free from dust and dirt.

Their tear composition is like human ones.

And so, their tears are formed of water, urea, proteins, sodium, calcium, and chloride.

While their electrolyte ratios are almost the same.  

Parrot tears crystalize differently from those of humans. 

Furthermore, parrot tears don’t have any association with their emotional expression.

But these tears help parrots protect against infections such as:

  1. Psittacosis
  2. Conjunctivitis
  3. Bacterial & fungal infections
  4. Injury
  5. Insects

Interestingly, certain moths regularly drink parrot tears to compensate for their lack of nutrition. 

How Do I Know If My Parrot Is Crying?

Like other birds, parrots tend to hide their vulnerabilities to avoid predation.

Since crying also attracts attention. Therefore,

A parrot in the wild is likely to cry less than a pet one. 

Besides a pet parrot is more prone to psychological stress for the following reasons:

  1. Sexual frustration.
  2. Lack of exercise.
  3. Isolation.
  4. Limited flying.

That said, you can tell your parrot is crying by looking for the following signs:

1. Self-Mutilation

A parrot going through stress may pluck out its own feathers.

Some may even go as far as chewing out skin or muscle and may end up exposing their bones.

This can not only cause blood loss, but also nerve damage so I advise you to seek immediate medical attention.

2. Puffed Up Feathers

Parrots fluff up their feathers and sit in corners when they are feeling sad. if your bird is crying while being puffed up, he is either experiencing grief or depression. 

In this case, you may need to find him some activity or companion.

3. Stress Bars

A stressed parrot may end up developing stress bars across its feathers.

Furthermore, the feathers may appear grey, discolored, or ruffled.

4. Loss of Appetite

A sad parrot may reject even its favorite treats.

Otherwise, it may only pretend to eat.

Such behavior may result in extreme loss of body weight, causing malnutrition and thereby, chronic health concerns. 

5. Behavioral Changes

If a bird is crying it may also show behavioral changes such as:

  1. Excessive regurgitating.
  2. Biting and lunging forward.
  3. Head swinging or toe-tapping.
  4. Change in usual chirps.

What To Do If Your Parrot Is Crying?

I advise you to do the following:

1. Avoid Over-Reacting

Look for any sign of injury or blood.

If you can find something then, call a vet.

But,

Don’t yell, scream, cry or over-react in any way.

Your every response is a reaction.

And so, you may accidentally end up re-enforcing such behavior.

So, whenever your bird may wish to see you, it will start to cry.

2. Find The Cause 

Now, it is only possible if you regularly spend quality time with your parrot.

Once you have found the cause you need to resolve the issue.

Here are a few of the reasons for a parrot crying and plausible remedies.

Reason for a Parrot Crying Cause Remedy
Fear Night Fright Put the cage in a dark and safe place every night.

Cover the cage with a blanket.

Don’t disturb the parrot for at least 10-12 hours.

Change in the Surroundings Remove hanging decorations, new toys, and accessories around the cage.

Allow parrot time to adjust.

Excessive Noise Remove the source.

Limit the kids away from bird cages.

Predators Close the windows.

Set boundaries for your other pets.

Grief Loss of a flock member Get another parrot.
Loss of Babies Allow your bird to grieve.
Loss of a Human Owner Spend quality time with your parrot.
Physical Pain Injury or disease See a vet.
Egg Binding Give your bird warm water to ease pain, until the vet is available.
Loneliness Bird lives alone Give your bird new activities or get another bird to keep him company.
Contact Calls Seeks you attention Don’t react when a bird cries.

Set up a specific schedule for quality time.

Depression Poor living conditions Cleanse the cage.
Lack of exercise. Introduce new activities.

Increase flying time.

Boredom Lack of mental and physical activities. Bring in new toys.

Give treats on solving puzzles.

Spend time with your parrot

Baby Parrot Crying Hunger Set schedules for feeding as recommended by a vet.

3. Improve Quality Of Life

Now, removing the cause may not immediately stop your parrot from crying. 

So, you need to give your bird some time to adjust. 

Improving quality of life can also help.

You can do so by:

  1. Frequent cleaning.
  2. Providing fresh fruits and vegetables alongside nuts and seeds.
  3. Adding new activities and a birdbath to your cage.
  4. Covering the cage for the night.
  5. Keeping your other pets away from your parrot. 
  6. Spending one-on-one time with your parrot.

4. See a Vet

Sometimes the chronic disease can cause a bird to cry.

So, if your bird is behaving abnormally, seeing an avian expert is always a good idea.  

Wrapping Up  

Parrot tears help them cleanse their eyes against infections and dust.

However, they don’t shed tears to express emotions.

Instead, they produce unpleasant crying sounds.

Adult parrots cry when they feel sad, lonely, stressed, or scared. Meanwhile, baby parrots cry to seek their parents’ attention. 

You can confirm if your bird is crying by their behavioral and physical changes.

While you can help your parrot by improving its quality of life, you should always consult a vet just to make sure there is nothing medically wrong with your bird