Pet birds become stressed for a range of reasons. However, sometimes they display signs of their stress and anxiety in life-threatening ways.
Vetafarm’s resident parrot trainer Carmen McGill explains, “Parrots are highly intelligent and need mental stimulation. If they are left in a cage with no stimulation, they become bored and start exhibiting behaviours that are quirky and potentially harmful.
“The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in parrot ownership. But now that people are heading back to the office, their feathered friends are home alone and stressed from boredom and separation anxiety.”
Symptoms of stress and anxiety in parrots can include the following:
- Excessive screaming/vocalisation
- Over-preening/cleaning or plucking feathers
- Walking around the cage incessantly
- Doing somersaults (head flips)
- Flattening their feathers and trembling
- Displaying any behaviours that are out of the ordinary
“Moulting, mating, over handling and changes to environment or routine, such as a new baby or pet, can also cause stress in parrots. Plus, a poor diet, lack of exercise or even interrupted or insufficient sleep can trigger stress,” says Ms McGill.
Tips to Help Manage and Prevent Stress and Anxiety in Parrots
“A correct diet is vital in supporting a parrot’s mental and physical wellbeing and combined with behavioural training achieves amazing results,” Ms McGill explains.
Here are her tips for managing and preventing stress and anxiety in parrots.
- Patience and calmness are always required when dealing with a stressed and anxious parrot. Understanding the source of your bird’s stress is very important.
- Make sure the cage is a suitable size with the right components, including multi-level tree branch perches from the top to the lower level of the cage. Half covering the cage with shelter enables your bird to hide from any threats, helping them to feel safe.
- During times of change, such as moving location or routine, transition slowly giving your bird time to familiarise them with these changes.
- If you’ve been together with your bird for long periods of time, you can reduce the effects of separation anxiety by giving your bird time alone, then gradually extending the time alone to prepare them for the change.
- Provide a calm environment in your home with reduced noise to minimise their stress.
- Regularly provide your bird with foraging enrichment. Foraging is the instinctive behaviour of searching for and obtaining food. Foraging enrichment can involve hanging fresh vegetables and fruits around the cage. Look for ways to make your bird work for their food.
- Regularly provide other stimulating activities that involve chewing, shredding and playing. Natural leaves, branches and gum nuts are great for chewing. Observe your bird and offer different toys to keep their beaks busy.
- Minimise over handling of your pet parrot. If they start to bite, they are communicating that they have had enough and need some quiet time in their enclosure.
- Make sure your bird has fresh water daily and the correct diet. This is important as an inadequate diet can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency triggering stress and illness.
Maximising Your Parrots Diet
The correct parrot diet involves parrot pellets, fresh fruit and vegetables. Although, nuts and seeds can also be used as treats in moderation. However, parrots can benefit from Vetafarm’s Parrot B-Calm. This is fed to your parrot at the ratio of 10% of their body weight.
Formulated by avian veterinarians, Parrot B-Calm is a functional complete diet that supports the reduction of stress and anxiety with balanced nutrition and natural ingredients. Made with the amino acid L-Tryptophan – a natural precursor for the synthesis of serotonin in the brain – the non-drowsy and non-sedative action is balanced with fresh Australian whole grains, vitamins, minerals and turmeric to support your bird’s health and wellbeing.