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Understanding Your Bird's Body Language

Body language can tell you a lot about other people, and it can tell you a lot about your bird too! Understanding your bird's body language is beneficial for knowing what your bird is trying to communicate to you. Birds use a variety of ways to communicate through body language, often using their beaks, eyes, heads, wings, and tails. Paying attention to your bird's body language can help you indicate when your bird is sick, happy, afraid, or angry.


Listening to your bird's vocalizations is probably one of the easiest things to interpret. If he is singing, talking, or grinding his beak, he is probably happy and healthy. However, if he is growling, he is discontent about something.


Birds can control the dilation of their pupils, so watching their eyes for current emotions can tell you if your bird is aggressive, afraid, or excited. When your bird's pupils enlarge and shrink rapidly, this is called "pinning" or "flashing." Although this can look alarming at first, it's important to gauge this action within the current context. Eye pinning can be a sign of happiness, excitement, or aggression.


A bird's tail will often give insight of how your bird is feeling. A wagging tail often communicates happiness, while fanning tail feathers might show strength or aggression. Pay close attention if your bird is bobbing his tail. This will often mean that your bird is having trouble breathing, and it may be due to overexertion or a respiratory problem.

Body Posture

Body posture is another indicator of current mood. If your bird's body appears relaxed and his head is at attention, he is content. However, if his body is rigid and attentive, your bird is stating ownership of his territory. If your bird is rigid and crouching with his head down, flared or ruffled feathers, eyes pinning, he is cautioning you. Don't provoke your bird in this situation, as he won't hesitate to bite.


Lastly, birds use their wings to communicate. Wing flapping is often a form of exercise or to receive attention. If your bird's wings are drooping, this is often a sign of exhaustion or illness.

Understanding your bird's body language will help you gauge his mood and how he is feeling; ultimately, this will improve your relationship and interactions. The more time that you spend with your bird, the easier it will be to understand his body language. It is your responsibility to understand his body language so that you can care for his needs.

Discover More!

How to Train a Bird Using Postive Reinforcement

My First Bird: What Kind of Bird Should I Get?

Dealing with Jealousy in Birds

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