Meeting the Emotional Needs of Parrots

Written by Deb White. Posted in The Emotional Needs of Parrots

African Grey and Sun ConureParrots have been described as having the emotional equivalent of a 2 year old child. We wouldn't think of leaving a toddler locked alone in a room deprived of opportunities for social interaction, nurturing, intellectual challenge or guidance for several hours a day and expect them to develop into a healthy, happy and fully functioning beings. We also can't expect this of our parrots. As with children, parrots need a lot of patience, attention and nurturing guidance, as well as opportunities to learn and explore. 

Your bird's mental health is just as critical as his physical health.

A parrot who is mentally and emotionally secure is:

  • able to form a sense of belonging with its human flock
  • self-confident and less fearful
  • outgoing, active and playful
  • able to adapt to new situations

To foster emotional health, parrot owners need to provide:

  • a safe and secure living environment
  • consistent, responsible caretaking
  • appropriate, nurturing guidance
  • positive attention, interaction and acknowledgement
  • opportunities to develop self confidence through exploration, development of new skills and independence.

We have to be extremely careful not to get so caught up in our lives that we neglect the primary emotional needs of these very sensitive creatures.

What are a parrot's primary emotional needs?

Parrots are flock animals with an innate need for companionship and social interaction. In captivity, parrots need stable, secure relationships with their owners to maintain a sense of well being and to ensure their healthy emotional, cognitive and social development.

Highly intelligent, these amazing birds need to flex their brains or risk the development of many negative behaviors.

Birds in the wild have complete autonomy over their lives. They make choices continuously as to what they eat, where they roost, who their mate will be, when and how to play, etc. The ability to have some control over one's life is important to a being's quality of life.


For more information on specific approaches to supporting your parrot's emotional needs check out the article category links below:

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