Your Bird’s Body Language

Pet birds are known for being very intelligent, emotional, and communicative creatures. It is very important to understand their moods and behaviors so that you can have a better relationship with a healthier bird.

Birds express themselves in many ways. Even though you think they may just squawk when they want to tell you something, they actually use body language very intricately. Here are some of the ways your bird may communicate with you:


Birds can control the size of their pupils and you may find that your bird will sometimes rapidly enlarge or shrink their pupils (called flashing or pinning). This is often a sign of focus for a bird, and he may be very interested in something, about to do something like talk or bite, or is frightened or angry. Other clues in body language can help you pinpoint the cause.


You may wonder what your bird is saying when he ruffles his feathers. As it turns out, it can be mean a lot of things. Your bird may just be preening, cold, or relaxing. If your bird has his feathers ruffled and sticking all the way out, is fanning its tail, and holding out his wings, however, this is a sign of aggression.


Your bird may move his wings to stretch or get exercise, but he also may be telling you something. Wing flapping generally means a bird is either seeking attention or displaying happiness. If your bird is flipping his wings, it often means he is upset by something. If your bird’s wings are drooping, he may be tired or sick.


Though you may associate an expressive tail with dogs, pet birds also say a lot with their tails. Tail flipping and wagging generally signal happiness, while tail fanning is a sign of aggression. If your bird is bobbing his tail, it may mean he is out of breath.


One action you might notice your bird doing involves him lifting up one leg and wing, then putting it down and doing the same with the other leg and wing. This little dance means your bird is healthy and happy.


Your bird can use his beak to communicate in more ways than just vocalizing. A bird grinding his beak is usually a sign of contentment during rest. Clicking can be a greeting if done once, and a warning if repeated. One sign that may alarm you is if your bird regurgitates his food at you. Don’t worry! This is a sign of love and affection, which mates often do for each other. You and your bird truly have a special bond.