Stress in Pet Birds


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Do birds die of stress?

Stress can play an important role in the general health of both humans and their companion animals. Because pet birds are naturally very sensitive creatures, they tend to be unable to deal with stress as easily as other types of pets, such as cats and dogs.

Being able to recognize stress in your pet bird is important to maintaining an environment where your feathered friend can thrive mentally and physically. It is a good idea for bird owners to learn how to monitor their birds' stress levels and make any necessary adjustments to keep their pets happy and healthy.

Why do birds experience stress?

Like humans, birds can experience stress for different reasons. Birds are creatures of habit. A change in your schedule or environment can be a stressor.

Changes in the environment, from a move to a new home, new family members or pets, outside noises (construction, trucks, thunder), paint color, or change of location can all cause stress.

A new routine (of the owner or the bird) can cause stress. Unknown wild animals, even seen from the window, such as hawks, raccoons, deer, or anything else, can upset a bird.

A change in the light cycle, such as a change to a darker room, daylight saving time, or a cage cover, can cause a bird to vibrate.

Signs of stress in birds

Birds can present stress in different ways. All should be taken seriously and a vet should be consulted as soon as you notice these signs. Some may be more physically damaging than others, but all should be cause for concern. Signs to look for include:

  • Stress bars
  • Feather gathering and/or self-mutilation
  • Aggression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vocalization change
  • Repetitive behavior
  • Fear
  • Boredom

Stress bars

One of the most common physical indications of stress in pet birds is the appearance of stress bars on a bird's feathers. Tension bars are small lines that run horizontally through the axes of a bird's feathers.

While it can be difficult to assess stress bars on feathers that are still on a bird, examining molted feathers can give a quick indication of whether a bird is having trouble with a stressor in its environment. The presence of stress bars will not indicate exactly what is happening to a bird.

Rather, they are a red flag that bird owners can use to begin looking for potential sources of stress that their pets may encounter.

Feather gathering and self-mutilation

Another common sign of stress (and boredom) in birds is feather picking. It can occur in both large and small birds. It can be started by a stimulus (loud construction noise) but continues once the stimulus stops.

Some birds will continue beyond self-biting into self-mutilation. They can bite into your skin and some can go even deeper into the muscle or even bone. This can cause serious damage.

Birds with these symptoms should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. Medications may be prescribed and an Elizabethan collar fitted so that they cannot access your body.


The sudden onset of aggression in a pet bird can also be an indicator that the bird is experiencing stress in its environment. Aggressive behaviors, such as biting, whistling, lashing out, and yelling excessively, can manifest almost overnight.

If you notice this type of behavioral change in your pet, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a bird vet to rule out any potential health problems.

If your bird gets a certificate of good health, then you can begin to find out exactly what triggers the behavior and how you can adjust your bird's environment or routine to make it more comfortable.

Loss of appetite

If a bird that normally has a healthy appetite suddenly begins to show less interest in eating, it can be an indicator of stress and/or health problems.

A good rule of thumb to follow in these types of situations is to make an appointment with an avian vet to make sure the bird is not sick or injured. If your feathered friend's health is affected, you can start trying to decipher potential stressors in your home that can trigger a loss of appetite in your bird.

A change in vocalization

Some stressed birds will start screaming. While occasional loud noises can be typical, purposeful yelling can be loud and annoying and a sign of stress.

Other stressed birds will go in the opposite direction and decrease their vocalizations. A significantly quieter bird can be a sign of stress, boredom, or illness.

Repetitive behavior

Some birds, and especially cockatoos, will exhibit stereotypical behaviors when stressed. These could include walking, tapping the toes, and rocking the head. They display these behaviors to stimulate themselves when they are extremely bored.


If a bird that is normally happy to be handled suddenly becomes fearful of you or other family members, the person may be causing the bird's stress without even realizing it.

It may not even be something the person is doing directly to the bird; Something as simple as a brightly colored shirt, hat, or new beard or mustache can trigger fearful behavior in a bird.

Once you can identify a trigger, it is usually easy to remedy this type of situation. If necessary, a bird can be conditioned to eventually accept this type of stressor by patience and practicing proper bonding techniques.


It is quite possible that birds that begin to exhibit destructive behavior are highly stressed, and the most likely culprit in this scenario is boredom.

Being the extremely intelligent creatures that they are, captive pet birds often do not receive a healthy amount of mental stimulation, which can lead to frustration, stress, undesirable behaviors, and even health problems.

Stress treatment in birds

If there is a stressor in the bird's environment, removing it should reduce its stress almost completely. If the behavior is self-destructive and/or stress cannot be determined, speak with a veterinarian as soon as possible to come up with a treatment plan.

A vet can prescribe a prescribed treatment and/or recommend a behavioral specialist.

If the bird has started to misbehave due to stress and you need to try to curb its behavior, there are a few things you can try at home:

Don't yell at your bird. Whatever you do, don't yell at a stressed or scared bird. Not only will you scare the animal at that point, but you can also teach the bird that bad behavior attracts attention.

Move slowly. If your bird attacks you out of fear or nervousness, walking away quickly can agitate the animal even more. Try to move slowly when approaching your bird, reaching into its cage, or trying to pet it.

Train your bird with sticks. If you have a bird that doesn't like to be handled, but you want to help be more sociable, offering a stick or perch to climb can help.

Provide stimulation. Challenge your bird with stimulating puzzle toys, a television to watch, a radio to listen to, or something exciting to keep him interested.

Outside the cage. Some birds will benefit from their owner's extra attention and may appreciate more time outside of their cage.


While stress may not be completely preventable, pay attention to your bird's cues and try to avoid sudden lifestyle changes.

If a cage has been moved and the bird doesn't like it, move it back to slowly acclimate it to a new position. If new pets or family members are upset, again, try acclimating the bird to the new member and focus on positive reinforcement (and treats).

Being aware of the bird's general sensitivity before making any changes will help prevent stress.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Depressed and Stressed budgie parakeet or parrot Causes Signs and Treatment

Source: Budgie World

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