Nervous describes the behavior of an anxious or edgy pet parrot.

Nervous describes the behavior of an anxious or edgy pet parrot.

A bird that is nervous is anxious, edgy and hyper-reactive to stimuli in the environment.


As small prey animals, it is logical that companion birds (parrots and songbirds) are more high-strung than predators like hawks. However, there are wide ranges of nervousness within each species, especially in parrots. Theories abound about why some individuals are more reactive than others, including the way in which a parrot is weaned to eating on its own to whether or not it was allowed to fledge (learn to fly) as a normal part of its development. The level of anxiety in the owner is another critical factor. Certain species appear to be more emotionally fragile than others, such as African grey parrots. On the other end of the spectrum are less hyper parrots like Amazons, large macaws and caiques. However, within each species, there are always individuals that go against the norm. People who tend to be highly anxious are likely to do better with the psittacine species that tend to be less reactive.


A bird that is high-strung can be helped to learn to be more adaptable with patience and gentleness. The trick is to teach it that new things are interesting and fun, not threatening. Parrot behavior consultant Sally Blanchard’s technique of “playing real estate agent” works well. While watching the bird’s body language so the bird does not get too frightened, show the bird around the house and discuss what you see and lavishly praise the bird for its bravery. For instance, look in the kitchen cabinets together, discussing the different cans and boxes, and reward the bird for being brave enough to touch something new. By very gently nudging at the bird’s comfort level, you can slowly teach the bird more self-confidence.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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