African Grey Parrot hanging on the cage

Can Parrots Die From Stress?

Many of us find comfort in the company of our pet parrots when we are feeling down. They provide us with emotional support and even understand how we feel to some extent.

However, when it comes to the mental health of our parrots, their emotional expressions are not so evident to us. Stress is a common problem among highly social birds like parrots and can have a huge impact on their overall health. But a lot of the time, the symptoms of this issue are found much later.

Stress alone is not typically the cause of death in an otherwise healthy parrot. However, prolonged stress can have significant negative effects on a parrot’s health, and in extreme cases, lead to fatal consequences. 

It is important to be aware of the signs of stress in parrots, such as behavioral changes, appetite, health, etc., and take appropriate measures to address the problem.

Effects Of Chronic Stress On Parrots

Stress can impact a parrot both mentally and physically. In fact, the impact of stress can be even more damaging if a parrot experiences it in its early life. Most people get or adopt parrots from pet stores or breeders without fully knowing about the history of the bird or the environment it was raised.

According to a study published by Science Daily, early exposure to stress hormones can affect how birds respond to stress in the long run. It reveals that stressful events in early life can have lasting effects on how the bird responds to stress when it grows up.

When a parrot is exposed to a stressor, its body responds by releasing the stress hormone – corticosterone. The release of this hormone creates metabolic changes in the parrot’s system, which prepares it for the stressful event. 

In the immediate moment, corticosterone is meant to help a parrot be better prepared for a stressful situation, just like how our stress hormones create the fight or flight response to help us ward off imminent dangers. However, prolonged exposure to these stressors is not good for the parrot’s health.    

Chronic stress can result in overexposure to stress hormones, which can disrupt normal bodily processes and weaken the bird’s immune system, making it more susceptible to illnesses and infections. 

Such kind of long-term stress also impacts the parrot’s normal behaviors. It may suddenly be more aggressive, lethargic, or have a decrease in appetite.

If the stressors are left unchecked for a long time, they can impact a parrot in other ways as well such as its reproductive and digestive health. It can reduce the parrot’s overall lifespan and even cause death. 

Signs Your Parrot Is Stressed

Stress can cause various physical and behavioral changes in parrots. However, they may not always surface immediately as the parrot experiences those emotions over a long period. Here are some of the signs to look for if you suspect your bird is stressed.  

Destructive Behaviours 

Prolonged stress can cause parrots to become anxious and frustrated, leading them to engage in destructive behaviors such as feather plucking, biting, or not eating enough. 

If the causes for such behaviors are left unresolved for a long time, they can become habitual, leading to permanent physical and emotional damage.

Moreover, refusing to eat or a decrease in appetite can lead to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies, further exacerbating the parrot’s stress levels. Let’s look at some of the destructive behaviors in detail: 

Lunging & Biting 

Lunging or biting is a fear-based response when the parrot encounters a potential threat to its environment. 

This happens most commonly in situations where the parrot notices a change in their surroundings, like the introduction of a new toy, meeting someone new, or changes in their living arrangement. 

While they do it to protect themselves and the fears usually let up when they acclimate to the situation, it is worth assessing any particular change in their life that might be causing this behavior to occur repeatedly.  

Loss Of Appetite 

The release of stress hormones can lead to a reduction in the bird’s metabolic rate, which in turn can cause a loss of appetite. Adding to that, depression and boredom can further cause a lack of interest in food.

Stress can also affect the bird’s digestive system, leading to nausea and discomfort, which can further reduce the appetite.

Parrot staring curiously with head tilted sideways

Feather Plucking 

Self-harm is a serious behavioral disorder that often comes as one of the later signs of stress. When a parrot is frustrated by its condition and feels helpless, it may start to pick its own feathers. 

This condition can have serious negative consequences for the parrot as the feather picking can go on even after the stressor has been removed and slowly turn into self-mutilation when the parrot starts biting into its own skin.  

Feather plucking is a serious problem in parrots and must be consulted with a professional avian veterinarian for other possible causes. 

Stress Bars/Lines

The condition of your parrot’s feathers can tell a lot about its state of well-being. In parrots, healthy feathers have a smooth and vibrant appearance with no discoloration or inconsistencies. 

Stress bars are a prominent physical sign of stress in parrots that occur on their feathers. These lines appear as small horizontal marks that run across the width of the feather shafts.

Stress lines are a physical indicator and can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor nutrition, environmental stressors, or medical issues. 

To check for stress lines, gently part the parrot’s feathers and look closely at the primary and secondary feathers. If you see any horizontal lines on the feather shafts, it could indicate the condition of your parrot’s overall well-being. 

Repetitive Behaviour

Parrots may exhibit repetitive behaviors such as pacing back and forth, toe-tapping, and head swinging when they are feeling bored and stressed.

These behaviors are signs that the parrot is not receiving enough mental stimulation and physical activity, which are essential for its mental well-being. 

These are often the initial signs of stress and can be easily overlooked. However, such behaviors can potentially turn into a serious problem if gone for too long. 

Excessive Screaming 

Excessive screaming is a common response to overwhelming emotions. Parrots may increase the loudness of their vocalizations as a way of trying to communicate their distress to you. For example, if a parrot is feeling bored or lonely, it may start calling out more frequently or loudly in an attempt to get attention.

Reduced Vocalizations 

While screaming excessively is a way for the parrot to express its dissatisfaction, lesser or changed vocalizations can also indicate that something is not right.

Parrot vocalizes quite regularly throughout the day whether it is loud or not depends on the situation and their mood. If you notice sudden changes in your parrot’s vocalization patterns, it could be a sign of stress or boredom.    


Aggression in parrots is a common response to stressful situations. When a parrot feels threatened, it may exhibit aggressive behavior as a means of defending itself or its territory. This aggression can manifest in a variety of ways, from loud vocalizations and lunging to even biting.  


Chronic stress can take a toll on a parrot’s overall health and behavior. It means that the stressors causing the negative feelings haven’t been addressed for a long period. 

This can lead to exhaustion and lethargy, as the parrot’s body struggles to cope with the release of stress hormones in its system. Moreover, the loss of appetite also contributes to this issue and makes the parrot less active. 

Parrot screaming loudly

How To Calm A Stressed Parrot?

The way to calm your parrot starts with identifying the stressor and removing it immediately. If you have observed your parrot to be scared of any particular object or situation, it is important to remove or avoid it as much as possible. Let us go over the measures you can take to remove and prevent stress in your parrot: 

More Opportunities For Socialisation 

Boredom and lack of socialization are some of the most prominent triggers of stress in pet parrots. As sociable and intelligent as parrots are, they require interaction and attention on a regular basis. 

Spending too much time alone and unstimulated can make a parrot bored and agitated. By providing a parrot with regular opportunities for mental and physical stimulation through playtime and social interaction, you can help prevent boredom and reduce negative emotions. 

This can be achieved through a variety of activities, such as providing toys for the parrot to play with, training sessions, or simply spending time with the parrot in an interactive environment. 

More Time Out Of Cage

Providing your bird with ample time outside of its cage can be an effective way to manage stress. When confined to a small space for extended periods of time, a parrot can easily get restless.

Parrots are hyperactive creatures and require opportunities for physical exercise and mental stimulation to maintain a healthy body and mind.

By providing a parrot with more time outside, you can offer it opportunities for flight, exploration, and social interaction. This can reduce stress levels and promote happiness in their emotional state. 

Additionally, natural light and fresh air can enhance its overall well-being. As such, incorporating more out-of-cage time into a parrot’s daily routine is an important step in promoting its long-term mental health. 

Macaw parrot peering through it cage

Foster A Stable Environment

Stress is a normal response of the body to any changes in our life. It is how we deal with it and adjust to it that makes the difference. The same goes for our parrots.

When a parrot is met with a sudden change that it is unable to adjust to and does not find the right kind of help it needs, it may become a cause of prolonged stress. 

One example of this could be placing a new toy or foraging item in their cage. If the parrot does not like the toy, it will express its disapproval of the same. It is up to you to help them overcome their fears and address the issue before it becomes a cause for stress.  

Creating a stable environment for your pet parrot involves maintaining a consistent daily routine. This includes providing fresh food and water, cleaning their cage regularly, and spending time interacting with them each day.

Encourage Playing With Toys 

Since a large part of your parrot’s everyday life revolves around the same environment, it is important to fill that place with new enrichment opportunities routinely. 

Toys provide parrots with an opportunity to play as well as explore new things every day, which can help to prevent boredom and alleviate stress. 

It’s a good idea to add a variety of toys, such as chewable wood toys, puzzles, swings, and interactive items that can be filled with treats.

This can help to improve their overall well-being by keeping them mentally stimulated, physically active, and entertained. Working to prevent boredom in your parrot’s life is one of the most crucial steps to promoting a happy and healthy environment for them. 

Address The Stressors 

Parrots have a very different perception of their environment compared to humans. Something that may seem completely normal to us could be perceived as a threat by our parrots.

Pay close attention to our parrot’s body language and vocalizations to find out what it might perceive as stressful in order to resolve the issue.  


Parrots can be easily startled by sudden changes in their environment. Sudden loud noises, such as a clap of thunder or a car backfiring, can frighten parrots and trigger their stress response. 

The presence of unfamiliar animals or people can also cause sudden frights in parrots, particularly if they feel threatened or perceive them as a predator, like a cat staring at them from a distance. 

You should try to minimize the stressor for your parrot as much as you can by closely observing and actively removing those things.  

  1. Bright lights
  2. Predators
  3. New objects
  4. Sudden movements
  5. Loud Noises 

Other Pets

Dogs and cats can pose a threat to parrots, as they may perceive them as prey and attempt to attack them. Even if they are not actively hunting the parrot, their mere presence can create a sense of anxiety and stress for the bird. 

You can introduce other pets to your parrot gradually and under close supervision. Once your bird is familiar with the other pets, it can start to be more comfortable around them. 

It is important to note that some parrots may require additional support to manage their stress, such as behavioral therapy or medication. If your parrot’s stress persists despite your efforts to alleviate it, it is important to seek the advice of a veterinarian who specializes in avian health. 


Our parrots provide us with comfort and emotional support in times of need. So It’s important that we appreciate their unconditional love by caring for their emotional needs just as we do for their physical requirements. Addressing any issue that makes them feel stressed can be helpful in creating a safer and more comforting environment for your parrot. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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