Do parrots grieve

Do Parrots Grieve? (How to Help Them Get Through It)

Losing a loved one can be just as emotionally hard on your parrot as it is on you. Parrots are intelligent and highly social creatures that form strong bonds with their owners and flock members. 

Due to their long lifespan, it is not uncommon for parrots to experience separation from individuals to whom they have become attached over the years.

When a parrot finds out about the death of someone they share a close bond with, they can feel intense sadness and grief and get depressed. A grieving parrot may act more distant, eat less, and vocalize differently.

How Do Parrots Grieve?

Wild birds have been captured mourning the dead by circling around them and performing a ritual. Some experts say that it is just a reaction to a bird dying and not evidence of grief. Greif usually happens over a period of time. But many anecdotal evidences suggest that parrots do mourn. 

Parrots respond to the death of their loved ones in quite similar ways as humans do. A parrot that is grieving its lost companion may refuse to eat, sulk alone, and sometimes make poignant vocalizations. 

Signs Your Parrot is Grieving

We cannot know for certain how a parrot understands the concept of death, but we can learn about their feelings from their actions and behaviors. After a parrot dies, the other parrot may behave differently showing feelings of sadness and loneliness. 

The parrot may not eat or drink, it may search for its companion and avoid contact with other people. These are, however, mild symptoms of grief. In some cases, grief can affect a parrot severely where it may start engaging in self-harming activities like feather plucking. 

Here are the signs of a grieving parrot:

  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Decreased vocalizations 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Loss of interest in playing and other activities 
  • Feather plucking 

Do Parrots Get Sad When Their Mate Dies?

Parrots are monogamous creatures. They usually mate for life unless any outside factor separates the pair. In the wild, parrots look for a partner to mate and socialize with. 

Once they are bonded, they distance themselves from other flock members. They fly in pairs, forage for food together, and sleep in their nest cavity. 

Similarly, in captivity, parrots that live together become friends and form strong bonds. Bonded pairs that live together in one cage are usually not tame birds and socialize only with each other. 

Parrots that are housed in separate cages, or ones that share an aviary also develop strong bonds and depend on each other for social needs. 

So when one of their close friend or a mate dies, the surviving parrot can become sad and mourn the loss of its mate. 

Do Parrots Grieve For Former Owners?

The relationship between parrots and their owners is underpinned by a strong emotional connection. Parrots are most attached to their owners because they spend a lot of time together. When a parrot is separated from a former owner, it can indeed experience a form of grief. 

It is not uncommon for parrots to be separated from their owners as they are often rehomed due to their long lifespans. When a parrot loses its former owner due to rehoming, relocation, or other circumstances, it may display signs of grief such as decreased vocalization, decreased appetite, or withdrawal from usual activities.

The grieving process in parrots, much like in other animals, varies from individual to individual. Factors such as the parrot’s personality, the strength of the bond with the former owner, and the circumstances of the separation all play a role. Parrots are highly social and are usually able to bond with their owners after the grieving period is over.

Can Parrots Die Of Loneliness?

Most pet parrots are raised as single birds because bonded parrots may not always form strong connections with humans. However, if you have two parrots kept in separate cages, they can become great friends. 

it may not necessarily feel alone. But if its mate is taken away due to unforeseen circumstances, the parrot can get extremely depressed. Loneliness is not directly associated with a bird’s physical well being but it can have negative consequences for its health. 

Oftentimes, when a parrot loses a friend or a mate, the process of grieving is not easy for them.  Such trauma can lead to the parrot harming itself through behavior like feather plucking. It may also self-mutilate by picking on its skin. 

Sad Macaw

How Long Do Parrots Grieve?

The duration or the extent to which a parrot may mourn cannot be generalized. A parrot may show signs of grieving usually for a few weeks but for some, it can take longer to get over the loss. 

If a parrot has lost a friend, it may be sad for weeks. On the other hand, if the parrot has suffered trauma because of the death of their beloved, the grieving period can be longer. A parrot may be traumatized if it witnesses the death of its friend or owner in front of its own eyes. 

The impact can last a significant amount of time and result in chronic stress and anxiety. Parrots that aren’t able to cope well with grief often develop destructive behaviors such as feather plucking, biting, and excessive screaming. 

How To Help A Grieving Parrot?

There isn’t a whole lot you can do to speed up this phase, but you can make it easy for your parrot to go through it. To get over the death of their friend your parrot will need your support. 

Don’t Leave Them Alone 

After the death of a companion, whether it is a bird or any other pet, parrots can get lonely and isolate themselves from everyone. You can ease the grieving process for your parrot by always staying there for the parrot.

During the grieving period, your parrot may not feel like socializing or playing with you. It may also avoid playing with its toys and resort to sulking in a corner by itself. 

While it is good to give your bird some space during this time, you should make sure that it does come out of it. You can’t let your parrot by itself as it may make it feel neglected. 

Stick To A Consistent Routine 

The loss that they have recently faced, has no doubt shaken their entire world. Your parrot is already going through a lot. So making sure they have a consistent routine will make things easy on your parrot.

Establishing a routine for your parrot creates a structured and predictable environment. Parrots thrive on routine as it helps reduce stress and anxiety. The predictability of a routine creates a sense of security for parrots.

Include Exercise In Their Routine

Parrots may experience stress and sadness during such situations and may avoid engaging in any kind of physical activity in their cages on their own. They may not play with their toys or climb their cages like they used to. This is not only bad for their health but also keeps them from moving on.  

incorporating exercise and stimulating activities into a parrot’s routine helps alleviate potential feelings of lethargy or restlessness associated with grief. Introducing new toys, puzzles, or engaging activities that provide mental stimulation. This will prevent boredom and encourage a positive mindset. 

Should You Get Another Friend For Your Parrot?

When a mate or companion passes away it can make the surviving parrot depressed for a long time. And while getting a new friend for your parrot may speed up the grieving period, you shouldn’t rush the process. 

Parrots are highly social, but they don’t bond with every bird the same. So giving your parrot enough time to learn to live without its friend will help them open up to a new relationship naturally. 

There’s no definite amount of time that you should wait before you get your bird a new companion, but you need to give them time to first get over the idea of loss on their own.

If you feel, after a few weeks, your parrot is recovering from the trauma, you should bring home a new friend for it.

Should You Show The Body Of The Dead Parrot To Your Surviving Parrot?

If your parrot has passed away and there’s no risk of infection for your surviving parrot, you might consider letting your living parrot see the body of the deceased one. You should observe the behavior of your parrot while it watches the body of its friend. They might react solemnly, though sometimes, they can behave in a disrespectful manner because parrots don’t really understand the idea of showing respect to the dead. 

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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