do parrots recognize their owners

Do Parrots Recognize Their Owners? (Sight + Other Senses)

When your parrot comes flying towards you the moment you enter your house, you immediately know you have a special place in their heart.

Most of us know that our parrots can identify us even in a sea of different faces. It is a matter of how closely they have bonded to you.

But not every parrot will welcome its owner with the same level of excitement, especially if they’re new. This can make one question if their parrots really recognize them.

Parrots can recognize their owners by their physical characteristics as well as their voice and smell. Studies show that parrots use different senses to distinguish people. More importantly, the fact parrots can form strong bonds with their human companions is probably the biggest indicator that they can recognize people.

Do Parrots Recognize Each Other?

Parrots need to recognize each other to interact in social settings whether it is in the wild or captivity. As parrot owners, we know this to be true, but there is scientific evidence that supports this as well.

In a study published by the American Psychological Association researchers found that parrots use visual information to recognize each other. This is different from some other animals like monkeys, who usually focus on faces to know who’s who.

The study looked at African grey parrots to see how well they recognize each other by sight. The parrots were given a match-to-sample task where they had to match pictures of their bird friends.

In the first part of the study, all three parrots were able to match pictures of other parrots. But then, in the next part, the pictures were slightly tweaked to see what the parrots paid attention to.

It was found that changing the colors of the feathers or covering up certain areas of the body made it harder for the parrots to recognize their friends. This means parrots use different sets of visual cues to understand and identify things in their environment.

How Do Parrots Recognize Their Owners?

In order to recognize people, parrots may use characteristics such as color patterns, body shape as well as other non-physical features. Let’s further understand how parrots recognize people:


As we already mentioned, parrots rely largely on their ability to see to identify people. Parrots can recognize people’s faces, but they might not always use that specifically.

While they do have the ability to recognize faces, parrots utilize various other parameters to understand the complexities of a visual.

They may distinguish people by their shape, and color, and even by understanding their movement patterns.


Parrots can also recognize people by the sound of their voices. Since vocals are a large part of how parrots communicate in the wild, they have developed sensitivities to varying pitches and tones, which helps them identify voices.

According to a study published by PLOS ONE the vocal imitation abilities in parrots allow them to identify specific individuals.

Parrots are best known for their skill of mimicking human speech, and it’s recently been discovered that they can use it to recognize the sounds of their flock mates. 

The study posited that conures, who commonly live in habitats where they encounter different members every day, use mimicry as a way to talk to a specific bird in their flock.

The researchers put the hypothesis to the test by playing recorded calls to wild conures.

The test birds were kept in outdoor aviaries to create simple groups. To imitate the sound of one of the birds, they played back recorded vocalizations.

The conures that heard the audio that was imitating their own calls responded more often and faster compared to the other birds.

This shows that parrots can use imitation to talk to particular birds in their group, and thus are able to distinguish between voices.


Unlike some of the other pets, a parrot’s sense of smell is not the strongest. However, their sense of smell can help them remember and recognize people they meet.

A study by Springer Link suggests that birds can recognize individuals by their unique odor. The study analyzed extracts obtained from the feathers of 13 birds and found that the chemical profile of a single bird was more similar to itself than to any other bird.

The odor signature of each bird is comprised of different chemical compounds, but it seems that the presence or absence of a few specific compounds is what differentiated them from others.

The findings point to the fact that the individual smell of every bird helps them identify each other. Similarly, since every person has their own unique smell, parrots can use their olfactory system to tell people apart from one another.

Do Parrots Bond With Their Owners?

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence indicating that parrots recognize their owners is their ability to form strong bonds with them. The fact that parrots can form connections is not a mystery. Parrots are social creatures that like interaction and socializing with people and their flock members.

As stated by the AFA Watchbird, if a parrot does not have a mate in its environment and its primary caregiver has been a human being for most of its life, the bird will most likely form a bond with that person.

Most parrots owners, including myself, can attest to the fact that they can get attached to the person who cares for them. As intelligent and social as parrots are, they share many of the same social tendencies as us. So when they are cared for by a single person, they are more inclined toward them.

How To Tell If Your Parrot Is Bonded To You?

Parrots don’t necessarily bond to their owners, but rather the ones who spend the most time with them or tend to their needs. When you’re the only caregiver for your parrot, chances are it will bond with you. Here are some signs that indicate a strong bond between you and your parrot: 

They Show Affection

Parrots who are close to their owners display affection in a number of ways. This may not be the way we show affection to each other which is why, oftentimes, we may even overlook our parrot’s love.

Parrots show affection in various forms. Some of them include gentle vocalizations, nibbling, preening, regurgitating their food on us, eye pinning, etc. However, they do not show their love to just about anybody, but only to the people really close to them.

They Interact With You

If your parrot vocalizes loudly and does weird things to get your attention, it is not because it likes to throw tantrums but rather, it wants you to play with them. Parrots display attention-seeking behavior when they want their owners to play with them. It is also a form of affection as it is inviting you to spend quality time with them. 

They Get Jealous

Jealousy is a common trait among parrots, especially one-person birds. If your parrot is attached to you, it may sometimes display aggressive behaviors towards other people other around. This may be a socially inappropriate way for your parrot to behave, but they can be taught to be more accepting of others.

They Mimic You

Beyond just a playful act, mimicking actually helps parrots know you better. When a parrot mimics your voice, it internalizes how you sound, which helps in distinguishing you from others. Also, a parrot may only mimic its owner, if the two are close and spend enough time together.

Do Parrots Miss Their Owners?

Parrots live a long life, and some species may even reach an age upwards of 80 years. During their lives, parrots may be rehomed or have a change in ownership. If the parrot had been attached to their previous owners, they may miss them and even mourn their loss.  

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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