Signs your parrot is depressed

8 Signs Your Parrot Is Depressed (Causes + What To Do)

Parrots may not be able to speak about how they feel but their body language tells you a lot about their mental wellbeing.

Being an intelligent and highly social species of birds, parrots are more susceptible to negative emotions than other types of pets.

When a parrot is depressed, it may behave differently than usual. Feather picking, loss of appetite, reduced vocalizations, aggression, and stress bars are some of the signs of a depressed parrot.

Signs Of Depression In Parrots

Each parrot is different in the way it has been raised and the type of environment it lives, so the reason for its unhappiness may be different depending on different circumstances. While it’s not always easy to understand how our birds are feeling, some of the tell-tale signs of depression in parrots may include:

Less Active Than Usual 

Parrots are very active throughout the day with only a few moments where they would sit quietly. So when your pet parrot becomes less active or lethargic, it will be quite evident. 

A depressed or sad parrot won’t be as enthusiastic about playtime or training sessions as it used to be. 

Even the activities that might have been its favorite, all of a sudden, may not interest it anymore. Also, if your parrot has depression, it will most likely be sleeping more than usual as well. 

Normally parrots sleep around 10-12 hours but if your parrot seems to be resting more than that if it is roosting in the afternoon, it could be suffering from depression. 

Decreased Vocalization

Parrots use vocalizations as their primary way of communicating with their flock and family members. They make a range of different noises and sounds and will hardly ever shut up. 

Such a drastic change in vocalization is very noticeable. If your parrot suddenly starts vocalizing it could be that it is feeling depressed.

Sudden Aggression 

A parrot with depression might not vocalize like before but may exhibit aggressive behavior from time to time. It may scream excessively or sometimes bite when you try to pet it. 

This is an indication that your parrot wants to be alone. Parrots are generally calm around their owners and the people they trust so if they suddenly snap at you, there could be something wrong. 


Stereotypies are repetitive behaviors that do not have an obvious goal. These could be simple movements your bird already exhibits such as pacing back and forth, head bobbing, head wiggling, etc. 

However, when they do it excessively in a repetitive pattern it could be due to a mental disorder. According to a study published in Behavioural Brain Research stereotypical behavior in captive parrots can arise due to environmental causes such as psychological distress.

Refusing To Eat 

When parrots experience depression, they may exhibit behaviors similar to humans. One such is a loss of appetite. 

Although a loss of appetite may be related to certain health conditions, if your parrot is refusing to eat it may be due to behavioral reasons.

Just as we might lose our appetite when we’re feeling low, a sad parrot might not show interest in eating either. 

Your parrot may not show the same excitement for its favorite food when it is depressed. As a result, you may also notice weight loss in your parrot. 

Puffed Up Feathers

When a parrot puffs up its feathers, it could mean many different things. To understand why a parrot may do that you need to read its body language.

A sad parrot will usually fluff up its feathers and roost on its perch more often. It may also display signs of being lethargic.

Stress Bars Or Lines On Feathers

Stress bars are dark horizontal lines that appear across the parrot’s feathers. It can be an indication that something is amiss with your parrot’s health.

It may either be caused by medical issues or mental stressors. Stress bars do not provide a definitive answer to what’s bothering your parrot but depression can be one of the reasons for it.

Feather Plucking

Feather plucking can have many different causes, but stress and depression are often the most commonly associated triggers. 

This happens because when a parrot is suffering from depression, it may feel helpless and frustrated by the flood of stress hormones in its body.

The parrot may not develop this behavior immediately but when the conditions do not seem to get better, it may turn to feather plucking as a way of coping with its depression.

Parrot picking its feathers

Why Do Parrots Get Depressed?

Recognizing what makes your parrot feel blue is the first step in taking care of its mental health. Once you are able to remove the stressor from the environment, the depression may resolve itself. These are some of the cause why your parrot might be feeling down: 

Staying Inside The Cage

While it is not possible for us to keep our parrots out always, they should be allowed at the very least, 2-3 hours of out-of-cage time.

Parrots need space to move around. After all, they are flying creatures that move in the open skies. 

If they aren’t given an opportunity to fly around free and kept locked in, it can take a toll on their mental health.

You should take your parrot outside so it can work its body and exercise. It is also a good chance for the two of you to bond.

Irregular Routine

Parrots need to have a consistent schedule for their meals, playtime, and most importantly their sleep. If their daily schedule is off, it can make them anxious. 

Being tropical birds, they naturally follow a specific 12-hour sleep pattern. Ignoring this may disturb their circadian rhythm which can lead to unhappiness in your parrot.

Being Rehomed

Most owners who have adopted a parrot notice symptoms of depression in their bird. It is natural in this situation actually for the parrot to feel a little anxious and act reserved. 

Parrots do not trust their environments or people very easily, so you might have to put in some work in building a rapport with your parrot. 

You could take help from its previous owners and ensure that it feels just as comfortable in its new home.  

Moving To New A Place

Changes are always going to be tough on your parrot. As prey animals parrots like predictability in their surroundings because it makes them feel secure. 

If recently your parrot’s environment has undergone a change such as moving to a new house, it might be a little overwhelming for it. 

It is not uncommon for parrots to act strange when they’re put in unfamiliar environments. Your parrot might not eat or drink and may even let out poignant vocalizations. 

It might take a while, but once your parrot adjusts to its new home, it will start to chirp happily again. 

Being Left Alone 

It can get pretty lonesome for your parrot when you’re gone. This is especially if it does not have a mate or a second bird to keep it company. 

It is understandable to leave your parrot at home when you’re at work or when you have other obligations to attend to. 

But if you’re leaving your parrot for hours without any kind of interaction, soon your pet might not act so thrilled when you return to see it. 

Parrots are social beings, and being alone can drain their energy making them depressed and unhappy. 

Unstimulating Environment

Boredom is a common cause of depression in parrots. As social birds, parrots need to be mentally stimulated whether it is by interacting with their owners or through playing by themselves. 

So when they get neither of them, they can quickly start to feel bored which makes them unhappy in their environment. You should make time to hang out with your parrot for at least 30 minutes every day.

For most of us who have jobs and other daily obligations, it may be hard but you can take some time out for your parrot. It is also good to have toys and foraging boxes in your parrot’s cage to keep them entertained on their own. 


Larger parrots often tend to bully smaller ones, especially when they don’t get along well. 

If you have two birds displaying hostile behavior towards each other, you need to get them acquainted first before putting them in the same cage. 

Make sure that both of your parrots are compatible, otherwise, one of them is going to be very unhappy and also stressed and anxious all the time.


Humans aren’t the only that mourn the loss of a loved one. Your parrot may grieve too. 

Parrots can go through a difficult time when they experience the loss of a cage mate or person they may have been very close to in the house. 

It is normal for parrots to grieve and there isn’t much you can do to help your parrot other than to console them.

In these hard times, you should comfort your parrot and let them know that they’re not alone in this.

Poor Diet

If your parrot is not getting enough nutrients from its diet, it can have a range of health problems. And it won’t be as lively and or happy. 

Your parrot should get its nutrients from a varied diet consisting of high-quality pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

This will make sure that it is not deficient in any of the essential nutrients. Sometimes, vitamin deficiencies can turn out to be the reason for behavioral problems and unhappiness in pet parrots.

How To Help A Depressed Parrot?

Before you associate depression with your parrot’s condition or try to figure out what might be causing the issue, schedule an appointment with a vet for a full medical checkup.

It could be possible that those signs of depression in your parrot may actually be symptoms of a disease. It is important to rule out a medical issue first because parrots conceal their illnesses as a natural instinct.

So if you notice unusual signs in your parrot’s behavior, many times it can be due to a disease that has worsened and your parrot cannot bear to hide it. 

Once your parrot clears up for any medical issue, you can work on their behavioral issues by understanding the root cause of their depression. 

It can take time, but with care and attention, you can get to the root of the cause and help your parrot feel more comfortable and content in its environment.


Can Parrots Die Of Depression?

While depression in itself may be the direct cause of death, if the condition is left unaddressed for a long time, it can impact the parrot’s physical health. 

Depression, like in humans, can weaken the parrot’s immune system and make it more susceptible to illnesses.

A stressed and depressed parrot may develop behavioral problems such as feather plucking, which can sometimes turn into self-mutilation. It may also make the parrot more prone to infections. 

Moreover, a loss of appetite and refusal to eat can lead to malnutrition and weight loss, further compromising their overall health.

The impact of long-term depression in parrots can be detrimental and its related physical consequences could reduce their lifespan. 

It’s important to understand that a bird’s emotional well-being is just as important as its physical health. If you suspect your parrot is suffering from depression, do seek professional advice from an avian vet. 

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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