Why Do Parrots Puff Up Their Feathers? (8 Common Reasons)

Puffing up serves various purposes for parrots. When a parrot raises its feathers, it can mean a few different things depending on the other body language signs it exhibits. 

To understand why your parrot is fluffing up, you need to understand the context of the situation in which such behavior happens.

Sometimes a parrot may puff up to make itself appear larger to ward off a threat, whereas 

if the parrot is resting and wants to keep warm, puffing up helps to trap heat and maintain appropriate body temperatures.

That being said, if you notice your parrot constantly in a puffed-up state, it may not be a behavioral sign. This usually indicates that the parrot is in pain, probably due to an underlying health issue.

There are different reasons for puffing up and in this article, I’m going to give you my insights about those specific situations where this behavior may occur. 

Why Do Parrots Fluff Their Feathers?

You may have seen your parrot puff up numerous times. It is when each feather on their bodies stands erect and separate from one another creating a puffed appearance. But why do they do this? These are the following reasons why your parrot fluffs its feathers:


A common place you’ll see parrot fluff up is on their perches right when they’re going off to sleep. They may also do this when they’re roosting or taking a short nap during the day.

By making a coat of feathers around them, parrots can feel comfortable and secure in their surroundings which allows them to go into deep sleep. It is one of their most common sleeping position as well as an endearing behavior.  


The relaxed state of your parrot’s feathers can also be very telling when it comes to the mood your parrot is in. Parrots get excited to see a new toy, mate, or even their favorite snacks and may fluff their feathers to show you how happy they are.

Some birds would also make pleasant vocalizations while being excited. This usually lasts for a second or two and can be an indication that your parrot is happy.

Regulating Body Temperature

Another common reason parrots fluff up their feathers is to create a blanket of insulation around them. When they open up their feathers, it allows them to trap the air inside the feather which keeps them snug.

It does not necessarily mean that they are feeling cold, though sometimes it may be the case. Sometimes the parrot may also tuck one leg inside their feathers as the unfeathered areas can cause them to lose warmth more quickly. 

Dry Up The Feathers

Most parrots do not like their feathers wet. They spend hours each day preening their feathers to keep them waterproof. Parrots use the natural oil from the uropygial gland to insulate the interlocking barbules 

After a parrot is done taking a bath, it will puff up and shake its feathers to release the water. This allows the feathers to open up completely and dry up faster. 

In addition to helping the feathers dry out quicker, parrots may also fluff up when they’re perched close to a source of sunlight such as a window. Not only does it feels nice on the feathers but also helps parrots get their daily intake of Vitamin D.  

Stress Or Fear

If your parrot only puffs up on seeing someone or something, it usually means that it’s feeling scared or fearful. When a parrot puffs up out of fear, it will attempt to make itself look big which may also be followed by loud vocalizations that are intended to scare off the threat. 

During this kind of behavior, it’s noticeable that the parrot’s aggression is directed specifically towards the perceived threat. If you have a guest in your house, it’s a good idea to introduce them to your parrot so that the parrot doesn’t feel threatened every time they are around.

However, you should be careful while making your parrot accustomed to a new pet in the house because in some cases, the fear of being preyed upon may be justified. It takes time and gradual introductions for them to become familiar with each other. Only after a few meetups can the two pets start to get accustomed. 

Preening Feathers

Usually, parrots preen their feathers without having to open their wings. They go through each one of the feather shafts and align them properly using their beaks. 

But occasionally, they may find some debris in their feathers that they want to get rid of. In such a case, they may puff up momentarily while quickly shrugging off their feathers.  

Sometimes a parrot may unintentionally puff up while preening. This happens when they have to reach over to the feathers at the back. If you observe your parrot while it preens, you’ll see the feathers spread and raise for a short while. It may happen when they’re reaching over for the preening gland.

Parrot preening its feathers

During Courtship

Mating among parrots largely depends on their looks. In the wild, the male parrots compete for their desired female by flaunting their beauty which includes displaying their feathers in all their glory. 

They may puff up their chest and spread their wings to show off in front of the female parrots to see. In parrots, it is often seen as a sign of good health and vitality. 

Parrots in captivity have similar mating standards. If you introduce a new female companion in your parrot’s cage, it will likely welcome the bird with a charming gesture.

To appear more attractive to the potential mate, the parrot will showcase its feathers by fluffing up which makes them look fuller and more attractive. 


Fluffed feathers can also be an indication of illness in parrots. When the parrot is sick, it may not be able to conserve body heat like before and will generally feel cold. The cage floor can be a warm place for the parrot to rest especially if there has towels down there. 

If this behavior is also accompanied by other signs of illness such as lethargy, reduced or loss of appetite, and changes in vocalizations, you should immediately take your parrot to an avian vet. 

Parrots are pretty good at concealing their sickness, so when the symptoms are actually visible, it usually means the condition has worsened. If you observe your parrot displaying these signs, it is important to promptly contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment.

Parrot Puffing Up Feathers FAQs

Why Does My Parrot Puff Up When I Pet Him?

If your parrot puffs up when you pet it and also closes its eyes slightly, it’s a show of trust. This shows that your parrot feeling comfortable with you and wants you to pet it. One of my parrot’s does this when I pet it on the head. 

Why Does My Parrot Puff Up When He Sees Me?

This usually happens when a parrot is excited to see you. It may be because they haven’’t seen you in a while or sometimes when they’re in a playfull mood they will fluff their feathers to get your attention. 

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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