Parrot rubbing its beak

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks/Heads On Things?

Trying to understand your parrot’s body language is no easy task. They do strange things all the time. Most of them can be explained as quirks while others can have the potential to turn into behavioral problems.

Usually, parrots like to rub their beaks on different kinds of surfaces like perches, cages, walls, and sometimes people they are close to. Depending on what they rub their beaks on, this behavior could have different meanings.

Most parrots rub their beaks on the floor or their perches right after eating. It is a phenomenon in wild birds called “feaking” where the bird wipes its beak to get rid of anything that’s on it. But parrots can exhibit this behavior for several other reasons such as showing affection, contentment, beak trimming, and sometimes even due to an itch. 

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks?

To understand why your parrot rubs its head on various things in its surroundings, you need to learn to read the situation in which it is doing it. It is a large part of understanding your parrot’s body language. Here are some of the common reasons for beak rubbing in parrots:


A happy parrot will display its emotions in a variety of forms. When a parrot is content it would gently rub its beak on the ground or cage bars enjoying how it feels on their beaks. A parrot’s beak is sensitive to touch due to the network of blood vessels inside it.

If you see your parrot rubbing its beak in a calm manner, it is better to let it have the moment to itself. It is how they like to practice relaxation and release stress. Parrots often look for a soft cloth or a piece of clothing to rub their beaks when they want to relax.

Cleaning The Beak

Parrots can make a mess while eating, with food ending up around their bowl or on their face. So when a parrot finishes eating, it may rub its beak on the floor to wipe the food off.  This behavior helps the parrot to clean its beak and get rid of any leftover food or dirt stuck to its beak. It’s part of their natural instinct to keep their beaks clean. 

Trimming The Beak

Just like our fingernails, the parrot beak is composed of keratin protein and constantly grows in length. However, it is not just in length, the beak grows in layers. So parrots have to keep their beaks trimmed all the time. It is one of their many grooming behaviors that helps them look their best always.  

Parrots often do not need manual beak trimming as they are quite adept at doing it themselves. Wooden perches are great for beak maintenance and also simulate the parrot’s natural environment. In the wild, parrots use tree branches for their beaks in order to trim them. 

You should not have dowel perches for your parrot. They do very little for stability and cannot be used by parrots to trim their beaks.

Besides perches, you can also provide them with a cuttlebone. It not only provides the parrot with a hard surface to grind its beak on but also promotes beak health. Parrots can nibble or rub on the surface of the cuttlebone, which helps maintain proper beak shape and prevent overgrowth.

Cuttlebones are a rich source of calcium which is a vital nutrient in the production of keratin in the body. It is also a great dietary supplement for the overall health of your parrot. 

Showing Affection 

When a parrot is rubbing its head on you, it means that it likes you. Parrots don’t easily grant their trust to other people. It takes time and some effort to make your relationship work. But when the bond is established, parrots show their affection in a variety of ways, including rubbing their beaks on you. 

When a parrot trusts you completely it will come up to you and rub its beak, expressing its desire for closeness. This behavior is similar to how we might lean in for a hug or nuzzle someone we care for.

Seeking Attention

Parrots require attention on a regular basis and it is often initiated by them. Mostly they will vocalize but they also have an assortment of other weird behaviors in their repertoire. And rubbing their beaks on you is just one of them. 

Rubbing their head on you could also be a sign of boredom or stress in parrots. When they feel like you haven’t been spending time with them, they may let you know of it by rubbing their heads on you. This should be your cue to take some time out and play and interact with your parrot. 


Parrots can rub their beak excessively when suffering from allergies or infections. This can be a result of environmental irritants or poor-quality food and water. The itching may make the beak flaky from the constant rubbing and cause discomfort. It is normal for a parrot’s beak to be flaky but it shouldn’t necessarily peel it out before it naturally falls off. 

A common condition associated with this behavior is mites. According to Long Beach Animal Hospital, Scaly face mites is a disease caused by a parasite called Knemidokoptes and often affects small parrots like budgies. It is usually spread from one bird to another either by sharing the same enclosure.

Repeated rubbing may offer the parrot momentary relief, but it is something to be looked into quickly. Mites infestation can spread to different parts of the body and become the root of certain destructive behaviors. Before the condition gets any worse, it is best to take your parrot to an avian vet.

Do Parrots Like Their Beaks Rubbed?

In addition to rubbing their beaks on you, parrots are also fond of getting their beaks rubbed. Parrots have a stronger sense of touch in parts of their bodies that are not covered in feathers, which includes their feet and beak. 

According to the Bird Vet Melbourne, the parrot’s beak contains blood vessels and nerve endings, which makes it sensitive to touch. There are more blood vessels near the head and fewer as you go down toward the tip. This is why parrots love gentle beak rubs. It allows them to feel their beaks and also gives a calming sensation. 

You can also see their eyes closed in relaxation as you rub their beaks with your fingers. Sometimes my African Grey would come near me and bow, telling me to wipe its beak. It is like when I gently hold its beak and rub it with my thumb. 

Why Does My Parrot Rub Its Beaks On Me?

Parrots express their love in different ways, many of which depend on how well you have bonded with them.

A parrot rubbing its beak on you means it feels very close to you and trusts you. If your parrot rubs its head on your cheek, lips, or fingers, it is trying to say that it loves you. 

Parrots can sometimes be encouraged to rub their beaks on you by the kind of clothes you are wearing.

A parrot would most likely feel your soft sweater with its beak as it can be relaxing and soothing. Warm colors can also attract parrots to do the same. 

Why Do Parrots Rub Their Beaks On Perches?

The best way parrots know how to take care of their beaks is by sharpening them against hard objects, typically wood. This is actually a healthy habit that keeps your parrot’s beak trimmed and symmetrical. You should provide your parrot with the best non-toxic and disinfected wood perches like elm, ash, maple, or willow.

Why Does My Parrot Rub Its Beak On Its Cage?

Parrots spend most of their time around their cage and sometimes you may notice them rubbing their beaks on the cage bar. If the parrot is rubbing its beak on the cage bars, it is probably to file it and prevent excessive growth.

On the other hand, if you notice the parrot wiping its beak on the cage floor, it can be for a few different reasons. In case the cage floor has abrasive layering, the parrot may use it to trim its beak. However, in some cases, it may also use its to scratch its itchy beak.

You need to make sure that your parrot does not rub its beak too much. If you notice that your parrot is rubbing its beak excessively, or its behavior seems unusual, visit an avian veterinarian to evaluate the possible causes.

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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