Quaker parrot eating a treat while perched on fingers

Why Does My Parrot Hold My Finger? 5 Common Reasons

If you hold out your finger in front of your parrot, you expect them to take it as a signal to step up. But what if instead your parrot just holds your finger with its beak?

That’s kind of odd and unexpected. But then, so are many of the behaviors parrots exhibit.

When a parrot wraps its beak around your finger, it does not mean it wants to bite you. In fact, your parrot is telling you that it will not hurt you and you can fully trust them.  

Parrots engage in social play with their flock in the wild where they show various aggressive behaviors, but in a playful manner. And since you are their flock mate, they like to play in this manner with you.

However, there are many nuances in what parrots do, which means that one behavior can have different meanings depending on the situation.

5 Reasons Your Parrot Holds Your Finger

Decoding your parrot’s nonverbal cues involves a lot of paying close attention to how they behave. When your parrot grabs your finger, it can mean a myriad of things. It also depends on how they hold your finger. Is it with their beak or their foot?

You may have noticed this playful behavior most often when you are playing with your parrot. And it is likely that it is just a playful gesture. But under certain situations, when you observe their behavior, you may find different explanations. 

Play Biting

Parrots cannot express themselves in words. So they find other ways to tell you how they feel. If your parrot holds your finger in his beak, it is a sign of affection. When your parrot holds your finger in its mouth, it won’t put pressure on it because it does not want to hurt you. It just keeps it softly in its beak and may choose to nibble on it a little bit.

This behavior is part of social play in parrots. According to Bird Behavior, Volume 6, Number 1, social play in parrots involves various types of friendly and aggressive behaviors in addition to behaviors that are specific to playtime.

Aggressive behaviors include play biting, foot-lifting, and neck stretching. On the other hand courtship or friendly behaviors include allopreening and bill-nibbling.

However, keep in mind that parrots have a tendency to bite. If you offer your finger to your parrot, it may clamp down on it with pressure. That’s their normal response towards anything you put in front of their mouth. For example, if you put out a target stick, they will bite it even though they know it is not something to eat. 

Being Territorial 

Parrots can be possessive about their space, belongings, and even their favorite people. If you’re the only one in the house that your parrot is close to, your bird may become a one-person bird. It may also show jealous behavior when other members of the family come close to you. The nibbling and touching of your finger is to show possession over you. 

Parrot looking kind of aggressive


A parrot trying to get hold of your finger may be asking for your attention. It could be that you haven’t spent much time with your parrot lately and they want you to play with them. So if your parrot seems to be bored, spending some quality time with them can be a good idea. 

It can also be that your parrot is inviting you to pet them. Parrots like to be pet on the head and neck area. Since your parrot is showing you some love, it makes sense that you reciprocate the gesture by giving it a few head scratches and cheek massages.

They Want A Treat

If the parrot uses slight pressure when mouthing or beaking you, it may be communication that it is hungry. Nibbling and beaking often indicate hunger. Your parrot may lick and gently hold your finger in its mouth to ask for a treat. 


Typically during the spring season, when parrots are hormonal, they get sexual urges. They may release this energy by rubbing themselves on objects in the cage most commonly it is their favorite toy. 

However, when your parrot is bonded to you, it may possibly see you as a mate. If your parrot mounts your finger and starts rubbing its bottom region on you, it means it is trying to masturbate. 

You can be caught off guard by your parrot’s act, but try not to act negatively. Obviously, you should not allow this and put them back in their cages. Also, remove other toys that they use to do this. The hormonal season often leads to sexual frustration for parrots so you should help them get through this as quickly as possible. 

Is It Bad If Your Parrot Holds Your Finger?

It is not a bad thing if your parrot wants to show you it cares about you. However, you will have to deal with being licked and having slightly wet fingers. So as long as your parrot does not bite you, it is no problem to let them hold your finger.

However, make sure that your hands are clean when your parrot is putting it in its mouth. Lack of hygiene is easily one of the most common ways parrots get bacteria infections.

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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