Bird Anxiety

Bird Anxiety Demystified: 6 Natural Ways to Keep Your Bird Calm

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By Diane Burroughs

Table of Contents

Hello, bird lover! Just like us, our feathered friends can experience anxiety.

In this blog post, I'll be your guide to understanding and addressing bird anxiety. We'll explore how to recognize the signs of anxiety in your feathered friend, what causes it, and most importantly, six natural solutions to help your bird lead a happier and more relaxed life.

So, let's soar right in to ensure that bird anxiety doesn't rob you and your feathered friend from happiness.

How Do I Know if My Bird Has Anxiety?

Recognizing bird anxiety is the first step in helping your feathered companion. Birds can't speak our language, but they communicate through their behavior and body language. Here are some signs that may indicate your bird is experiencing anxiety:

  • Feather Plucking: If you notice your bird constantly pulling out its feathers or damaging its plumage, it may be a sign of stress or anxiety.
  • Aggressive Behavior: Aggression, such lunging or biting can be an expression of anxiety or fear. It's part of the fight or flight syndrome. 
  • Excessive Screaming: Birds communicate vocally, but excessive screaming beyond their usual patterns may be a sign of distress.
  • Cage-bound: Some birds may isolate themselves in their cages, avoiding interaction with you or other birds. This could indicate social anxiety or stress.
  • Reduced Appetite: A sudden loss of appetite might signify anxiety. Keep an eye on changes in your bird's eating habits.
  • Restlessness: Restlessness, like constant pacing, repeitive movements or an inability to settle down, can be a sign that your bird is anxious.

Remember that every symptom listed above might be due to different reasons. What you need to watch for are regular behaviors in your bird that show it's trying to feel safe when it's very anxious. Don't forget, understanding your parrot's body language can help you take better care of it. So, take action and start learning how to read your parrot's signals!

bird behaviors that indicate bird anxiety

What you need to watch for are a pattern of behaviors in your bird that show it's trying to feel safe when it's anxious. Diane Burroughs, LCSW

During one of my behavior consultations, a client reported, "I once had a black headed caique , Rascal, who a delightful and vibrant companion. However, when he was still an adolescent my neighbors began heavy construction on their house with lots of noise and banging. Then, my child started banging on the cage and yelling at the bird to "shut up!" Rascal started exhibiting signs of severe anxiety and night anyone approached. It broke my heart to see him so distressed. I knew I had to find a way to help him."

What Causes Bird Anxiety?

Understanding the causes of bird anxiety is essential in addressing and preventing it. Let's explore some common triggers that can lead to anxiety in our avian companions:

1. Lack of Social Interaction: Birds are social creatures. Isolation or neglect can lead to loneliness and anxiety. Plan to interact with your bird 2-3 times each day, at a level that it is comfortable.

2. Changes in Routine: Birds thrive on routine. Sudden changes in their daily schedule, environment, or the people around them can be unsettling.

3. Environmental Stressors: Loud noises, being near windows, or abrupt changes can stress out your bird. Birds are highly sensitive to their surroundings.

4. Health Issues: Physical discomfort or illness can lead to anxiety. Birds may exhibit anxious behaviors as a way of communicating their discomfort.

5. Lack of Mental Stimulation: Boredom and a lack of mental stimulation can lead to anxiety. Our intelligent birds need toys, puzzles, and activities to keep their minds engaged.

6. Previous Trauma: Birds that have experienced trauma, such as abuse or neglect, may be more prone to anxiety. Even pulling a baby bird from the nest and mom and dad can predispose a bird to life-long anxiety issues.

Now that we've explored the common causes of bird anxiety, let's delve into some natural solutions to help your feathered friend find peace and tranquility.

The Soothing Power of Bird Tea

Bird tea is a natural and gentle way to calm your bird's anxiety. It's a blend of herbs and botanicals selected for their calming properties. These herbal blends can reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and support overall well-being in your feathered friend.

Ingredients often found in bird tea blends include:

Chamomile: Known for its calming properties, chamomile helps soothe nervous or anxious birds and aids in digestion.

Lavender: Lavender's aroma can promote a sense of calm and reduce stress, both for birds and their human companions.

Lemon Balm: Lemon balm has gentle sedative properties and can help calm anxious birds.

Red Clover: The natural compounds found in the blossoms have a sedative effect that promotes relaxation and tranquility, gently soothing your anxious bird.
Raspberry Leaves: Valerian root is a natural sedative that can help birds relax and reduce anxiety.

Rasberry Leaves:  Mother Nature's all-natural muscle relaxer for birds: raspberry leaves. Packed with antioxidants and magnesium, they help ease tension and inflammation for a truly calming experience. Ahh, natural goodness!

Kick that birdie blues away with an all-natural, stress-busting tea blend! Adaptogenic herbs and soothing teas work wonders for trembling and panic, and can easily be added to your feathered friend's feedings. Flap, sip, and relax!

Serving bird tea is a cinch!.  You can steep it in hot, but not boiling water for 3 - 5 minutes or sprinkie 1/2 -1 teaspoon into your birds daily chop.

UnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Formula

Say goodbye to your feathered friend's frazzled nerves with UnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Formula! Created with the help of an avian vet, this top-notch powder supplement is a breeze to add to your bird's fresh water - providing 24/7 emotional support to ease their anxiety. It's the perfect natural remedy!

UnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Formula contains a blend of natural ingredients, including L-theanine and GABA.

Here's how the UnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Formula can benefit your bird:

Reduces Anxiety:  Both L-theanine and GABA, natural amino acids in the body, help reduce anxiety and stress in birds, promoting a sense of calm and well-being.

Eases Behavioral Issues: A stressed bird may may exhibit unwanted behaviors like feather plucking, excessive screaming, or aggression. This formula can safely help many bird behavior issues.

Before introducing any supplement to your bird's diet, it's essential to consult with your avian veterinarian to ensure it's appropriate for your specific bird's needs and health condition. It is important to use in combination with positive reinforcement bird training strategies.

UnRuffledRx Bird Hemp

Bird Hemp Seeds is another natural, healthy way to calm bird anxiety. While feeding an all seed diet is discouraged, a small amount of fresh, organic hemp seeds offers a ton of benefits.

Promotes Relaxation: Hemp Seeds have calming properties that can help your bird relax and reduce anxiety.

Supports Overall Well-Being: Hemp seeds have an abundant amount of natural amino acids and magnesium, known to reduce stress and anxiety in birds.

Easy to Use: UnRuffledRx Bird Hemp Seeds comes are easy-to-serve. Just toss the recommended serving in the bowl, mixed in bird chop, or even sprout them!

Safe and Non-Psychoactive: It's essential to note that UnRuffledRx Bird Hemp is non-psychoactive so they won't make your bird high!

Building Trust for a Calmer Bird

Building trust with your bird is a critical step in reducing anxiety. Trust forms the foundation of a strong and positive relationship between you and your feathered friend. Here are some tips on how to build trust with your bird:

treat bird anxiety with positive reinforcement

Spend Quality Time Together: Dedicate time each day to interact with your bird. An anxious bird will appreciate talking, singing, or simply sitting within view, as you slowly work on improving trust.

Gentle Approach: When approaching your bird, slow and steady wins the race! Be mindful of sudden movements that might make them jumpy, and take note of how close you are so as not to startle them. Once you've got their trust, gradually get closer and help build a feeling of security.

Offer Treats: Use treats as a way to reward your bird for calm behavior. This positive reinforcement helps build trust. If your bird is not treat motivated, observe it to see what motivates it.

Be Patient: Building trust takes time, especially with birds that have had negative experiences in the past. Work with your bird daily, even if it is just for a few minutes. Make sure that your bird feels safe with every single interaction that you have with it.

Respect Boundaries: Pay attention to your bird's body language and signals. If they show signs of discomfort or fear, respect their boundaries and back up to a distance that makes your bird feel safer.

Never, Ever Use Punishment: Avoid any form of punishment like scolding, banging on the cage, covering the cage, placing a collar on a plucker, or ignoring the bird. This will only set your bird back. Instead use positive reinforcement any time your bird behaves in a calmer manner.

Creating A Safe Environment

Strive to make sure that you offer your exotic pet a bird friendly, safe environment.

It's cage is its home. Make sure to do your research. Choose a large enough cage that your bird can spread its wings and climb. Offer several natural wood perches, safe, appropriately sized toys made in the USA, and avoid placing the cage near a window where your pet can see predators. A shy bird will appreciate its cage being away from the center of activity.

As your bird becomes more comfortable, you can experiment with cage location. Birds are flock animals so as they feel safe, they'll appreciate interaction.

If you're afraid that your bird will get lonely, make it a point to check in with it throughout the day. Play music or pet bird videos on YouTube to offer enrichemnt.

Making Sure Your Bird Gets Enough Sleep

Establish a routine so that your bird gets a good nights sleep. Birds need 10 - 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. This will mimic their natural environment. Without adequate sleep, you'll see increased bird anxiety. Consider a sleep cage if necessary.

A sleep cage may be especially important if your feathered friend has night frights. Sleep cages are often simply a bird carrier with a perch that is low to the ground so that if your bird does get frightened, it has less chance of hurting itself.


The Power of Avian Enrichment

Bird enrichment is often overlooked, sadly. Birds are energetic, very smart and social. They have excellent vision, hearing, and problem solving capabilities. Lack of enrichment can cause severe bird anxiety. So, how do you provide bird enrichment? Here are several idea to get you off to a good start:

Puzzle Toys: Offer puzzle toys that challenge your bird's problem-solving skills. These toys can keep their minds active and engaged.

Foraging Toys: Hide treats or food inside foraging toys to encourage your bird to search for their meals, mimicking their natural foraging behavior. It doesn't have to be expensive. Recycle small kraft boxes or clean egg cartons to hide healthy food in.

Rotate Toys: Change your bird's toys regularly to keep them interested and prevent boredom.

Sensory Enrichment: Play cartoons or Youtube videos for your pet.

Social Interaction: Birds are social creatures. Spend time interacting with them daily, whether through talking, singing, or playing.

Provide safe outdoor enclosures where they can get some healthy sunshine for 15-30 minutes a day. Never leave your bird unsupervised outdoors.

Wrapping up, it's our responsibility to ensure that our feathered friends live happy, anxiety-free lives. By recognizing the signs of bird anxiety and addressing its root causes, we can make a significant difference in our bird's well-being.

Remember, every bird is unique, and what works best for one may differ for another. Consult with your avian veterinarian to develop a tailored plan to help your bird lead a calm and contented life. Together, we can ensure that bird anxiety doesn't control our feathered friends' happiness, allowing them to thrive in the loving care of their human companions.

Print out this helpful table to remind yourself of better ways to handle common bird anxiety behaviors.

Interventions For Bird Anxiety Behaviors

Header 1 Behavior Header 2 Common Response Header 3 Better Response
Screaming Yell Back
  • Provide a Quiet Environment
  • Investigate the Cause of Screaming
  • Use Positive Reinforcement
Biting Yell at the bird, scold the bird, put the bird in its cage.
  • Find out the "trigger"
  • Gain trust over time
  • Teach replacement behaviors
Skittish Worry, try to console the bird, ignore the bird
  • Build trust over time
  • Reward all calm behaviors
  • Consider Calming Remedies
Plucking Worry, try to console the bird, punish bird by putting on a collar, squirting it with water
  • Get a medical checkup
  • Investigate the trigger
  • Reward calm safe behaviors

© Copyright Diane Burroughs, LCSW

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Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

TAGS: #BirdAnxiety #BirdSelfMutilation