How To Support A Traumatized or Rescue Bird

People are often surprised to learn that it is possible for birds to suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When our birds do not feel safe or are neglected, they will suffer.

The following things affect our birds over the long term: deprived of enrichment, made fun of, abused, and ostracized, loss of a beloved human or other household pet companion, or an unstable home. Bird's are very emotional and physical and psychological trauma affects them greatly.

In our role as bird rescuers, it is our privilege and challenge to allow them to slowly shed their fear, mistrust, and aggression. The goal with supporting a traumatized bird is to become a safe place where they can open up, drop their defenses, and find joy and friendship.

When this happens, it is extremely rewarding. Every rescuer wants to help their traumatized bird - but it takes a plan.

The process of gaining a bird's trust takes time and patience. We need to be prepared to release the let the process happen at its own pace, understanding that it probably won't fit into our schedule. Let the process unfold at its own pace and celebrate every small victory!

Working with an experienced bird behaviorist can help you continue to make progress. It is important to adjust the pace of "bird therapy" to see steady gains, whether you join a support group online or work with a behaviorist individually.

You can begin helping your bird right now! Or as soon as you bring it home.

Here's what to do to help your rescue bird: 

Learn to read bird body language. [READ BLOG POST]

A stressed or scared bird will show signs such as:

  • Pinned eyes
  • Backing away from you
  • Arching forward with head down
  • Head feathers up for birds with a crest
  • Spreading the tail feathers out


Go about your daily business while near the bird. Be fun and non-threatening visual and auditory interest.

When the bird feels more at ease with your presence, try giving it a treat through the cage bars. For instance, place a pine nut in its dish.

Do little rituals, such as whistling or calling the birds by name in a nursery rhyme tone to attract their attention. This is what birds naturally do in the wild. You're telling the bird, "welcome to my flock!" 

Start making eye contact gradually, paying attention to your bird's body language the whole time. Have you noticed the small, well-paced steps? Learn more here: