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How Do Parrots Live With Humans?

How Do Parrots Live With Humans?

Posted by Parrots and Humans, Parrot relationships on 27/6/2024

Elaine Henley P.G. Dip CABC

Full Member Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)
Animal Behaviour Training Council (ABTC) Registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist

Phone: 01294 833764




In the wild, one rarely observes a solitary Parrot for any significant time; they are rarely alone. During the day they are always to be found near another Parrot and in the evening, they tend to roost with many others.

Wild Parrots are very sociable with others of their own species; early morning and evening they will come together as a large group to eat, chat and play before settling down for naps and/or for further food foraging.

The Parrots that live within our homes are not very far removed from their wild cousins in terms of their emotional and social needs. Being with their human flock not only helps them to feel safe, but also brings relationship enrichment.

As intelligent creatures, Parrots do experience negative emotions associated with loneliness or boredom and this may impact on their physical and mental health. A lonely Parrot may be excessively vocal or aggressive, they may develop feather plucking or mutilation behaviours.

In an ideal world, we would never leave our Parrots alone, they would spend all their time with us meaning we would never leave our homes, go to work, meet our friends or go on holiday. In other words, our life would be fully entwinned with theirs.

Most Parrot caregivers take their commitment to their Parrots seriously. In getting a Parrot, very few take the decision lightly, as they realise that they could be living with their Parrot for a very long time; some Parrot species may live up to 65 years.

Some caregivers make the decision to live with a Parrot because their present circumstances suggest that they have an abundance of time to give to their Parrots. However, circumstances often change and with that, the time in which they can give to their Parrots.

For example, the addition of a new partner, or a child, bringing into the household another species of pet, a change in work routine, or the care for an ageing relative etc. Many caregivers feel very guilty when they witness the impact of their changing circumstances on their beloved, feathered companion.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, many Parrot caregivers found themselves at home for longer periods of time than they or their Parrots were used to; some caregivers may have been on furlough or working from home.

Our Parrots quickly became used to the new normal and as a result, were less able to cope when restrictions were lifted, and caregivers were able to resume their old way of life.

We owe it to ourselves and our Parrots to be honest that the ideal is not realistic or achievable and that our lives may change. So, we should prepare our Parrots to cope with being on their own without us, whilst minimising any deterioration in their bond and trust in us.

Parrots like many of us thrive on routine and predictability, to know when they may expect interaction with us and when they won’t. Consider your busiest days, which may include you being out of the house or even within the house, involved in an activity that means that you can’t devote time to your Parrot.

Consider how often those busy days happen: are they weekly, monthly? Use this as a template for your time together at home, out of cage time, or absences from home.

If out of the house or otherwise engaged times are unpredictable or ad hoc, then initiate a regular routine for your time together i.e. cage time - when you are at home, cage time – when you are not at home etc. and apply this, 7-days a week.

If you are a Parrot caregiver who never or rarely leaves their Parrot alone, prepare them for future possible changes in circumstances by gradually increasing the time that you leave them alone in the house, so that they may be comfortable on their own for 4-5 hours.

It is also helpful to teach your Parrot to accept that they will not always get your attention when you are at home by encouraging them to amuse themselves for short periods of time.

All Parrot caregivers should familiarise their Parrot with other people so that they accept other people coming close and interacting with them. For further information on leaving your Parrots for holidays please look at a previous blog “We’re all going on a summer holiday”.

A question I am often asked is, “how much time should we spend with our Parrots?” Research suggests that by spending a minimum of 4-hours a day with your Parrot and allowing them to be out of their cage for 8-hours per day reduces the risk of feather destructive behaviour by nearly 90%.

The 4-hours + spent with them doesn’t need to be done in one chunk of time but could take place throughout the day and evening. The more that this is predictable to your Parrot the better for their emotional wellbeing.

With little effort, caregivers can easily manage to spend 4-hours + with their Parrots.

  • Have breakfast with your Parrot.
  • Take them with you when you shower.
  • If working from home, have lunch together or let them hang out with you for a few hours.
  • Hang out together when you are doing chores or cooking dinner.
  • Have dinner together.
  • Let your Parrot join you when you watch TV or read.
  • Pop your Parrot in their cage at bedtime, when you go to bed; they will nap during the day to make up for any loss of sleep.

Remembering that it is OK to simply be hanging out together, you don’t need to be constantly interacting with each other. Teach your Parrot to accept you being engaged with a social activity involving other people- this may be a zoom or telephone call or having guests in the house.

When you must be away from home and leave your Parrots behind, do keep in touch with them via video calls. Research suggests that Parrots are able to engage positively with a screen-based video call and interact with the person confidently.