Direct Dispatch - 7 days delivery

How Parrots Communicate In The Wild

How Parrots Communicate In The Wild

Posted by Wild Parrots, Parrot Communication, How Parrots Communicate on 9/1/2024

Elaine Henley explains how Parrots communicate in the wild and with each other.

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. Wild Grey Parrots have been observed at roosting sites in flocks consisting of several hundred individuals, and, during the day, smaller groups will fly together on foraging trips.


It isn’t just the Grey Parrots who live in flocks – most Parrots do, with strong monogamous pair-bonds reported. Individuals are observed flock calling to each other when resting or foraging and to indicate their arrival or departure from a chosen location.

This author observed beak rubbing as a means of social greeting between two or more individuals, not just between those who are pair bonded. Many species of Parrot remain playful throughout their lives, with juveniles being more likely to play with other members of their flock.

The majority of Parrots participate in group activities: eating, napping, and preening. In other words, they have evolved to live with others of their own species: old world Parrots, or with other species – new world Parrots.


Earlier this year, Scientists from North-Eastern University, Glasgow University and MIT reported findings from their recent study.

Their research was promoted by the knowledge that many caregivers consider the importance of cognitive enrichment: toys, training, puzzles, food but they rarely consider social and emotional enrichment, and in particular, interaction with others of their own kind.

Many European countries, for example Germany have recognised that companion Parrots benefit from living with another Parrot and have legislated for this with enforcement powers. The expectation is not that they will buddy up, rather that they will co-exist and provide companionship to each other.

Pet shops and breeders are advised to sell young birds in pairs. Exceptions are allowed for those Parrots who are genuinely frightened of other Parrots, have been imprinted for too long with humans or are old or sick.


In contrast, many birds kept as pets within the British Isles are solitary and lack companionship with others of their own species or other species of Parrots. Aydinonat et al. (2014) demonstrated that solitary-housed birds have significantly shorter telomeres than pair-housed birds; that solitary-housed birds at 9 years of age had comparable relative telomere lengths to pair-housed birds that were 32 years old.

Of concern, shortened telomere lengths are associated with age-related diseases in humans and are indicative of chronic stress.

Their research suggests that captive Parrots may benefit from virtually connecting with their peers, other Parrots. They note that once the Parrots had learned to initiate video chats with other companion Parrots, they were able to learn new skills and displayed mirroring behaviour, such as dancing, singing, or preening.


Further, it was reported that those Parrots who initiated calls, were more likely to recive calls.

To begin with, the 18 Parrots were taught to touch a bell to receive a treat, then to touch a photo of another bird on a screen to trigger a call. This took around 2-weeks to learn and acted as a way of introducing the birds to each other.

The calls lasted a maximum of 5-minutes and were stopped at the first sign of the bird disengaging from the call i.e. walking/ flying away, distracted, scared, etc.). Researchers then analysed 212 recordings of these “meet and greet” calls to assess signs of the birds’ ability to perceive and make sense of screen-based stimuli and the response to the other bird going off frame.

Following this learning stage, the birds were provided with a bell during “open call” sessions which lasted for 3-hours per day over a period of 10-weeks. The birds could then touch the bell to request a call and choose which bird they wished to chat to. The birds chose to make a total of 147 calls. All the Parrots in the study group were supported by trained, attentive caregivers who ensured that this was a reassuring and positive experience for the Parrots.


This study and its findings highlights the intelligence of Parrots who appeared to make sense of what they could see on the screen and importantly, react and interact to this. Of their own violation, they could choose to interact with another; they were not offered any reward by their caregiver for doing so.

The reward was simply being able to interact with another. Some of the Parrots formed relationships with other birds, as they choose to call some, more than others.

Obviously, video chatting can’t replace the social interactions that would occur if the birds were allowed to physically meet, but it may offer a viable option for other caregivers to consider.