can birds have panic attacks

While it’s often difficult for bird parents to tell whether their pet is sick (because birds commonly hide signs of illness), it’s even harder for most people to tell if their bird is stressed or unhappy. Birds can certainly feel these emotions—and hide them until these feelings become so extreme that they are manifested either physically or behaviorally.

Birds can express unhappiness and stress in several different ways. Here’s how to tell if you’ve got a stressed or depressed bird—and how you can help.

1. Get Help From a Vet

It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a bird’s stress, but working with an avian-savvy veterinarian or bird trainer can provide insight and may help an you get relief for a bird more quickly.

Signs of Stress in Birds

So how can you tell if your bird is unhappy? Here are a few common indicators that your bird is stressed out:

Although many people mistakenly believe that birds biting is an aggressive behavior, it’s actually more often a sign of stress and fear. When frightened, birds will often bite or lunge to defend themselves; they may bite people, other birds, or the cage bars.

A bird that suddenly starts biting frequently should have a thorough veterinary examination to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical issue causing this new behavior, as biting can also be an indication of pain or discomfort.

Normal parrots, depending on their species, make loud noise. However, a sudden increase in screaming, repetitive chirping, alarm calls can be linked to distress, and screeching may indicate that a bird is bored or unhappy.

However, vocalizations can also be a sign of pain or discomfort, just as biting does. A veterinarian should examine any bird that starts screaming out of the blue or exhibits any other abnormalities in its vocalizations to make sure there isn’t a medical reason for this behavior.

While shrieking may be a sign of underlying anxiety or discontent in birds, so too may a decrease in vocalization. When birds suddenly stop talking, it could be a sign of stress, depression, boredom, or illness.

Any bird that suddenly becomes less vocal must be examined right away to rule out any medical reasons for this behavioral change.

Feather picking is a very common outward manifestation of stress and boredom, particularly in larger species such as Eclectus parrots, cockatoos, and African gray parrots. But this is also seen in smaller birds, including Quakers parrots and lovebirds.

A loud noise or construction in the house, a change in routine, boredom, or metabolic stressors (medical or nutritional) can all be initiating factors for some birds to start picking. Even after the condition is treated or the initial stimulus is eliminated, they might still pick.

A complete medical examination, including blood work, should be performed on feather-picking birds in order to rule out other possible causes of illness.

Some anxious birds will eat their skin or even pierce deeper into their muscle and bone, causing serious damage, in addition to picking at their feathers. In addition to needing to be examined right away by a veterinarian, these birds also need to be put on anti-psychotic medication and/or fitted with a recovery cone to keep them from hurting themselves while the vet investigates.

Stress can be shown in certain species, particularly cockatoos, by stereotypical actions like toe tapping, head swinging, and pacing (or any abnormal repetitive behaviors) Birds often engage in these activities to keep themselves active when they’re bored.

Pet parents should be aware of these behaviors even though they might be harmless in certain situations. They can indicate that the bird is unhappy and should be stopped before they engage in more destructive behaviors like feather-picking or self-mutilation.

Extremely stressed or depressed birds may eat less and put on weight. Birds whose appetites change should have a thorough examination by a veterinarian to ensure they aren’t concealing an underlying illness, as a decreased appetite can also be an indication of a medical condition.

4. Don’t Rush Introductions

If there are new pets or people in the house who are stressing or upsetting the bird, seek the help of a veterinarian or bird trainer to help gradually acclimate the bird to the new individual. Use positive-reinforcement training, in which the sight or sound of the new individual is paired with a yummy treat or favorite toy.

Because they are highly intelligent and highly dependent on others, birds are psychologically complex animals. Well-adjusted and given enough attention and mental stimulation, they can make wonderful pets for a long time.

However, as their birds age, bird parents must be ready to adjust to and change with them. Recall that birds are living, thinking beings who, like people, have changing needs and desires that must be catered to.

Featured : Pawzi/iStock / Getty s Plus via Getty s

Exotic pets require more than just a cage; they also require enrichment. DVM 360. Published June 17, 2017. Accessed January 4, 2024.

Meehan CL, Garner JP, Mench JA. Cage stereotypy and environmental enrichment in Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica) Developmental Psychobiology. 2004;44(4):209-218.

Exotic pets require more than just a cage; they also require enrichment. DVM 360. Published June 17, 2017. Accessed January 4, 2024.

Meehan CL, Garner JP, Mench JA. Cage stereotypy and environmental enrichment in Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica) Developmental Psychobiology. 2004;44(4):209-218.

Originally from New York City, Dr. Laurie Hess is among the 150 or so board-certified avian (bird) specialists in the world. After.


Can birds have anxiety attacks?

Anxious birds can startle so severely that they hurt themselves, flying into obstacles. They may vocalize repeated or excessive distress calls. Physical changes. Tremoring, tachycardia, tachypnoea can be seen.

How do I know if my bird has anxiety?

Recognising Stress in Your Pet Birds Look at the bird’s feathers for an indication if they suffering stress lines. Aggression – If your bird suddenly has a change in their demeanour and becomes aggressive, this could be a sign of stress. Biting, hissing, lunging, and excessive screaming are all signs to watch out for.

How do you calm a bird anxiety?

Instead of talking to the bird, find ways to make him feel safe that don’t involve human interaction. This can include playing soothing music or switching on the television. Of course, if you have a rapport with your bird already and they trust you, then talking to them is an effective way of lowering anxiety.

Why is my bird randomly freaking out?

A change in the bird’s daily routine, such as from an alteration in the pet parent’s schedule, can upset a bird. Changes in light cycle, such as if a bird’s cage is moved to a dark room or is suddenly kept covered, can also throw a bird off.