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Bird Body Languages

bird body languages

There are many things that go into making a pet relationship work, and understanding bird body language is one of them! Just like humans, birds use body language to communicate their feelings and intentions.

By learning to interpret these signals, you can improve your relationship with your avian companion. So let’s take a look at some common bird body language behaviors!

Bird Body Languages infographics

How Do You Tell if a Bird Likes You?

There are a few ways to tell if your pet bird likes you.

One is if they frequently make eye contact with you and seem interested in what you’re doing. Another is if they perch on you or your shoulder frequently.

Additionally, if they nibble on your fingers or hair occasionally, that’s a good sign too! If your bird does any of these things, it’s safe to say that they enjoy your company and feel comfortable around you.

How Do You Read a Bird’s Body Language?

You might not realize it, but you probably read bird body language all the time. When a bird tucks its head under its wing, for example, you know it’s time for bed.

When a chicken bobs its head up and down, you know it’s looking for food. And when a robin fluffs up its feathers, you know it’s cold.

But how do you really read a bird’s body language?

Most birds have three basic ways of communicating: through sounds, gestures, and body language. By studying all three, you can get a pretty good idea of what a bird is trying to say.

When you watch birds, do you ever wonder what they are thinking? It turns out that you can learn a lot about a bird by observing its body language. Here are some of the things to look for.

bird body languages eye pinning

Eye Pinning

When a bird pins its eyes, it is a sign that the bird is feeling threatened. The bird’s eyes will widen and its pupils will dilate, making it appear as if the bird is staring at its potential attacker.

This behavior is often seen in captive birds that feel threatened by their handlers. In the wild, eye pinning can also be seen when a bird is faced with a predator or another hostile animal.

By staring at its attacker, the bird is trying to make itself appear as large and intimidating as possible. This behavior may also be accompanied by other aggressive displays, such as ruffling its feathers or squawking loudly.

Eye pinning is a natural way for birds to defend themselves, and it is nothing to be concerned about unless the bird appears to be excessively stressed.

Craning its Neck: A Common Bird Body Language

When you see a bird craning its neck, it is usually an indication that the bird is looking for food. The neck is able to extend further than the body, so the bird can get a better view of its surroundings.

Sometimes, a bird will also crane its neck in order to get a better view of potential predators. By extending its neck, the bird can get a better view of what is happening around it and make sure that it is not in danger.

In some cases, a bird may also crane its neck in order to mate. By extending its neck, the bird can make itself look larger and more impressive to potential mates.

Head Bobbing

When you see a bird bobbing its head up and down, it’s actually engaging in a complex form of communication.

Head bobbing can signal everything from excitement to aggression, and the specific meaning often depends on the context in which it is used.

For example, a bird may start bobbing its head when it sees a potential mate, as a way of expressing interest. Alternatively, two birds may bob their heads at each other during a dispute, as a way of conveying their hostility.

In some cases, head bobbing may even be used as a calming gesture, such as when a mother bird is trying to settle her chicks.


When a bird “snakes,” it means that the bird is moving its body in a side-to-side motion, similar to the way a snake moves. This type of movement is often used by birds when they are trying to escape from predators, as it makes it more difficult for the predator to capture them.

Snaking is also sometimes used by birds during courtship rituals, as it helps to display their plumage and impress potential mates.

In addition, snaking can help birds to keep their balance while they are walking on narrow branches or trying to navigate through tight spaces.

Ultimately, snaking is a versatile form of movement that allows birds to better evade predators and navigate their environment.

bird body languages tail wagging

Wing or Body Shaking: Bird Body Language To Look Out!

There are many different reasons why a bird might shake its wing or body. It could be a sign of excitement, fatigue, or even fear.

However, the most common reason for this behavior is simply that the bird is trying to get rid of excess water. When birds take a bath, they often shake their wings and body to help dry off.

So, if you see a bird shaking its feathers, it’s likely just trying to stay clean and comfortable. Of course, if you notice that a bird is shaking excessively or seems to be in distress, it’s always best to consult with a vet or other animal expert.


One of the most common bird body languages you’ll see pet birds do is stretching. While it might look like they’re just getting a good stretch in, there’s actually a lot more to it than that.

For birds, stretching is an essential part of their daily routine and helps them to stay healthy and comfortable. When a bird stretches, they are actually engaging several different muscle groups at once.

This helps to keep their muscles toned and flexible. In addition, stretching also helps birds to stay limber and reduces the risk of injury.

Drooping Wings

Birds are amazing creatures, and they can communicate a variety of messages through their body language. One such message is conveyed when a bird drops its wings.

This is usually a sign that the bird is tired and is seeking a place to rest. However, it can also be a sign of illness or injury.

If you see a bird dropping its wings, it is important to observe the bird closely to see if it is in distress.


Regurgitating is the process of throwing up or vomiting. It is a natural process that helps birds to keep their digestive system clean and healthy.

When a bird regurgitates, it brings up bird feed that has not been digested and puts it back into its mouth. The bird will then chew on the food again before swallowing it.

This process helps to remove any toxins or parasites that may be present in the food. Birds will also regurgitate food as a way to feed their young. The regurgitated food is easier for chicks to digest than whole insects or seeds.

bird body languages tail shaking

Tail Wagging

When you see a bird with its tail wagging, it can be a sign that the bird is happy or excited. For example, if you see a bird wagging its tail while eating, it may be because the bird is enjoying the food.

Alternatively, if you see a bird wagging its tail while flying, it may be because the bird is enjoying the sensation of flying. In some cases, a bird may also wag its tail when it is scared or nervous.

For example, if a bird is being chased by a predator, it may wag its tail in an attempt to distract the predator. Alternatively, if a bird is in a new environment, it may wag its tail as a way of exploring its surroundings.

Beak Grinding

When a bird grinds its beak, it’s actually doing two things: sharpening its beak and helping to keep it clean.

Wild birds use their beaks for a variety of activities, including hunting, gathering food, and building nests. As a result, their beaks can quickly become worn down or dirty.

Grinding helps to keep the beak in good condition so that the bird can continue to perform all of its essential functions. In addition, grinding also helps to remove any debris or parasites that might be clinging to the beak.

Flashing Pupils

While it’s common knowledge that birds can see better than humans, the reason for this is often misunderstood. Many people believe that birds have better eyesight because they have larger pupils.

However, the size of a bird’s pupil has more to do with its diet than its vision. Birds that eat a lot of insects, for example, need large pupils in order to see their prey clearly.

Conversely, birds that primarily eat seeds or fruits have smaller pupils because they don’t need to see as much detail.

So, when you see a bird with flashing pupils, it’s an indication that the bird is looking for something small and hard to see like an insect.

Barking, Chattering, or Growling

When you hear a dog barking, you probably think it’s hungry, wants to come inside, or is warning you about something. But what does it mean when you hear your family pet bird making similar noises?

Believe it or not, birds can also bark, chatter, and growl and each sound has a different meaning. Generally speaking, birds use these sounds to communicate with other members of their species.

For example, a bird might bark to warn others of danger or to claim its territory. Chattering usually indicates excitement or fear, while growling is often used as a sign of aggression.

bird body languages tongue clicking

Tongue Clicking

When you hear a bird click its tongue, it typically means that the bird is interested in something. It could be a mate, food, or even a potential predator.

The clicking noise is made by the bird’s tongue rapidly moving back and forth inside its mouth. This creates a loud, distinct sound that can easily be heard by other birds nearby.

While the exact meaning of this behavior is still unknown, it’s generally believed that the clicking noise is used as a way to communicate interest or excitement.

Beak Wiping

Beak wiping is a common behavior exhibited by many bird species. While the exact meaning of this behavior is still not fully understood, there are a few possible explanations.

One theory is that beak wiping helps to remove debris or parasites from the bill, keeping the bird healthy. Another possibility is that it is a social signal, used to communicate with other birds.

For example, some researchers believe that beak wiping may be used to show submission or request forgiveness.

Biting: Beware of this Body Bird Language

Bird biting can mean different things depending on the context. For example, if a mother bird is biting her chicks, she is probably just trying to get them to move out of the nest. However, if two adult birds are biting each other, it could be a sign of aggression.

Additionally, some birds will bite as part of their courtship ritual. In this case, the biting is usually done in a playful way and is not meant to hurt the other bird.

Finally, some birds will bite out of fear or stress. If a bird feels threatened, it may bite in order to protect itself.


While we typically associate panting with dogs, it’s not uncommon to see birds engaging in this behavior as well

So, what does it mean when a bird pants? There are a few different reasons why birds might pant, but the most common cause is heat stress.

Just like humans, birds need to regulate their body temperature, and they cool off by evaporating water from their respiratory tract.

When it’s particularly hot outside, birds will pant more frequently in order to keep their bodies from overheating.

Birds can also pant if they’re experiencing anxiety or stress, and some birds will even pant when they’re excited or exerting themselves.


When two birds face off against each other in mid-air, it’s called jousting. Each bird tries to knock the other out of the sky using its beaks and wings.

While it may look like they’re fighting, jousting is actually a way for birds to resolve disputes without getting hurt.

They usually only joust when they’re trying to determine who gets to mate with a female or defend their territory.

By engaging in this behavior, birds are able to figure out who the strongest individual is without having to resort to violence.

Lowered Head

When you see a bird lower its head, it typically means that the bird is about to attack. This is especially common in birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles.

The lowered head provides extra support for the neck muscles, allowing the bird to strike with more force. The lowered head also makes it easier for the bird to keep its eyes focused on its prey.

By contrast, when a bird lowers its head during flight, it usually means that the bird is tired and needs a rest.

The lowered head helps to reduce drag on the body, making it easier for the bird to stay airborne. So, the next time you see a bird lower its head, take a moment to observe the bird’s behavior. Depending on what the bird is doing, it could be sending you a very different message.


When you see a bird marching, it means the bird is looking for a mate. The male will march in front of the female, showing off his colorful plumage and making noises to attract her attention.

If the female is interested, she will join him in the march. This behavior is known as “mating display,” and it’s often seen in birds during the springtime.

bird body languages head tilt

What Does it Mean When a Bird Tilts its Head?

When a bird tilts its head, it is trying to see something more clearly. Birds have two eyes, just like humans, but they are positioned on the sides of their heads.

This gives birds a very wide field of view, but it also means that they have trouble seeing things directly in front of them.

So, when a bird tilts its head, it is simply trying to get a better look. In some cases, birds will tilt their heads to follow the movement of an object.

In others, they may tilt their heads to get a better view of something that has caught their attention. Either way, it is clear that tilting their heads helps birds to see better.

What Your Bird’s Posture Can Tell You

One way to read a bird’s body language is to look at its posture. If a bird is standing tall with its head held high, it’s probably feeling confident and aggressive.

If a bird is hunched over with its head down, on the other hand, it’s likely feeling scared or submissive.

Bird Body Languages: Final Thoughts and Signs of a Happy Pet Bird

A pet bird can make a delightful addition to any home, and there are few things more enjoyable than watching your feathered friend flit about the house. But how can you tell if your bird is truly happy?

A bird that is tense or hunched up is usually not feeling too good. On the other hand, a bird with relaxed wings and an erect tail is usually happy and comfortable.

Just like any other pet, a happy bird will enjoy playing and interacting with its toys and human companions. If your bird is constantly chewing on its toys or climbing around its cage, it’s a good sign that it’s happy and healthy.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good indication that your pet bird is happy and content. Of course, every bird is unique and may express happiness in different ways.

The best way to know for sure how your bird is feeling is to observe its behavior and get to know its personality.

READ NEXT: Top 10 Best Pet Birds for Families

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