Q: Why does my bird act crazy when it rains?
Laura G., Oakland, CA
A: Rain can mean many things to a parrot. The warm rains of spring mean that the plants are being nourished and food will soon be plentiful. It is a precursor to breeding season and can signal the onset of hormonal behaviors. Parrots are able to detect a change in barometric pressure and may be aware of a coming rainstorm well before we are.
At other times of the year, a rain shower will inspire my birds to take a swim in their water bowls. In this case, the rain is reminiscent of a nice bath. Wild birds bathe both out of necessity and as a social activity. Just as we must frequently bathe our birds at a home, wild birds rely on the rains to keep their feathers in top condition and to wash away dander and debris. Bathing is also a fun activity for any bird and is a time when they get a lot of exercise and expend a lot of energy.
During the dry season, rain is not only a nice change of pace, but it usually brings with it cooler temperatures. Your birds will take advantage of this for some some exuberant play, or a comfortable nap. As hormones kick in, you might see some nesty activity. All of these behaviors are normal for your bird.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.