The Myth of the Head Bob

When a bird bobs his head, many people assume it's because the bird is begging for food and is really hungry. But I'm about to show you video as proof this isn't the case. In fact, birds of all different age ranges bob their heads for many different reasons. I even received this comment after posting this entry, which I found very interesting and helpful:  

"My Yellow Headed Amazon did that all his life (about 55 years). I figured out when it was a happy, angry or playful bob." -Angela Kuester

Young birds bob their heads because they're young, they are still babies and it's a baby bird behavior. It can be done before or after eating, when the bird is hungry or full. Don't believe me? I took a sequence of videos of my birds recently in Erie, PA just to capture it all on video for everyone to see. Their behavior before eating is the exact same after and I gave them banana and pellets; foods I know fill them up the most and the fastest (sweet potato would also be on that list but I didn't have any at the time.)   The video at the top of this entry is of my parrots drying off from their shower, they hadn't had dinner yet but they had eaten raspberries, granola and a little bit of yogurt just a couple hours before.  

The following video is of them eating their dinner of banana and pellets...



And last but not least, waiting for them to dry off after their meal, completely full... and still - gasp - head bobbing.  

We specifically had our eldest macaw, Comet (yellow dominant Camelot macaw) looked at by 3 different avian vets because of how fast he tends to digest his meals compared to the other birds, and because his behavior is more baby-ish than any of our birds. Jinx (blue throated macaw) is the youngest and probably acts the oldest, and Tusa is the youngest and acts older than his brother, Comet. In case that paragraph was too confusing: Comet = Oldest Tusa = Middle Jinx = Youngest. We were even nervous about PDD because of how fast food seemed to go through Comet; but it turns out he's just a much slower developer than the others. Perhaps it's the recessive genes from being a second generation hybrid, perhaps it's just genetics in general. It'll just take him a bit longer to snap out of his babyness than the others. But our macaws are still young, and still babies in our eyes, but I wanted to at least show in video the difference between full and empty stomachs with them so you guys didn't assume otherwise. And also offer the peace of mind that it was something we looked into 3 different times with respected vets just to be sure.  

"My CAG started doing the head bob thing within the last year or so...she is 2. We do it back to her so we thought it was a game." -Jill Davies

The bottom line? Head bobbing isn't a sign that your bird is super hungry. It's a natural behavior that even adult birds do sometimes for a variety of reasons.

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

Be the first to comment

All comments are moderated before being published