I recall one day going to buy a parakeet at a local pet store, and the attendant warned me very seriously that if I only get one, the bird will die of loneliness.
This is also a story I've also heard so many times it feels like deja vu whenever it comes up in conversations with other parrot owners.
Question is, is there truth to it?
Will your parakeet or any parrots, for that matter, die of loneliness when kept singly?
Well, it is possible...
...but does it happen often?
Not at all!
I've had several single parrots over the years, and not one has died of loneliness. But it's also good to note that birds depend on each other for grooming and companionship, more so when raised by a busy owner who doesn't pay them enough attention.
My recommendation would be, only get your parrots as a pair if you want more than one, and a male-female couple if you intend on breeding them.
Preferably, get a pair that has already bonded.
Trying to companion your parrots while not used to each other quite often ends in disappointment, and at times, in trouble.
If you believe your parrot is lonely, I recommend you first try making more time for it, plus buy it more toys, before you decide to get him (or her) a companion.
For more insight, please join me as I explore the wonderful world of pet parrots some more.
How Can You Tell A Parrot (Bird) is Lonely
Parrots, and most birds species, are flock animals that find comfort in socializing with other birds.
They thrive in a group of the same species in the wild, but when kept at home, birdies draw their energy from companions, especially human owners.
As such, if you do not give a parrot enough enrichments and attention, they will very likely get lonely.
Most lonely birds will show their discontent through a change in behavior, appetite, and overall demeanor, becoming more irritable or bashful.
Below are signs you can expect to see in a lonely bird.
Surprisingly, birds are a lot like human beings than we think.
The same way we lose the desire to eat while stressed, lonely, or heartbroken, parrots exhibit a similar reaction.
Depending on the triggers, your bird will either lose its appetite suddenly or gradually.
From experience, you'll notice a gradual loss of appetite if you've schedule changed your lifestyle, hence don't offer your birdie as much time like you used to.
On the flip side, a sudden loss of appetite is occasioned by an abrupt and permanent change, such as the death of a mate or bringing a new birdie.
Keep an eye on your parrot's feeding times and the amount they consume if you suspect a recent change is stressing your bird or making it lonely.
Stress bars are visible lines that run crosswise through a bird's feather along with a change in the width as parts of the feathers on both sides stop growing while those in the middle section continue to develop.
Although the prime reason stress bars appear in parrots is poor nutrition, a loss of appetite resulting from stress and loneliness is another common cause.
This is especially evident if your birds suffer loneliness while molting.
A stressed or lonely bird will be moody more than usual. Most will lash out and react angrily even to the slightest of issues.
Most lonely birds are especially likely to be irritable if an event causing loneliness coincides with molting or other issues that interfere with your parrot's hormonal balance.
As you'll see in point four below, while most parrots will lack their usual enthusiasm, they are not as aggressive, like when they are irritable.
Therefore, be careful when handling an irritated bird since they are pretty likely to bite and scratch. You especially don't want that to happen with larger parrots such as macaws, African grey, and cockatoos.
**#4.**Lack of Enthusiasm
As you would expect, a lonely bird will not be too jolly or playful, which is quite unsettling since parrots are generally active avians.
The affected parrot will remain for long periods on its perch or cage without moving. He (or she) may be a tad quiet than usual, though some become pretty loud.
They will also not be too jolly to see you and may refuse to be handled.
That said, also note that while a lonely parrot will lack enthusiasm, they are likely to be less aggressive compared to an irritatable parrot.
While reduced vocalization in parrots could indicate a physiological issue such as inflammation or infection, sometimes a bird will go quiet from stress, loneliness, and other psychological causes.
Reduced vocalization is easy to identify, particularly in louder parrots like cockatoos, macaws, and greys, though not so much in quieter species like Senegals.
Moreover, while some lonely birds will have reduced vocalization, others may begin to scream and become overly loud.
I'm sure you know parrots can be seriously loud, but if your bird is abruptly deafening, it's probably stressed, irritated, bored, lonely, or in pain. A significantly quieter bird can also be a sign of loneliness.
Same as screaming, while parrots are pretty destructive, if the frequency increases, then your bird may be stressed by varying issues, including loneliness.
Usually, they destroy tear, chew, and scratch items such as furniture and carpets to compensate for other forms of stimulation such as playtime with a dead companion or absent owner.
Please note that destructive behavior, especially in large birds, can cause plenty of losses for you.
A well-placed bite by a cockatoo, macaw, or African grey can quite easily make a piece of fabric unusable. And while your average cockatiel or budgie may not be too destructive, continued chewing and scratching can eventually damage quite some items.
Some parrots, such as cockatoos, exhibit more distinct signs of stress, bored and loneliness.
Usually, they'll continuously repeat some movements, with the most common one being pacing, toe-tapping, and head swinging. According to the spruce pets, they exhibit this behavior to stimulate themselves when bored.
Feather plucking is perhaps one of the most common problems that result from stress, boredom, and loneliness in parrots. Usually, this behavior manifests more in cockatoos, lovebirds, and a few other species, though it's possible in almost all psittacines.
Parrots are intelligent and require a lot of stimulation in the absence of which they turn to mutilation as well.
And please note this is not something you want to ignore because plucking worsens with time to the extent a bird gets wound and even infections.
Lonely parrots constantly try to hide from their owners, which quite odd since they thrive on social interaction.
A bird will hide more if it has not bonded with the owner and the companion it trusts is not present, such as in the instance of a deceased mate.
Such a bird will attempt to cower and hide in a corner when a family member approaches.
How to Help A Lonely Parrot
Perhaps the best way to help your lonely bird is to spend more quality time with it.
Forming a better bond with the bird will help it warm up to you, forget the problem causing the loneliness, and instead channel that energy to playing with you.
Since parrots are pretty intelligent, also introduce plenty of toys to keep them less bored and lonely and offer them a space to channel any anger instead of destroying valuable items in the house.
Some keepers recommend adding a mirror in the cage or getting your birdie a companion, but I advise some caution if your choose either of these options.
A mirror will help your bird because the reflection gives it a sense of being around another bird. However, they easily get attached to the mirror, which may become an issue.
Get your parrot a companion only if you want a second bird, plus be sure to place them in different cages. Also, note that while the companion bird may make the one in situ less bored, there is no guarantee that the two will become friends or even get along.
A few other things known to work include training and talking to your parrot and leaving music and TV on when leaving the house.
Happy Birding 🐦🦜🦉.