I'm pretty sure you've probably had a debate with other bird owners on whether mirrors are Ok (or not) for parrots and other house birds.
Most of these conversations will have both positive and negative narratives, which is a little confusing if you want to add or already have one in your bird's cage.
Agreeably, a mirror might be a cute plaything, but is it safe?
Well, the answer, like with most parrots questions, is it depends on your bird if my birding experience is anything to go by.
For the most part, I do not recommend giving mirrors to parrots full time because they cause aggression, unhealthy fixation, abnormal behavior, and all-around socially bad behavior.
But you can allow a lonely parrot a mirror sparingly since they make them think there is company. As long as the bird doesn't get too attached to the mirror, it's an ideal way to improve your pet's mood .
To further expand this discussion, let's look at things there is to know about birds (parrots) and mirrors.
See more below.
Why Do Birds Like to Look At Themselves in The Mirror
Although there is no concession on whether birds can recognize themselves in a mirror, most likely, birds look at themselves in the mirror to see their reflection.
The mirror-image sort of makes the birdie believe the reflection is a companion and may help lonelier pets kept alone less bored. Even so, mirrors are also known to trigger aggression in jelly or territorial individuals.
As such, depending on the birdie you have, the reaction to the image will vary.
Some will be excited at the sight of what they believe is another bird.
Whereas, others will wish the reflection away and may even try to attack it, sometimes even hurting himself, though this is more common if the bird feels threatened.
Do Birds Recognize Themselves in Mirrors
You may already have the hint from my points above regarding birdies looking at themselves in mirrors.
But just for clarity...
Most birds don't seem to realize a mirror image is only their reflection but perceive it to be another bird living with them.
A parrot cannot recognize its reflection. When it looks in a mirror, a most belive an image is another bird.
While there is not much research to definitively prove that birds don't recognize themselves in mirrors, between their intelligence and how they interact with mirrors, it's easy to see why many keepers don't believe birds recognize their reflections.
For instance, I don't believe any bird (or animal) would exhibit an emotional reaction such as aggression if they knew a mirror-image is nothing more than a reflection.
They would not try to bite, attack, or even show positive reactions such as bonding with the images.
Instead, I would expect the bird to walk and dance while relishing its looks and skills, the same way any animal that recognizes its image would.
Furthermore, no bird would become attached to a mirror, lessen its bond with the owner or become overly protective of a mirror if he did not believe the image is a companion.
Should Remove A Mirror from A Parrots Cage
If you allow your parrot a mirror, I recommend doing it sparingly because you don't want him getting attached to it. As such, having it in a cage where your birdie spends quite some time is not desirable.
You also don't want to have it close to the cage where your bird can see his reflection all through.
Even so, a mirror in a cage with many birds is not bad. It'll be pretty much like any other toy because no bird will be too lonely to the extent of needing to bond with its reflection.
Therefore, if you already have a mirror in your parrot's cage, I suggest you move it to a place where he can only access it for a limited period. Of course, this is assuming your bird is kept singly.
Bonding with your bird will also be effortless without the mirror but remember to entertain him with cuddles, toys, training, music, and dance💃🕺.
Instead of a mirror, you can alternatively get your pet a real bird or human to bond with if you are not readily available, though it might seem a little off letting your bird bond with another person unless they are family.
Taking A Mirror Away from Your Parrot: Budgies, Cockatiel
Now, while I do recommend removing mirrors from your parrot's cage, especially when kept singly, the process is not as straightforward as you may think.
As expected, if your birdie is attached to the mirror, he will throw an anger tantrum anytime you try to take away the mirror until such a time when he is no longer obsessed with it.
And it might take a long and not so sweet minute.
Your bird may even become distraught and change his behavior.
So, to stay on top of things and mitigate any behavioral oddity, I recommend you start slowly.
Accustom your bird to living without the mirror gradually while substituting it with toys and human companionship.
You can also try getting another bird to keep him company. Once they form a bond and start hanging out together, taking the mirror away shouldn't be too challenging.
Another thing you'll need to note is that some birds understand mirrors, but others don't. If your does, then taking away the mirror should note be traumatic for the bird and equals removing any other toys from the cage.
However, if your pet thinks his reflection is another bird, taking away the mirror will upset him.
If your bird thinks his reflection is another bird, he will get bummed up anytime the mirror is taken away. More than any other pet with a mirror.
Are Birds Scared of Mirrors
I really don't believe birds are afraid of mirrors. Sometimes they may look agitated and become aggressive towards their reflection, but this just happens if they believe their image is another bird.
Your bird is more likely to be agitated when they've formed a bond with you or another bird, hence perceives another birdie (reflection) as a threat or competitor.
Of course, this behavior will be more apparent if you have a jelly or all-around aggressive parrot and lesser in gentle pets.
Happy Birding 🐦🦉🦜.