If you’ve recently brought home a budgie or any other parakeets, you may already have noticed that this bird has some quirky mannerisms. One very noticeable and puzzling behavior that parakeets exhibit is head bobbing. Bobbing is when the bird suddenly moves its head up and down for no apparent reason.
Why do parakeets bob their heads? Should you be concerned? Don’t panic just yet. In most cases, bobbing the head is a normal thing for parakeets. They do this for a variety of reasons. It could be part of the bird’s mating ritual. It could also be a sign of boredom.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to learn the various reasons why your pet parakeet bobs its head. If none of these reasons fit the bill, then you’d know that it is time to ask for professional help.
Bobbing as part of Courtship
Male parakeets dance around to attract a potential mate. It performs an interesting dance to draw the attention of the female birds in the flock. Part of this dance is the bobbing head action. If your pets live in one aviary, you will notice that the males bob their heads more often when the females are around.
At this time, if you don’t want your pets to reproduce, it is best to keep the male and female birds in separate cages. If the male parakeet is successful in impressing the female bird, you will notice that the pair will start feeding each other. Eventually, the birds will start to mate. This ritual will continue until the female lays its eggs.
Bobbing to warn others
Some parakeets are also known to be very territorial. If another bird enters its perceived territory, it will aggressively bob its head. This should serve as a warning to the newcomer that the area is already claimed. The parakeet will bob its head up and down to show the others that it is the baddest bird around.
Usually, this gesture is enough to make other birds back off. Smaller parakeets would typically avoid confrontations against a bigger bird by retreating. However, if you have two or more alpha birds in your aviary, it will be best to keep them separated. Two smaller cages will work better in keeping the peace.
Bobbing as a sign of boredom
Parakeets require a significant amount of stimulation. Whether it be one-on-one time with you or simply playing by itself in its cage, a parakeet needs a lot of things to do to pass its time. A bored parakeet is bound to act up and develop destructive behaviors.
If your parakeet spends hours cooped up in its cage, you will notice that it will bob its head frequently. If this happens, it is best to take it out of its cage and enjoy some bonding activities. Take this opportunity to teach it tricks. Picking up items and learning new words are some of the most enjoyable activities that you can do together.
If nobody is available to play or interact with the bird for long periods, it is ideal to leave several toys in its cage. Parakeets love and need to be active so ladders and swings are a good choice. Your pet will spend many hours swinging and climbing to explore its home. Just make sure to buy swings and ladders that are the right size for your pet.
Shredding toys are also great especially for parakeets that tend to chew their feathers. Shredding is normal behavior for these birds so having something to rip inside its cage is a good idea. You don’t have to buy special shredding toys for your pet. Old newspapers and used paper should be enough to keep your pet preoccupied for hours.
Bobbing for attention
As mentioned, parakeets love getting attention from their owners. If you enter the room and see your pet bobbing its head, it may be because it wants to catch your attention so you’d play with it. These birds are smart. They know that if they do something that the owners find amusing, they are more likely to be taken out of their cage for interaction.
Bobbing and dancing are some of the things that they can do that are sure to catch your attention, so they’d do it often. Some more outgoing parakeets would even combine the movements with chatter and whistles. The more you respond to the head bobbing, the more often your pet will do it when you are around.
As for baby parakeets, it would bob its head for attention as well. If a baby does this action, it is likely to be hungry and is trying to get the attention of its parents. Since it cannot take care of itself yet, expect your baby pet to exhibit this mannerism often.
As the baby parakeet matures, it will be weaned from its parents. At this point, the bird will be taught how to move from perch to perch. Because this is a new challenge, the baby bird will usually respond by bobbing its head and crying. Give it some time to adjust. As soon as the bird becomes fully independent, the crying will stop.
When should you be concerned about your parakeet’s head bobbing?
As mentioned, head bobbing is a natural behavior in parakeets. The majority of the time, your pet will be doing it to entertain itself or to catch your attention. If it lives with other parakeets, it could also be bobbing to attract a mate or warn another bird for entering its territory.
However, it is important to keep observing your pet. If the bobbing is different from what it usually does, then it could be a sign of discomfort or an illness. You are the best person to decide whether the mannerism is worth looking into since you are the one that interacts with it the most.
Observe your pet's other mannerisms. Check also the state of its eyes and beaks. If its posture and vocalization change significantly, there could be something wrong with it. It could be experiencing stress or suffering from a vitamin deficiency. If your intuition tells you that there is something wrong, don't hesitate to consult a veterinarian.
It’s perfectly normal to wonder, “Why do parakeets bob their heads?” As a pet owner, you’d want to know why your bird is performing this unusual action. Don’t worry. As mentioned, bobbing the head is a normal trait of parakeets.
It does this mostly because it is craving for entertainment or interaction. However, don't dismiss the mannerism altogether. If the bobbing is accompanied by other worrisome symptoms then it is best to consult a professional.