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Why Does My African Grey Shake?

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Ownership of an African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) can be an absolute delight. These birds are often renowned for their smarts, humor and jovial temperaments. They're also known for head shaking, which is extremely typical in them.

Head Shaking and African Greys

African greys shake their heads more frequently than other parrot species. While the behavior is usually no cause for alarm, it's not clear why they do it. If your African grey is shaking his head, perhaps he's trying to get a pesky feather out of his ear. He might even hear a sound that humans can't detect, hence the physical response of head shaking. Perhaps the little guy is simply exhausted and yawning as a human would, nothing more and nothing less.

Excessive Head Shaking

A little head shaking in African grey parrots is generally no biggie. If you spot your bird doing it to degree that seems excessive, however, it's time to do something about it. Inordinate head shaking sometimes signifies health ailments in parrots, often infections of either the nose or the ears. Bring your African grey in for an appointment with an avian veterinarian as soon as possible.

Preening Action

If you ever notice your African grey's entire body shaking, rather than just his head, he might just be preening himself—feather fluffing. By moving around his plumage, he might be trying to change its position and tidy himself up. Parrots frequently do this after they've had baths, sometimes as a means of encouraging their feathers to dry.

Indication of Mood

African gry parrots often "feather fluff" and shake their bodies when they're feeling joyous and content. If your parrot does this when you enter his room, he's probably just expressing his giddiness at seeing you again. You might notice him moving his tail around enthusiastically too, something like a dog. While shaking in parrots can often denote good cheer, it can also occasionally denote the complete opposite, specifically nervousness and frustration. Speak to an avian vet if you can't figure out what could be causing your bird's uneasy mood.