Home | Tag Archives: Parrot Bonding

Tag Archives: Parrot Bonding

Feed Subscription

Bonding in Parrots – Positive and Negative Aspects for Pet Owners

The bonds formed between mated pairs of parrots are among the strongest known in the animal kingdom.  In most species, paired parrots spend a great deal of time in actual physical contact with their mate, and cooperate in nest-building, rearing the young, defending their territory and all other daily activities.  When I observe parrots in the wild, be they monk parrots in NYC or scarlet macaws in Venezuela, I am always struck by how easy it was to identify paired birds amidst large flocks. Even in flight, mated birds of many species align themselves close to one another.


Bonding as a Training Aid

The instinct to bond renders parrots at once both ideal and difficult pets.  A parrot that chooses you as a “mate” will become quite attached and affectionate, in a way matched by few other pets. The need to bond explains why single birds are usually easier to train than those kept in pairs.

The Time Factor

If you do not spend significant time interacting with a bonded bird, boredom and behavioral problems (screaming, feather plucking, etc.) will be inevitable.  “Significant time” must be measured in light of the parrot’s natural behavior, which dictates that it be in close contact with its mate nearly always; an hour or two juggled among your busy schedule is not sufficient.


Problems can arise even if you can spend a great deal of time with your pet.  Once bonded, parrots usually become quite territorial, defending not only their “mate” but also their living area.  The concept of “territory” varies greatly among individuals, and may extend to their cage, a room, or the entire house.

The parrot may become very aggressive towards other people, threatening them or attacking if possible.  In some cases, parrots may exhibit particularly strong responses to a particular person, i.e. one who enters their territory frequently or who is viewed as a threat to their “mate”.

Avoiding Bonding-Related Problems

The most effective way of preventing aggression related to bonding is to expose the parrot to all household members early in life.  Ideally, each person should spend an equal amount of time caring for or interacting with the parrot.  Even in this scenario, however, hormonal changes as the bird matures may affect its behavior, so it is important that you observe your bird’s behavior carefully and plan accordingly.

Further Reading

A large colony of feral monk parrots lives on the grounds of Brooklyn College in NYC. You can read about an interesting research project focusing on pair bonding at




Image referenced from Morguefile and posted by Evildrjeff.

Parrot Bonding as a Behavioral Problem: Parrot Notes


Bonding with people is usually seen as desirable among pets of any kind…in parrots such often results in a friendly, affectionate bird that readily learns to mimic speech.  However, parrots can become extremely protective of the person to whom they have bonded, to the point of screeching at, biting or even launching full scale attacks upon others.  Also, as an extension of natural nesting behavior, bonded parrots are also very likely to become territorial, protecting their cage or larger area from intrusions by all except their favorite person.

Natural Parrot Instincts

It is important to bear in mind that bonding in parrots is a deeply ingrained instinct – one that you may be able to manage but which cannot be eliminated.  Wild parrots of nearly all species form long term, usually life-long, pair bonds.  Pairs spend the vast majority of their time in close contact with one another…even within large flocks, pairs are very evident by their proximity and physical interactions.  Most even fly side by side when moving about within a flock.  Captive parrots, no matter how many generations removed from the wild, are “hard-wired” to behave in the same manner.

Avoiding Problems

Bonding-related aggression can best be avoided by socializing your parrot, while young if possible, to all members of your household, or to those who regularly visit.  The bird will still be “closer” to certain people than others, but may not develop overly-protective behaviors.




An interesting article on the interplay of natural and captive behaviors in parrots is posted at:


Scroll To Top