Do pet birds get depressed?
Surprisingly, just like humans, birds too get stressed, anxious, and in some cases, even depressed.
Birds generally hide any signs of illnesses or depression until it is too difficult for them to pretend. Thus, it is fairly tricky for an individual to understand that his or her feathered friend is unwell.
Moreover, when it comes to the mental health of a bird, it is even more complex to gauge its state of mind.
A timely understanding of the change in behavior of your bird and carefully handling its issues can save your bird’s life.
How do you know if a Bird is Stressed or Depressed?
Before identifying stress or depression in birds, you must first understand that most of these signs also indicate the bad physical health of a bird.
Thus, if you notice one or more of these symptoms in your bird friend, you will want to schedule an appointment with your vet to rule out any possibility of illnesses in your bird.
Once your vet confirms that your bird has a clean bill of physical health, you will have to dig deeper into your bird’s life to know what exactly is troubling your bird.
Signs of stress and depression in birds:
This is one of the most common signs that a bird shows when it is under stress. A bird behaves aggressively and sometimes even resorts to biting when it is sad. Aggression for a short duration might also be a result of hormonal or seasonal changes.
However, if your bird is aggressive and/or is biting continuously, it is time you need to take the issue more seriously or maybe even work on calming your stressed-out bird.
2. Change in Vocalization
If you have owned your pet friend for a while now, you must be very well aware of the frequency, intensity, and duration of your bird’s vocalization.
Thus, any change in the level, frequency, duration, or kind of sounds that your bird makes should be alarming to you.
We all know birds are chirpy, but if you notice any change in their chirpiness or vocalization, then it immediately needs your care and attention.
Related Read: What Birds Sound Like Owls?
3. Feather Plucking
Many birds start picking their own feathers as a manifestation of stress, boredom, and depression.
While feather plucking can also be triggered by some stimulus such as a loud noise or construction in the house, however, the behavior is usually the indication of the presence of a health issue or a mental pain.
Sometimes, when early signs of distress in a bird are ignored, it leads to extreme depression. This may lead it to the stage of hurting itself, wherein a bird starts chewing on its own skin, muscles, and even bones.
This self-damage may result in severe trauma. Hence, the bird must be taken to a vet immediately and treated with antipsychotic medication.
Further, the doctor as well as the owner must figure out what is happening to the bird and should try to find solutions to its sadness.
5. Strange Behaviours
Some birds, when sad or bored, handle their negative feelings with certain harmless but strange behaviors. These stereotypical behaviors may include toe-tapping, head swinging, and pacing.
If you are a bird owner, you need to pay attention to these small symptoms in your bird and look for ways to cheer up and cure your depressed bird.
6. Decreased Appetite
Like humans, birds too tend to eat less when they are in grief or distress. Decreased appetite can also be a sign of physical illness.
Thus, if you notice your bird eating lesser than normal, it is necessary that you rule out any physical health issues by consulting a vet.
This is important because the metabolic rate of birds is pretty high and thus they can starve to death in just a matter of hours. If your bird is physically fine, you need to start working on its mental health instantly.
7. Stress Bars
Before discussing this, let us first understand
What are stress bars on birds?
Stress bars are lines (mostly black in color) that run through feathers crosswise, indicating the presence of malnutrition, illness, or high levels of stress during the formative period of that feather in a bird.
If you spot such stress bars on your bird’s feathers, you should consult its vet on an immediate basis to understand the root cause of these bars.
If there are no physical ailments, it is about time you spend more time with your bird because stress bars are one of the major signs of stress and depression in birds.
These are some of the reasons why birds puff up.
- When it wants a bath
- When it wants to keep itself warm
- To straighten out its feathers
- To gain attention of the owner or show excitement
- When it is unwell
While just puffing up of a bird isn’t a problem, if it is one of the strange symptoms that your pet friend has been showing, then it is an alarm for its health.
Can a bird die from stress?
Sadly, yes. While stressed, the bird’s body releases a large amount of adrenaline that can cause high blood pressure.
The increased blood in the vessels overwhelms the little body of the bird and exhausts the adrenal gland, which in turn can prove fatal for it.
Related Read: Birds Body Parts: 21 Things And Facts You Should Know
How do you calm and treat stress in birds? How do you make them happy?
Before looking out for solutions, try to understand the root cause of your bird’s stress and anxiety. This way you will be able to help your bird more effectively.
- If your bird is showing signs of stress due to boredom or lack of attention, all it needs is some good interactive bird toys, new cage accessories, more out-of-cage time, and increased attention.
Keeping your friend’s cage in an area where your family spends most of their time will do wonders. Birds are extremely social and being around people whom they love will take away all of their agonies.
- Some birds are triggered with changes around them such as construction work going around, loud noises, or change in the location of their cages.
Take the cage of your bird to a quieter place, away from windows, loud noises, and outside animals. Keep it away from the construction site.
- An addition of a new member or a new pet in your family can upset your bird to a great extent.
Seek help from a vet or a professional bird trainer who can help your bird adjust to the new member of your family. Positive reinforcement training can help it in getting accustomed to the new member.
Additionally, also let your bird know that you will always love it regardless of who comes into your family by spending some more quality time with it.
- If the reason of distress in your bird is loss of a partner or a loved human, give it some time. Birds take time to grieve over a lost loved one.
If your bird’s situation doesn’t get better within a few weeks, take help from a doctor.
- In addition to the above techniques to keep your feathered baby happy, one trick that works all the time is giving your bird plenty of exercises.
In their natural habitats, birds exercise a lot while flying, searching for food, and keeping themselves safe from predators.
However, when domesticated, birds rarely do any of these.
Therefore, it takes a concerted effort from your end to provide adequate exercising opportunities to your bird. Being physically active stimulates the mental health of birds, thereby keeping them happy.
- Get your bird a partner if it is ready to be sexually mature and is currently feeling lonely.
Birds are very social as well as emotional living beings. To be happy and chirpy, they need love, care, and attention from their loved ones.
Very minute things might hurt your bird and might even prove fatal for them. Therefore, it is important as an owner of a bird that you take special care of your bird’s growing needs.