What Do Parrots Like? What Do They Hate? Keys to a Happy Pet

Like all pets, parrots do not come with a foolproof manual, and caring for one will always bring surprises.

There are, however, general guidelines that parrot parents can follow in the hopes of keeping a contented bird.

In addition to the basics of a secure and comfortable living space, fresh food, and clean water, catering to their needs on a personal level is the key to a happy pet.

Parrots like to have a routine and they need their environment to enrich their daily lives.

Regular social interaction and time spent outside their cage are key, as is keeping mentally stimulating toys nearby.

Their hates and dislikes typically stem from the opposite of this – boredom and unfamiliar stimuli and people – as this can break up their routine and above all, threaten the bonds they cherish.

If you’re new to raising a pet parrot, gleaning advice on their likes and dislikes can seem overwhelming.

It can be disheartening to learn of dislikes you never realized applied to your existing bird.

Whichever is the case, we hope exploring the common queries below can shed light on your pet’s behavioral issues or simply give you the tools to help you raise a much happier bird.

What Do Parrots Like? 

Since parrots have the intelligence and reasoning abilities of a 3-year-old child, they like to feel stimulated and challenged with the toys and attention you can provide them.

If not – much like a human toddler – cries and squawks of boredom can ensue.

Though parrots love the reliable food supply and predator protection offered by their owners, life in captivity can become dull without a sense of purpose.

This is where toys and companionship come in.

As the wild provides them with no shortage of companions, you should never rule out getting a companion bird.

Involving them in your family or “flock” is also crucial to their well-being.

Avian veterinarian Dr. Greg Harrison advocates that owners:

…Take birds out on a harness or in a crate on outings to the store or park, just as you would with a good, intelligent dog.

While they’re at home in their cage or aviary, parrots fundamentally crave a playful environment in which to live.

Intrigued by a parrot’s degree of intelligence and desire for interaction, I reached out to the Midwest Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital.

Their take on how much daily stimulation a parrot actually needs is summarized as follows:

Parrots need near-constant stimulation and attention in order to thrive and be happy. Keeping them in a social environment continuously is important. The more stimulation and interaction, the better.

Building a Happy Home

Any parrot’s cage would be incomplete without the following tools and treasures:

  • Ropes, perches, and swings – get creative by using jump rope or hooking coat hangers together for a home-made trapeze (all the better if they’re wooden for chewing!).
  • Natural delights – bring a bit of nature to their cage. Pine cones and tree branches make for great chew toys and there are certain flowers (short list of safe flowers here) they’ll love to tear up!
  • Homemade towers – if you lack the budget for fancy climbing frames, create multi-level fun for them by stacking mini laundry baskets on top of each other, hanging plastic/steel chain links from the cage roof, or making tunnel ramps from wide cardboard tubing.

Even if you’ve got the basics of fun housing covered, there are still your parrot’s personal quirks to consider.

On that note, here are 10 common queries relating to parrot likes and loves.

What Do Parrots Like To Eat? 

Parrots like nuts, seeds, pellets, and fresh fruits and veggies – particularly colorful, vitamin A-rich types like broccoli and peppers, which adds shine to their feathers!

They love seeds especially, but as these are a fattening treat they should make up no more than ¼ of their daily diet.

What Do Parrots Like To Play With? 

Parrots love anything that keeps their mind active, which means elaborate climbing frames, puzzles, and foraging toys that allow them to use their beaks or feet to solve things.

They adore chewing and exploring, so hide some tasty food/treats in egg boxes or twig balls that tantalize them with a quest and reward.

What Type of Music Do Parrots Like? 

Parrots tend to love music with an upbeat bouncy beat that makes them want to boogie, like many catchy pop songs.

Though when they’re not in the full-on dancing spirit, they also like slower, soothing melodies. In one experiment, playing Bach encouraged three African grey parrots to rest and preen themselves.

How Do Parrots Like To Be Petted? 

Once you’ve established trust, parrots will happily let you pet them on the head, between the eyes, and under their chin, and even scratch their beaks.

As a parrot-petting newbie though, stroking their chest is a safe bet – just avoid petting their wings as this is unpleasant and quite literally ruffles their feathers!

Do Parrots Like To Watch TV?

Some parrots love to watch TV because as social creatures wanting to be part of the flock, they will often enjoy watching shows just to be with you.

Since they have the smarts of a toddler, many will enjoy the interactive colors, voices, and sounds on a kid’s show. Just be wary of what they watch, as they tend to pick up whatever they hear!

How Do Parrots Like To Sleep? 

Depending on their size and species, some parrots may prefer to sleep lying down, upside down, or even in a cozy nest-like bed if they prefer it especially dark!

Commonly though, parrots tend to sleep on their perch, sometimes tucking one leg into their body feathers for warmth.

Do Parrots Like Mirrors? 

Since parrots cannot recognize their own reflection, mirrors turn a curious object into a distressing compulsion, as they might see “another” parrot that mimics rather than responding to their communication.

A distorted mirror is best since they can appreciate the pretty lights and shine without the confusion.

Do Parrots Like Other Birds? 

Though there are instances in mixed aviaries of cockatiels and budgies cohabiting with birds of similar size, like finches and quail, it is generally not a good idea to mix parrots with other birds.

Parrots’ larger, hooked beaks can easily injure and even kill other birds during a territorial spat.

Do Parrots Like To Be Covered at Night? 

As most parrots need around 12 hours sleep, it’s imperative that their sleeping environment is as close to “wild” darkness as possible.

However, this doesn’t always mean using a cage covering.

Some can find coverings stressful while some may prefer that only the sides of their cage are covered – figure out what works best for your bird.

What Do Parrots Like To Do for Fun? 

Other than amusing themselves with chew toys and acrobatics in their cage, parrots have the most fun when they’re interacting with you.

Singing, whistling, dancing, and talking to their “flock” is the ultimate bonding exercise and is what brings them the most joy.

Working on this bond should always take place over toys, especially in the early days.

What Do Parrots Hate? 

A parrot’s hates are often understandable – other pets ‘competing’ for your affection and noises that remind them of predators in the wild.

Then there are your parrot’s personal pet peeves that can seem wildly irrational, such as wearing a certain hat in front of them.

A common parrot hate not listed below is when owners dare to eat in front of them without sharing the goods, so our extra tip for keeping a happy parrot is – take your human meals and snacks elsewhere!

Since parrots prize their routine, they can also hate new surroundings and sounds, especially if your new apartment is situated right near a busy, loud area.

Providing plenty of head scratches and treats might help to sugar the pill until they become accustomed to stimulants.

Thankfully, many of the common peeves of parrots are things you can control.

Here are 9 common queries about the dislikes shared by most parrots, ranging from their music tastes to petting preferences.

What Foods Do Parrots Hate? 

Generally, parrots dislike foods that don’t satisfy them nutritionally or that upset their digestion.

Foods to avoid include high-sodium processed cheese and “human” crackers, bland raw beans, and refined sugary snacks, like cake, chocolate, and cookies.

Experiment with different fruits and veggies as every bird’s taste will differ.

What Type of Music Do Parrots Hate? 

In research conducted by Dr. Franck Péron at the University of Lincoln, a pair of African grey parrots displayed a dislike of fast, electronic dance beats.

He shared that, “when the beat was very fast, they started to scream, in a distressed, scared way,” adding, “(Parrots) seem to like pop music, when there is a voice.”

Do Parrots Hate the Color Red? 

Yes, many parrots tend to dislike red. From an evolutionary standpoint, parrots may innately fear red because it “signifies danger and a warning to the flock,” as Avian behaviorist Chris Davis reveals.

A hatred of red may also stem from past abuse or distress that involved an owner’s clothing or object.

Do Parrots Hate Certain People? 

Parrots can form such strong attachments to their owner that it may appear as if they hate or shun anyone besides their “favorite.”

A pet parrot may initially even hate its owner, but this doesn’t mean you aren’t a bird person; it points to a lack of early socialization or a mistrust following a traumatic episode that requires patience and training.

Do Parrots Hate Cats & Dogs? 

Parrots fear cats and dogs and become jealous if they see their owners showing them affection, so hatred is only natural.

Cohabitation is achievable as long as cats and parrots are kept in separate rooms.

Thankfully dogs can be easily trained to give parrots space, and both can become accustomed to each other with gradual socialization.

What Noises Do Parrots Hate? 

Overly loud music is a trigger. If it’s louder than any noise they’d experience in the wild, then it’s probably not pleasant for them.

Noises that might scan as threatening to parrots, such as hissing, can spook them, as will any sudden loud sounds that prompt them to jump and fly away.

Observing their body language can help.

What Smells Do Parrots Hate?

Due to their acute sense of smell, strong perfumes, candles, onion, and garlic might be overpowering to your parrot.

Pungent air fresheners in particular can assault their senses. The fumes of a plug-in air freshener caused one cockatiel to have breathing difficulties after long exposure in a care-home facility.

What Objects Do Parrots Hate? 

Parrots commonly dislike balloons as it is thought they associate the bright color and floating movement with a potential predator.

Every parrot has its own personal dislike of certain objects – this parrot owner’s forum has revealed a distaste of towels, baseball caps, brooms, and chairs!

Do Parrots Hate To Be Touched? 

Some parrots don’t like to be touched, especially if they have not been well socialized among people. Past abuse and re-homing can make them fearful of being petted.

Remember that wings and tails are always a no-no, but if they show aversion to touch, they can be shown alternative affection with distant kisses, singing softly etc.


To summarize, a happy parrot is one with plenty of nutrition, attention, and stimulation.

These intelligent, curious birds are counting on you to protect them from other pets and shield them from stressful noises and situations.

Once they become tame enough around you and their new surroundings, treat them to regular cuddles and sing-a-longs.

Each parrot species might have its preferences when it comes to favorite foods or sleeping arrangements, but learning to get in sync with your bird’s unique personality is half the fun of caring for one!