Why Do Parakeets Puff Up? Possible Reasons & Steps To Take

If you have a pet parakeet you may have noticed him or her fluff up her feathers and wondered why.

Parakeets puff up their feathers for several different reasons that we’ll explain in-depth here so that you can figure out why your pet is puffing up.

Why do parakeets puff up? Parakeets puff up their feathers for temperature regulation, when preening, before sleep, when excited or upset, or when sick. This is typically normal behavior, but if they stay fluffed for hours or show signs of illness, they might be sick, and you should visit your veterinarian.

We’ll also give you some other signs to look out for that could mean your parakeet is ill and answer some commonly asked questions from parakeet owners.

If you want to know why your parakeet is fluffing up his or her feathers and you’d like to know what to do when it occurs or if it is cause for alarm, keep on reading.

Parakeet Puffing Up: Possible Reasons & What To Do

Your parakeet puffing up is usually a normal behavior.

However, it’s important to notice other behaviors that go along with your parakeet fluffing up her feathers in order to figure out what your parakeet is signaling to you.

Here, we’ll go over some reasons why your parakeet may be puffing up and what to do if you suspect your parakeet is puffing up because they are cold, upset, or sick.

An Expert’s Opinion

Before launching into the possible reasons, let me try to put your mind at ease.

When researching reasons why parakeets puff up on occasion, I contacted Avian Addiction and spoke with a pet bird expert.

I asked “Other than temperature, fear, grooming, or illness, what’s the most likely reason for a parakeet to fluff up his feathers?”

Here’s her answer:

“Puffing out the feathers is actually a very common resting position and means your bird is just relaxing in a comfortable spot.

They’ll often pull one foot up and look a little sleepy as well, but as long as they’re behaving normally in every other way, there’s no need to be concerned most of the time.

Also, if they’ve just had a bath, they like to puff out their feathers to help them dry.

However, if you sense at all that something is wrong, do not hesitate to take your parakeet to vet for a checkup.”

1. Your Parakeet Might Be Cold 

Puffing up is a way for parakeets to regulate their body temperature.

When their feathers puff up they form a barrier to the cold air and trap in their body heat. You might notice your parakeet puffing up on cold winter days.

What To Do

If you notice your parakeet puffing up, you’ll first want to check the temperature of the room.

It might be worth keeping a thermometer in the room where your parakeet lives to make sure he or she is always comfortable.

If the temperature is colder than 70 degrees, your parakeet might be puffing up because he or she is cold.

You can try bringing him or her into a warmer room or turning up your thermostat.

However, this is not a major health issue for your bird unless the room is very cold. Try to keep the room between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. She Might Be Cleaning Herself

Parakeets love to clean themselves, and they have lots of feathers, so they have to puff up to get in and clean each one.

If you notice your parakeet puffing up and then sticking their beak in their feathers, they are probably just cleaning themselves and there’s no reason to worry.

Puffing up separates their feathers so they can clean inside and lay them back down nicely.

What To Do

Cleaning is a very normal behavior for parakeets and is no cause for any alarm.

Parakeets have individual preferences on how clean they like to keep themselves, so it might be worth it to try giving your parakeet a bowl of water to bathe in.

Some parakeets enjoy taking baths, and some do not, but it’s fun to try out.

3. Your Parakeet Is Anxious, Angry, or Scared

While parakeets may be puffing up to clean themselves or warm themselves up, they also may show emotion by puffing up.

Puffing up is an instinctual response that parakeets have in order to make themselves appear larger and scarier to prey.

In captivity they may show the same response when they are feeling threatened or upset by unwanted stimuli.

You can tell that your parakeet is puffed up due to fear if they begin pulling their wings away from their body or they are twisting their tail.

They may also back away from the scary noise or person.

What To Do

If you notice your parakeet puffing up because he or she is afraid, anxious, or angry, try removing the frightening stimuli from the room.

For example, lots of pet birds might get spooked by a barking dog, so you can simply remove the dog from the room.

It also might be helpful to take your parakeet to a dark and quiet room so he or she can calm down.

It’s very important to take care of your parakeet when he or she is upset as constant anxiety in birds can cause serious health issues.

If your parakeet is constantly showing signs of aggression or anxiety, it might be helpful to switch up their environment or talk to their veterinarian to see what you can do to keep them happy.

4. He Might Be Excited To See You

Parakeets don’t just puff up when they’re upset, they also fluff up their feathers when they are feeling happy or want to show off.

If you walk into your parakeet’s room and he or she fluffs up and comes towards you, they are probably just very happy to see you.

In the wild, parakeets will sometimes fluff up to appear larger so they can show off.

Male Parakeets are more likely to do this since they are known for being attention-seekers, but females will sometimes do this as well.

What To Do

Your parakeet puffing up when they see you is a sign of a great bond between you and your bird. You don’t have to do anything except keep being a great bird parent.

5. Your Parakeet Wants To Take a Nap

Parakeets will sometimes fluff their feathers around to get comfortable before they take a nap.

Puffing up just helps them to adjust all those feathers so they can sleep well. If your parakeet fluffs up before he or she goes to sleep, this is completely normal.

What To Do

There’s no need to worry or do anything about your parakeet fluffing up before going to sleep. This is a common parakeet behavior.

6. Your Parakeet Might Be Ill

If you notice your parakeet puffing up and he or she is not cold, sleepy, bathing, happy, or upset, your parakeet might be sick.

You can tell that they are puffing up because they are sick if they fluff their feathers up for hours at a time.

They do this in the wild to show others that they are ill.

Puffing up may also be combined with lethargy, sticky droppings, and nasal discharge when a parakeet is ill.

What To Do

If you notice your parakeet puffing up for hours at a time and they are also exhibiting other behaviors outside of what you think is normal, you should take him or her to the vet immediately. 

Normal Parakeet Behaviors

A blue-and-white parakeet perched in front of a toy mirror staring at his reflection.

Parakeets are birds with big personalities, and with their varied personalities come lots of different behaviors that are no cause for concern.

It’s important to form a great bond with your parakeet and spend a lot of time with him or her.

This way, you can get acquainted with your parakeet’s normal behaviors so that you can know right away if something is wrong.

Not all parakeets exhibit all of the following behaviors, but if they do, it’s completely normal.

Here are some normal parakeet behaviors and what they mean:

  • Beak grinding: This is a normal and healthy bird behavior. Parakeets may grind their beaks before they go to sleep or anytime they’re feeling happy and comfortable. No one really knows why they do this, but it’s no cause for concern.
  • Regurgitating food: Wild birds bring food back and regurgitate it for their offspring or mate. Your parakeet may regurgitate for you or for their favorite toy as a way to show love and affection. It’s normal behavior and doesn’t signal illness; it just means your parakeet loves you.
  • Preening: Birds like to keep themselves clean. Parakeets will dig through their feathers and spread oils on each of them using their beak. This is healthy parakeet behavior and is not a sign of any issue.
  • Head Bobbing: Head bobbing is a very common behavior for parakeets, and it’s pretty cute too. Mostly males bob their heads as a way to get a female’s attention, but both male and female parakeets may bob their head at you just for fun.

When To Take Your Parakeet to the Vet

It’s often hard to tell when your parakeet is sick. Birds are notorious for not showing signs of illness, and often owners do not get their birds to the vet in time.

This is why it’s so important to take your bird to the vet as soon as you notice any behavior or symptoms that are unusual.

Always keep track of your bird’s normal behavior to ensure that you notice any changes.

Signs of a Sick Parakeet

Take your parakeet to the vet if you notice any of the following symptoms or behaviors: 

  • Drooping or ratty feathers
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nasal discharge
  • Excessive puffing
  • Hiding or sitting low in the cage for long periods of time
  • Trembling
  • Less vocal
  • Heavy breathing
  • Inability to preen
  • Not sitting on perch
  • Not responding to treats or toys
  • Walking in circles
  • Droopy Wings
  • Tail bobbing
  • Cloudy eyes or discharge in eyes
  • Unusually aggressive
  • Sudden weight changes
  • Not drinking water
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Red, yellow, or pale droppings
  • Excessive regurgitation

Any of the above symptoms could mean your parakeet is sick. This could be due to trauma, infection, stress, or if your parakeet is old, end of life.

Visit your veterinarian as soon as possible if you observe any of the above symptoms or if you notice your parakeet acting abnormally in any way.

Related Questions:

What Is the Ideal Temperature for a Parakeet?

Your parakeet will likely be happy at any temperature that you are comfortable. It is recommended that parakeets live in a room that is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s also important to ensure that there are no dramatic changes in temperature throughout the day, so keep the parakeet away from vents and windows.

If you notice your parakeet puffing up, this may mean the room is too cold and you should raise the temperature of the room.

If your parakeet is panting and holding their wings away from their body, they might be hot, and you should turn on your air conditioning.

Why Do Parakeets Bob Their Heads?

Parakeets bobbing their heads is pretty cute and usually not something to be worried about.

Male budgies in the wild bob their head as a part of a courtship ritual, so your male parakeet may just do this instinctively.

Parakeets are also known to bob their heads when they are hungry as a way to ask their parents to feed them.

They are also known to bob their head as a way to tell other parrots that this is their territory, so they might bob their heads when they feel threatened.

Parakeets often love to be the star of the show, so they might just bob their heads to get attention or show off to you.

If they’re bobbing their head when you walk in the room, they are probably just excited to see you.

Most of the time head bobbing is a normal parakeet behavior.

However, if you notice your parakeet head bobbing in combination with signs of stress, they might be upset.

It may be helpful to switch up their environment or remove them from whatever situation is upsetting them.

Conclusion

Your parakeet may be puffing up for any number of reasons.

Our recommendation is to keep a close eye on your parakeet and form a strong bond with him and her so you are familiar with what behavior is normal and what is not.

If you ever notice any abnormal behavior, take your parakeet to the vet.

Sources: 

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/recognizing-the-signs-of-illness-in-pet-birds

https://emborapets.com/parakeet-behavior-guide-how-to-know-what-they-are-expressing/

https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/caresheets/parakeet.html

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