The 4 “Love Languages” Of Parrots

The 4 “Love Languages” Of Parrots

 September 1st, 2009
Posted By:

Camelot Macaw


*** A Client’s Post In Our Members Area ***

I bought a 2 year old African gray about two three months ago. For some reason he doesn’t like me, but he doesn’t hate me either. I am the one taking care of him all the time, but he loves my wife. My wife doesn’t even do nothing for him but he loves my wife. He likes me when i give him treats but when i want to pet him or play with him he wants to attack me. He would let my wife touch him anywhere on his body and they play together just fine. The only time he will step up on my hand is when he is not near his cage, but when he is near his cage he acts like he is the boss. He wont be scared or anything when i walk close to him or his cage, but he wont let me play with him or touch him.

Can anyone please help me

>>> My Comments:

A couple things came to mind when I read this post in our members area…

The first thing I noticed while reading this post is something that I hear from TONS of people, and I want to put it out in the open so there’s no confusion.
This client writes, “I am the one taking care of him all the time, but he loves my wife. My wife doesn’t even do nothing for him…”
Let me say something that might not go over very well, but that needs to be understood:

Parrots are not like us!

They don’t sit around in their cage thinking about how wonderful you are for cleaning his dirty cage, or how thoroughly you scrubbed a slimy food bowl so he could have clean water.

And they most certainly don’t care about how many hours you spend every week cooking or preparing food for them.

Your spouse might appreciate it when you do an especially nice job of cleaning up the house, but your parrot could care less.

So when I hear people writing to me about how their parrot should appreciate them more for all the good things they do for them… I think it’s time for a bit of a reality check.

Don’t get me wrong…

Cleanliness, and healthy foods are important.

We don’t want your bird to die of a bacterial infection or anything.

But it has nothing to do with how much your parrot will like you.

To get your parrot to like you, you need to find his “Love Language” — the things that motivate him the most, and the thing he LOVES.

There’s actually a great book on this topic called, “The 5 Love Languages”.

In the book it talks about how almost all conflicts us humans have in our lives stem from us not realizing that different people want to be loved in different ways.

Some people want you to spend time with them, some appreciate gifts, many like being “Told” how appreciated they are, others like it when you do small favors for them, and theirs another group of people that only feel loved if their held or touched in a loving manner.

And whatever “Love Language” we have personally, we tend to try to give THAT kind of love to other people when we want to show affection.

So for example…

If you’re the kind of person that really loves it when someone you love spends Quality Time with you, and you’re married to someone who tends to show their love in another area like ‘doing favors for you’ but not spending lots of time with you…

You end up with a situation where you are TRYING to love another person in a way they DON’T want to be loved.

So the trick is in ALWAYS trying to find out how the other person wants to be loved, and loving them in THEIR way — NOT YOURS!

Hopefully you’re starting to see how you might be loving your bird in the wrong way too?

Because birds have their own ‘Love Languages’ and they aren’t quite like ours 😉

So don’t try to love your bird the way YOU want to be loved.

If you’re the kind of person who really likes to snuggle, hug and kiss the people you love, it would serve you well to realize that not all birds like to be snuggled and kissed.

From what I can tell, these are the major categories of a bird’s ‘Love Language’:

1) Quality Time
2) Tasty Treats
3) Active Play
4) Pleasant Touch

And each individual bird responds better to one type of “Love” over another.

For example, when I was baby sitting my brother’s Military Macaw, Cash, I was able to use food to motivate him to do a few things…

But he really needed to be allowed lots of ‘Active Play’.

So I would set up situations where I would make him do a behavior like step up onto my hand, and not reward him with food for doing so, but instead reward him with being allowed to play on a foraging tree with lots of toys he could try to dig food out of — or do a flight training session.

His reward was to be physically active.

If I had tried to give him too much of another type of love, like Treats, or Touch he would nip at me and get upset.
He wanted to PLAY.

And until I realized that PLAY was his number one ‘Love Language’ and motivator, I was fighting an up hill battle.
This is why I think so many people struggle with parrot training…

They try to get the bird to want the kind of love THEY want to give, and don’t focus enough on trying to understand how their bird wants to be treated.

If we all did a better job of trying to look at the world from our parrots point of view on this topic we’d have a world of much better behaved birds.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this concept of “Parrot Love Languages”, and how it can help you change your parrots behavior.

This is the key behind why we were are able to walk into people’s homes and fix their parrots problems in One Day.

If you’d like to learn more about identifying these in your parrot, and techniques for using them in ways that cure your bird’s behavior issues, pick up a copy of our One Day Miracles – Parrot Training DVD series today.

Here’s the link again if you need it:

Please leave a comment for me as well, I’m interested in hearing if you found this helpful.



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332 Comments on “The 4 “Love Languages” Of Parrots”

Alice  08/22/2011 5:45 am

This is very true! Sammy my IRN LOVES to play, he gets so bored just ‘sitting round with us humans’ he wants to do step ups, fly around, forage, find new fun toys and explore. He can not sit still and its amazing to watch and super fun when we play together
-His favourite games are hide and seek and tug of war.

Charlie and Ollie my other IRNs love peek-a-boo and to race and ‘bounce’ across the floors/tables/anything. Ollie spends a lot of time playing with Sam flying around the house.

Charlie is my only non flighted bird, he came to me like that 4 months ago. So, for his ‘flying fun’ he grips into our hand and we run around with him (mainly near soft furniture as sometimes he lets go and lands on the couch or the bed and grins with parrot glee making his happy noises that he ‘OMG I FLEW MUMMY LOOKIE!) He flaps like crazy as we go around together all 3 of us running around the house.

Then we share a bowl of veggies and sprouts, thats probably one of their favourite activities everyday next to bath time and foraging.

Sometimes birds ‘bond’ to one person as if they are a bird alone they take a ‘human’ for a ‘mate’. Their cage is their territory – not yours. Its their ‘home’. So if you come near it – yes they might bite and lunge at you. Which is perfectly NORMAL!! They are a parrot not a human! They dont like invaders into their personal space weather they know them or not.
— Charlie my IRN is like this, he will rip my hand off if I enter his territory, his ‘favourite section’ of the cage. But, if I say ‘step up’ (when he hears that even if he is in the cage he kindly steps up) and put him outside the cage even on my shoulder and clean/fix things in ‘his area’ he doesn’t mind. He just prefers to have ‘his private place’. Ollie and Sammy though dont mind and they like me to hang out in their cage with them lol!

In the wild birds protect their territory and their mate with fierceness. But, if they are outside of their territory they will interact with other birds in a kind manner, even the bird that just flew by their territory and they lunged at.

Its like us protecting our bedroom say, we dont like guests tromping in it perhaps seeing our underwear right!?

richard  10/19/2011 9:35 am

can anyone train my quaker.please i need help

Tajj IndianRingneck  06/10/2012 10:55 pm

My Indian Ringneck stopped bitting my finger at the moment I started to feed him with my finger covered with delicious veggie-purées (few times a day). I guess ‘you don’t bite what feed you ‘.

deb m  07/19/2012 2:56 pm

hi, my girl parrot loves my husband but will rarley let me stroke her, she will step on my arm when she feels like it. if she dosnt want to she will head butt my arm instead of biting which is brill, i dont know how she learned this but it is a good option,

Rosemarie  02/15/2013 4:09 pm

Hi my name is rosemarie I have a blue and gold macaw named blue for about 3 months now and I am just starting to learn more about them everyday, but the one thing I don’t understand is why my macaw likes to get on my hand and he starts kinda like digging then he regurgitates…. I know it’s a sign of love but why does he like to dig on me???? Thank you

ringing in my ear  05/11/2013 10:42 am

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Leah  10/09/2013 7:16 pm

This makes total sense and articulates what I have known innately. Thank you! My Severe Macaw, Zazu, just LOVES quality time with me, most of the time. It would have to be her number one motivator with physical touch a close second. However, I do find these are still things that have to be on her terms. Sometimes, rarely but still sometimes, she would rather be alone than with anyone. And sometimes she would rather not be touched or held but not touched. She is quite clear with her body language and, of course, if I miss it, with her beak. So her body language and preferences are still important, even within her motivators. Is this an accurate observation or am I missing her love language or confusing it with something else?

Jessi  10/25/2013 8:31 pm

This article just helped me soooooo much….I’m working on taming my first cockatiel and having a really hard time with it. I used millet as a treat but it would only work sometimes, other times she wouldnt even look at it. Then I read that play can be effective as well and I remembered how much she likes to play with my ring. So I used laid my hand down to see what would happen. She eventually ventured onto my hand to get the ring so I moved it farther away so she’d have to be on my hand even longer (I kept my hand still). Then I took the ring away, holding it where she could just see it and SHE CLIMBED ON MY HAND!!! I gave her the ring as a treat and continued like that and she was stepping onto my hand and looking at me, just waiting for my to give her the ring. She still bit and nipped at me but she had the motivation to work for it. I’m so surprised! I’ve been trying so long to get her to trust my hands but unless I have her away from the cage, she bites. But just by changing the “treat” she’s actually motivated and facing her fears. WOW!

Ingrid Ulrike Maria Plathner  04/03/2014 11:01 am

Hi, I’m a horse whisperer & I love LOVE birds, too. Nothing gets “under your skin” like a bird ! One principle I learned from my birds was : There is something more powerful than freedom to a bird – LOVE ! I taught mine to fly. Around the house at first, then outside, in all kinds of weather. They love on a whole different plane. Never, ever punish a bird. They need to feel unconditionally secure. Mine would fly around the neighborhood, land in a tree just out of my reach & dare me to try to catch them. I actually thought they found it hillarious that I couldn’t fly !!!

Snead hearn  04/19/2014 4:44 pm

Stop, Christine!

Descubrir más aquí  07/31/2014 7:11 pm

Me encanta tu sección, es muy imaginativo. Sere asidua a esta sección sin duda! Saludos y Besos

Sara  09/08/2014 2:52 pm

Ok so I get my birds body language but not the love language it seems she changes day by day and second by second as far as what she loves. I haven’t had her long and she refuses to let anyone touch her. She doesn’t want her perch she wants to be on the top of her cage and left alone… I can get close to her stand right next to her and she will fall asleep but the second I move to touch her she is not having it!! She is 8 years old and before she became mine I could pet her and talk to her now not so much… I’m sure the change will take time but I can’t get her to step up to get her in or out of her cage or anything…. She doesn’t like to bite and will warn you before she strikes but she will bite you… Help!

Ken Kelly  09/09/2014 9:30 am

Bought your disc’s and find them right on the mark. Keep up the good work. Have a 2yr old cockatoo, thinking on getting a blue and gold Macaw. My cockatoo is very devoted to me. wants to be with me all the time. I am the alpha male, very bonded with me, how do you think he will take to another younger parrot in the house?

Donna Hamilton  10/30/2014 10:45 pm

Hi, I think you can possibly add another category to this list…”time out”.
I find you need to recognise the signs that your bird needs to go back in their cage for this too.

Chantell  12/13/2014 3:53 am

Hello. A lot of people told me that IRN’s are very aggressive birds but I think it is as you say they don’t love there birds the way the bird wants to be loved. I have an IRN and she is the sweetest bird. She climb on any one’s shoulder or head ( her favourite place ons some one’s head) she is not a bitter. She wil ask for a cuddle or if I want to cuddle and she doesn’t she wil give me a nip. I am the more cuddling person and my fiancé is the more silent tipe so that worked out we’ll she gets what she want from both of us.

Militsa  12/27/2014 6:20 pm

My answer is just that male parrot are more close to women and this is not a mith. I am going true the same situation with our blue gold macaw -1,5 years old femail. Its not that my husband doesn’t do anything for her, he is not try at all to find her love languages, but she love him..the previous people who have her was also man. So I am sure that if the parrot was a male, you are going to be at the playground right now 🙂

Hester  01/08/2015 2:40 am

Very helpful

cai  01/23/2015 11:46 am

I was the happy owner of an African Grey & a Umberella Cockatoo, they were both very loving towards me, to the point that my Cockatoo laid an egg on my lap, it broke my heart to give them away when I moved to Portugal, I had no one to care for them in Portugal if I had taken them with me, when I made visits to England. This was 4 years ago now & I still miss them a lot.
I have seen this ? (6 month old) Amazon parrot in a pet shop here in Portugal, it is kept in the dark and only fed on dried ? fruit pellets, the young girl in the shop said she don’t know what she is doing as she don’t know about any parrots. I feel so sad for this parrot & have been tempted to buy ? him/her. but cant make up my mind. am I looking to replace the 2 I’ve lost, which I know I can never do. or it’s because I feel sorry for it. I will still not have any one to care for it, if I go away any were. can you advise me please a.s.a.p. thank you

lyndae  03/23/2015 8:22 am

I have a 14week old orange wing amazon will I get him to talk with your one day miracles training dvd? I hand fed the bird from 3 weeks old.

Debbie  03/27/2015 4:20 pm

That was so beautiful . . . sniff . . sniff : )

Karen  04/05/2015 9:39 pm

I have had a cockatiel since he was 4 weeks old. He quickly learned to
Talk and copy whistles until a few weeks ago. He will be 2 yrs in August.
He HATES to go to bed. He comes up to my face to snuggle then turns around
and bites me! My lip or hand gets it. Then he snuggles again. The first time
This happened I cried. He gets to play all the time. I talk to him all the time
Sometimes he will fly at me to bite me. Most of the time he just wants to land
On my shoulder.
I could sure use some advise. How do I break him of these mean spells?

judydickerson broadwater  04/09/2015 12:26 am

I loved this article, my love language is words of affirmation…Kosmo actually really seems to “feed” off that theory also. I’mgoing to read the article book also,he definately longs to hear “komos a good goodboymama”.

Praveen Kumar  04/17/2015 1:08 am

Hello,My pet Alexendrian Ring neck(chikkie) is a 2months old girl,she learns to step up and step down. .i train her to fly to perch and fly to me but she always went to my home window and wents out..How to stop flying away from me. .Please tell me..Thank you..

Brian Mckie  04/27/2015 1:18 pm

Hiya Chet!
I’ve just bought a 18 month old Indian Ring neck parakeet the lady I bought him from got him to step up on her covered arm no problem he came in a very small cage so I bought him an extra large cage about 5 feet tall but he prefers to be out all the time but he won’t let me near him I’ve bought him lots of activity toys and foraging things to occupy him Ive also got a linne parrokeet and he keeps attacking it the linne I only got two weeks prior to getting the ring neck and is coming to me for millet spray and is quite friendly now can you please give me some tips about getting the ring neck to accept the linnie or do I need to keep them separate? I know all of this is strange to him a larger cage and another parrokeet and also I’m a stranger to him but I would appreciate any pointer you can give me please on making my two birds happier together!!!

Stacy  05/06/2015 12:23 pm

Thank you so much for this post! My GC Conure finally makes sense to me. When I got her she was pretty angry and mistrusting, and she plucked. That’s actually the reason I got her, I had a hard life myself so I like to take in the misfits, anyways she slowly changed for the better and lately I felt like I’d reached a plateau with her. But now it makes sense. I looked forward to see her shred her toys with enjoyment. But most of the toys have been in her cage since the day I got her with only a bite mark or two on them. Also, I was sad when she doesn’t want cuddles or touching, she likes kisses, but anything that involves anything more than her beak she doesn’t like, but sometimes she even gives kisses on her own, and lately she has been allowing little scratches on her neck or rubs on her back. I though maybe she didn’t like or trust me bit was confused because she I tried to pet her she usually just do want I call a “beak bump” she bumps my finger out of the way without biting, if you force it she bites, but that’s cause I ignored her body language. The one Language I’ve realized she does speak is quality time. I sit on the floor by her cage in my room a lot and if the doors open she runs out and down as far as she can climb and looks are me waiting for ms to put my arm out and she just sits on my legs or shoulders or even my head for hours and hours. I always wondered why she liked my bf more and because he would ignore her when she was on him. She just liked his presence, they would occasionally have um, I call it a pewing match because my bird makes this pew pew noise. But I guess it would be like friendly bird screaming at each other lol. Anyways this one post taught me more about my bird in 2 minutes that in the months and months that I’ve had her. Thank you so much!

michelle  06/22/2015 11:48 am

my quaker parrot was born with out a fourth toe on its left foot so he has trouble balancing on my hand so he’s scared to step up and he want fly I’ve seen him do it once and his landing was horrible luckly he landed on the bed , I try to do what he wants but if he had it his way he wouldn’t want me to touch him or even get him of his cage. and he doesn’t like any body else heal bite them hard and heal give me one of those small nips that says no don’t touch me what do I do to make him trust me and pick him up.

Brian Grace  07/28/2015 2:32 pm

Hi, im looking into getting a Pacific Parrolet i’ve been reading up on them for about 1/2 a year and ive finally decided that this is the bird for me. I currently have 0 other birds, but my nextdoor neighbor is a bird owner (He has a Dusky Conure and well on his way to getting an Indian Ringneck) and i was hoping if they could ever get along with good socialization and if it it could ever learn A few word

Jane  07/31/2015 12:25 pm

I think I have a good all rounder with my new baby Grey-head. She likes treats if they are nuts, she enjoys active play of putting the buttons in the pot. When she’s really proud of her achievements she makes little noises and stretches her head up, I give her a tab tickle which is what she seems to want. Sometimes, she just wants to come out and fly and play, other times she will come over to hang out near me or fly on to me for a trip to another room. Cuddle time comes when she’s been able to spend energy flying and playing or beating up toys. It’s just a matter of reading the signs as to know what she wants at the time. She also pays attention to talking and shows her appreciation by gentle nibbling. Above everything she wants company, as much as possible. A human needs to keep that at a realist level that they can maintain as birds soon have expectations.

ini  09/03/2015 10:49 am

Uhm, I live kinda far away, and I want a copy of this book but unfortunately can’t get it. So what do I do and I really want a copy of this amazing book. ????

Michael G  09/08/2015 3:07 pm

I had the same problem with my african grey too. He used to only love my aunt, but now since I’ve been taking care of him for almost 2 years, hes really cool with me but doesn’t like my aunt ? I’m glad he finally stopped trying to take my finger off and has become more friendly with me. I love animals so I hate it when they don’t like me back.

Marta wheeling  10/11/2015 2:27 pm

Why does my male african gray parrot walk with his head upside do?