Here are more cues to look for to see how your bird feels about you.
Angry or agitated birds will pin their eyes. While this can also mean that your pet has seen something exciting, it can also be a signal that he is getting mad and is about to strike. Another cue is when you see that the bird is flipping his wings at you (yes, there is an ironic joke in there somewhere). Wing flipping can mean that your bird is angry or in pain. If he flips his wings and it is accompanied by a hunching of the shoulders and head bobbing, he is trying to get your attention and is most likely asking to be fed. That said, flipping can also be a mating behavior.
If a bird wants to show his dominance, he may start tapping his feet. This universal human sign for impatience means territory marking in bird world. This may happen when your pet feels that something or someone is invading his space. Some birds may also use beak wiping as a way to mark their territory; this behavior is often displayed when a new bird arrives on the scene. That said, birds are fastidious when it comes to keeping up appearances, so they may also wipe their beaks when done with a meal.
When your bird does a cute little curtsey with its wings slightly raised, it means that he is asking for attention either from you or from a potential mate. When your feathered friend is crouching with her head tipped downward toward you, and perhaps bobbing her head, she is asking to be petted or scratched. If you ignore his motions, he may try to cajole you into a head-scratch by emitting a burst of little begging chirps.
Lastly, if you see your pet holding their wings away from their body, it means that they are feeling too hot. Birds don’t sweat, so they depend on air that reaches the underside of their wings to keep them cool. The more uncomfortable he is with the high temperatures, the farther he holds his wings away from his body.
This story appeared in Animal Scene’s March 2015 issue.