Pet birds can become bored if they’re left alone without stimulation for too long, which can cause serious health problems. These health problems, if left unattended, can become serious.
But can your pet bird die from boredom?
Pet birds can die of boredom if the problem persists long enough, because boredom can lead to depression, which can then lead to a decrease in appetite and extreme weight loss. To keep your bird healthy, you will need to provide stimulation and companionship to prevent boredom and restlessness.
Why Pet Birds Can Die of Boredom
Pet birds usually won’t die of boredom, but boredom does provoke many unhealthy and self-destructive habits.
Birds that are left bored long enough may start refusing their food out of depression, in which case they can die.
For this reason, you should pay attention to your bird and notice any signs of boredom so that you can address them early.
Symptoms of Boredom in Pet Birds
Early signs of boredom include:
- Excessive vocalization
These behaviors can lead to:
- Self-mutilation like feather-plucking
- Digging into the skin with the beak
Birds that are bored long enough can also become depressed, which leads to a decrease in appetite and weight loss. In severe cases, this weight loss can even be fatal.
How To Keep Your Pet Bird From Becoming Bored
Enrichment and stimulation are important to the health of any bird. Thankfully, there are many things that you can do to keep your parrot from becoming bored.
Adopt a Second Bird
One way to keep your bird stimulated is to adopt a second bird. While it can be tricky to introduce a second bird to an older bird, it’s not impossible.
Even if two birds haven’t had the opportunity to get to know each other at a young age, they can still make for good roommates given time and patience.
Sexually mature parrots of opposite sexes can be tricky to house together because they may engage in breeding behavior, which can include building a nesting site and producing eggs.
When birds produce eggs, it takes away from their nutritional stores, and can cause osteoporosis and life-threatening health conditions.
You can discourage a would-be breeding pair by putting them to bed early, leaving any eggs the bird has laid, and even getting hormone injections from an avian veterinarian.
But the best course of action is not putting a breeding pair together in the first place.
Train Your Bird To Encourage Certain Behaviors
Some birds are more receptive to training than others, but all benefit from the stimulation of learning.
You can use treats to incentivize certain behaviors, like going back into the cage or climbing up onto your finger or shoulder.
If you have a larger, more intelligent bird, you can also try tricks like playing basketball, doing an obstacle course, or matching shapes.
Make sure that you’re offering healthy treats and not overindulging, but if you’re not sure what this means for your bird, consult an avian veterinarian.
Provide Plenty of Time Outside the Cage
Birds need several hours outside the cage every day and can easily become restless and bored when they don’t get it.
It’s good for a significant amount of this time to be interactive, whether it be cuddling time, talking, or training.
But if the environment is safe, it’s fine for a bird to be left alone to explore outside the cage.
A safe environment for a bird means space away from toxic plants and other pets, as well as open containers of water, open drawers or cabinets, and fans.
You should make sure that you’ve thoroughly prepared the bird’s room before you let them out every time.
Don’t Clip Their Wings
Wing-clipping is a controversial way to discourage flight risk in birds, and when done correctly, it doesn’t physically harm the bird.
However, birds easily become sedentary when they’re not allowed to fly, and a sedentary lifestyle has major negative effects on a bird, including boredom and obesity.
Flying is a great outlet for birds that allows them to expend energy. Without expending energy, a bird can become restless and engage in destructive behaviors.
You’ll want to bird-proof your home before allowing your bird to fly, consider all the places that they’ll be able to reach while flying, and cover any escape routes.
Make Sure the Cage Is Large Enough
A bird room or aviary is even better than a cage, but if you must keep your bird in a cage, make sure that it’s at least large enough for the bird to extend its wings if not bigger.
A bird needs room to move around to be healthy, and can become bored when it’s left in the same small space for too long.
Get a Play Stand
Get a play stand like the Mrli Pet Play Stand for your bird to fly to and play on during its outside-the-cage time.
This will give your bird a fun change in the environment, and can also be a way to stimulate foraging behavior if you keep food at the play stand.
Invest in Toys
Toys are a great way to keep your bird from becoming bored, which come in many varieties.
For larger birds, you’ll find toys made from hardwood that are chunkier and more durable, like the Aigou Knots Hanging Parrot Toy.
For smaller birds, you’ll find smaller plastic toys and paper toys like those in this set of KATUMO Bird Swing Toys.
Birds can also play with bells, mirrors, and anything you can fill with food or allow your bird to chew on.
They need to chew to keep their beaks intact, so chew toys are very important.
The more intelligent a bird is, the more important it is for them to have challenging and enriching toys.
An example would be this Tropical Chickens Forage Box Toy, which rewards your bird for figuring out a puzzle with a hidden treat.
Other Causes of Depression and Death in Pet Birds
Pet birds may develop depression and fatal appetite loss due to a number of different stressors, including traumatic events and consistent daily stressors. These stressors include:
- Interactions with predatory animals.
- Disruptions to the night and day cycle.
- Changes like a sudden move or people leaving the household.
Common Causes of Death in Pet Birds
Other common causes of death in pet birds include the following:
- Fatty liver disease is a common cause of death in pet birds, brought on by obesity, and most commonly occurs in birds that are fed high-fat all-seed diets.
- Poxvirus is a common cause of death in some birds, affecting the nervous system and causing crusty lesions on the skin. It’s important to take your bird to a veterinarian if you notice the appearance of lesions on your bird.
- Egg binding occurs when a female bird cannot pass an egg through her body, usually due to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, which can happen when a bird eats an all-seed diet.
- Chlamydiosis is a bacterial disease that can cause respiratory problems, liver problems, and weakness. It can cause death if not treated appropriately. The best thing you can do to prevent death from chlamydiosis is notice if your bird appears to be lower energy than normal or has a hard time breathing, and bring it to the veterinarian.
- Proventricular dilatation syndrome is a disease of the immune system caused by a virus. It causes regurgitation and weight loss that can lead to death. If your bird is losing weight and regurgitating, it’s a good idea to bring it to an avian veterinarian.
Birds can die from boredom if they’re left bored long enough to become depressed, because depressed birds will often refuse food to the point of extreme weight loss.
To prevent this from happening, you should provide daily sources of enrichment and entertainment, whether that be from a second bird, toys, or time outside the cage.