Do Pet Birds Like Watching TV? (9 Bird Breeds Checked!)

In the wild, from up high in tree perches, birds are listening to and observing the environment around them — moment to moment. If you can see them, you can be sure they’ve already seen you.

Captive birds are no different, but instead of resting in a nest, they are planted in their cage or aviary. They watch every move and breath you take.

But do pet birds enjoy viewing television?

Most pet birds like to watch TV — if they are home alone, videos can help them cope with potential boredom. They are attracted to movement, sounds, and vibrant colors. With the right channel, you could keep your bird thoroughly entertained for a little while with a television. 

Will My Bird Enjoy Watching TV?

As much as my Parrotlet loves the television, this may not be the case for all birds. It’s near impossible to be around our pets 24/7.

Finding something to keep them entertained while we’re not home or busy poses its challenges. 

Things that keep birds entertained include:

  • Ropes
  • Chew toys
  • Ladders
  • Mirrors
  • A variety of perches
  • Foraging challenges
  • People watching
  • Radio
  • Television

Most kinds of pet bird species will probably like watching TV.

Depending on their environment and surroundings, social needs, and your own work-life balance — a TV could be a great option to keep your bird occupied while you’re busy. 

It’s hard to tell what your bird is feeling, as scientists universally agree there is no evidence that shows birds have feelings.

As a pet bird owner myself, I instinctually believe hand-reared birds do have feelings and possibly emotions.

When you see a bird enraptured by a TV screen, it’s understandable why it’s a common question.

Owning a pet bird can be time-consuming as they do need a lot of attention.

My Blue-Winged Parrotlet loves to watch TV and it keeps him occupied while I’m busy with work or a household task.

What Should I Let My Pet Bird Watch?

Birds can get stimulation from watching other birds on television, they can learn new words and they can get entertainment from the movements and colors.

They can also become frightened if the wrong show comes on. Loud and aggressive music or sounds, like screaming, can unsettle them. 

Do Let Them Watch

Something light and colorful with cheerful music, sounds, and scenes. Vibrant colors are always a good choice too. 

  • YouTube videos on bird training.
  • YouTube videos on birds in general.
  • Cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Thomas the Tank Engine, Rugrats, Pokemon and Looney Toons. 
  • Musicals like Hairspray, Sing, Annie, Mama Mia and Mary Poppins. 
  • Disney Movies are a great option, they’re usually colorful and the singing and dancing can really get your bird’s attention. 
  • A variety of David Attenborough’s Animal Planet and BBC programs. 

Try cartoons or musicals or even YouTube tutorials about birds for a more calming and engaging experience.

Birds like to watch television alone and especially with you as they love being around their human companions. 

Keep in mind some types of birds are extraordinarily clever and will pick up words in the shows they watch so you’ll probably want to sensor their viewing material. 

Try sitting with your feathered creature and watch the video below. It’s specifically created for companion animals like birds.

Do Not Let Them Watch

It may not be a good idea to let your feathered friend watch horror movies or bird shows that feature birds of prey.

That David Attenborough documentary about Peregrine Falcons? Consider skipping that one.

No pet bird is the same. There are owners who claim their bird loves watching horror movies, but most birds like being with their human companion no matter what is playing.

For this reason, it is a good idea to take notes of what the bird enjoys not just with you, but also when left alone.

If you’re not one for note-taking, consider using the voice memo feature on your phone.

Bird Breeds That Will Most Likely Enjoy Watching TV

Like all species, there are some smarter birds than others. The intelligence of your bird will be a factor that contributes to whether they like to watch TV or not. 

Here are a few common pet bird breeds that might appreciate watching TV. 

1. Lorikeets

Whether you have a Lorie or a lorikeet, you’ve probably noticed they are extremely playful, curious and social. They can learn to speak and have a pretty great vocabulary.

Lories aren’t shy and they won’t be afraid to let you know if they don’t like what’s playing on the TV. 

2. Cockatiels

This popular pet bird, the second most popular in the world I might add, is easy to train. They’re friendly, intelligent and like to have fun.

The males can learn speech and both genders are quiet and undemanding. For this reason, they’re quite happy to be watching the television when you’re busy with other tasks. 

3. Parakeets

This depends entirely on the parakeet species. Parakeets are a wide range of birds, from the smaller budgies to the larger Alexandrines and Rosellas to name a few.

Broadly, Parakeets can learn to talk and usually find television comforting because they like to be entertained. 

Parakeets can learn mimicry and speech. Some are quiet and some are loud. Alexandrines for example are remarkably affectionate and will usually bond with just one person.

If they’re not getting the attention they need from their bonded human, they can become loud, stressed and bored. 

4. Eclectus

These stunning and delightful green feathered birds are very chatty. Leaving them with the television on could be beneficial to their learning how to speak and even sing.

They need a decent amount of interaction and exercise but sometimes if you’re strapped for time, television interaction should be just fine for these little guys. 

5. Macaws

Brilliant at learning tricks and speech, your Macaw might benefit and learn from watching educational television.

This loud but intelligent breed could watch a YouTube tutorial and learn new tricks while he does. 

6. Conures

Just like most of the birds in the parrot family, Conures are also intelligent and affectionate.

They need a lot of stimulation, can learn approximately 10 words of speech and love to play with toys. The television should keep them entertained for a small amount of time. 

Birds That Might Not Benefit From Watching Television

Although brilliant for such small creatures, not all birds will be distracted or occupied by your television.

Parrots are the most intelligent bird species out there and not all of them will enjoy the pleasures of binge-watching. 

7. Cockatoos

Experienced bird owners know how much attention Cockatoos need from their owners. Not just for training but daily life.

Cockatoos don’t like to be left alone for short or long periods and they can get profoundly attached to their human. 

These mischievous birds need a lot of toys to keep them occupied. If you need to leave the house, leave the television or radio on so they have the comfort of the background noise. 

Cockatoos will probably enjoy watching television, so long as they have you by their side. 

8. Lovebirds

If you have one Lovebird, it might be ok in front of the television.

If you have two lovebirds on the other hand, because they create such a strong bond and have each other, they don’t necessarily have any interest in the television.

They might not even have much interest in you!

9. Alexandrine (Parakeet)

Leaving your Alexandrine in front of the television might not be the best idea, but for other parakeets, it could be okay. Test it out but keep a close eye on them. 

Final Thoughts

You may find that your feathered friend doesn’t care for watching Woody Woodpecker and instead would rather enjoy his time listening to jazz music.

In that case, perhaps rip out your old copy of John Coltrane’s Live At Birdland and let that play on repeat while you’re away.

Like a good jazz musician, finding your bird’s likes will require good improvisational and listening skills.


Science Daily: Birds Can Tell If You Are Watching Them — Because They Are Watching You