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Can Pet Birds Tell You When They Are Hungry? 

Pet birds get a bad rap when it comes to communicating. In fact, birds are some of the smartest and emotionally communicative pets available today. They bond with their owners, play games, and solve puzzles.

Depending on the type of bird, some can even learn to repeat phrases or words that relate to hunger or mealtimes. Most birds kept as pets are gregarious species.

In the wild, they spend most of their lives with their peers and relatives. Communicating their needs is a big part of the songs they sing and noises they make. Back in captivity, birds will vocalize when they need something. 

This article will discuss the communication potential of pet birds. We’ll take a look at different species of popular birds and how they can interact with their owners. If you have one of these birds, this article is a great read. You may learn how to bond and connect with your avian friends. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Birds are smarter than they are given credit for; a well-trained parrot can even indicate its needs through speech. 
  • Just like humans, birds can get “hangry”. If your bird is squawking, screeching, or otherwise acting upset when you haven’t fed it, you might need to provide it with a meal. 
  • Feed your pet bird at a specific time each day. Create a routine around this feeding. It will help your bird bond with you and provide the animal with structure to rely on. 

Can Pet Birds Tell You When They Are Hungry? 

Budgie close to a woman’s face
Budgie close to a woman’s face | image by Tom Reynolds via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Yes, pet birds can tell their owners that they are hungry through various types of communication, such as mimicking human speech or chirping and flying around their food bowls. A pet bird’s ability to communicate its needs depends on what species of bird it is, its level of training, and how well it has bonded with its owner. 

There have been cases of extremely intelligent parrots with vocabularies of over 100 words, like Alex the parrot. Alex was an African Grey that could identify over 50 different objects and could count up to 6. Alex died at the young age of 31 in 2007.

How Do I Know If My Pet Bird Is Hungry? 

The best way to tell if your pet bird is hungry is to look for signs of distress. In the wild, baby birds squawk and chirp to show their parents that they are hungry and need food. Your bird probably sees you as its parent.

It makes similar noises to a chick in the hope that you will hear and provide some food. Another way to tell that your bird is hungry is to see what it does after you fill its food bowl. If the bird immediately heads to the bowl and starts eating, that is an evident sign that the bird wanted its next meal. 

Do Birds Know You’re Feeding Them? 

Budgies eating on someone’s hand
Budgies eating on someone’s hand | Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay

Absolutely, your pet bird will know it is you who is providing the food each day. Interaction at feeding time is a great way to bond with your pet bird. You can talk to him, pet him, and play with him during this time. 

If there are multiple people in your household, we recommend familiarizing them with your bird by giving each person a chance to feed the bird. This will help your pet understand that the other members of the household aren’t a threat. They may even become friends with and forge a bond with other people in the family. 

How Often Should I Feed My Pet Bird? 

The frequency with which you feed your pet bird varies depending on what species of bird it is and how old it is, but a good rule of thumb is at least once every day. Make sure your bird always has fresh water and a place to perch. 

If you give fruits or veggies to your bird, don’t leave them out all day. Between two to three hours is the best window of time to let the bird forage amongst the fresh foods. Always give your bird variety so it doesn’t become too reliant on a single type of food.  

When you purchased or adopted your pet bird, you probably bought a guide to caring for it. Consult this guide to know what the best practices are for the species of bird you bought. 

Why Is My Pet Bird Not Eating? 

Cockatiel feeding
Cockatiel feeding | Image by M. H. from Pixabay

Your pet bird might be refusing to eat for a multitude of reasons. These include the wrong food, a bad environment, a seed-eating habit, and improper food. To narrow down what the issue is, start by assessing the health of your pet bird. 

Here is a checklist to ask yourself: 

  • Is the food the same or different than food offered a day ago? 
  • Is it a new food item the bird has never had? 
  • Does the bird have a problem with choosing seeds over all other foods? 
  • Has the bird already eaten? 
  • Does your pet have any overlying health problems? 

Using these questions should rule out basic reasons for why your pet isn’t eating. If your bird has stopped drinking water as well as eating, it may be a problem that requires medical attention. Pecking at feathers and refusing to preen are other symptoms that may indicate more severe health problems. 

If your bird is having trouble adjusting to healthy food – this often happens among parrots fed seeds instead of a proper pellet diet – you’ll need patience and a plan. Slowly wean the bird over to an 80% pellet based diet.

The other 20% should come from fruits and veggies. Seed should only be a treat once or twice a month. 

Why Is My Pet Bird Regurgitating Food? 

Parrot feeding
Parrot feeding | Image by vargazs from Pixabay

Regurgitating food is actually a great sign in a pet bird. In mammals, regurgitating food is a sign of sickness. It should be avoided and is a sign that the person or animal needs to seek medical attention.

In birds, it usually means the exact opposite. When your pet bird regurgitates around you, it’s a sign that it wants to feed you.

Many wild baby birds, especially parrots, are fed partially digested fruits, seeds, insects, or invertebrates. Their parents eat these foods and regurgitate them to their young upon returning to the nest. 

Reasons a pet bird does this to its owner are twofold: either it wants to take care of you as a parent would take care of a chick, or it wants to feed you like it would to its mate. Mated pairs of parrots often feed each other. 

It may seem strange to our human sensibilities, but among parrots, regurgitating food is a sign of love! 


Birds are smarter than people give them credit for. Just like how cats meow and dogs whine when they want their next meal, birds can indicate that they want food. It just takes a little practice to train and learn how your bird likes to communicate. 

If you know your bird well and it suddenly has trouble eating and drinking, consider taking your pet to the vet. It may be a good idea to get it checked out by a medical professional.