Reading Body Language of Pet Birds - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats.
There are several ways you can read a bird's body language. Depending on the species of bird will depend on what to read, but there are some things that are very common in all birds, such as tail flaring. When they flare their tail out it means they are excited, overexcited, or going to bite you. But even when they are just excited or overexcited, you can, usually 50%, at least 50% of the time, you are going to get bit. So, you do not want to go to handle a bird when they are flaring their tail. With cockatoos, they are a great, easy read. If you notice, he is clicking his beak as I am petting his head. Tuki, stop eating, honey, for a minute. Click. Watch, he is going to click his beak, that is "I like this," that is, "I like this very much." But I keep my touching to above his shoulders, because he is 18 year old, sexually mature, male cockatoo. I could show you, which I am going to do with him, because he is my bird, if I were to touch up and back and do this kind of stuff, he is going to do this. This is very sexual body language, and you really do not want to stimulate any bird this way. He is mine, and I know when to stop, but you do not want to stimulate any bird, or again, it will result in a bite.
When they are excited, on a cockatoo, an umbrella cockatoo, such as Tuki, once again, you can see when they are excited when they do... Tuki, can you say hi? Yes, when their crest goes up. So, when their crest goes up that shows they are excited, happy to see you, but again, always use caution because you could end up with a bite. Tuki. Tuki, can you wave bye-bye? Now, he has commands to a lot of his body language, but I am going to use them, that you would not want to go near a bird if they were doing this if it was not on cue. Do you know what I mean? Tuki. Tuki, stop focusing on the food. I am going to take the food away. Tuki, wave bye-bye. Now. Wave bye-bye again. You would not approach a bird demonstrating that kind of body language. Now, see, he is coming right over to me. He is clicking his beak. That is loving.
With an Amazon, such as George, up here, you can see the pupils of his eyes are large right now. So, he is very calm and he is very docile. Now, with the cockatoos, you cannot see their pupils dilate as easily, but with like an Amazon or a Grey or many other species, you can see their eyes dilate. I do not know if he will dilate if I go, step up. No, he would not. So, what would happen is his eyes are fully dilated now, they will pin into a small, small, well, basically to the size of a pin, and that means they are agitated, overexcited or going to bite. You are OK, you are OK. Step back up. With Spaulding, see how she is puffing up a little bit? Here, how she is puffing. She is telling me she does not want to come out. Now, anyone else she would bite. She is holding on. Her eyes are not fully dilated, they are pinning a little bit. Good. They are pinning a little bit, not much, but she is avoiding me and she is keeping her feathers very sleek to her body, which is also a kind of a stand-offish type thing. George's body language is, his feathers are more puffed, a little. He is more relaxed. Tuki's preening, which is very much a sign that they are very, very relaxed, when they are preening. So, he is very comfortable right now.