According to scientists, parrots enjoy music as much as people do, but unfortunately, you can't ask Polly what songs she prefers over others. Do a little detective work to figure out your parrot's taste in music by watching and listening to her closely so you can play her favorite tunes.
Observe your avian buddy's behavior when you play different tunes. If she begins to "dance" by bobbing her head and feet up and down, it means she's enjoying the tune you're playing for her. Overall, parrots tend to enjoy music with a catchy beat they can dance to like pop, rock and folk music, according to Dr. Franck Peron of the University of Lincoln, reports an article published in "The Telegraph." Dr. Peron is a researcher who studied the musical tastes of African grey parrots.
Listen to Polly and see if she sings along with the music or even tries to mimic it. When your bird whistles, sings, talks or chatters along with the song you're playing, it means she's content and likes what she's hearing, according to Birds N Ways. If she's screeching, growling or hissing, she probably doesn't enjoy the song. Try another.
Watch your bird's body language and look for signs that she's happy or calm. Not all music may make her want to boogie or sing along, but that doesn't mean she isn't enjoying the tunes. If her feathers are loose and a bit fluffed out, if she's grinding her beak or if she's clicking her tongue against her beak, your avian buddy is content. If her feathers are slicked back and she's shivering, she's definitely not happy. Classical music tends to calm feathered friends and reduce stress, according to a study published in "Poultry Science" in 2011. You might even spot your parrot with her foot up, falling asleep to a particularly relaxing tune.
Teach your parrot to choose the tune she likes best between two or three songs. Place two or three blocks of different colors in front of her. Play a specific song that corresponds to a block each time she touches or picks up one of them. Parrots are very intelligent and can differentiate colors; Polly will soon learn that choosing a block means choosing a song. Whichever block she picks most will let you know which song she likes best. Avoid using red blocks; some parrots have an aversion to that color, BirdChannel.com warns.
- The Telegraph: Parrots Have Personal Musical Tastes and Even Like to Sing-A-Long, Scientists Find
- Poultry Science: Effects of Auditory and Physical Enrichment on 3 Measurements of Fear and Stress (Tonic Immobility Duration, Heterophil to Lymphocyte Ratio, and Fluctuating Asymmetry) in Several Breeds of Layer Chicks
- AvianWeb: Communicate With Your Bird
- Phoenix Landing: Behavior Concepts
- National Public Radio: Parrots Join Humans on the Dance Floor
- Once you figure out the type of music your feathered friend generally prefers, play her music from a radio station specializing in that genre. For instance, if Polly seems to like mostly catchy Elvis tunes, find an oldies station for her to enjoy.
- Avoid playing songs of a similar genre to those your parrot tends to dislike. Generally, parrots dislike electronic dance music without vocals, according to Dr. Peron in an article in "The Telegraph."
- Parrots typically dance along to songs that have a catchy beat, reports Aniruddh Patel, a researcher at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, according to an article published by National Public Radio.
- Sing to your bird or play an instrument for her, even if you're not a musical virtuoso. She'll enjoy the company and may even mimic your songs since she's already familiar with your voice.
- Don't play music too loud for your bird. Even if she likes the song, loud noises will upset her.
- Avoid handling your parrot immediately after she's become distressed by a song she didn't like; she might bite you in her upset.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.