Do you ever hear a tiny gritch, gritch, gritch sound coming from your cockatiel’s cage? If you do, don’t be alarmed. It’s your bird grinding his beak and this behavior is perfectly normal, says Byron J.S. de la Navarre, DVM at the Animal House of Chicago.
No one is certain why parrots grind their beaks, but it is believed they do it to soothe themselves, especially before they go to sleep. Beak grinding reflects contentedness and a relaxed state. Most cockatiels grind their beaks just before falling asleep or when they are resting deeply on a perch like the Living World Pedi-Perch Cement Bird Perch.
“There could be several reasons why parrots grind their beaks, but it most commonly occurs right before they roost,” Dr. Byron says. “Usually they’ll sit on their bird perches, maybe have one of their legs held up and then you’ll hear them grinding their beak.”
But it shouldn’t be an excessive behavior, de la Navarre says. Beak grinding is not similar to teeth grinding in people, which indicates anxiety. Birds will generally chew on the bars of their cage, groom excessively or exhibit other destructive behaviors when stressed, he says. But if you notice your bird grinding his beak during periods other than before bedtime, if the grinding lasts for prolonged periods of time or if you notice any beak damage, consult your veterinarian. To help redirect this type of behavior, provide your bird with safe chew and foraging toys like Super Bird Creations Bagel Cascade Bird Toy, Planet Pleasures Spiked Pinata Natural Bird Toy or Bonka Bird Toys Foraging Star Bird Toy.
Some people believe that the grinding has something to do with keeping the beak trim, but there’s no evidence to prove or disprove that hypothesis. So, if you hear the little gritch, gritch, gritch of your bird grinding her beak before a nap or just before bedtime, you can be assured that your bird is comfortable and feeling well.
Chris Brownlow has been writing about pets for over 10 years. As a writer who believes in immersing herself in her topic, she has tasted more than 20 different flavors of dog and cat food while working on an advertising campaign for PetSmart. Prior to her pet days, Chris was a print and digital journalist at The Tampa Tribune and The Virginian-Pilot.
Featured Image: iStock.com/Nickbeer