A parrot’s beak is often it’s most notable feature, and among other birds, a parrot’s beak is quite unique.
From its prominent hook, to bright color, a parrot’s beak is a thing of beauty.
New parrot owners may be wondering if and when their young bird’s beak may change color, while more seasoned owners may have noticed a change of color or even some discoloration of their bird’s beaks.
The question to ask is, do parrots beaks change color?
The answer to this question is yes, parrots beaks do in fact change color. Not only do parrot’s beaks come in a variety of different colors, they can change or shift throughout a bird’s lifetime. But some color changes are normal, while others are a warning to something that may be a concern occurring.
Whether you have noticed a change in your parrots beak, or you are just curious, this article will discuss why parrots beaks change color, the healthy reasons why this occurs, and some of the possible problems that a change in beak color may be indicating including issues in their diet, damage to the beak, infection, or even aging.
Why do parrots beaks change color?
A parrot’s beak has a horny outer layer which is covered in keratin, the same thing that makes up our fingernails.
The keratin comes in a variety of colors.
More than a dozen different types of carotenoids are responsible for the coloration of beaks.
The hue and tone of the color is determined by the precise mix of red and yellow pigments.
For some breeds of parrots, their beaks may change color once in their lives, as they mature, and stay relatively the same color for the rest of their lives.
Parrots such as parakeets and the Eclectus parrot experience color changes in their beaks from when they hatch until they are fully mature.
It is during their first year that their beaks will take on adult colors.
As well, female and make birds will experience different changes in their beak colors.
For many females, their beaks will turn a jet black and remain that color with little change, while a male’s beak will lighten from when they are young, and even become yellow with bright orange mottling.
What dictates the color of a parrot’s beak?
A parrot’s beak color is mainly determined by a parrot’s species.
Many breeds of macaws have black beaks, including hyacinth, Hahn’s, and blue and gold macaws, while other species, like greenwing and Catalina macaws, have light-colored beaks.
The Eclectus parrot hatches with a pinkish beak, which darkens in the first two months.
While the Indian ringneck parrots have beaks that range from scarlet red to deep purple and great billed parrots, have bright orange beaks.
Some parrots can even have beaks that are several colors, such as the mustached parakeet.
When does a parrot’s beak change color?
Many new owners may be excitedly watching their baby bird grow up and be wondering when its beak will change from black or dark into a color.
For some breeds of parrots their beaks may begin to change as early as 4 months, often turning yellow in color, and by 6 months their color has settled, while others take their time and don’t fully change color until 12 months old.
In other cases, a baby bird’s beak may be totally orange when young and deepen into a darker color or even black by the time they are 12 months old.
How to tell when a beak is discolored?
Parrot beaks can easily experience discoloration, but a healthy parrot has a beak that is usually uniform in color.
However, beak discoloration is a common issue that can occur frequently.
Often normal changes of beak color can be confused with discoloration that is more alarming, so it is important to know the differences and make sure that the changing beak color is healthy.
One of the first things to check before you worry too much is to make sure that the color change you’ve noticed isn’t just dust from a cuttlebone or paint from a toy.
Most often the discoloration you will notice is cause my injury.
A beak is very similar to our own fingernails, when we slam our finger in a drawer, or stub a toe, we get a bruise or a white line on our nails.
Just like we may get a bruise or a white line, a beak may have the same discoloration when injured.
These types of injuries are usually harmless, and if left alone to recover it will go away over time.
However, beak discoloration could also be caused by an infection.
An infection is recognized by a change in color, or a change in the beaks texture, and your bird’s loss of appetite.
It is much easier to tell if a parrot as an infection if your bird has a light-colored beak because it is clearer to tell.
Brownish or black spots can be an indication of anything from mites, bacterial infection to cancer.
As with most things, if you are worried that your parrot’s beak discoloration may be caused by an infection, mites, or even cancer, always bring them to see a veterinarian.
How does diet affect changes in beak color?
Diet is critically important to overall parrot health, and through the look and color of a parrot’s beak you can tell you if your bird is missing something in its diet.
Because of the keratin in beaks and human fingernails, they are both often a good indication of overall health.
If your bird is healthy then its beak will be deeply filled with its natural color and is not flaking or splitting.
When a beak looks bright and thick, your parrot is likely on a healthy and nutritious diet.
When a beak’s color is faded, or dull, try increasing the nutrition in your parrot’s food.
Some owners have noticed that their bird has discoloration due to malnutrition when only fed a seed diet which often lacks in many important elements of healthy food.
A seed only diet could result in your parrot’s beak turning black because of a lack of vitamins and minerals, or even too much fat in their only seed diet.
Malnutrition often occurs when your parrot is not lacking some of the essential vitamins it needs to remain healthy.
Vitamins A and vitamin D, as well as iron and calcium are often the nutrients missing and causing malnutrition.
It is also indicated by a flaky, dry-looking beak, beak overgrowth, and beak softening.
A lack of minerals can be indicated by a change in your parrot’s beak color, but often the lack of minerals is not anything to be worried about and doesn’t need to be encouraged in your bird’s diet.
What is beak sloughing and how does it affect the color of a beak?
You may notice some change in color or discoloration every so often with your parrot’s beak, such lines or spots that are “bone-colored.”
Although this may be alarming, having no fear! Even though a sudden change in your parrot’s beak color could be a sign of malnutrition or something else more serious, this is often a normal process called sloughing.
Beak sloughing is the healthy process of shedding.
It is essentially like the process of our hair and nail growth, where the beak will look brittle, flaky and peeling.
Because beaks are made of keratin, just like our fingernails, a new layer comes in when the old layer peels off.
There is always a fresh new layer of beak growth just under the existing beak, and through sloughing, the new beak layer emerges.
As this process occurs, it is normal to see some of the white beak below.
Sometimes the sloughing can appear alarming, but it is important to leave your parrots beak be and discourage them from rubbing their faces against surfaces to hurry along the sloughing, as they can dent or damage their beak if they choose a hard surface.
If your parrot’s flaky beak is combined with other unusual issues, it is best to take your bird for a check-up at the vet.
Do parrots’ beaks change color with age?
Yes, they do. It is quite normal for a parrot’s beak to change color as the bird ages.
As an example, some birds’ beaks change from a shiny black that look healthy, to a dull grey that may look like cause for concern.
In fact, it is more part of the aging process.
Just as their beaks changed when they were younger, they change again as they age.
Just like we get grey hair and wrinkles, your parrot may start to have a duller grey beak.