I’ve recently welcomed a new species of parrot into my home that I’ve never owned before: the beautiful conure.
We’ve been getting to know each other and have been hitting it off really well.
I’ve been learning all of his different behaviors and what they mean, but there’s one that I’ve been struggling to get to grips with—the head bobbing.
He does it a lot, and in a lot of different contexts, so I’ve been trying to figure out what it means.
Without any luck, I decided to do some research.
So, why do conures bob their heads?
Head bobbing can mean a few different things. It can be the bird’s way of bonding with you. It can mean the conure is excited, anxious, or even sick. For male conures, it can also mean they want to mate. It could be as simple as hunger. There’s a broad spectrum of meanings—you’ll have to deduce from context.
Parrot behavior is complex, and understanding your parrot’s needs is something you will learn to do with time.
Conures bobbing their heads in particular can mean a wide array of things, both good and bad, and it will become easier to interpret as time goes on.
Let’s look further into this.
What does it mean when my conure bobs its head?
So, as I said, it can indicate a wide variety of things.
Don’t panic, though, if you do see this behavior—the likelihood is that one of the simpler answers is the right one, in most cases.
First and foremost, if your bird appears to be bobbing its head and is in a good mood, then it may be doing it to bond with you.
It’s a simple way of communicating and showing that they are feeling happy, and can create a connection with you.
You might even want to try bobbing your head back to it.
On the other hand, it could indicate something more emotional about the bird.
It could be excited—it may bob its head a lot when you come back to it after a while away, for example.
It might be anxious, restless, wanting to play or explore. In some cases, constant head bobbing could indicate some kind of illness.
Speak to a vet if it seems to be bobbing its head excessively.
It could even just be hungry.
Make sure they have plenty of food if you are noticing it bobbing its head at you in a less-than-playful way.
How to stop conure bobbing its head
For this question, it’s again important to stress that bobbing their heads is often an entirely normal behavior for a conure.
They do it for many reasons, a lot of them good. It’s part of how conures, and many other parrots, communicate.
If it’s just bonding, or excited, then there’s no need to try and stop head bobbing. It’s completely normal.
On the other hand, if you think there is something wrong with the conure, then try and eliminate possibilities.
Hunger is the first and easiest to dismiss—give it a treat or some more food.
If it seems anxious, spend some time with it attempting to calm it down.
Play with toys and speak to it—your voice will soothe it.
If nothing seems to work, then you need to speak to a vet.
Why do conures puff up?
Another common behavior you will notice in your conure is puffing up.
Many birds do this, and there are, again, a lot of reasons why they might.
However, puffing up is often a much more worrisome behavior, so you need to keep a close eye on this.
Puffing up can be an aggressive, fear-based response.
They may be feeling angry or afraid, and this has led to aggression.
Puffing up is a way of making themselves looking bigger, in an attempt to ward off aggressors.
It can also be a friendly, relaxed sign. If the conure is closing its eyes, then it may just be taking a nap.
It can also be a sign of some excitement.
Again, the only way you can properly interpret these signals is by getting to know your bird.
You will know what it is reacting to, and what its body language means, once you have gotten to know it.
How do you tell if a conure likes you?
Again, the only sure way you are going to be able to tell if you’re conure likes you is by getting to know it.
Any of the behaviors we’ve listed above could be part of its overall indication that it likes you and is bonded with you.
They will enjoy getting close and personal with you, preening and being preened.
They will tend to be a lot more vocal around you and others they like—and their head bobbing is often a happy dance they will do for you.
They will spend a lot of time trying to get your attention, too.
So, more or less anything they do to get you to notice them is probably a good indication that they like you.
Head bobbing is among the more common and predictable behaviors of conures, then.
They do it a lot to indicate a wide range of emotions and needs, so your only real option is to take the time to get to know your conure.
Head bobbing can be as simple as displaying that they are hungry, or as complex as indicating a need for a mate.
Get to know your conure, and you’ll understand its needs better.