Why Do Parakeets Fluff Up? (There’s A Good Reason!)


Why Do Parakeets Fluff Up

Parakeets are adorable little birds that are wonderful pets. These birds have plenty of fun antics and behaviors for owners to observe, and a common behavior is to see a bird with fluffed feathers. The puffy parakeet will appear larger and fluffier than usual.

A parakeet with fluffed feathers usually means the bird is cold. Alternatively, fluffed feathers after a bath or when the bird is happy is perfectly normal. Fluffed features with other signs indicating a sick bird could cause concern.

If you notice fluffed feathers on your parakeet and your bird also seems more sluggish than usual, it could be a good indication your bird is under the weather. It is essential to have your bird seen immediately by a veterinarian. A cold bird is also cause for concern, as hypothermia can kill a bird in as little as 12 hours.

Is My Parakeet Cold?

Probably the most common reason for a fluffy parakeet is a cold parakeet. To stay healthy, a parakeet has to regulate its internal body temperature. When a parakeet is too hot or cold, it could quickly become ill, stressed, and die.

In most cases, your bird will be able to maintain the right body temperature with the added fluffed feathers, but in some cases, hypothermia could set in. If it is particularly cold in your parakeet’s room, you will usually have about thirty minutes to warm the bird back up before serious health problems set in.

How Do Parakeets Control Their Body Temperature?

Normally, a parakeet’s body temperature is controlled by its external environment. These birds are native to South America, where the ambient temperature is usually in the proper range to keep the parakeet happy. Daily exercise, sunshine, and metabolism are generally enough to keep your bird at a comfortable temperature.

Sometimes when the temperature drops, they’ll need a bit of added warmth to keep them comfortable. Parakeets will fluff their feathers up to help separate the feathers. Then, warm air is trapped between each feather, creating an added layer of warm insulation around the bird. This behavior is similar to how a human will add extra layers of clothing or wrap themselves in a blanket.

What Is a Comfortable Temperature for a Parakeet?

To keep your parakeet warm and comfortable, it is a good idea to keep your home around 70 to 75 degrees. While colder temperatures are tolerable, the bird will be happiest in warmer conditions. If your home is kept significantly cooler, especially during the winter months, adding a lamp or heat lamp to your parakeet’s room will help keep your bird warm.

How Can I Warm a Cold Parakeet?

A cold parakeet can quickly become sick, so it is essential to maintain a constant temperature for this bird. If your parakeet is too cold, you can try to put a blanket over the bird’s cage to help trap the heat around the bird. Adding a lamp or a heating lamp near the cage can also help generate much-needed heat. Continuously monitor heat lamps to ensure the bird doesn’t become too warm from the additional heat source.

What Happens if a Parakeet Gets Too Cold?

A parakeet can quickly die if the temperature gets too cold. These birds live in the tropics and are used to hot and humid temperatures. The threshold for a parakeet is anything below 40 degrees. If the room drops below this temperature, the bird can quickly die, even if exposed for short periods. Longer exposure at temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees will cause your bird to use more energy than necessary to keep warm, gradually taxing the internal organs. Hypothermia can set in after exposure for as little as 12 hours.

What Are Other Positive Reasons for a Fluffy Parakeet?

Luckily, a fluffed parakeet doesn’t always mean the bird is cold. Fluffed feathers could also be a positive sign indicating your bird is happy and perfectly healthy. Some positive reasons why your parakeet may have fluffed features include:

  • Cleaning – A parakeet will often fluff its features to help get in between each feather while preening. If your bird is in the process of cleaning itself, fluffed feathers are perfectly normal.
  • Bath – After taking a bath, a parakeet will fluff its feathers to allow airflow between each feather. Fluffing the feathers helps your parakeet dry faster.
  • Happy – When your parakeet is exceptionally happy, it may fluff its feathers. Usually, other accompanying signs of happiness are present. Your parakeet may give you a delightful chirp or rub its face and beak against your hand.

Are There Negative Reasons For a Fluffy Parakeet?

A fluffed-up parakeet is cute and cuddly looking, and it can generally be a positive sign. However, sometimes a fluffy parakeet is not a good sign, and the puffed feathers could have a negative meaning. Some negative signs for a fluffy parakeet could mean:

  • Sleepy – When parakeets get sleepy and ready for bed, they will sometimes puff up their feathers. A puffy parakeet toward bedtime is normal, but a puffed parakeet during the day could indicate that your parakeet isn’t getting enough sleep or restless sleep.
  • Upset – When parakeets are angry or anxious, they will sometimes puff up their feathers. If you notice your parakeet is extra fluffy, look for other physical signs that your bird may be stressed or anxious.
  • Illness – If your bird isn’t feeling well, it may fluff its features. This physical response to illness is often the most common and first sign bird owners will notice. Be sure to look for other signs that your bird could be under the weather.

How Can I Tell If My Parakeet Is Sick?

Parakeets may start to show symptoms of being ill that are hard to notice, but careful observation should tell the pet owner that something is upsetting the bird. Along with unusually fluffed feathers, owners may also see:

  • Little Response – Parakeets are usually highly attuned to their environment. A bird that doesn’t respond to changes or react when you walk into the room could be sick.
  • Lethargy – A bird that is not as active as usual or spends long periods sleeping and resting could fight off illness.
  • Sitting – Your bird may be simply sitting at the bottom of the cage rather than on a perch or swing.
  • Discharge – Like when people get sick, a bird might have discharge from the nostrils or eyes.
  • Quiet – Although parakeets are not exceptionally loud birds, and the utterly silent bird is cause for concern. Your bird may not chirp and squawk like normal.

If symptoms persist, it is best to take your bird to the veterinarian. Small birds like parakeets can decline quickly when ill, so time is of the essence to help your bird recover.

What Possible Diseases Impact Parakeets?

Although parakeets are generally healthy birds with few medical concerns, certain diseases are prone in this species. Some of the most common diseases that impact parakeets include:

  • Cancerous Tumors – Parakeets are particularly susceptible to cancers impacting the reproductive organs or the kidneys. Tumors will appear on the leg, which often looks like your bird simply has an injury.
  • Psittacosis – Often called parrot fever, this is a common illness with parakeets. The disease spreads rapidly between birds, so it is commonly seen in pet stores where parakeets are kept in large groups. Symptoms include respiratory distress and possibly a swollen abdomen.
  • Goiter – Parakeets are prone to goiter, especially if they only eat seeds. This disease causes hypothyroidism due to a lack of iodine. The thyroid gland will swell and not function properly, leading to a squeaky voice and excessive weight game.
  • Egg Binding – Reproductive issues are common in parakeets. Egg binding occurs when a female parakeet can lay eggs but does not have the proper diet to allow the body to form an egg. This disease is common in parakeets with a seed-only diet and often lacks the necessary Vitamin D and calcium to form and lay an egg properly.
  • Fatty Liver Disease – Hepatic lipidosis, or Fatty Liver Disease, is common with overweight birds with an all-seed and high-fat diet. Symptoms include tumors that form under the wings and on the abdomen.

Related Questions

Do Parakeets need regular baths?

Regular baths are essential for a parakeet to stay clean and healthy. You can purchase birdbaths specially designed for small birds like parakeets. Other vessels, like a plant saucer, could also be used as a birdbath. Some parakeets enjoy “showering” in a small trickle of water from the faucet, while others will enjoy a light spray or mist from a spray bottle. Give your parakeet a bath or a spray about once every two or three days to keep its feathers in great shape.

Can parakeets catch a cold?

Because birds hold different internal temperatures, most human diseases like the common cold cannot be passed along to your bird. However, different avian diseases could still pose a problem. Birds can be susceptible to certain diseases that mimic the human flu or cold symptoms. Be sure to have your bird examined immediately if your bird shows symptoms of illness.

Related Guides

Pet Advisers Team

Our team is composed of pet care professionals, veterinarians, and pet owners. To date, we've conducted thousands of hours of research to publish the most accurate pet information. Most of the writers on our site are vets with 10+ years of clinical experience, ranging from small practice, to equine practice, academia, and surgery. Our goal is to help every pet owner get the information they seek about their dear companions.

Recent Posts