Why does My Conure Bob Its Head?

Q: My green cheek conure, skippy, has been bobbing his head up and down rapidly whenever he sees vigorously saying "yes." He just turned a year old, and he didn't shake his head at all when he was a baby. I'm worried he's having some sort of a seizure or something. Please help!
me - it's like he's having a seizure.

A: Relax, conure head bobbing is perfectly normal. They do it for several reasons:

  1. (Both Genders) Sick head shaking: When conures bob their head up and down, and they keep their beak open and make gagging noises, they could be sick. Note any chemical sprays, perfumes, household cleaners, and candles you have lit, and stop using them for your bird's health and discontinued sick head shaking.
  2. (Female) mate attracting bob: When female conures are in "the mood" they will start shaking and lowering their head, raising the tail feathers in the air. She might also start vent rubbing on objects, or your hand. Don't encourage this! From simple head shaking, it can lead to egg laying, egg binding, and death. Give her hard foods like nuts and seeds, and towel her cage longer in the mornings to stop her head shaking and mating behaviors, especially if she started during spring mating season.
  3. (Male) beak banging mating dance: When male conures want to mate, they bob their head up and down rapidly, climb to the highest point in their cage, and bang their beak back and forth across the bars like an inmate banging a cup. After the spring mating season has passed, his testosterone should go down, and he'll stop this head bobbing behavior.
  4. Mate feeding head bobbing: If your conure parrot has bonded and "fallen in love" with their mate, they will violently shake their mate's beak up and down, making retching noises. This is perfectly normal behavior, and indicates that your conure is regurgitating food to his mate to express extreme affection. If you don't want your conures to start mating, it's best to separate them when you see this food sharing behavior.
  5. The "happy to see you" dance. If your conure parrot has bonded with you, they'll rapidly bob their head up and down when they see you return, and make high pitched whistling noises. They might even start to talk. It sounds like this is what you're experiencing. This rapid head movement means your conure is happy to see you, and you have a good owner to parrot bond.
If your green cheek, sun conure, blue crowned, or pearly moon conure starts bobbing up and down, don't be alarmed. All conures do this, for various emotional reasons, and with the exception of single parrots retching and gagging, head bobbing is perfectly normal behavior.
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