Why Do Birds Fluff Up Their Feathers?

Wondering why birds fluff their feather up? We are going to discuss this in this article.

Birds fluff their feather to keep themselves warm by trapping their body heat or cooling themselves down. It can also mean they are relaxed and comfortable.

Feathers fluff up due body temperature regulation

If you have a pet bird that is doing this and is not acting sleepy or relaxed, and if the feathers are “shivering”, it means the bird is cold. If it’s your pet bird, do him a favor and set the thermostat higher.

In the wild, usually, birds fluff their feathers and spread their wings to regulate their temperature. Feathers provide insulation and are coated with an oil that promotes waterproofing.

Birds fluff up their feathers in the cold so they trap as much air as possible in tiny pockets of air to hold in body heat. Wild birds also roost together or find tree cavities to keep heat.

Fluffing for the Sun

Fluffing up feathers, especially underneath the sunlight, means that the bird is sunbathing. Sunbathing is done so birds take advantage of the morning sun’s warmth to raise its temperature and help with insulation. In general, birds maintain their body temperature at a lower level at night and need the sunlight to divert the chill of the night.

By doing that, birds can keep a warm body temperature without spending as much energy from food, which is essential in cold climates areas.

Fluffing up for a breeze

During hot weather, the bird presses its feathers close to its body to eliminate the insulating air pockets so that body heat is allowed to escape

Fluffing to wind down

If your bird is all puffed and he is closing his eyes up and down, it probably means he’s ready for a nap! Birds usually puff their feathers when they are feeling drowsy and relaxed. It can also be related to blowing off some steam when anxious.

It can also mean they like you and would like to have some pets. Only pet a bird if you feel the bird is desiring interaction though.

Fluffing up to look bigger

Many animals will try to look bigger when they feel threatened. The same can happen to birds.

“I don’t feel so good” kinda of fluff

The puffing up of the feathers in birds can also indicate malaise, especially if done for extended periods of time. If a parrot feels sick for any reason, he may not only puff out his feathers, he may also rest on just one of his feet while doing so. If you notice your parrot engaging in one or both of these body signals, and looking pretty gloomy, then it may be the time to call your avian veterinarian.

The sooner you know what is ailing your parrot, the faster the vet can manage the problem for you.

Infuriated fluff

“You messed with the wrong guy” kind of fluff happens when all feathers stick out dramatically and they seem like they are ready to battle, hissing and opening their beaks. It can also be related to mating behavior.

More about Bird’s body language

Birds have some involuntary body language clues that are easy to catch up after you become acquainted. These clues are relevant because they will help you understand your birds’ needs and behaviors.

For instance, you don’t want to try to pet your bird if he’s showing signs of aggression.

How to identify that the parrot is happy

When your bird is all puffed out, or cleaning their feathers (preening) or clicking their beak a bit softly with open, undilated eyes, that’s a general guide that the bird is happy and calm. The bird is at rest and comfortable. If you are familiar with the bird, that could be a good moment to approach, pick them up, or pet them.

For Amazons, African Greys, and Macaws, try to watch for their pupils. If they are large, it means they are relaxed.

Relaxed signs

  • Click beaks
  • Feathers puffing up
  • Head bends down for pets

When not to approach a parrot

When a bird’s eyes get very tiny, they stand very still, their body is very slim (feathers pulled in close/slick and not puffed out) or you see any erratic tail/wing movements, that’s usually an indication the bird is excited. Excited can be considered potentially aggressive.

Cockatoos, for instance, are really hyperactive and entertain themselves in odd ways. While excitement can mean a good thing, such as crested going up, bobbing of the head, hopping and more, it can also mean that you should be a bit more careful when handling a bird in this state. Overexcited birds might bite in 50% of the cases.

A bird will always show signs of it being uncomfortable, such as the pinning of the pupils (dilate pupils), tail flaring, the opening of the beak, hissing. As mentioned, these are all involuntary movements that they can’t control so you know exactly when they are uncomfortable.

Caution signs

  • Open beak
  • Feathers slick to their body
  • Hissing
  • Panting (for sexually aroused parrots)
  • Crest goes up
  • Tail flaring
  • Dilate pupils (smaller pupils)

Never approach a bird while with open wings, open beak, and hissing. You will probably get bitten. Ideally, wait for the bird to calm down. if you really have to approach him (for bringing to a vet or avoiding a dangerous situation) be prepared to do the “towel burrito mode”, while accepting that you may get harmed in the process. Be careful not to hurt the bird in the process.

What to avoid when handling parrots

Not showing confidence

Birds can tell when you are afraid or insecure. And guess what? They get insecure too! It’s very important to demonstrate confidence and don’t get started by every single move the bird does.

Ignoring the warning signs

Remember, if the bird is not in the mood, he will demonstrate at least one or two warning signs mentioned above.

Touching the sexual areas

Never touch the back and under the wings areas. It’s a very sexual area and it will induce birds to be sexually frustrated. Sexually frustrated birds turn to be aggressive and anxious.

How do you know if the bird trusts you?

When birds are comfortable around someone, they tend to puff their feathers. This is usually a signal they like to be around you.

Do parrots love their owners or they just get used to them?

They love you. Honestly, the problem is more when they love you TOO much. Parrots can be quite clingy. As their owner, you’re part of their flock and they love to spend time with you.


Bird behavior can be pretty hard to predict, but nothing that time and patience can’t help. Fluffing feathers is usually a good signal in your interaction with your pet bird. For birds in the wild, it means they are trying to handle the weather conditions and keep themselves warm or cool.