When anxious, parrots may instinctively seek higher levels to increase feelings of safety, as being down low in the wild is often a position of danger, putting a prey animal like a parrot within range of terrestrial as well as flighted predators. People have been shouldering parrots for centuries, and it appears that serious problems with this practice were not common until the advent of domestically raised, human-imprinted parrots.
Parrot owners need to be aware that placing a pet parrot on the shoulder puts the bird in close proximity to a part of the person’s body (the face, eyes and ears) that the person does not want damaged. Should something startle the bird and it begins to fall, it is likely to grab anything it can, and the human anatomy can be injured inadvertently. Since correct interpretation of parrot body language can also warn of impending aggression or nervousness, shouldering prevents a person from being able to see such warnings. Therefore, should people choose to shoulder their parrots despite those potential problems, they need to take responsibility for any injuries they might incur and not blame the bird.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.