An excitable bird is easily provoked into a state of agitation or irritability; they are nervous, high strung and volatile. Some avian species are more excitable than others, such as many species of small finches and psittacines, such as some members of the cockatoo family. On the other end of the spectrum, there might be more unflappable (pun intended) species, such as Amazon parrots. Also, individuals can be more excitable certain times of the year, likely related to reproductive hormone levels.
An excitable bird can be highly reactive, prone to becoming upset over such things as changes in the environment or their human’s moods. This can make them more vulnerable to negative responses to life’s normal changes, such as a high-strung African grey pulling out feathers rather than adapt to the miniscule changes in its surroundings, such as a new potted plant located near its cage.
Etiologies of excitable behaviors likely fall into the categories of nature and nurture. As mentioned, some species of birds tend to be more volatile than others, though individual behaviors vary widely. Many really high-strung species evolved this way to better survive their environments, such as the case with many small songbirds. Others might become more reactive in response to incorrect or insensitive handling.
Owners of excitable birds need to slowly and gently teach a bird that it is safe, that change is interesting and non-threatening, that life is fun and wonderful and not really that scary. With such handling, many birds evolve sufficient self-confidence that helps them be less reactive. It helps some excitable birds if they are allowed full flight indoors, but only if the environment allows for the safe keeping of a flighted bird. Allowing such a natural survival behavior often increases self-confidence exponentially. (Note: See the notes under “Fledging/Fledgling” for further discussion of this issue.) It should be noted that high-strung humans rarely mix well with excitable birds, as their own reactivity can exacerbate the problem.
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.