Animals may not have the power of linguistic speech to the extent that humans do, but they have many ways of communicating with each other and with us. If you’re a pet owner, you know this – and if you have a budgie, you also know that these adorable little birds are smart, have many ways of interacting with you, and of letting you know how they feel.
If you’re fortunate and patient enough to have developed a close relationship with your budgie, then you know they have an array of charming ways to let you know how they feel. It could be an enthusiastic chirp, a funny tilt of the head, a playful leap onto your arm, or even cuddles and kisses. Your budgie wants you to know how it feels about you!
But these birds come from an environment that is very different from the ones that we are most accustomed to. They are jungle birds, and like other popular pet birds, their evolutionary heritage makes them quite unique.
Their bright colors, gregarious habits, and their penchant for frequent chirping and singing is an adaptation to living among thick, heavy foliage. The dense jungle canopy makes it necessary for the budgie to be loud both visually and vocally in order to communicate with their fellow birds.
Most bird owners understand this. But if your budgie loves you, there’s one gesture that’s not so easy to understand, closing their eyes.
Here, we’ll explore this interesting behavior and explain why they do it and what it means.
Ways to Tell Your Budgie Loves You
It can seem pretty counterintuitive to think of the reasons such a small and vulnerable creature would close its eyes in your hands. But a budgie has a number of ways to tell you it likes you and feels safe with you. These include;
- Closeness (proximity): One of the first ways your budgie will show you it is learning to trust you is voluntary closeness. First, it will stand near you in its cage. When your budgie trusts you enough and you let it out of its cage, it may move close you, or even jump onto your arm. This is just the beginning of the sweetness a budgie can express.
- Cuddling: One of the surest signs that your budgie likes and trusts you is by cuddling. They have been known to rub their owners with their heads, and even lay down on shoulders, stomachs, and hands. When this happens, the eye-closing behavior is not far off.
- Wing Sign Language: If a bird is afraid or uneasy, it will not raise its wings except to escape. When your budgie trusts you, it may stretch its wings slowly and for a fairly long period of time. This is a position of vulnerability for a bird, so it is a sure sign that they feel safe. The slower and broader that stretch of the wing, the more at ease the animal feels.
- Tail Talk: Like a domesticated dog, many domestic birds will actually “wag” their tail feathers when they are pleased to see you, are amused or want to play. Of course, with a bird, it could also mean that they are about to relieve themselves. But with pet birds, the occasional errant poop is just something we have to learn to live with. Always keep a wet nap, spray bottle, and hand towel ready any time you let your budgie leave its cage. Do not try to punish them or potty train them. In all likelihood, you’ll just make the budgie feel confused and lose trust in you.
- Posture: Like any animal, an alert or alarmed budgie will stand erect, crouch down, and just look generally tense. A relaxed budgie will soften its posture. You will notice the lack of tension in the way they hold their bodies when they are relaxed and at ease. This is the time to play with them and build up your bond.
- Hanging Upsidedown: This is yet another pose in which the bird is quite vulnerable. If your budgie hangs upside down, it is a sign of both playfulness and trust. Take this opportunity to play with her, because that’s almost certainly what she wants.
Why Your Budgie Closes His Eyes When You Talk to Him
If you saw our article on how to help a shy budgie get over his fear, then you got a brief introduction to our first budgie, Bartleby. Bartleby was very shy and fearful at first.
But over time, he became totally comfortable and trusting. Once he stopped being afraid and started enjoying interacting with us, he slowly became more and more expressive, affectionate, and just downright lovable.
Today, he anxiously anticipates any opportunity to be close to us- so much so that we have to be careful when lounging on the couch with him for fear that he could get hurt if he were to curl up under a sleeping human!
He won our hearts with his sweetness and his funny, playful attitude. But we were delighted when, for the first time, he closed his eyes and curled up against my shoulder when I was speaking to him softly one day.
But the question is, why would a budgie close his eyes? There are a number of reasons a playful jungle bird would do that. But to understand why you first have to understand a little bit about common animal psychology.
While animals do not have complex speech patterns as we do, they do have ways to tell you what they see, feel, and perceive. In most species, these means of communication have a direct relationship to dangers that are readily present in their natural environment.
Baboons, for example, have a tendency to develop a noise that means “snake” and a noise that means “food.” Interestingly, the neural networks that trigger the “snake” word reflex are very similar in nature to the neural networks that motivate humans to use four-letter words.
So, when a baboon makes the sound that means “snake,” it feels a lot like it does when you stub your toe and shout “#%$&.”
The point is that danger is the central theme around which most means of animal communication revolve. If you have owned your budgie for some time, you may be well aware of what he or she sounds like when she is afraid, lonely, hungry, and so on.
So it would seem that curling up in your hand, closing its eyes, or tilting their head and rubbing against you in the way that a budgie will do, would be a response to a feeling of an absolute lack of danger – but not only that.
It is a response to a perception of total safety, but also to the feeling of being in the presence of a being who will care for the budgie no matter what. In other words, it’s very much as if the budgie has accepted you as its mother in a sense.
Of course, it’s quite common for animals of all kinds to display this type of behavior, cleaving to the mother, and showing signs of comfort, even a calm sort of revelry. It’s a pretty simple idea, really.
But to fully appreciate the experience the budgie in this condition is having, it will help to see the world through her eyes. Imagine a super intelligent and loving giant had taken you in and decided to see to your care. It might help to imagine the giant has a coat of luxurious fur.
At first, you might be quite frightened of the giant – and understandably so. But in time, you would begin to learn that the giant means you no harm and will actually protect and take care of you, even cuddle you.
As strange as that might seem, it could be expected that in time you would begin to feel supremely safe and comfortable in the hand of your caring, cuddly giant.
You might even curl up and close your eyes. This is how your budgie feels when it closes its eyes, and relaxes into the crook of your arm, hand, or shoulder.
Of course, we are not pets and do not have much of these kinds of instincts. But budgies do, and they are just waiting for the chance to show you their sweet side. Pretty darn cute isn’t it?