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Parrot Care Advice | by Jamieleigh

When Birds Preen You

When Birds Preen You

I've always liked it when other people would play with my hair or do it for me. But it's really something else when your bird starts preening your hair for you! My parrots will do it every so often. Cressi dislikes hair, it just bothers and irritates her. Bondi, however, will make sure to fix it if she sees it and my toucan, Fiji, loves preening my hair when it's long.  

Toucan Preening Jamieleigh
Photo by Dave Location: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands Preener: Swainson Toucan "Fiji"  

While performing nightly in Saipan, she would sit on the back of my chair as I applied my make up before the show and preen my long locks. It's the funniest feeling from a toucan, as they click and snap and seem to have a harder time with it than parrots. Or perhaps they just aren't as graceful!

When we were traveling upon cruiselines we had bunk beds in our room and I got the top bunk. We would lay a towel down below and Fiji would get to sleep on the safety rail attached to my bunk. She loved it there, as it was her favorite spot to be all the time! Before bed each night, she would hop onto the bed and up my back and begin to preen my hair before we went to sleep. I'd be laying on my stomach reading a book as she would accomplish all this and it always put her in a very playful and loving mood.

Then, when she decided it was time for bed, she would pull the covers off me until I turned out the light. Within seconds, her tail was flipped up and she was fast asleep.

It always amazes me how gentle they are when preening me; it makes me feel so cared for and loved by my birds. Like a true part of the flock!

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.


  • Hello,

    I saw that you hand-fed almost all your parrots.
    I was wondering if it was better? I heard that it is better to let the breeder do it because when parrots grow, they see you as a “mom” (or dad) and they reject you because they want to find a mate and don’t want to be with their “mommy” anymore.
    What do you think about that?
    I have two conures that were hand-fed by their respective breeders.
    They are lovely birds. One day, I want to get a Rose Breasted Cockatoo and I was wondering if I should finish to hand-fed him/her (I know how to do it) or should I let the breeder do it to not have those problems when the bird comes to his age of sexual maturity? Do you have a better relationship with the birds you hand-fed?

    Thank you for your answer :)
    (sorry if my english is not perfect, I am from France and english is not my 1st language).

    Lauren Bauer on

  • wow, beautiful bird. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be have a toucan. My lovebird preens my skin and boy does that hurt!!!

    yang t on

  • Hey :]

    I just read your blog about Rosebreasted cockatoos. I think there is some misinformation or missing information. I have two Gahals. One boy (7 years old) and one girl (4 years old). They are by far my favorite bird. Please, don’t forget to write that these birds are definatly NOT for everyone! If they aren’t taken to lots of new places and outside a lot before they turn 1 then they become almost phobic. My boy is afraid of everything and everyone he doesn’t know. We’ve been working with him on this since he was 1 year old. It makes him a verry difficult pet to have. Even going outside farther then the yard is a frightening expirience for him. He’s even afraid of gnats if they fly too close to him. This is really common for Gahals.


    They require 100% of you’re constant attention and get REALLY upset if they can’t constantly see you. My boy is attached to my mom and the girl to me. (She doesn’t like boys so she prefers me to to him), When we leave and they’e home alone togethe it’s terrible on them. These birds are ONLY for people who have A LOT of time to spend with them. They’re ok just being in the same room as us but if we’re in the other room and they can’t see us they act like we’re leaving forever. Please stop recomending this type of bird to people!!! I love my Gahalas more than anything and would never want to see any bird in a home it’s not happy in. Verry few people have the time, knowledge, and attention to give to any parrot, let alone one like this.

    Tynesha Holbert on

  • Thank you! If you ever have any suggestions for topics you want to hear about, let me know! :)

    Jamieleigh on

  • Thank you for your response.
    It makes sense.
    I am a big fan of you and your birds. I love all your videos, pictures and articles so keep posting for us :)
    Even from the other side of the ocean, i read you everyday here on that website and also on your “birdTricks” facebook!

    Lauren Bauer on

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