It is a common belief that all birds smell, but that is far from the truth. Although different parrots have different smells that are unique to their species there should be no “odor” coming from your bird.
Your bird’s normal scent should be minimal, and you will hardly notice it unless you start sniffing your parrot on purpose.
So, what are the reasons why your bird smells? Simply put it, parrots don’t smell bad, but poor hygiene, hormonal changes, diet, bad breath or illness can cause an unpleasant birdy odor. If you notice that your bird smells more than usual, you should take it to be checked out by an avian vet.
As we said all bird species have a unique smell, which is barely noticeable when a parrot is completely healthy. For example, birds with powder down their feathers can smell significantly different than those without it.
Generally speaking, Amazons have a musky smell to them, Cockatiels have a slightly dusty odor, and some birds smell like the last thing they ate. Here are the things you should look out for:
1. Poor hygiene
If you don’t keep your parrot’s cage clean and bath him frequently he is bound to become smelly. Although your bird’s poop won’t smell repulsive if cleaned regularly, it will develop a distinctive foul smell if left uncleaned for several days.
Consequently, the odor can attach itself to your bird’s wings and make it smell really bad. That’s why it is best to line the bottom of the cage with newspaper and change them weekly or more often, depending on the amount of mess your parrot creates.
You can also use another bedding than newspaper if you want. We have created an article about the best beddings for bird cages here!
Also, don’t forget to properly disinfect the whole cage once in a month. To save some money, you can also clean your cage with vinegar. We show you how to do that here!
Besides that, it is also possible to clean the birdcage with a mix of baking soda and lemon water. We show you how you can do that in this article on parrots and lemons!
Furthermore, poor personal hygiene can make your parrot smell stranger than usual. Birds that aren’t bathed frequently will start to smell “dirty” after some time.
A bird that isn’t bathed often will also pick up odors from cooking or cigarettes if you are a smoker which will settle onto its feathers and create a rather unpleasant odor.
Keep in mind that getting rid of the smell of cigarette smoke can be difficult, and you will have to bathe your parrot a few times before the odor is completely gone.
Generally, you should bath your bird no less than twice a week. Some parrots love to be bathed so much that they don’t mind doing it every or every other day.
When batting your parrot make sure that you do it with lukewarm water and to dry him afterward, especially during the winter or if you have an AC on during the summer months.
Some parrots love taking showers with their owners, but if that isn’t an option for you, install shower perches, spray bottles, or a cage mounted bath bowl so your bird can wash alone. Read our parrot shower guide to learn exactly what you need to do to make the shower successful!
On the other hand, if your pet bird doesn’t like bathing you will have to mist his feathers in order to keep him clean. In most cases, drinking water should do the trick and will prevent your bird from developing a strong odor.
Before we move on to the next point, we want to give you 10 birdcage cleaning tips that will make your life way easier – Read our article with cleaning tops here!
There isn’t an illness that will cause a parrot’s body to smell bad, however certain health issues can cause your bird’s poop to smell really bad.
Generally, bird droppings don’t have a bad smell, if you clean them regularly. But if they are left to sit and accumulate for a couple of days, they will start to stink.
While your bird won’t smell any different if sick, you will realize that something is wrong if its poop smells out of the ordinary. If this is the case, you should take your pet parrot to an avian vet as soon as you can and have him checked out.
A change in your bird’s hormone levels can elevate its normal scent and make it stronger. For example, male parrots will smell a bit stronger during the mating season.
Also, it isn’t uncommon for a parrot’s smell to change according to its mood. When happy or excited, some parrots smell differently.
The happy type of smell is most often described as being fruity and it isn’t unpleasant at all.
On the other hand, a parrot can smell really bad when anxious or stressed out. Amazons, for example, put off a strong musky smell when they are stressed out.
It usually takes a couple of days for the stressed-out bird smell to go away, and is something you will just have to accept.
On the positive side, you will now know that your bird can smell bad when stressed out, which will give you a chance to figure out what is stressing your feathered pet and hopefully remove the stressor.
4. Bad breath? This might be the problem
Bad breath is not commonly seen in birds, but it can still happen. Crop conditions are the most common cause of bad breath and depending on a type of crop problem, your parrot may need antibiotics.
Besides crop problems, an infection in the mouth or throat, certain disorders of internal organs, or candida can cause your parrot to have stinky breath.
While there are many home remedies which you can try to get rid of the bad breath, it is best if you take your pet bird to a vet to be properly examined and treated for the right condition.
When you think about it, it actually isn’t surprising that your parrot’s diet can affect the way he smells. Generally, pet birds that eat fresh fruits and vegetables can smell a lot like the last thing they ate.
This type of smell usually clears a few hours after the meal, if your bird doesn’t eat the same thing again.
You should keep in mind that seeds and pellets can also change your parrots smell. These smells are completely normal and there is nothing you should worry about.
If you think that your pet parrot smells bad because of its diet, you should try to feed more fruits since they result in a sweet and pleasantly fruity smell.
How do you get rid of bird smell? In order to keep your home smelling nice, you will have to keep your parrot’s cage and bowls clean. It is best if you get rid of wet bird food after each meal since it can rot and stink up the entire house. Furthermore, vacuum and sweep under the cage every day in order to remove seeds, debris, and feathers, and clean the cage thoroughly once a week.
What smells do birds hate? While birds possess olfactory glands that enable them to smell different things they don’t rely on the sense of smell as much as people do. However, birds dislike certain smells, and some are even toxic to them. Some examples include cigarettes, hairspray, perfume, aftershave, scented candles, paint, and glue just to name a few.
How do I make my house smell good with birds? Since air fresheners are dangerous to parrots you will need to find less toxic ways to keep your home smelling great. You can spray undiluted white vinegar into the air to get rid of smells. As an alternative, take a small bowl of baking soda and add cinnamon and nutmeg in it and leave it to freshen your home.