Why Is My Bird Shaking?

Seeing your bird shake or tremble can be concerning. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the potential causes and recommended responses to a bird that is exhibiting body tremors or shaking.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick overview: Shaking in birds can signal illness, injury, fear, or simply grooming. It’s important to evaluate any other symptoms and your bird’s situation to determine if veterinary attention is needed.

Normal Causes of Bird Shaking

It is natural for birds to shake or shiver occasionally as part of their normal behavior. This shaking can be attributed to several reasons, including preening and feather care, stretching wings and legs, and fluffing feathers.

Understanding these normal causes can help bird owners differentiate between normal behavior and potential health issues.

Preening and Feather Care

Birds are meticulous groomers and spend a significant amount of time preening their feathers. Preening involves straightening and aligning feathers, removing dirt and debris, and redistributing natural oils to keep their plumage in optimal condition.

During this process, birds may shake their bodies to help settle their feathers into place. This shaking helps them maintain their insulation and regulate body temperature.

Additionally, birds may shake after bathing or being exposed to water. This behavior helps them remove excess moisture from their feathers and aids in drying. So, if your bird shakes after a bath or getting wet, it is likely just part of their normal grooming routine.

Stretching Wings and Legs

Birds are highly active creatures that require regular exercise to stay healthy. One way they accomplish this is by stretching their wings and legs. When a bird stretches, it may shake its body as it extends its wings and legs to their full length.

This shaking helps to loosen up muscles and promote flexibility. It is similar to how humans may shake their limbs after prolonged periods of inactivity or a good workout.

Regular wing stretching and leg shaking are signs of a healthy and active bird. However, if you notice any abnormal or excessive shaking accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination.

Fluffing Feathers

Another reason why birds shake is to fluff up their feathers. Fluffing feathers helps birds to trap air between the feathers, creating an insulating layer that helps regulate body temperature. It is especially common for birds to fluff their feathers when they are feeling relaxed or comfortable.

This behavior can be observed when a bird is perched, resting, or even sleeping.

Fluffing feathers also helps birds to display their plumage and attract mates. Male birds, especially during mating season, may shake their bodies and fluff their feathers as part of their courtship display.

This behavior is often accompanied by singing or chirping to further attract potential partners.

Stress or Fear

One possible reason why your bird is shaking is due to stress or fear. Birds are sensitive creatures and can easily become overwhelmed in certain situations. Understanding the potential causes of stress or fear can help you address the issue and provide a more comfortable environment for your feathered friend.

New Environment

When you bring a bird into a new environment, it can be a significant adjustment for them. They may feel anxious or scared as they try to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. It’s essential to give your bird time to acclimate and provide a safe and secure space for them to explore.

Gradually introduce them to different areas of your home, allowing them to adjust at their own pace. Additionally, providing plenty of toys and perches can help create a sense of security and stimulation.

Loud Noises

Loud noises can be particularly distressing for birds. Their sensitive hearing makes them more susceptible to being startled or frightened by sudden or continuous loud sounds. Common sources of loud noises include construction work, household appliances, or even loud music.

If you notice your bird shaking in response to loud noises, try to minimize their exposure to these sounds. Move their cage to a quieter area of your home or use soundproofing materials to reduce noise levels. Creating a peaceful and calm environment can help alleviate their stress.

Travel Carrier

If your bird shakes specifically when placed in a travel carrier, it is likely due to fear or anxiety associated with the carrier itself. Birds may associate the carrier with negative experiences, such as vet visits or previous stressful trips.

To help your bird feel more comfortable, try gradually introducing them to the carrier. Leave it open in their cage and place treats or favorite toys inside to create positive associations. Regularly taking short trips in the carrier, such as around the house, can also help desensitize your bird to the carrier’s presence and reduce their fear.

Remember, every bird is unique, and it’s essential to observe their behavior and provide the necessary support and care they need. If you’re concerned about your bird’s shaking or behavior, it’s always best to consult with a qualified avian veterinarian who can provide further guidance.

Medical Causes Requiring Evaluation

If you notice your bird shaking, it is important to determine the underlying cause as soon as possible. While occasional shaking can be normal, frequent or severe shaking may indicate a medical issue that requires evaluation by a veterinarian.

There are several potential medical causes that should be considered:

Respiratory Infection

A respiratory infection, such as avian influenza or psittacosis, can cause shaking in birds. These infections can affect the bird’s respiratory system and lead to symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and shaking.

It is important to seek veterinary care if you suspect a respiratory infection, as these conditions can be serious and even life-threatening.

Neurological Disorder

Neurological disorders can also cause shaking in birds. Conditions such as seizures or tremors can result in involuntary movements and shaking. If your bird is experiencing frequent or prolonged shaking episodes, it is important to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in avian medicine.

They can perform a thorough examination and recommend appropriate diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the shaking.

Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can cause shaking in birds. This condition often occurs when a bird is not receiving enough nutrients or is experiencing prolonged periods without food. If your bird’s diet is inadequate or if they have been fasting for an extended period, it may be a contributing factor to the shaking.

In such cases, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to assess your bird’s diet and make necessary adjustments to ensure their nutritional needs are being met.

Toxin Ingestion

Shaking can also be a symptom of toxin ingestion in birds. Birds are highly sensitive to certain substances, including household cleaners, certain plants, and even some foods that are safe for humans. If you suspect that your bird may have ingested a toxin, it is essential to seek immediate veterinary care.

The veterinarian can assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment to minimize the effects of the toxin on your bird’s health.

Remember, if your bird is shaking, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. They will be able to provide the necessary evaluation and treatment to ensure your bird’s health and well-being.

What to Do If Your Bird Is Shaking

Look for Other Symptoms

If you notice that your bird is shaking, it is important to carefully observe its behavior for any other accompanying symptoms. Look out for signs such as loss of appetite, lethargy, changes in plumage, or any abnormal droppings.

These additional symptoms can provide valuable clues about the underlying cause of the shaking.

Remove Environmental Stressors

In some cases, shaking in birds can be triggered by environmental stressors. Take a close look at your bird’s surroundings and evaluate if there are any potential stressors that could be causing the shaking. This could include loud noises, sudden changes in temperature, or exposure to harmful fumes.

Removing or minimizing these stressors can help alleviate the shaking and promote a healthier environment for your feathered friend.

Provide Supportive Care

While you investigate the cause of your bird’s shaking, it is important to provide supportive care to help them feel more comfortable. Ensure that your bird has access to fresh food and water, a clean and comfortable cage, and a warm and draft-free environment.

Additionally, consider providing extra warmth by placing a heating pad or a heat lamp near the cage (but not too close to avoid burning).

Contact an Avian Veterinarian

If your bird’s shaking persists or is accompanied by worrisome symptoms, it is crucial to seek professional help from an avian veterinarian. They have the expertise to diagnose and treat various avian health issues.

A veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination, including potentially running diagnostic tests, to determine the underlying cause of the shaking. Remember, early intervention can greatly improve your bird’s chances of a full recovery.

For more information and resources on bird health and care, you can visit reputable websites such as www.aav.org or www.birdchannel.com.


Shaking and tremors in birds usually signal an underlying problem that should be addressed. While preening or feather care may cause minor shaking, significant or sudden trembling requires veterinary attention.

With close observation and prompt response, you can get your bird the right care and return to full health.

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