Head bobbing is a common behavior for budgies. Seeing your budgie moving its head up and down for the first time may seem strange, especially with no obvious explanation.
Budgies bob their heads for positive reasons, such as a greeting, feeding other birds, out of excitement, or when they want attention. However, there are times when head bobbing has a negative connotation, such as illness. If this is the case, your budgie’s head is bobbing involuntarily.
Budgies express themselves through various types of body language. Every move they make has a specific meaning, sometimes more than one, as with head bobbing.
Budgie Head Bobbing Meaning
When a budgie bobs its head, it’s usually because it feels good or wants attention. You’ll know if your budgie is bobbing its head for a good reason if it’s also singing or making happy sounds.
It could also have seen you bob your head up and down for some reason and is now mimicking you. Budgies love to mimic the sounds and movements they see happening around them.
Here are some reasons your budgie may be moving its head up and down:
Baby budgies bob their heads and cry to let their parents know they’re hungry.
As the baby budgies age, they may still try to bob their heads at their parents for food, but their parents will start to ignore it to encourage them to fend for themselves.
Budgies can dance, and they have rhythm. According to Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, budgies were provided with acoustically- and visually-indicated tempos at various frequencies.
The budgies were trained to tap in rhythm with the tempos. They could tap in rhythm to slow and more rapid tempos and even started leading the beat after mastering the task.
If your budgie is bobbing its head whenever you play music, it’s likely because it saw you doing the same thing at some point and is mimicking you.
Play music with different tempos and beats, and watch as your budgie attempts to keep up.
Budgies are active and social birds that always like to have something to do. If your budgie has run out of things to keep it entertained, it may be bobbing its head because it’s bored.
If it happens frequently or as soon as you enter a room, it may be doing it to get your attention.
If boredom is the case, your budgie may combine the head bobbing with destructive behaviors, such as feather plucking or flying around recklessly.
Your budgie may head bob to get your attention for reasons other than boredom.
If it hasn’t seen you in a while or if it just wants you to spend some time with it, it may bob its head, start moving about the cage, or chirping and making noises.
If you have more than one bird, the attention-seeking budgie may be doing so because it feels neglected or jealous that you’re giving other birds or things more attention.
Sometimes budgies want someone to interact with it.
Some budgies, especially males, can get quite territorial and bob their heads or make loud noises to threaten whatever or whoever is invading their space.
The head bobbing is an attempt to show the intruder that it’s not afraid and is ready to defend itself.
Sometimes budgies will involuntarily bob their heads because they have an illness causing it.
According to the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science, head bobbing accompanied by periods of closing their eyes indicates a severe illness.
If it’s an issue with the head, brain, or an ear infection, the head may tilt to one side.
No one sickness causes budgies to bob their heads up and down, so if you notice it happening and think it’s sick, you should take your budgie to a vet to be examined.
Some budgies may show unusual behaviors when stressed out, such as head bobbing, pacing, screaming, or toe-tapping.
Budgies can become stressed out for various reasons, such as changes in their environment, adding a new bird to its cage, or unusually loud noises.
They may also become stressed if they’ve been cooped up for too long in their cage. Letting your budgie out to fly around and spread its wings will help to decrease its stress level and bring it back to a more contented mood.
Happy or Excited
Budgies will bob their heads to show they’re happy or excited about something. It could be something as small as seeing you walk into a room.
Sometimes there isn’t a specific reason your budgie bobs its head, and it may just do so because it’s content and happy with what’s happening around it.
You may often see birds outside bobbing their heads as they walk. This is a natural thing for birds of all types to do, as they do so to stabilize themselves when they have their eyes focused on something.
Bobbing their heads helps keep their balance, sharpens their vision, and gives them depth perception.
Why Do Male Budgies Bob Their Heads?
Male budgies will often bob their heads to attract a female as a mate.
Along with bobbing their heads, they’ll also perform a mating dance; they may flash their feathers at the female and make noises as if they’re flirting.
When the male and female are in the same cage, the male will continue to bob its head at the female until she gives in, and mating occurs.
The male’s cue that the female wants to mate with him happens when she begins making noises to flirt back, and she creates a nest for her eggs.
If the male and female are in separate cages, the male will persistently bob its head at the female and likely won’t stop until the female lets him know that she isn’t interested.
If there’s a mirror in your budgie’s cage, your budgie may start trying to impress his reflection, thinking it’s another bird.
Why Do Female Budgies Bob Their Heads?
Female budgies bob their heads at male budgies for mating purposes as well. However, there are other reasons females bob their heads:
Feeding Their Mates
It may sound gross, but female budgies bob their heads in preparation for regurgitating their food so they can feed it to their mate. This is a gesture of love between female and male budgies.
Female budgies have regurgitated onto mirrors, toys, and even their owners. If your female budgie throws up on you, take it as a sign that she likes you and is letting you know in her way.
Considering she’ll have to bob her head to work the digested food back up, at least you’ll get a warning that it’s about to happen, so you can try to avoid it.
Budgie mothers feed their babies regurgitated food the same way they feed their mates with it. The act of working the food up causes them to bob their head.
If a female budgie has a lot of babies to feed, the process can be long and intense, with the head bobbing increasing as she works to regurgitate enough food for her chicks.