Why Do Birds Like To Pick At Teeth? [ANSWERED! + FAQs]


If you’ve ever owned a bird, you’ll know that birds somehow are so obsessed with our teeth. I’ve always wondered this question: “why do birds like to pick at teeth?” If you’re also curious, don’t worry, I’ve done extensive research on this and came up with a definitive answer. Here’s the answer that I found:

Most birds like to pick at teeth due to these four main reasons:

  1. To express their desire to bond with their owner or mate
  2. To indicate their desire to be fed from their parents’ beaks
  3. To feed their bonded mate beak to beak
  4. To preen their bonded mate

You may now begin to get curious about why on earth birds like to pick at our teeth! Don’t worry, in this article, I will be covering explaining these reasons and share some funny examples and FAQs so we can all learn about our favorite birds together. Read on for more!

Why Do Birds Like To Pick At Teeth? (FULL Answer)

If you’re a bird owner, you’ve probably noticed this weird thing that birds love to do: to pick and obsess about our damn teeth! Many proud parents of pet birds also share this common phenomenon. Many times, when we even slightly open our mouths, our birds will go nuts!

Here are the 4 reasons why birds like to pick at our teeth:

1. To Express Desire to Bond With Their Owner/Mate

Pet birds have been bred and tamed over the years to be very affectionate to their human owners, us! However, over time, birds still have stuck to their natural methods of expressing their desire to bond with their mate. Birds typically bond or show affection to their mate by lovingly nipping and picking at each other’s beaks.

Of course, we humans do not have any beaks to pick at! Birds have over time learned that the teeth in our mouth are the most similar to their hard beaks. So they pick at our teeth! I have read in many bird forums that the moment they opened their mouths and show their teeth, their birds will go crazy and pick at them!

Now you know, it could be that they just desire to bond with you and show affection to you! Aww, those cute little feathery things.

2. To Express Desire To Be Fed From Their Parents’ Beaks

Sometimes birds may not nip and pick at teeth for bonding purposes. Birds out in the wild have instincts to be fed from their parents’ beaks from their young.

Here’s a video of how parent birds feed their baby birds in the wild:

After raising your own pet bird for a while, they may take that you are indeed their parent, and so instinctively pick at your teeth to ‘request’ for more food like how they would in the wild. Although your bird may not be young anymore, they can still feel the need to express their desire to be fed by picking at your teeth!

3. To Feed Their Bonded Mate Beak To Beak

Birds tend to feed their bonded mate from beak to beak in the wild. If you have your own pet bird, picking at your teeth might be an expression of their desire to feed you or to be fed from beak to beak. As we have no beaks, our teeth take the brunt of the picking!

Here’s a video showing how birds feed each other beak to beak:

4. To Preen Their Bonded Mate

Beyond just eating and bonding, birds also choose to pick at each other’s beaks to preen their bonded mate. Lovebirds are known to help each other preen and keep clean. For us humans, our teeth seem to be the only thing that resembles a hard beak to be cleaned.

Here’s a video example of how birds preen each other’s beaks and feathers:

Now you know all the reasons why a bird may be constantly picking at your teeth! Now make sure you take note of this:

Human saliva can contain harmful microorganisms that can overwhelm birds’ immune systems. Accidentally picking of your teeth may be fine, but please feed your bird food from your mouth as this can pass bacteria, yeast, and other microbes to your bird, making them sick!

Why Is My Bird Pecking My Teeth?

Birds peck at human teeth due to four main reasons:

  1. To express their desire to bond with their owner or mate
  2. To indicate their desire to be fed from their parents’ beaks
  3. To feed their bonded mate beak to beak
  4. To preen their bonded mate

Why Does My Bird Bite My Teeth?

Birds bite human teeth due to four main reasons:

  1. To express their desire to bond with their owner or mate
  2. To indicate their desire to be fed from their parents’ beaks
  3. To feed their bonded mate beak to beak
  4. To preen their bonded mate

Can Birds Clean Human Teeth?

Okay, you may now have this curious question: “can birds clean human teeth?”. Here’s the definitive answer:

Birds cannot clean human teeth. However, some bird owners allowed their birds to pull out their loose teeth. Allowing birds to pick at teeth is not advised as human saliva can contain dangerous bacteria that can be unsuitable for birds.

Here’s a video compilation of owners allowing their birds to pull out their teeth. This is not advised as the microorganisms in human saliva can be deadly for birds.

Why Does My Parrot Clean My Teeth?

Parrots attempt to pick and clean teeth due to four main reasons:

  1. To express their desire to bond with their owner or mate
  2. To indicate their desire to be fed from their parents’ beaks
  3. To feed their bonded mate beak to beak
  4. To preen their bonded mate

However, it is generally not advised to allow birds to pick at human teeth or mouths as human saliva can contain harmful bacteria that birds’ immune systems may not be able to fight against. More information in this article.

Is Human Saliva Toxic To Birds?

Human saliva is not toxic to birds but contains harmful microorganisms that cause infection in birds that their immune system cannot cope with. Birds can contract Candidiasis from Candida yeast in human saliva when owners feed them food from their mouths. Any contact with human saliva should be avoided in birds.

The above information is taken from an avian veterinarian as written in this article.

Why Do Birds Pull Out Teeth?

Birds pull out teeth because they have natural instincts to preen the beaks of their mates. However, birds have been known to pull out loose teeth in humans. Birds, however, should not be allowed to pull out teeth as human saliva can contain harmful microorganisms that bird immune systems cannot fight.

Final Thoughts

Now you know all the information you need about birds biting and picking at our teeth! However, we must also understand that this behavior is not recommended by veterinarians because human saliva contains a lot of microorganisms that bird immune systems cannot cope with!

If they accidentally pick our teeth, then that’s fine, but we should purposely feed them using our mouths! I hope that you’ve learned a lot through this article, and so thanks for reading. Happy birding!

My Recommended Birding Resources:

Hey there, Justin here!

Here’s a list of all my favorite resources, products, and all brands I trust and love.

Although some may be affiliate links, I will only recommend those that I think are of great value. Simply purchasing using the links helps to keep this blog running!

  • My Binoculars: The pair of binoculars that I personally use is the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars. It’s a great budget pair for beginner birders. Highly valued for its price! Read my review here.
  • Safe Paint for Bird Baths: Not any paint can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all safe paint for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Sealers for Bird Baths: Not all sealers can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all sealers for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Safe Paint for Birdhouses: Not any paint can be used to paint birdhouses. Links to all safe paint for birdhouses are in this article I wrote!
  • Birding Apps: 2 of my favorite birding apps are Merlin Bird ID, and eBird Mobile! Merlin is great for tracking and identifying birds, and eBird Mobile is great to track the birds sighted when birding. Read a post about them here.
  • Birding Websites: I’ve compiled a list of links to my top 10 recommended birding websites in a blog post. Find the links here!
  • Birding Podcasts: Birding podcasts are a great way to learn about birds. Links to the top 8 that I recommend can be found here!

Alternatively, you can check out my resources page here where I’ve compiled all the links to the above!

Justin

Justin is a hobbyist birder that hopes to share his birding knowledge with the world. His favorite bird is the Large-tailed Nightjar and he really loves potato chips!

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