A bird rubs its beak back and forth on a stationary object such as a perch. This gesture is often performed immediately after a parrot eats something that sticks on its beak, essentially using the wiping surface (such as your shoulder) as a napkin.
This gesture can also be an expression of territoriality, identifying the surface as something (or someone) parrots appear to think belongs to them.
As previously stated, this can be a grooming action to clean a parrot’s beak. If food is not involved, it can also be a territorial behavior.
If used as a grooming aid, owners can teach their birds to tolerate having their beaks wiped off with a napkin. This can decrease the need to chip dried yams off of perches. If used as a territorial gesture, people should become more alert as to what the bird is saying, as many birds announce territory in this manner prior to feeling the need to defend said territory. If ignored, aggression can follow.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.