Sidestepping in pet birds can be defined as what people might call a dance.


Sidestepping in birds can be defined as what people might call a “dance.” However, if a parrot sidesteps (or does any other behavior) in a repetitive manner, it could be defined as a stereotypical behavior (or stereotypies). This is not a good thing.


If the “dancing” happens in response to people dancing, or to loud music being played, then it is likely a play behavior. If done repetitively for extended periods, it is likely a stereotypical behavior and is evidence of anxiety or extreme boredom. Tigers pacing back and forth in their zoo cages are classic examples of stereotypies. In the world of companion birds, members of the cockatoo family are especially prone to this.


Nothing needs to be done about a play behavior, other than enjoy it. Stereotypical behaviors, however, are another thing completely, and pet birds that are predisposed to repetitive behavior need assistance. A useful way to redirect stereotypical behaviors is to engage a bird in foraging behaviors, as this mimics natural behaviors and can involve a parrot both mentally and physically. Indeed, experts estimate that a parrot will spend at least half of its waking hours in natural foraging behaviors. For more information on this subject, see “foraging” in this index.

Disclaimer:’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.

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