Do Parrots Have Sense of Smell?

It is quite challenging to believe that parrots do not have a sense of smell and taste. There is a lot of research and debate about the parrot’s smell.

It is undeniable when you think you have complete knowledge of something, and suddenly you find it irrelevant and inaccurate. It really shows how information changes with time.

Parrot’s sense of smell and taste is a vast and most debated topic for more than a century. However, after many experiments, there is no contradictory and conclusive result of the parrot’s sense of smell and taste.

Still, the results of studies in this area show that parrots have less sense of smell than people do. We are told that parrots don’t have many receptors for odor and taste buds to determine food. However, parrots respond to the food they like.

We often observe that parrots do not actively investigate something with their nostrils as mammals do with their nose. Some parrots do respond to smells and investigate everything with their nares.

This parrot is known as kaka and very popular in New Zealand. They are found on all three main islands of New Zealand and offshore islands. Kaka parrots are similar to a Kea.

They are brown in color. They quickly respond to smell. You can also experiment with this on your own. Simply press his nares against anyone’s hair or skin, they would inhale, and you can easily hear him while inhaling.

This experiment shows that there are some parrots with different kinds of habits and receptors because not every parrot responds so quickly and does not investigate things like the kaka parrot.

Studies also show that parrots do have a good sense of smell and taste. However, the process of gaining much knowledge about parrots’ smell is continuing for better results.

It is also considered that a bird’s sense of smell is based upon the olfactory glands. These are located near the base of the top mandible of their bills.

The olfactory gland gives a sense of smell and taste. Biologists assume that birds with larger olfactory bulbs and more receptor genes have a stronger sense of smell.

These receptors are not well developed in most species; therefore, they have a weak sense of smell.

Studies and experiments show that parrots have olfactory glands that help them to smell. However, not every bird has this ability.

Few birds have a strong sense of smell, some have average, and some don’t possess this ability.

Parrot Senses

Parrot Senses

There are five senses in every bird and human beings. Some have the most vital sense of vision. Some have the weakest. Some have an average sense of touch; some have outstanding.

Many people thought about how parrots smell, taste, hear, and see things. Do their senses work the same as human senses?

Let’s read about the five senses of parrots to know more about them.


Parrots do not have a good sense of taste because of the microvilli (their taste buds). Taste buds can be defined as the small hair which sends a message to the brain about different tastes.

The microvilli are not on their tongues; it is on the roof of the parrot’s mouth. Parrots can taste. However, they are limited to flavor because they have little taste buds as compared to other species.

Parrots have almost 300 taste buds at the backs of their throats, helping them develop a sense of taste.


It is presumed that parrots have a poorly developed sense of smell because smell spread out through the air, and parrots spend their time in the air.

This may be the reason for the assumption of an underdeveloped sense of smell. However, it is not true. Parrots do have a strong sense to detect odor because of their well developed olfactory glands.

Parrot’s sense of smell and taste is better than other birds because of their olfactory glands that play an essential role in their smelling power.


Parrots have a strong sense of sight. Parrots can recognize the difference in colors. They use monocular vision because the parrot’s eyes are situated on the sides of the head.

They move their heads while looking at any object because they can stare at an object with one eye at a time. A parrot’s eyesight is his clear sense than the other five senses.

They can see the colors clearly with greater vividness.

The parrot’s eyes can differentiate between similar colors like humans.

It is also a fact that parrots could see colors in the ultraviolet spectrum that humans could not.


Their ears are under their feathers that are located near or behind each eye. You can notice a minimal break in the feathers. Parrot’s ears seem like holes.

Parrots have a smaller frequency hearing range as compared to humans. However, they can recognize sound waves and easily detect where the sound is coming from.

Their sound recognition skills are good but not as good as humans.


Parrots do have a good sense of touch. They usually feel the surroundings by their feet and food by their mouths. They determine and feel what is safe or not easily to perch on and to eat.

You will notice this thing frequently when you are observing your pet. They discover and examine objects as humans do. Parrots can quickly determine which food is right for them or not by merely their mouths.

They use their feet for surface recognitions. Their feet and mouth are essential parts that parrots use for their safety and develop their sense of touch.

The Birds with Strong Sense of Smell

The Birds with Strong Sense of Smell

The sense of smell is an essential factor in birds as fish, and mammals. The sense of smell is thought to be poorly developed. However, some recent studies show that birds use their sense of smell to navigate, hunt, or even to differentiate individuals.

The famous Physiologist Bernice Wenzel (University of California) determined that various bird species actually could smell.

Many experiments and hypothesis concluded that some birds do have a strong sense of smell. The report of Helen Briggs at the BBC shows that seabirds snuffle their way around the ocean by using a smell map to find their way.

Parrots, Vultures, Sea birds, Kea, and Kaka, are some birds that have a good sense of smell.

Vultures have a strong sense of smell. They are popular to smell the corrosion from a mile away. It is one of the unique birds that have an extraordinary sense of smell.

Kaka parrots also have a great sense of smell because of their olfactory glands. These birds can actually smell food, and you can feel them while inhaling or sniffing.

The kaka parrot is similar to kea but brownish in color. They have the ability to detect odor easily.

The olfactory receptors in a bird give them an ability to feel the scent. After many experiments, it is now clearly understood that birds with larger olfactory glands can smell stronger and better than other species.

A bird could not smell as strong as mammals do. However, not every bird has the same sense of smell. Some have more substantial, and some have an average ability to detect the odor.

Do Parrots Smell Bad?

Different parrots have a distinct smell. Every bird’s scent should be minimal, until or unless you would sniff your bird on purpose. There are many reasons your bird smells terrible.

Poor hygiene, hormonal changes, diet, bad breath, or illness are the main reasons for unpleasant odor from your parrot.

All bird species do have a unique smell but unnoticeable that you can barely feel. However, if your bird smells more unusual, you have to check your bird and keep it clean as it is already mentioned that every bird smells different.

Usually, Amazons have a musky smell, Cockatiels have a dusty odor, and some birds smell like the last food they ate.

Let’s have a look at some essential points to follow to keep your parrot clean so they won’t smell bad.

It is essential to keep your parrot’s cage clean and give him a bath frequently. If you do not do that, your bird will develop an unpleasant scent. This odor or unpleasant smell can attach to your bird’s wings, and your parrot can become smelly.

Parrots that are not bathed look dirty and smell bad. You could also use vinegar to clean your bird’s cage. You can also use a mix of baking soda and lemon water for cleaning purposes.

Some health issues make your parrots smell nasty or dirty. Basically, illness is not a cause, but health issues might be. The birds dropping does not smell bad if you clean the cage regularly.

However, if you left it to accumulate for a couple of days, it will start to stink. Parrots do not smell bad when they are sick, but if their poop smells unusual, then you have to check them or take your bird to an avian or a good vet.

The changing of hormones in birds can be a reason to make the smell stronger. Generally, male parrots smell a bit stronger during the mating season. It changes according to their mating mood.

When they are happy and excited, the birds smell differently. The happy smell is described as being fruity that is not unpleasant. However, the stressed-out bird smell is terrible and dirty.

Bad breath is not so common in birds to smell bad. However, it may happen to some birds. The infection in the mouth or throat can cause a bird to have stinky breath.

There are some remedies you can try to get rid of your birds’ foul smell, so your parrot can smell good and healthy.

Your parrot’s diet can really affect how he smells because some parrots or birds smell like the last thing they ate. Usually, birds eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

The food smell would spread out after a few hours. Fruits can help your parrots to smell good, pleasant, and healthy.

Other Asked Questions?

Do parrots understand what we say?

Some kinds of birds imitate a few words of humans. These are parrots that can copy sounds they hear from the environment, and they are capable of learning many words and could understand the meanings of a few words.

Parrots are best at imitating human speech.

Can parrots sense emotions?

Birds are sensitive creatures that really do feel our body language, tone, energy levels, and facial expressions. Parrots are keen observers.

Our emotions can also impact our pet parrots. They are capable enough to demonstrate their owner’s emotions and feel every little movement and observe the house’s environment, whether stressful and happy.

What smells do birds hate?

Parrots do not have a strong sense of smell as humans do. However, they dislike a particular smell that is even toxic to them.

For example, hairspray, perfume, aftershave, cigarettes, scented candles, paint, and glue are a few names. These things have a strong scent. That is why parrots feel or smell them quickly.

How to get rid of the bird’s smell?

There are many reasons that your parrots smell bad and unpleasant. First, you have to clean your parrot’s cage every day and give them a bath frequently.

It is a fact that some birds smell like what they ate last time. So, have a look at their diet and try to give them fresh fruits so they can smell healthier and good.

Observe your pet if they have breath or sickness, take them to avian as soon as possible for treatment.


People usually wonder, can parrots have a sense of smell? After a lot of research and experiments, it is understandable that parrots do have a sense of smell.

However, experiments show that not every parrot can smell. It depends on the olfactory glands that give them a sense of smell and taste.

Some parrots have well-developed olfactory glands that help them to detect the odor.