Understanding the Causes of Shivering in Birds: A Comprehensive Guide



Shivering is a common physiological response observed in birds, characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that result in visible tremors or shaking. It serves as a mechanism employed by birds to generate heat and maintain their body temperature within a normal range. Shivering is often accompanied by other signs of discomfort, such as fluffed feathers, huddling, or decreased activity levels.

Definition of Shivering

Definition of Shivering

Shivering can be defined as the involuntary rhythmic contraction of skeletal muscles in birds, leading to visible tremors or shaking. This response is primarily aimed at generating heat and is triggered by various factors, such as cold temperatures, illness, stress, pain, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, and environmental factors.

Overview of Potential Causes

Overview of Potential Causes

Understanding the potential causes of shivering in birds is crucial for identifying and addressing the underlying issues effectively. Let’s explore specific categories of causes in more detail: environmental factors, parasites and diseases, stress and anxiety, diet, and injury or pain.

Environmental Factors

Environmental Factors


Birds are highly sensitive to temperature changes and have a narrow range of comfort. Shivering in birds can be a response to low temperatures as a way to generate heat and maintain their body temperature. When exposed to cold drafts or prolonged low temperatures, birds may start shivering as a means of thermoregulation. Inadequate insulation or a lack of a warm shelter can further contribute to shivering.

It’s important to note that individual bird species have varying levels of tolerance to cold temperatures. Some species are naturally more adapted to colder climates, while others are more sensitive. Therefore, understanding your bird’s species-specific preferences is crucial when providing suitable environmental conditions.

To ensure your bird’s well-being, maintain a comfortable ambient temperature in their living space or use avian-specific heating devices. Regularly monitor the temperature and make adjustments as needed to prevent shivering caused by temperature fluctuations.


Birds possess specialized respiratory systems that are highly sensitive to humidity levels. Both high and low humidity can impact a bird’s ability to regulate body temperature, potentially leading to shivering.

High humidity can impede evaporative cooling, a crucial process for birds to dissipate excess heat and maintain a stable body temperature. When unable to cool themselves effectively, birds may resort to shivering as a compensatory mechanism.

Conversely, low humidity levels can cause dryness in a bird’s respiratory system, leading to discomfort and potential shivering. Insufficient moisture in the air can also make it difficult for birds to keep their respiratory passages adequately hydrated.

Moreover, high humidity levels can create a damp environment, increasing the risk of respiratory infections in birds. Maintain appropriate humidity levels in your bird’s environment to promote their overall health and prevent shivering episodes.

To optimize humidity levels, use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity in your bird’s living space. Depending on the species’ requirements, employ measures such as humidifiers or dehumidifiers to adjust and maintain the humidity within the recommended range.

By ensuring a suitable temperature and humidity environment for your bird, you can minimize the risk of shivering caused by environmental factors and contribute to their overall well-being.

3. Parasites and Disease

Parasites and Disease

Parasites and diseases can significantly impact a bird’s well-being, leading to various health issues and discomfort. In this section, we will explore three common factors: mites, canker, and Newcastle disease.

a. Mites

Mites are tiny parasites that infest birds, causing discomfort and health problems. Common types include red mites, scaly leg mites, and feather mites. These parasites induce itching, resulting in feather plucking, restlessness, and shivering.

Infected birds may exhibit signs of feather damage, skin irritation, and weight loss. Regular inspection of the bird’s plumage and living environment is crucial to promptly address mite infestations. By identifying and treating mites early on, you can alleviate discomfort and prevent further health complications.

b. Canker


Canker, also known as trichomoniasis, is a prevalent disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Trichomonas gallinae. It primarily affects the bird’s digestive system, including the mouth, throat, and crop, with severe consequences.

Infected birds may experience difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, weight loss, and shivering. Canker can spread through contaminated food and water sources, as well as direct contact with infected birds. Prompt diagnosis and treatment with the assistance of a veterinarian are essential to prevent the disease’s spread and alleviate discomfort.

c. Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease is a highly contagious viral infection that affects various bird species. It is caused by the Newcastle disease virus (NDV), which spreads through direct contact with infected birds or exposure to contaminated surfaces.

Birds infected with Newcastle disease may display symptoms such as respiratory distress, diarrhea, nervous system disorders, and shivering. The severity of the disease can vary, ranging from mild respiratory symptoms to high mortality rates in severe cases.

Prevention and control measures, including vaccination and biosecurity protocols, are crucial to mitigating the impact of Newcastle disease on bird populations. Prompt isolation and treatment of infected birds, along with proper sanitation practices, are vital in containing the spread of the virus.

4. Stress and Anxiety

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can significantly impact birds’ well-being, often resulting in visible physical responses such as shivering. This section explores three key factors that contribute to stress and anxiety in birds: travel, change in routines, and distressful interactions.

a. Travel

Birds can experience heightened stress and anxiety during travel, particularly if they are not accustomed to it. The unfamiliar environment, motion, and confinement in a carrier or cage can all contribute to stress-induced shivering. Long journeys, exposure to extreme temperatures, and noisy or chaotic surroundings can further exacerbate their anxiety.

To minimize travel-related stress for birds, it is essential to create a calm and secure environment. Providing a familiar cage or carrier, partially covering it with a lightweight cloth to reduce visual stimuli, and maintaining a comfortable temperature can help alleviate their anxiety. Gradually acclimating birds to short trips and rewarding them with treats or positive reinforcement can also help them become more comfortable with travel over time.

b. Change in Routines

Change in Routines

Birds thrive on predictability and routine, so sudden or significant changes can disrupt their sense of security and lead to stress and anxiety. Alterations in feeding schedules, cage placement, or social interactions can trigger shivering as a response to the unfamiliar or unsettling situation.

To mitigate the impact of routine changes on birds, it is crucial to introduce modifications gradually whenever possible. Maintaining consistent schedules for feeding, playtime, and social interactions can provide a sense of stability. When implementing changes, offering familiar objects, toys, or perches can help birds feel more secure in their environment. Patience and understanding during these transitions can go a long way in reducing stress and promoting well-being.

c. Distressful Interactions

Distressful Interactions

Interactions with humans or other pets that cause fear, aggression, or discomfort can be highly distressing for birds. Loud noises, sudden movements, rough handling, or being chased by other animals can induce stress and anxiety, leading to shivering. Birds are incredibly perceptive and can detect even subtle signs of threat or distress in their environment.

To create a safe and nurturing environment for birds, it is essential to minimize distressful interactions. Providing a quiet and calm living space, free from loud noises and sudden disruptions, can help alleviate their anxiety. Handling birds with care, using gentle movements and positive reinforcement, can build trust and reduce stress. Additionally, ensuring that interactions with other pets are supervised and controlled can prevent potential sources of distress for birds.

In conclusion, stress and anxiety can manifest in birds through shivering as a visible physical response. To promote the overall health and happiness of birds, it is crucial for owners to be mindful of their pets’ well-being. This involves providing a stable and enriched environment, gradually introducing changes in routines, and minimizing stressful situations. By understanding and addressing these factors, bird owners can help create a harmonious and stress-free living environment for their avian companions.



Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of birds. Inadequate dietary intake can lead to various health issues, including shivering or trembling. This section explores the impact of nutritional deficiencies and processed foods on bird health.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional Deficiencies

Birds require a balanced and nutritious diet to support their immune system and overall physiological functions. Insufficient amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to shivering or trembling.

  • Vitamin A: Crucial for respiratory health in birds. A deficiency can lead to respiratory problems, manifesting as shivering or shaking.
  • Vitamin D: Lack of vitamin D can result in weakened bones and muscles, causing tremors or shivering.
  • Calcium: Deficiency can lead to muscle spasms, tremors, or shivering.
  • Protein: Deficiency can affect overall muscle function and contribute to shivering or trembling.

To ensure birds obtain adequate nutrition, provide a varied diet that includes sources rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, and protein. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods should be incorporated. Consulting with a veterinarian experienced in avian nutrition can help determine the appropriate dietary requirements for specific bird species.

Processed Foods

Many commercially available bird seed mixes or pellet diets are considered processed foods. While convenient, these foods may not meet the nutritional needs of birds adequately. Processed bird foods often lack the variety and natural nutrients found in a bird’s natural diet in the wild.

  • Some processed bird foods can be high in fat or carbohydrates, leading to obesity and associated health problems in birds.
  • Inadequate nutrition from processed foods can contribute to nutritional deficiencies, ultimately resulting in shivering or trembling.

To ensure a well-rounded diet, supplement processed foods with fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious additions. By incorporating natural and nutrient-rich foods, bird owners can provide a more balanced diet, reducing the risk of nutritional deficiencies and associated shivering or trembling.

Injury or Pain

Injury or Pain

Birds may shiver or exhibit trembling behavior due to various injuries or pain they might be experiencing. This section explores potential causes such as broken bones, sprains, and wounds.

Broken Bones

Birds can sustain broken bones from falls, collisions, or accidents. These injuries can be quite painful and cause significant discomfort. Shivering may be a response to the pain associated with the injury.

  • If you suspect that a bird has a broken bone, seek immediate veterinary care.
  • A veterinarian can diagnose the injury through physical examination and imaging techniques such as X-rays.
  • Treatment options for broken bones in birds may include splinting or casting, surgery, or in some cases, amputation.
  • Pain management and supportive care will also be provided to ensure the bird’s well-being during the healing process.


Sprains occur when ligaments are stretched or torn, leading to pain and swelling. Birds may sprain their wings or legs during flight mishaps or accidents. Shivering can be a response to the discomfort and inflammation caused by the sprain.

  • If you suspect a bird has a sprain, provide immediate care.
  • Rest and limited movement are often advised to allow the sprain to heal properly.
  • Applying cold compresses and providing pain relief prescribed by a veterinarian can help alleviate discomfort.
  • In severe cases, a veterinarian may recommend further diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound, to assess the extent of the sprain and determine the most appropriate treatment, which may include physical therapy or surgery.


Birds can sustain wounds from various sources, including predator attacks, sharp objects, or accidents. Open wounds can be painful and may cause shivering as a result.

  • If you notice a wound on a bird, clean and treat it promptly to prevent infection and promote healing.
  • Gently flush the wound with a mild antiseptic solution recommended by a veterinarian.
  • Applying a suitable topical antibiotic ointment and protecting the wound with a clean dressing can aid in the healing process.
  • Consult a veterinarian for a proper assessment, especially if the wound appears deep, extensive, or shows signs of infection.
  • Depending on the severity, the veterinarian may recommend additional treatments such as suturing, debridement, or administering antibiotics to prevent complications and ensure proper healing.

Injuries such as broken bones, sprains, and wounds can cause birds to shiver due to the pain and discomfort associated with these conditions. Providing prompt veterinary care and appropriate treatment is crucial for the bird’s well-being and recovery.



Understanding why birds shiver is crucial for their well-being. In this article, we explored various factors contributing to shivering, including temperature, fear or stress, and illness or injury. By identifying the underlying cause, you can take appropriate steps to ensure your bird’s comfort and happiness.

Temperature plays a significant role in bird shivering. Birds may shiver to regulate their body temperature in colder environments. Providing a suitable temperature-regulated environment is essential to prevent discomfort and potential health problems.

Fear or stress can also manifest through shivering in birds. Recognizing signs of anxiety and distress in your bird is vital. Create a safe and secure space, avoid sudden loud noises, and maintain a consistent routine to alleviate stress and promote calm.

Illness or injury should not be overlooked as potential causes of shivering. Persistent or severe shivering may indicate an underlying health issue or injury. Consulting an avian veterinarian is crucial for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

To ensure your bird’s well-being, observe accompanying signs or symptoms alongside shivering. Changes in behavior, appetite, or physical appearance provide valuable insight into the root cause.

Remember, proactive care and regular veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining your bird’s health. A professional evaluation can detect underlying issues before they escalate.

In conclusion, providing a safe and comfortable environment, understanding your bird’s body language, and promptly addressing signs of shivering are fundamental aspects of responsible bird ownership. By being attentive and seeking professional advice when necessary, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your feathered companion.

Nurture a bond with your bird, prioritize their well-being, and create an environment where shivering becomes a thing of the past.

Remember, your avian veterinarian is your best resource for tailored advice and guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why is my bird shivering?

A1: Birds may shiver for various reasons, including environmental factors such as low temperatures or high humidity, parasites and diseases, stress and anxiety, nutritional deficiencies, and injury or pain.

Q2: How can I prevent my bird from shivering due to environmental factors?

A2: To prevent shivering caused by environmental factors, maintain a comfortable ambient temperature in your bird’s living space, provide adequate insulation and shelter, and monitor humidity levels. Use avian-specific heating devices and employ measures like humidifiers or dehumidifiers as needed.

Q3: Can parasites and diseases cause shivering in birds?

A3: Yes, parasites and diseases can contribute to shivering in birds. Common culprits include mites, which cause itching and discomfort, canker (trichomoniasis), and Newcastle disease. Regular inspection, prompt treatment, and preventive measures are important to address these issues.

Q4: How does stress and anxiety affect birds and lead to shivering?

A4: Stress and anxiety can significantly impact birds’ well-being and manifest as shivering. Factors such as travel, changes in routines, and distressful interactions can induce stress. Creating a calm and secure environment, maintaining consistent routines, and minimizing distressful interactions can help alleviate stress-induced shivering.

Q5: Can nutritional deficiencies cause shivering in birds?

Can nutritional deficiencies cause shivering in birds?

A5: Yes, nutritional deficiencies can contribute to shivering in birds. Insufficient intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, and protein, can weaken their immune system and lead to shivering or trembling. Providing a balanced and varied diet that meets their nutritional needs is crucial for preventing deficiencies and associated shivering.






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