Bodywork benefits, parrot-style

By Susan Aiello • Published: December 1st, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

An invigorating massage can lower stress and make you feel good all over. Apparently birds think so, too.

New research shows that green wood-hoopoes [hoo’poos] relax into a happy stupor after receiving a massage from another bird. These avian rubdowns seemed to be most pleasant when given by a dominant member of the flock, suggesting that attention from a superior makes stressed-out subordinates feel special and accepted.

Large pet birds have exhibited similar behavior, sometimes even massaging other pets or people in the home.

What does the masseuse get out of it? They may be trading a rubdown for tolerance or later favors, or they may just like it. Study results showed that the birds that did the grooming lowered their own long-term stress levels.

So take a tip from your bird and give a backrub to someone you love. You’ll both enjoy it.