Parrots have a great reputation for being talkative and fun. That fun can turn into a dilemma when the bird you’d hoped would keep you amused for hours with its witty banter turns out to be a screamer who keeps up the entire neighborhood. Like people, birds come with their own personalities, and some are just noisier than others.
Why Does My Bird Scream?
Screaming in parrots is not usually associated with pain. In fact, an injured bird or sick bird is more likely to be silent in an effort to keep predators from realizing it has a weakness. Parrots scream for many reasons, however, and knowing what is causing the raucous noise is one step to helping to solve the problem.
The first thing parrot owners have to understand is that screaming, in general, is normal bird behavior. Size will have an impact on how disturbing the screaming is though, and some former bird owners who had previously had small varieties in the past and then graduate to a larger species are stunned at the difference in volume. Indeed, owners of the very small parrot varieties such as budgerigars often do not even realize their birds are screaming.
The common form of parrot screaming is basically a call to the flock. Parrots will commonly scream when their companions are out of sight. This is a difficult problem for parrot owners who leave for work or school during the day only to find out later from family members or even neighbors that their normally affable pet has been hollering up a storm all day long.
It is important to not reward this type of screaming. There is an understandable desire to immediately rush to the bird and comfort it by taking it out or talking to it. However, this only rewards the screams. Instead, try to accustom the bird to your absence by leaving the room, and only return when the bird is not calling out for you to return.
Another form of screaming is a cry for attention. Some birds are just needier than others, and will yell up a storm to get their owners to pay attention to them. This can occur even when owners are very attentive and caring. In fact, it tends to happen more often with that kind of bird owner, since the bird expects to have attention.
Any response to the screaming will only increase the frequency and volume. Birds learn very quickly, and approaching their cage or talking to them will just add to the desire for more attention.
Additional Methods of Stopping the Screams
Work on your bird’s vocabulary. The more they learn to talk, the less they scream. At least it can seem that way. As your parrot learns new words and phrases, it will recognize those as things you both use yourself and respond to, and the bird will begin to use that instead of screaming to get attention or company.
Even though they are still calling out, words and phrases as much less disruptive and even fun to listen to. So with the replacement of words for screams, the noise becomes entertainment.
Provide plenty of cage activities for your bird to lessen the need for attention and companionship when you can’t be nearby.
Parrots are inquisitive and playful. An empty, uninteresting cage is an invitation for mischief and boredom. Add plenty of toys to your bird’s cage, and include a lot of foraging toys to keep your parrot occupied for long periods of time on things they will enjoy. Foraging toys are an excellent resource because they engage the bird’s mind, give it a problem to solve and reward the bird with food when they accomplish their mission.
If you live in an apartment with thin walls and neighbors who won’t appreciate being woke up to the morning calls of a happy parrot, or the tiresome calls of a lonely bird during the day, don’t buy a big bird. The bigger the bird, the bigger the vocal chords; Amazons, African Grays and Macaws are probably not going to be a good fit for a tight space with close neighbors. Even mid-sized parrots can be a challenge in an apartment type setting. Cockatiels are often noted for their loud screams, especially early in the morning.
The need to understand the type of bird you are getting and the volume of their screams is important even when you don’t have nearby neighbors or a family that won’t enjoy your bird as much as you do. If you don’t want to have an alarm clock that doesn’t have a snooze button, or an off switch, avoid louder varieties of parrots. Some screaming behaviors can be trained or stopped completely, but others such as early morning wake up calls can be difficult to overcome.