Birds are social butterflies, they like to keep in touch with their friends. When they are in the wild and can’t see their friends, they usually do “calls” (really loud chirps) to make sure they are still around.
Because the bird you live with “doesn’t realize” he’s not in the wild and he thinks you are part of his flock, he will try to communicate with you by screeching. The best way to stop the screaming is to provide positive enforcement.
How to stop the bird from screaming when I leave?
Separation anxiety is a complicated issue to solve while having pet birds. We enlisted a few suggestions:
- Do not come back when the bird screams – It’s really important to not “reward” this behavior.
- Reward quiet sessions – When the screaming session ends, come back and give the bird a treat or pet its head
- Give the bird something to keep itself busy – If you know you are going to leave the room for a while, give the bird a new toy to chew or a foraging item. You can hide a pine cone inside a paper bag and put it on the cage floor. That should buy you at least half an hour of distraction depending on the bird’s personality.
- Answer the bird calls – This one recommendation can be discussed among bird experts. Some people say it’s okay to just respond back so the bird knows you are still in the house, but in another room. However, that can not work if you actually left the house and it may make it even worse.
- If it’s really bad, you can cover the cage temporarily for a few minutes. However, if the bird is scared, this might worsen the problem.
What you want to do in the long run is to reward good behavior. Whenever there is a pause in the scream session, reward this good behavior by interacting with the bird. If it screams again, walk away and stay quiet. That will take a while, but soon enough, the bird will realize the connection.
When will your bird probably make noise
As you may have realized, birds are quite noisy and this is a natural behavior. When they are in nature, they use their powerful voiceboxes to communicate with other birds several meters away.
Birds are wild animals. Even if they’ve been living as pet birds since little babies, they have their wild instincts still there. That means that they will:
- Squawk to celebrate the sunrise and sunset
- Vocalize when interacting with objects and other beings. These vocalizations can be pretty loud. Parrots screaming can reach over 135db (from Moluccan cockatoos), which is almost the same as a shotgun blasted directly beside your ear.
- Use alert calls to warn others in the flock (yes, that means you!) that there is danger around.
- Use contact calls to check if you are still there. They like to keep you in their view most of the time because they consider you as part of their flock. If you disappear, they might assume you are in danger.
Reasons for excessive screaming in parrots
Try to think about something that could have changed the bird’s routine. It’s a good idea to keep a diary to organize notes regarding the bird’s screaming episodes through time.
- Is it a new pet or a new adult that move in? Are you not hanging out with your parrot as much as you used to?
- Does your bird have anything to do inside the cage? Is it hungry or thirsty?
- Does your bird has a regular “schedule”? It’s important to provide a regular routine so your bird knows what to expect everyday.
- Does the bird scream when you’re around? Or there is no one around? Or even, when a specific person is around? What was the mood of the people around the bird when the episode happened?
After you realized what could have triggered the screaming episode, try to make adjustments to bring the screaming to a more tolerable level.
Remember, birds are wild animals, they are not domesticated. They will still scream and that is a natural behavior, it’s not the birds’ fault. We know it’s hard, but take a deep breath and try to be patient. With good training, toys, a good diet, lots of love, time, and perseverance, you and your pet bird can coexist together in harmony!
Common reasons for screaming
The most common reason for screaming is not enough quality time spent with the bird. Lonely birds are deeply unhappy birds. They love to be social and spend time with their favorite people. Try to reserve at least 2-4 hours of out-of-the-cage time with your bird.
The second most common reason is boredom. Imagine spending almost 24h stuck in a cage with pretty much nothing to do! I would scream too! Make sure to give your bird plenty of toys and rotate these toys every week.
Toys can depend on the type of bird you have. Large parrots like to chew big blocks of wood, while smaller parrots like to chew bits of soft cardboard (use food packaging cardboard, remove all plastics). Foraging toys are also a great way to make your bird spend lots of time distracted. For instance, you can put a pine cone (properly cleaned) inside a paper bag and leave it at the bottom of the cage. The bird will get curious and spend some time inspecting. Remember, birds are quite intelligent! They need to put their brains to use!
Another useful tip to distract parrots is to let them listen to the radio or watch TV. Avoid nature programs where birds of prey can show up. They will make your bird scared.
Other reasons for parrot screaming are:
- The bird could have an illness and it could be in pain.
- Someone close to the parrot is not present anymore or there is someone new at the house.
- Change in the environment. For instance, its cage is in a new spot.
- The bird could have seen a bird of prey though the windows.
- Jealousy can also be a reason. Especially if it seems more attention being given to another pet.
- Not enough sleep. Birds need to sleep 12 hours per day. Make sure you don’t wake your bird while watching TV or turning the lights on.
What does not work when a parrot is screaming
In the same way as cats, birds do not understand punishment. If you ‘punish’ a bird, it will just get more and more stressed and it will scream even more. This can even trigger feather picking. This way, please don’t ever respond to yelling with:
- Yelling back
- Hitting the cage, or even worse, the bird
- Leaving the bird isolated
- Spraying the bird
- Taking away its food
How loud can parrots be?
For reference, an average conversation between adults can reach 70 decibels.
- Nanday conure- 155 decibels
- Moluccan cockatoo- 135 decibels
- Mealy amazon- 124 decibels
- Quaker parrot-113 decibels
- Mustached parakeet- 111 decibels
- Macaw- 105 decibels
- Mitred conure- 100 decibels
- Poicephalus- 89dB
- Lovebird- 83dB
- Cockatiels- 75dB
- Budgies- 68dB
At a distance of 100 feet, the average jet engine is 140 decibels, so some parrots are louder!
The yelling is driving me mad!
We know it’s hard to tolerate loud screaming every day for several sessions. It hurts the ears, it makes you and the people around you stressed. However, owning a bird is accepting that you will have to tolerate some level of noise during the day. This noise might annoy neighbors. Might annoy other members of your family. There is not much it can be done to change this reality other than the suggestions above.
However, please don’t think it’s the bird’s fault or don’t give your bird up for adoption until you try very hard for a decent amount of time. When you get a new bird, it may take a year or even more until you two get acquainted. During this time, your bird will develop a bond with you and reserve a special place on its heart for you.
Every time a parrot is given away because of yelling, it just makes its life tremendously hard. Losing a dear one in their lives make parrots extremely depressed and confused. That can lead to traumas, stress, and feather plucking. Parrots can be rehomed up to 7 times during their lives.
So, a big tip is to breath deeper and exercise patience. With perseverance, you two will get along and solve this issue.
Owning a bird is not an easy task, but sure it is a rewarding one. Birds are intelligent and lovely companions to have around and with proper positive enforcement, the excessive screaming can be controlled.