You jolt out of bed in the middle
of the night, awakened by a loud, blood-curdling scream. Every hair on your neck
is standing up. You listen intently. You realize that your bird is screaming his
head off. Wide awake and fully alert you fly down the stairs and flip on the lights
expecting to see your beloved parrot mangled or in some sort of predicament.
To your utter astonishment your bird
looks as surprised as you do. He’s happily perched in his bird cage, neck extended,
pleasantly screaming with all his might. You can’t figure out what triggered this
behavior. You take your parrot out of his cage, and closely examine his wings and
feet. But can find nothing wrong with him. After 20 minutes of careful investigation
you trudge back to bed, only to be awakened once again by more screaming. This soon
becomes a nightly ritual. And before long, you’re not the only one who’s getting
annoyed. Neighbors are also starting to complain. Your bird’s behavior is becoming
a problem—a big problem.
Birds are Noisy
Parrots are social animals who communicate
their needs vocally. Noise is a natural part of bird behavior. You should expect
some amount of talking, screaming and other vocal noise during the morning and evening.
However, there are times when this normal vocalization escalates to an intolerable
level. Incessant screaming is a behavioral issue.
Why Parrots Scream
Birds may choose to scream for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:
The Bird is Bored
need a lot of activity and mental stimulation to stay happy. If they are bored,
they will find ways to entertain themselves. Screaming may just be one of those
ways. In order to prevent boredom, be sure your bird has a wide variety of different
toys including perches, hanging toys, swings and ladders. It
is also important that your bird has a large enough
parrot cage to house itself and all it’s accessories
without feeling crowded. A large bird cage will enable you to fill your parrot’s
castle with climbing ladders, ropes, swings and perches. If you own a small bird,
a finch cage or Parakeet cage is probably fine. Medium sized birds require a Cockatiel
cage or a Cockatoo cage. And larger birds need –well, a large bird cage, such as
a macaw cage or African Gray cage.
If you have an exceptionally active
parrot, consider purchasing a cage with a playtop. A playtop sits above the cage
and allows your bird to move around and entertain himself outside his normal habitat.
The great thing about playtops is that they are attached to the top of your bird
cage, saving space and making it exceptionally easy to clean up after your bird.
Even if you are on a tight budget, you can still purchase cheap bird cages that
are beautifully designed and equipped with a handsome playtop.
Another way to keep your bird happily
occupied is to house him in a
flight cage. This type of bird cage will provide your pet with adequate space to
fly around and stretch his wings. The exercise will promote your bird’s physiological
health and could eliminate incessant screaming.
Your Bird Could Be Imitating Your Own
If you live in a high-stress household
and find yourself constantly screaming at your neighbors, kids or spouse, it could
be that your bird is simply imitating your own behavior.
Birds are a lot like children. They
learn more by example than instruction—-as they say, “more is caught than taught.”
If this is the case, try to relax yourself before expecting your bird to change.
It’s Mating Season
During mating season, birds are much
more vocal. This is natural and should be expected. However, if the screaming never
seems to stop, you will need to deal with it.
Your Bird Feels Isolated
From Family Members
If your bird is constantly away from
family activity, he may feel left out. Place your bird cage right in the middle of
the busiest room in the house. Also, be sure to let your parrot out of his bird cage
while you are home. In this way he can follow you around and feel like part of the
family. You may also want to purchase a playstand. Your bird can roost on his playstand,
interact with his toys and still be next to everyone else.
Is There Really a Reason?
Sometimes, you can’t figure out why
your bird is screaming. And it starts to become a real problem. What should you
do? Your parrot is driving you bananas with his constant bellowing. You need help.
You love your bird. He’s an absolute delight—smart, friendly, and a wonderful companion.
But his screaming is getting out of hand. Your neighbors have already called complaining
nearly five times this week. Something has got to be done and fast.
The only way to stop screaming is
to train your bird to be a little more quiet. This can seem overwhelming. Who do
you talk to you? Where do you find information? There are some good resources available.
4 Don’ts in Dealing with a Screaming Parrot:
1. Don’t scream back
This only makes the situation worse and encourages your bird to scream even louder to
make himself heard. Parrots take particular delight in loud, vocal communication.
So if you start screaming at you parrot, he will only become excited and encouraged
to continue this behavior.
2. Don’t hit your bird
Hitting will either make your bird fearful or aggressive, which will lead to worse behavioral
3. Don’t shake or kick the parrot cage.
Again, this will only make your parrot angry or aggressive.
4. Don’t encourage screaming.
Many parrots learn that if they scream when they want something, their owner will
rush to their bird cage to gratify their wishes. This is negative reinforcement.
Cockatoos in particular are prone to developing this habit. If your bird screams
because he wants something, ignore him. When he quiets down, return to his cage
and reward him with attention.
5 Tips for Stopping Screaming
1. Cover the cage as a “time out,” for very brief periods.
By covering the
bird cage, you can help calm an excited or agitated parrot. The cage should never
be covered for more than 10 minutes at a time and you should never lock your bird
in a dark room as punishment. The easiest way to cover your bird cage is to purchase
a commercial cage cover that actually fits your parrot cage. This will eliminate
the trouble of trying to keep sheets or blankets from constantly sliding off.
2. Give your pet a change of scenery.
How would you
feel if you never left the four walls of your house? You’d probably feel like screaming
too. Try taking your parrot for a ride in the car. Be sure he is securely placed
in a bird carrier so he cannot fly away or escape.
You may also want to rearrange the toys in the bird cage, move the bird cage to a
different section of the house or invest in an outdoor avairy.
3. Make sure your bird gets plenty of sleep.
Most birds need
8-10 hours of sleep each night. If your bird doesn’t get adequate rest, he’ll be
cranky and irritable, which could promote screaming.
4. Allow your bird to be close to and interact with the family.
As mentioned earlier,
allow your bird to be part of your daily activities. Let him out of his bird cage on a regular basis. Make him feel
like part of the family. Give him lots of attention, play with him and just hang
out together. This could make all the difference to your bird.
5. Learn to ignore your bird.
scream for attention. They realize that if they scream, you will come running. It
becomes a game with them. Birds are smart and manipulative, it won’t take them long
to figure out your weaknesses. When your bird screams, simply ignore it. Do not
give your bird any attention whatsoever until he quiets down.