Not all screaming is for the same reason. Try to determine what category your bird’s behavior falls into. To help to understand why your bird is screaming, try keeping a diary for a few months. This way you may start to see if there is a pattern to this behavior.
- Normal screaming and vocalization (usually morning and night for a regular period of time.)
- Fear screaming and growling. (something has frightened or continues to stress your bird)
- Imprinted screaming (A habit formed in order to get attention or one’s own way, also may be learned from other birds).
- Screaming of sexual maturity and breeding condition (Normal and different for each species)
Definite No No’s for Screaming
- Never yell back! (Parrots love drama and it will only encourage the unwanted behavior)
- Never hit the bird or cage with your hand or hard object. (If the screaming is a result of fear this will only reinforce it)
- Never shake the cage or throw anything near or at the cage. (Again, this will reinforce the behavior)
- Never lock the parrot away in an isolated room or closet. (punishment has little or no effect on parrots)
Acceptable Methods for Changing Screaming Behaviour
Remember, correcting misbehavior in parrots takes not only persistency but consistency too.
- Assess the noise level in your home when the screaming is going on. You may find that lowering the noise level (i.e. turning off radio, washing machine, etc. can make an immediate difference.)
- Time out – 10 to 15 minute periods only, alone in a covered cage. This must be consistent and followed up with positive praise for good behavior.
- Instead of rushing and addressing the behavior when it occurs, try giving lots of extra praise and rewards when the bird is quiet and well behaved. This is absolutely necessary.
- “Fun fun” method- Address screaming immediately with a positive happy attitude. Then place the bird on your hand using a firm parrot foot hold. Next move your arm up and down gently, so as to make your bird flap and exercise. The bird must never view this as punishment for screaming, so stay positive! This method can help to expel excess energy. Not only will the wind soon be out of his sails, but you can teach your pet that screaming results in a cheerful personal trainer arriving to work him out. Laziness will take over, and sometimes the bird will stop screaming to avoid this encounter. The bird believes it has outsmarted you. This method does not always work with every case, and should not be used every time the bird so much as opens its beak. Approach all physical training with caution.
- Some degree of vocalization by parrots, no matter how loud it seems to us humans, is normal. Allow your parrot to be just that- a normal parrot!
- Using a large squirt bottle ( in a different shape and color to your bath mister ), with cold water can work in some extreme cases only. It is a good idea to use a consistent key word such as “Stop” when squirting but only in a firm calm voice. We recommend this method only in extreme cases, as it can be confrontational, and can sometimes ruin your relationship with your bird, or teach the bird to dislike bathing.
- “Light Monster” method has been used successfully especially with Cockatoos. As soon as screaming starts, without appearing yourself, shine a strong flashlight around the room (not directly at the bird) pretending that the light is a live creature and the screaming has drawn its attention towards the bird. Many birds will stop screaming to avoid the new “scary” animal from getting them. As soon as the screaming stops. make the “Monster” slowly go away. Then arrive yourself and look all around and comfort your pet telling him “It’s all gone” Be consistent every time the screaming starts and make the game serious. The bird must feel it was his idea to stop screaming to prevent this new enemy from locating him.
- Try substituting screaming for another behavior. For example, try whispering , or soft whistling which often results in the bird discontinuing the screaming to listen. This can be turned into a regular game, which eventually can result in the bird whistling or talking softly with you, rather then screaming.