Some parrots are known for their ability to annoy with their ear-piercing screams. Certain types of conures, cockatoos, amazons, for example, can be heard from a distance. Some will yell on purpose just to attract attention.
For bird owners this can become very irritating & difficult to manage. In some cases, it will even turn into an uncontrollable pattern, the more the parrot screams the more attention he gets & the more attention he gets the more he will scream.
But can you do something about this behavior? The answer is yes, there’s ways you can discipline your bird to limit his/her screaming frequency. Keep in mind that it will require patience & your parrot will need time to adjust to the transition. Here are 5 strategies that will allow you to take back control of your bird’s loud behavior & lower the noise levels in your house:
#1 Amusing Your Bird
Without a doubt, keeping your bird occupied is THE long term solution. Parrots are like children, except that they will be kids forever. The busier they are, the less trouble they will get in. This is where toys come in handy. They will satisfy their natural urge to break, chew & play, all while reducing the risk of feather-picking.
They all have different preferences, some like wood, bells, ropes & others choose cardboard, leather, balls, coconut shells. Only your bird’s interaction with the toys will tell you which ones he desires. You can add some inside & outside his cage, even hang them from walls or play parks.
If your parrot seems anxious around new toys I suggest introducing them slowly. Hanging them on the outside of his house for a few days so that he can explore them at his own pace. Once he is fully at ease, you can gently add them inside his cage.
A weekly rotation of the toys is recommended. It will prevent your bird from getting bored of playing with them same ones repetitively.
Your parrot toys must come from a reliable source. Certain security standards need to be respected when it comes to picking out toys. They shall not contain, in any case, paint, dyes or other toxic chemicals. Take the time to inspect them thoroughly before you purchase anything.
Only food coloring is permitted if you prefer coloured toys. If you have any doubt whatsoever on the type of substance that was used to tint the wood, spray it with a little bit of water, if it washes off easily its food coloring.
Inspect your bird’s toys daily, they might eventually become dangerous. Cut any excess rope or filament, your parrot could accidentally strangle himself or wrap some wiring around a limb. Retrieve any pieces that could potentially be harmful.
#2 The Foraging Technique
Why do birds love foraging so much? Because it is a familiar behavior! In the wild, they are continuously searching for food & provisions. Foraging will allow them to enhance their natural instincts all while keeping them entertained.
There are toys made for foraging but you can also easily create your own. Different levels of difficulty may be added for birds with more experience. Here are a few foraging suggestions:
- Level 1: cut a white piece of paper (with no ink) a little smaller than your parrot’s treat bowl. Place the piece of paper on top of the treats & watch. If he quickly understands that he/she needs to rip through the paper to reach his treats that are underneath then go directly to level 2.
- Level 2: bury some treats in a bowl with white shredded paper (with no ink). Let him/her search for a while.
- Level 3: buy clean natural rocks from a pet store. They should be big enough not to be swallowed, but small enough for your bird to be able to move them as he/she pleases. Simply add the rocks to a bowl of treats & let him/her dig.
Other ideas such as putting almonds or your parrot’s favorite treat in pieces of cardboard (watch out for toxic chemicals in certain types) or in a clean, empty bottle of Tylenol (without the lid) are other great ways to keep him/her occupied.
#3 Darkening Or Soundproofing The Room
If your feathered friend has a tendency to scream in the early morning and it’s affecting your sleep quality, then you might consider investing in sunproof curtains. As long as the room is completely black, he/she will stay quiet. Reminder: this is only a temporary solution as you cannot always keep your parrot in the dark.
In their natural habitat, when night falls, birds will go completely silent not to attract predators. Even thought they are domesticated, they still keep parts of their natural instincts.
Tip: always have a night light in the bird room/area so that he can reorientate himself/herself if he/she falls in the cage due to a night fright.
Another possible solution would be to envisage installing sound reducing walls. I am not crazy about this idea since your parrot may not be heard in the case of an emergency.
#4 Keep Your Bird Entertained
Other distractions may be used, even as a combination. You can add sound in the background, putting on the radio or playing calming music, for example.
Some even enjoy watching movies. Every bird as their own preferences. You will need to get to know your parrot to really understand what tickles his fancy.
#5 Do Not Encourage Bad Behavior
Never give your parrot treats when he/she is screaming or throwing a tantrum, even thought it will probably calm him/her down at that very moment, it will only encourage him/her to yell even more. He/she will associate his/her bad behavior with you giving him/her treats and attention. Basically, ignoring your bird (even if it’s not always easy to do) will have a positive outcome of the situation.
On the other hand, you can reward him once he/she has calmed down. Some birds may be more difficult to cope with than others. Lots of patience & tenacity will be needed to improve bad habits.