How can I stop my bird from screaming so much?
Many people write me and ask if I can help them with their bird screaming problems. Some birds seem to constantly scream or when they do scream, they do it for minutes at a time. To us there doesn’t seem to be a reason, but there really is a reason or the bird would not be screaming.
There are just too many reasons for bird screaming problems to cover everything here. I thought it best to highlight some of the things I have learned and then just present some ideas that might help stop some bird screaming behaviors.
If you are reading this article in hopes of finding a solution to stop all bird screaming, you will not find it here or anywhere. Most birds scream sometime, they are meant to scream and will always find a time to scream if they are healthy.
When is bird screaming normal?
The most common bird screaming time is early morning when the sun starts to rise and in the evening as the sun starts to set. It seems to just be built into birds to greet the sun and then tell it good night.
In reality, we are their flock and they want to make sure all the flock is in there with them when they wake up and then announce that it’s getting time to eat the evening meal and again that it is time find a roost for the night.
Instead of getting upset with your bird’s natural instinct, plan on it and even encourage it. Maybe even join them and become a part of the flock. (It can really be quite fun!) You won’t notice how loud they are when you join in too.
What about the other bird screaming times?
For all the other bird screaming times, you will have to put on your investigator hat and get out your pad and pen. Start paying close attention to exactly what happens before, during and after your bird vocalizes.
If you are really trying to solve a bird screaming issue that is threatening the relationship with your bird, you might even want to spend an entire day at home for this very purpose.
You will need to go about your normal routine and not give the bird any unusual attention to get to the root of the problem. You may have to do this several different days in some cases.
The bird screaming log
Have a log ready for writing on. In the margin of the log put the time of day, and draw three lines down the middle of the page. At the top of each column write, “Before”, “During”, and “After” so that you can keep up with the bird screaming events.
Then when the bird starts screaming, note what was going on just before the bird screaming began. For instance, “I’m on computer, husband in kitchen and kids outside in yard in view of parrot.”
During the screaming, do and/or say what you normally do during the bird screaming events in your house. Write down exactly what everyone does or continues to do during each screaming session. When the bird screaming session ends, write down what everyone was doing and or saying when the bird quit screaming. Don’t leave anything out, every detail is important.
Continue to do this every single time there is a screaming session for the whole day, if you choose to try doing this in a whole day, or for several days when you are around the bird.
What to do with your bird screaming journal
Now that you have all these notes on your bird screaming sessions, what are you to do with them? You will be amazed sometimes at the patterns you will find. Because no two households are alike, I will not be able to help you specifically with your bird here, but I can help you look at your situation.
Read down the first column and note any consistencies. Such as, finding that many of the times that the bird started screaming someone was in the kitchen, or someone was dialing the phone. Do the same with the other columns. Then think about what you or others might do differently to help stop the bird from screaming in the first place.
How I stopped our bird screaming sessions
I have a couple of Green Cheeked Conures that used to give us grief several times a day with bird screaming sessions. One day we finally decided it was driving us crazy enough that we would take the time to figure out what was causing it.
At first we would just be careful not to reward the screaming behavior. When they would start the screaming session, we would pretend we didn’t see or hear them. This does work in a few cases, but usually you need to figure out what your bird really wants and avoid the issue instead of ignoring the issue.
After taking note of what we were doing, where everyone was located in the house, and where the birds were in reference to our locations, we quickly discovered the problem from our birds’ point of view.
Most of the times that our birds had screaming sessions, there was someone was in the kitchen, or someone had disappeared from site. Most of the time, one of us was in the kitchen when the bird screaming began.
We solved 80% of our bird screaming problem by taking the birds to the dining room stand, next to the kitchen, when one of us were going to be in the kitchen for more than a few minutes. When we did this, they did not scream. When we forgot, they would scream the entire time.
Our birds thought part of the flock was feeding on something and they were being left out. By taking them to the play stand in the dining room and giving them some healthy treats, they felt like they were foraging right along with the other flock member.
When we forgot and the bird screaming problem came about, we would get whoever was in the kitchen to leave the kitchen without acknowledging the birds and not go back until the birds quit screaming. Then we would move them to the play stand and the person could return to the kitchen.
We did this in that order so that the birds did not get rewarded for their bird screaming session. We don’t want them to think that they can start screaming and get us to come and get them. By waiting until they were quiet to come and get them, they did not get any rewards.
How to use your bird screaming journal to help you
Once you find some patterns, and there may be a lot more than one issue that bothers your bird, you will want to come up with solutions to head off the bird screaming situations.
Think of ways to prevent the situation that makes the bird screaming begin. For example, move the cage to where everyone is, spend time with the bird a few minutes every hour, provide foraging activities, have short bird training sessions to help the bird get some rewards for pleasing you. Clicker training is a great help sometimes.
Reinforce all good behaviors. Lavish attention on the bird when it is quiet, playing with toys, eating its healthy treats, and doing behaviors you want to continue.
Consider some bird training techniques. Clicker training has helped many people stop bird screaming behavior. Even teaching the bird to step up or wave can help. Spending time with your bird every day, doing bird training, and then following that up with some healthy treats in their bowl, will often satisfy the bird for quite a while.
There is so much more I could write on this subject, but this article would become a bird screaming book instead of a bird screaming article if I did.
Here is a short list of some things that I have found to cause bird screaming problems:
o Hormonal times
o Allergies to peanuts
o Allergies to artificial vitamins
o Allergies to chemicals and food coloring in food
o Other food allergies
o Lack of attention
o Being left out of “flock” activities
o Needing to go to bed
o Wanting more food or water
o Wanting a bath when hearing water run or rain outside
o Boredom, needing new toys, training, or foraging activities
o Perceived danger for themselves or the “flock”
o Wanting peace and quiet
o Dislike of someone that has offended them
o “Flock” member leaving the room or house
o “Flock” member returning and not joining them
o “Flock” eating without them or not sharing their food
o Change of diet, wishing for what they are used to eating
And the list goes on and on!
Some ideas for avoiding bird screaming
Clicker Training for Birds can help bird screaming problems fade away and be replaced with positive behaviors you want to encourage.
Getting a full spectrum light for your birds can make a real difference in your birds’ attitude and health. I explain the importance of full spectrum lighting on the Parrot and Conure World site.
Purchase pellets and mixes that are free of peanuts, artificial vitamins and additives. Many birds have stopped irritating bird screaming behaviors just by removing one or more of these items from their diet.