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are cockatoos noisy pets?

How Loud Are Cockatoos?

(Last Updated On: March 1, 2023)

Although not as large as other parrot species, cockatoos are the world’s loudest parrots. There are 21 different cockatoo species, and none of them are considered quiet.

The loudest cockatoo is the Moluccan, which has an average decibel range of 120-135 decibels. Cockatoos are known for producing ear-splitting screeches, which they make when scared, over-excited, in pain, sick, ignored, or looking for a mate.

Cockatoos aren’t well-suited to apartment living as the noise will annoy your neighbors. They need space and an enriching environment to stop them from vocalizing as frequently.

Are Cockatoos Noisy Pets?

Cockatoos produce ear-splitting sounds that can be too loud for their owners to tolerate. Wild cockatoos vocalize to survive, as their sounds enable them to find flock mates and alert each other of threats.

Moluccan cockatoos are the loudest, with a decibel range of 120 to 135.

This makes them the fourth loudest parrot species, bypassed only by nanday conures, mealy Amazon parrots, and sun conures. To put these decibel figures into context:

  • Human laughter: 65 decibels.
  • Average talking voice: 60 decibels.
  • Thunderclap: 120 decibels.
  • Air raid siren: 135 decibels.
  • Jet engine or fireworks: 155 decibels.

Citron-crested cockatoos are the quietest, with Galah cockatoos not far behind.

how many decibels is a cockatoo scream?

Are Cockatoos Loud At Night?

While cockatoos sleep at night when it’s dark, they can stir at night. That’s because cockatoos enter unihemispheric sleep, where one hemisphere of the brain is awake at one time.

As the Nature and Science of Sleep explains, the purpose of unihemispheric sleep is to check for predators. You can usually tell when a parrot’s in unihemispheric sleep because 1 eye will be open.

Similarly, some parrots are prone to night frights, which happens when they get scared of something at night. They’ll start screaming and thrashing around in their cage if something bothers them.

This behavior stems from the wild. When a parrot spots a predator, it’ll vocalize to alert its flockmates before flying away to escape danger. In captivity, cockatoos can’t flee, so they react with fear.

Cockatoos can hurt themselves, so make a cockatoo feel comfortable when the lights go out. If you hear a parrot vocalize at night, take steps to calm it down. Cockatoos can be scared by the following:

  • Car headlights.
  • Insects are flying past the cage.
  • Unfamiliar sounds.
  • Dog walkers.
  • Other animals, including cats and dogs.
  • People, particularly if they pass the cage in the dark.
  • Sudden lights.

Startled Cockatoos will likely scream and not become quiet until they feel safe.

Placing a cover over the cockatoo’s cage could settle down after dark, but all parrots respond differently. In some cases, it could make their night terrors worse.

What Are the Different Noises Cockatoos Make?

Cockatoos make various natural sounds, but they can also mimic words and basic phrases.

Each cockatoo vocalizes differently, as they’re also influenced by their owner’s vocalizations and the sounds within their environment. Consequently, cockatoos in noisy homes are likely to be louder.

Cockatoos make several noises, including:

Squawk And Screech

Cockatoos are famous for their loud-pitched screeches, which they make when danger’s near.

Most cockatoos squawk and screech every day. While it can be hard to bear, it’s an essential part of their communication profile and is entirely natural.

Cockatoos commonly have a screaming session just before they go to sleep. If you have several cockatoos, they’ll likely set each other off.

Umbrella, Goffin’s, and Moluccan cockatoos are likelier to scream than others.


Cockatoos can make melodic whistling sounds. So, parrots with owners that whistle frequently will regularly copy and mimic their melodies.

If you plan to teach a cockatoo how to mimic words, do so before you train it to whistle because it’s easier and more fun. This means the cockatoo might lose the desire to learn to mimic.

Whistling is a sound of a happy, contented cockatoo. It’s also relaxed and recognizes that danger isn’t nearby. However, it could feel bored, so entertain it with games and toys.


It can be challenging to train cockatoos to speak, but they have a soft, sweet voice.

Outgoing cockatoos are more likely to speak than shy cockatoos. However, most cockatoos are social creatures that thrive on interaction with their owners and same-species birds.


If a cockatoo whistles and talks, it’s likely to sing. Similarly, if you play a lot of music or frequently have the TV on, it’s likely to copy the songs and sounds it hears.

As described by Scientific American, cockatoos can sing lower notes than smaller birds.


Cockatoos hiss, but it’s a noise made when they feel threatened or afraid. A cockatoo will likely lunge or bite you if you don’t heed its warning.


Cockatoos make calling sounds to find a mate or locate flockmates. Pet cockatoos learn calls from their owners in captivity and call out to their owners when they’re unsure where they are.

Calling can signify anxiety and loneliness. If you hear a cockatoo calling out to you, reveal yourself to put it at ease and give it some attention. Ignoring the parrot can cause distress.

Why Do Cockatoos Scream?

Screaming is an unpleasant sound that all cockatoos make. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell why they scream, but it’s likely for one of these reasons:

Pain or Illness

Parrots spend most of their lives standing, so a foot or leg injury can cause discomfort. Check for other signs of pain, such as bleeding or the inability to perch properly due to bumblefoot (pododermatitis).

If a cockatoo has an illness, you may observe that it refuses to eat, has dull feathers, or loses weight. Signs of illness vary depending on the cause, so take it to a vet for an examination.


Worry causes different reactions, but one of the most common noises is screaming. This is mainly because cockatoos must warn their flockmates of danger, but it’s also an instinctual reaction.


Cockatoos are intelligent birds. If they learn that screaming gets them attention, they’ll vocalize when ignored, which can become a behavioral problem.

Screaming is also a sign of genuine anxiety due to being ignored. Cockatoos that enjoy being around their owners like to know where they are and will panic if they can’t locate them.

If a cockatoo often screams because it feels ignored, put its cage in a communal location.


Cockatoos can’t be happy 100% of the time and will vocalize their mood by screaming. However, poor husbandry, predatory pets, or an unsuitable diet can exacerbate the screaming.

Over-tiredness is another scream-inducing factor. While it would make more sense for tired cockatoos to quiet down, parrots needing sleep may become vocal and destructive.

Mating Behavior

Cockatoos scream and screech when looking for a mate. This is normal, but it can be persistent.

Similarly, parrots become hormonal during the breeding season. While short-lived, these hormonal surges can be triggered by various factors, such as petting, light, and over-abundant feeding.

In some cases, cockatoos develop a sexual attraction to their owners.

are macaws louder than cockatoos?


Allow a cockatoo to become over-excited, and it’ll scream and vocalize excessively. Pandering to the cockatoo increases the likelihood of this behavior becoming normal.

When cockatoos become over-excited, they become animated.

While this might not sound like a problem, there’s a fine line between excitement and aggression, and it won’t be long before your parrot becomes poorly behaved.

When a cockatoo starts screaming and becoming excitable, give it time to calm down.

Are Macaws Louder Than Cockatoos?

Cockatoos have a louder vocal range than macaws. We’ve discussed how loud cockatoos can get, but the noisiest macaws can reach around 105 decibels.

To put this into context, 105 decibels is equivalent to a helicopter that’s close by or a large drum. So, while macaws aren’t quite as loud as cockatoos, they still produce significant noise.

Instead of screaming, macaws prefer to vocalize in the following ways:

  • Chattering.
  • Talking.
  • Whistling.
  • Growling.
  • Purring.

The noise level of cockatoos can sometimes be too much for owners to bear. Before choosing a cockatoo, consider your living environment and how close you live to your neighbors.