are cockatoos noisy pets?

How Loud Are Cockatoos?

Though they’re not as large as some other species, cockatoos are considered the world’s loudest parrots. There are 21 different species of cockatoo, and none of them are considered to be quiet.

The loudest cockatoo is the Moluccan, which has an average decibel range of between 120 to 135 decibels. Cockatoos are known for their ear-splitting screeches, which they make this sound when scared, over-excited, in pain, sick, ignored, or looking for a mate. Citron-crested cockatoos are the least noisy cockatoos.

Cockatoos aren’t suited to small homes or apartments as the noise that they make will annoy your neighbors. They need space and an enriching environment to stop them from vocalizing too frequently.

Are Cockatoos Noisy Pets?

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

Moluccan cockatoos are the loudest of all cockatoos, 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: Equivalent to 65 decibels.
  • Average talking voice: Equivalent to 60 decibels.
  • Thunderclap: Equivalent to 120 decibels.
  • Air raid siren: Equivalent to 135 decibels.
  • Jet engine or fireworks: Equivalent to 155 decibels.

Citron-crested cockatoos are the quietest of the species, with Galah cockatoos not too far behind. However, this doesn’t make them quiet birds.

how many decibels is a cockatoo scream?

Are Cockatoos Loud At Night?

While cockatoos sleep at night when it’s dark, they can sometimes stir in the night. That’s because cockatoos are capable of unihemispheric sleep. This is where only one hemisphere of the brain is awake at one time.

As described by Nature and Science of Sleep, the primary purpose of unihemispheric sleep is so that they can watch out for predators. You can usually tell when your parrot’s in unihemispheric sleep because one eye will be open.

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

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 are unable to flee, so they react with fear.

Cockatoos can hurt themselves, so attempt to make your cockatoo feel more comfortable when the lights go out. If you hear your parrot vocalize at night, you’ll need to take steps to calm it down.

Cockatoos can get scared by:

  • Car headlights
  • Insects 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

Cockatoos that are suddenly startled are likely to scream and may not quieten down until they feel calm and safe.

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

What Are the Different Noises Cockatoos Make?

Cockatoos make various natural sounds, but they’re also capable of mimicking words and basic phrases.

Each cockatoo vocalizes differently. They’re also influenced by their owner’s vocalizations and the sounds within their environment. 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. They make this sound when danger’s nearby.

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 experience a screaming session just before they go to sleep. If you have multiple cockatoos, they’ll set each other off.

Umbrella, Goffin’s, and Moluccan cockatoos are more likely to scream than others, but all are prone to doing so.


Cockatoos are capable of making melodic whistling sounds. Parrots with owners that whistle frequently will copy them and mimic their melodies.

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

Thankfully, whistling is a sound of a happy, contented cockatoo. It’s also relaxed and recognizes that danger isn’t nearby. However, it could be feeling bored. If so, entertain your parrot with games and toys.


As mentioned, cockatoos can say words. It can be challenging to train cockatoos to speak, but they have a soft, sweet voice when they do so.

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


If your cockatoo whistles and talks, it’s likely to sing. Similarly, if you play a lot of music or frequently have the TV on, your parrot’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 that’s made when they feel threatened or afraid. If you don’t heed the warning, your cockatoo will lunge or bite you.


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

Calling can be a sign of anxiety and loneliness. If you hear your cockatoo calling out to you, reveal yourself to put it at ease and give it some attention. Ignoring your 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 do this, but it’s likely for one of the following reasons:

Pain or Illness

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

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


Worry brings out different reactions in cockatoos, but one of the most common is screaming. This is mainly because cockatoos must warn their flockmates of danger. However, it’s also an instinctual reaction that they can’t control.


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

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

If your 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, an unsuitable environment, predatory pets, or an inadequate diet can cause unhappiness and worsen the screaming.

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

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 seasons. While short-lived, these hormone surges can be triggered by a range of things in captivity, such as petting and over-abundant feeding.

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

are macaws louder than cockatoos?


You mustn’t allow your cockatoo to become over-excited, or it’ll scream and vocalize excessively. Pandering to your 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 ill-behaved.

As soon as your cockatoo starts screaming and becoming overly excitable, let it calm down for a few minutes.

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 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 a significant amount of sound.

Instead of screaming, macaws prefer to:

  • Chatter
  • Talk
  • Whistle
  • Growl
  • Purr

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 are to your neighbors.