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How Loud Are Cockatoos?

Last Updated on: 27th September 2023, 08:28 pm

Cockatoos are known for producing ear-splitting screeches, which they make when scared, over-excited, in pain, sick, ignored, or looking for mates.

There are 21 different cockatoo species in the world. The loudest cockatoo is the Moluccan, which has an average decibel range of 120-135 decibels.

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

Cockatoos are the fourth loudest parrot species, surpassed only by nanday conures, mealy Amazon parrots, and sun conures. To put these decibel figures into context, consider the following:

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

Cockatoos aren’t well-suited to neighborhoods that are sensitive to noise disturbance. You can train parrots to vocalize less, but you can’t stop them from vocalizing.

Are Cockatoos Loud At Night?

While cockatoos sleep at night when it’s dark, they can stir due to sudden disturbances. Birds enter unihemispheric sleep, where one brain hemisphere remains awake.

As Nature and Science of Sleep explain, unihemispheric sleep enables birds to check for threats.

Some cockatiels are prone to night frights, which happen when they grow scared of something at night. Parrots never evolved to have good night vision, so they can’t see what’s happening.

Consequently, cockatoos will start screaming and thrashing about frantically. Cockatoos can hurt themselves, so do your utmost to make them feel at ease when the lights go out.

Cockatoos can be rationally or irrationally scared by the following disturbances:

  • Car headlights.
  • Buzzing insects.
  • Unfamiliar sounds.
  • Unexplained shadows.
  • Pets that stalk the cage.

Startled Cockatoos will scream and won’t quieten until they feel calm. Placing a cover over a cockatoo’s cage could settle them down after dark, but it’s just as likely to exacerbate the situation.

how many decibels is a cockatoo scream?

What Are The Different Noises Cockatoos Make?

Cockatoos make various sounds, but they can also mimic human words.

Each cockatoo vocalizes differently because they’re influenced by their owner’s vocalizations and the sounds within their environment. Cockatoos in noisy homes are likely to be even louder.

Cockatoos make the following vocalizations:

Squawk And Screech

Cockatoos are known for their loud screeches. While it can be hard to bear for those nearby, it’s an essential part of their means of communication.

Cockatoos may scream before they go to sleep. If you have several cockatoos, they’ll likely set each other off. Umbrella, Goffin’s, and Moluccan cockatoos are likeliest to scream.


Cockatoos like making whistling sounds. So, if you whistle regularly, a cockatoo will likely do the same.

If you want to teach a cockatoo to talk, do so before it starts whistling because they find it easier and more fun. This means the cockatoo may lose the desire to learn English words.

Whistling is the sound of a happy cockatoo. It’s also relaxed and recognizes that danger isn’t nearby. However, it may be bored, so entertain it with one-on-one time and fun games.


It can be hard to train cockatoos to speak, but those who talk have a soft voice. Some cockatoo species are better talkers than others, like the sulphur-crested cockatoo.


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 may copy the songs and sounds it hears.

According to 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 to back away.


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

Calling can signify anxiety and loneliness. If you hear a cockatoo calling for you, reveal yourself to put it at ease and give it some attention. Unfortunately, some parrots develop separation anxiety disorders.

Why Do Cockatoos Scream?

Screaming is an unpleasant sound that all cockatoos make. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine 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, like bleeding or the inability to perch due to bumblefoot (pododermatitis).

If a cockatoo has an illness, you may find that it refuses to eat, has dull feathers, or loses weight.


Worry causes various adverse reactions, but screaming is among the most common noises. It’s an instinctual sound because cockatoos must warn their flockmates of danger.


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

Screaming is also a sign of 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 problem.

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

are macaws louder than cockatoos?

Mating Behavior

Cockatoos 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 petting, daylight, and over-abundant food.

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


If a cockatoo becomes over-excited, it’ll 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 misbehavior, and it won’t be long before your parrot becomes poorly behaved.

When a cockatoo starts squawking and becomes excitable, it needs time to calm down.

Are Macaws Louder Than Cockatoos?

Cockatoos have a louder vocal range than macaws. We’ve mentioned 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. While macaws aren’t quite as loud as cockatoos, they still produce significant noise.

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.