what do parrot sounds mean?

Parrot Sounds And Noises: What Vocalizations Mean!

Parrots make a range of weird, wonderful, and strange noises. Some of them sound alarming and harsh, while others are sweet and happy. Understanding the most common parrot sounds and meanings can help you learn more about your bird and what mood it’s in.

When parrots feel happy and relaxed, they chirp, whistle, purr, and click their tongues. Parrots also chatter just before bed and when communicating with other birds in their flock, which they do in the wild to check in on one another. Scared parrots squeak and screech while sad birds cry. Angry parrots hiss, growl, and click their beaks.

Pay attention to your parrot’s vocalizations, as they can alert you when something’s not right within your bird’s environment, giving you a chance to fix it.

What Do Parrot Sounds Mean?

Parrots boast an impressive repertoire of vocalizations and sounds. Each one conveys a different meaning and plays a significant part in helping owners understand what their parrots want. Not all parrots make the same noises, and some species are more prone to making certain sounds than others.

If you’re looking to find out what do different parrot noises mean, we’ve put together this handy chart so you can check your parrot’s most common vocalizations at a glance:

Sound or NoiseMeaning
ChirpingChirping is a sign of happiness, contentedness, and relaxation
WhistlingParrots whistle to show happiness and get their owners’ attention
CryingCrying signifies grief, fear, depression, loneliness, and pain
SqueakingThis is a rare sound that parrots make when startled or suffering from a voice box disease
PurringContented parrots purr, particularly while snuggling into their owners
SquawkingSquawking signifies danger. Parrots also squawk to get attention
ScreechingParrots screech when they’re afraid or feel in danger
HissingHissing occurs when a parrot feels angry, threatened, or intimidated
Tongue clickingTongue clicking is a happy sound parrots make when they’re content or excited
Beak grindingBeak grinding is a self-soothing motion that helps birds fall to sleep and settle down. It’s a happy, positive sound
ChatteringParrots chatter to communicate with other flock members. It’s a happy vocalization that signifies happiness. It’s also used to gain attention
GrowlingGrowling is a sign that the parrot’s stressed and angry. It’s a warning for you to stay away. Proceed with caution, as the next step is a bite
Beak clickingParrots make clicking noises when defending their personal space, territory, or mates

Here’s a closer look at what each parrot vocalization means:

Why Do Parrots Chirp?

Chirping is a sound that parrots make when they’re happy. It signifies contentment and relaxation. For example, they’ll chirp if you put music they like on or do something that makes them happy. If you hear your parrot chirp, it’s satisfied within its environment.

Similarly, if you have the radio and TV on in the background, parrots will chirp to join in with the noise. This is a fun form of mental enrichment for them, keeping them healthy and mentally stimulated.

However, while chirping sounds simple, it’s also a sign of danger. Birds chirp to alert the rest of the flock to flee from predators and other perils. Parrots have calls that are exclusive to their community. This allows them to communicate with each other, providing safety and security in numbers.

If you have multiple pet birds, you may hear them call each other when they feel threatened. This is normal, but you should remove the stressor, such as pets or too much noise, to keep them calm and relaxed. In this case, chirping is still a joyous sound as it means parrots are bonded and looking out for each other.

Different parrot species have different types of chirps, so the sounds vary between them. That being said, chirps are universally bound by their positive connotations.

Why Do Parrots Whistle?

Many parrot species make melodic whistling sounds. They’re pleasant to listen to and almost sound like a song. In fact, whistling is similar to talking for parrots.

Most parrots learn how to whistle from their owners, the radio, and the TV. Whistling is one of the most common and pleasant happy parrot sounds – parrots don’t whistle if angry or sad. It’s also a sign they’re healthy.

Parrots also whistle to gain their owners’ attention, especially if they’re bored and want to play. You’ll commonly find your bird whistles at you as you walk into the room as a friendly greeting.

If you want to teach your parrot how to talk, encourage it to whistle once it’s started to pick up words and phrases. That’s because many parrots prefer whistling and find it easier to do, meaning they’re less likely to want to talk if they know how to whistle.

You can teach your parrot to whistle by whistling along to your favorite tunes within earshot of your bird. Keep repeating this several times a day until your parrot starts copying you.

African grey parrots, cockatiels, and cockatoos are excellent whistlers and commonly adopt a favorite sound, such as a wolf-whistle, which they repeat over and over.

what do different parrot noises mean?

Why Does My Parrot Make Crying Noises?

Parrots are capable of experiencing a broad spectrum of emotions, including sadness and grief. Even though they have tear ducts, they don’t cry tears. Instead, they vocalize their pain through noises that sound a lot like human cries. Parrots cry because of:

  • Loneliness because they don’t receive enough interaction
  • Depression caused by poor living conditions or sickness
  • Fear and worry
  • Pain from illness or injury

Parrots also make crying noises because of grief. When they lose close companions, such as a mate or owner, they mourn. They don’t just show their sadness through crying – they also display the following sounds:

  • Lethargy
  • Unwillingness to do anything
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Lack of interest in toys and activities
  • Aggression and irritability
  • Stereotypical behaviors, such as feather plucking and mutilation

Unfortunately, when your parrot enters a period of grief, it’ll take a few weeks for it to start feeling happier. Time is a healer, so give your parrot as much space as possible, checking in on it to ensure it doesn’t fall into a spiral of depression. Keep offering treats, toys, and out-of-cage time to keep its mind focused on more positive things.

Why Does My Parrot Squeak?

Squeaking isn’t a noise all parrots make. It’s also relatively uncommon. Some parrots squeak when they’re startled or touched, while many don’t squeak at all. It’s primarily an upbeat sound, but this depends on your bird’s personality.

Unfortunately, squeaking is also a sign of tracheal or syringeal disease. The syrinx is the vocal organ located at the base of the trachea. When conditions affect the syrinx, parrots develop changes to their voice and emit a high-pitched squeak accompanied by a clicking sound. This usually occurs with every breath the parrot takes.

When parrots start squeaking, it can take days or weeks before they become dyspneic, which is when they have trouble breathing. Signs include:

  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Increased sternum movement
  • Tail bobbing
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

According to Vet Times, any foreign body, such as a millet seed, tumor, or fungal granuloma, can cause a partial or complete blockage of airflow, which is responsible for the squeaking noise affected parrots make.

Why Do Parrots Purr?

Purring is a unique sound for parrots to make. It’s a good sign, however, as it signals affection. Not all birds purr, but those that do make the sound whenever they feel comfortable in their owners’ presence and are bonded with them.

Some parrots purr when snuggling into their owners or when they’re being petted, strengthening your connection with each other.  

However, purring sounds similar to a low-pitched growl, which is a sign of anger and annoyance. Listen closely to your parrot to see whether you can distinguish between them.

You can also observe your bird’s demeanor for signs of either comfort or distress. This should help you figure out what noise it is you’re hearing. If your parrot’s happy, you’ll notice the following signs alongside what sounds like a purr:

  • Relaxed body posture
  • Flat or slightly raised crest
  • Wing or tail flapping
  • Preening, either themselves or you
  • Bowed head
  • Blushing

These signs indicate a relaxed, comfortable bird that’s happy to be in your presence.

Why Do Parrots Squawk?

Squawking is a common sound found within a parrot’s repertoire. Cockatoos are particularly prone to squawking, which they use to get attention from their owners. They also squawk in an attempt to get what they want, such as treats, toys, or out-of-cage time.

Squawking indicates danger’s nearby. If your parrot sees other animals, it’ll squawk because of a natural reaction and also to let other birds in the vicinity know.

Night frights are another possible reason for your parrot’s squawking. In the wild, parrots are prey animals, and predators target them to:

  • Raid their nests for eggs and chicks
  • Eat the adults

When they hear frightening sounds of sights within the night, they become fearful because they feel predators are after them. When they’re stuck in their cages, they feel trapped and vulnerable. Night terrors are caused by:

  • Insects buzzing around
  • Animals, such as cats and neighborhood dogs they see through a window
  • Family members creeping up on them at night
  • Sudden lights

Placing a towel or sheet over your parrot’s cage at night should help minimize its need to squawk.

Why Do Parrots Screech?

Parrots most commonly screech because they’re scared and in fear of danger. Parrots are prey animals, so they are affected by:

  • The presence of a new family member
  • Seeing dogs through a window
  • Other animals in or near the home
  • Loud sudden noises
  • Stress from a lack of sleep or poor environmental conditions

As well as screeching, parrots will pace, puff up their feathers, and bite if they’re stressed. These are worrying signs if your parrot vocalizes in this way. To stop your parrot from screeching, you’ll need to remove whatever’s stressing your parrot out from its environment. You can also try:

  • Moving the cage to a quieter location
  • Draping a sheet over the cage at night to block out the light
  • Turn off all TVs and radios in the room your parrot’s in
  • Keep other pets in separate rooms, particularly if you have a predatory cat

Screeching isn’t a pleasant sound, so it’s only natural that you’ll want to minimize the noise as much as possible. Don’t ignore it, as screeching is a serious sound that indicates something’s significantly wrong.

Another thing to be mindful of is boredom. Parrots that scream all day but don’t appear scared of anything need more mental stimulation than they’re getting. You can provide this through toys and more frequent one-to-one interaction.

Why Do Parrots Hiss?

Hissing is one of the most common angry parrot noises. Parrots only hiss when they feel threatened. The sound has similar origins to squawking and screeching, as very similar triggers cause it. Like the other noises, hissing isn’t a pleasant sound and signifies your parrot’s highly stressed. Several things can cause this, including:

  • Intimidating cagemates
  • Predatory pets
  • Unfamiliar or unwelcome objects in the cage
  • Being touched when it’s not in the mood
  • A bad or anti-social mood
  • Pain or sickness

The only way to make your parrot feel safe and more at ease is to find out what’s causing the distress and remove it from your parrot’s environment.

Hissing is usually the next step before biting, which can be highly uncomfortable and painful, especially if you have a large, strong parrot such as a macaw or Amazon. However, hissing isn’t exclusive to feeling threatened. General discontent, intimidation, and annoyance are also possible causes.

Cockatiels and African greys are more likely to hiss at their owners than other parrot species. While you might be tempted to try to make your parrot feel better, leave it alone to calm down before attempting to interact with it again. Hissing is a clear sign it wants to be by itself.

Why Do Birds Click Their Tongue?

Parrots make a clicking sound with their tongue when they are happy, content, or excited. This is a random, joyful noise that indicates when a parrot feels content within its surroundings.

The sound is very similar to a human clicking their tongue against the roof of their mouth. Parrot tongue anatomy isn’t that dissimilar from ours, which explains the similarities. Not all parrots make this noise, but it’s most common amongst cockatoos and cockatiels.

Tongue clicking is also a way for parrots to try and get attention. If your parrot wants to be picked up and petted or wants some affection from you, it’ll emit a soft clicking sound with its tongue as a gentle way to direct your attention onto them.

Some parrots also click their tongues against their mouth to entertain themselves. It’s not necessarily a sign of boredom but a sign that your parrot enjoys creating the sound. It’s also likely that it enjoys the feeling of its tongue clicking against its mouth.

Don’t confuse this sound with beak clicking, as it’s entirely different and signifies different things.

Why Do Parrots Grind Their Beaks?

Beak grinding is another sign of contentment. The action can be loud concerning owners, but it’s actually not something to worry about.

Beak grinding is most commonly heard as birds fall asleep. The back and forth motion is self-soothing and can help them settle down to sleep. The noise they generate also encourages them to put their heads down. This is a compliment to the owner, as most parrots remain alert when sleeping in case of predators and other dangers.

Beak grinding doesn’t only convey emotions – parrots do it to clean food debris off their beaks, sharpen them, and keep them filed down. Some parrots do this by moving the beaks back and forth, while others whip them from side to side with more force.

While beak grinding isn’t anything to worry about, keep an eye on your bird to ensure it doesn’t damage its cage or accessories.

Why Do Parrots Chatter?

Parrots make chattering sounds when they’re happy. These “motor-mouth” noises come out like an endless stream of syllables punctuated with words and whistles. Chattering sometimes concerns owners hearing it for the first time, but it’s nothing to worry about. Parrots are simply expressing joy.

Soft chatter is a sign of contentment and is also how some birds begin learning how to talk. Loud chatter is when parrots want to remind their owners they’re nearby and is a way of gaining attention. You should take this as a compliment, as your bird wants to spend time with you.

If you have more than one parrot, you may hear them chattering to each other before bedtime or when enjoying some quiet downtime. This is what parrots do in the wild to connect with members of their flock. This peaceful sound is a joy to listen to and signifies that the parrots get on well.

parrot vocalization

Why Does My Parrot Growl?

Growling is a sign of aggression. Parrots growl as a warning for you to keep away or stop what you’re doing. If you proceed, there’s every chance you’ll receive a bite, which will be painful. You’ll also stress your parrot out even more, making it feel highly aggressive and irritated.

Larger parrot species emit a low, harsh-sounding growl produced in the throat, while smaller parrots make a more high-pitched sound. Don’t be fooled by this – a growling parrot is angry, regardless of the reason. Signs accompanied by a growl include:

  • Raised feathers, particularly in the neck
  • Dilated pupils
  • Low, crouched posture
  • Wing flapping

When your parrot growls, you can be sure that something’s upsetting it. Fixing whatever’s in your environment that’s annoying your parrot can help calm it down.

Why Is My Parrot Making Clicking Noises?

Beak clicking is not to be confused with tongue clicking. It’s where a parrot rattles the upper and lower parts of its beak together rapidly as a threat. When parrots make clicking noises, they do so because they’re defending their personal space, territory, or mate.

Parrots also click when they’re disturbed, highlighting their anger, frustration, and fear. When this happens, the click is accompanied by eye pinning, giving the parrot sharper focus in their frontal field of vision. If you’re not careful, your parrot will attack you.

Other signs accompanied by beak clicking include dilated pupils and raised feathers or wings to make the parrot look bigger than its rival.

Macaws and cockatoos are more likely to make clicking noises than other parrot species, but other parrots also click their beaks when they’re annoyed.

Why Do Parrots Imitate Humans?

Parrots don’t only make sounds and noises – they mimic human words and phrases. Or, at least, what they think they hear. Parrots can’t understand what they’re saying, but if they listen to words repeated enough, they’ll remember and repeat them.

Parrots have brains and neural connectors that are very similar to ours, allowing them to mimic and repeat words and develop intricate cognitive abilities.

According to researchers at the University of Alberta, parrots have a medial spiriform nucleus, enabling them to speak in the same way as we do. In fact, it’s larger than any other species of bird, providing them with an advanced neural pathway that makes them such excellent learners. 

Parrots also have more pallium cells than other birds. The pallium is the grey and white matter covering the cerebellum, a critical part of the brain. This also contributes to their imitation skills. How they evolved this complex neurology and learned to talk is a mystery, but they’re better at it than other creatures.

Parrots are intelligent creatures, so it’s not surprising that they have a large repertoire of sounds and noises. Parrots don’t vocalize for no reason, so pay close attention to the sounds your bird’s making to ensure it’s happy and healthy.