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what do parrot sounds mean?

13 Parrot Sounds And Noises: What Vocalizations Mean!

Last Updated on: 28th September 2023, 10:02 pm

Parrots make various noises to denote how they feel. Each sound conveys a different meaning and plays a significant part in enabling us to understand parrots’ requirements.

While some sounds are alarming and distressed, others are sweet-sounding, happy, and contented.

Parrots don’t make identical sounds, and some species have distinct vocalizations. As parrots don’t speak English, they use their vocalizations to communicate what’s right or wrong.

What Do Different Parrot Sounds Mean?

Here are the different parrot vocalizations:

VocalizationSound Meaning
ChirpingChirping signifies happiness, contentment, and relaxation.
WhistlingParrots whistle to show happiness and get their owners’ attention.
CryingCrying signifies grief, fear, sadness, loneliness, and pain.
SqueakingSqueaking occurs when a parrot is startled or has a tracheal or syringeal disease.
PurringContented parrots purr, like when sharing affection with owners.
SquawkingSquawking signifies danger, so they seek to get attention.
ScreechingParrots screech when afraid or in danger.
HissingHissing occurs when a parrot feels angry, threatened, or defensive.
Tongue clickingTongue clicking is a happy sound that parrots make when contented or excited.
Beak grindingBeak grinding is a self-soothing motion that helps birds settle down or sleep.
ChatteringParrots chatter to communicate with flock members. It’s a vocalization that signifies happiness and is used to gain attention.
GrowlingGrowling signifies anger and annoyance. It’s a warning to stay away.
Beak clickingParrots make clicking noises when defending their space, territory, or mates.

Let’s look at what each parrot sound means:

Why Do Parrots Chirp?

Parrots make a chirping sound when happy, signifying contentment and relaxation.

Parrots chirp if you play the music they like or do something that makes them happy. If you hear a parrot chirp, its mood is upbeat.

That’s why parrots chirp when the radio and TV are turned on in the background. This is a fun enrichment, keeping them mentally stimulated.

However, parrots chirp to tell their flock to flee danger. Parrots have calls exclusive to their flock, which enable them to communicate with each other, providing safety in numbers.

If you have several parrots, you may hear them call each other when they feel threatened. This is normal, but you should remove the stressor. For example, predatory pets (like cats) are stalking their cage.

Parrot species have different types of chirps, so their sounds vary significantly. However, the consensus is that chirps are universally bound by their positive connotations.

Why Do Parrots Whistle?

Many parrot species make melodic whistling sounds, which sound like a song and are pleasant to hear. Whistling is the equivalent of talking for bird species.

Most parrots learn how to whistle without any formal training. Whistling is among the most common happy parrot sounds because they never whistle when angry or sad.

Parrots may whistle to get their owners’ attention, especially when they want attention. You’ll commonly find the parrot whistling as you enter the room as a friendly greeting.

If you want to teach the parrot how to talk, encourage it to whistle once it starts picking up words and phrases. Parrots prefer whistling, finding it easier and more instinctual than using human words.

You can teach the parrot to whistle by whistling along to favorite tunes within earshot of the parrot. Repeat the song several times a day until the parrot copies you.

African grey parrots, cockatiels, and cockatoos are particularly good whistlers.

what do different parrot noises mean?

Why Does My Parrot Make Crying Noises?

Parrots experience a broad spectrum of emotions, including sadness and grief.

Even though parrots have tear ducts, they don’t cry tears. Instead, they vocalize their distress through noises that sound like human cries. Parrots cry out for these reasons:

  • Loneliness (a lack of interaction).
  • Living in poor conditions.
  • Fear and anxiety.
  • Illness, disease, or injury.

Parrots make crying noises when grieving the loss of a mate.

Why Does My Parrot Squeak?

Squeaking isn’t a noise all parrots make, and it’s relatively uncommon.

Some parrots squeak when startled or touched, while many never squeak. It’s usually a joyful noise, but this depends on the bird’s personality.

Unfortunately, squeaking can signify tracheal or syringeal disease. The syrinx is the parrot’s 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 each breath taken.

When parrots start squeaking, it can take days or weeks to 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, a foreign body, like millet seed, tumors, or fungal granuloma, can cause a full or partial blockage of airflow, which causes the squeaking noise.

Why Do Parrots Purr?

Purring signifies affection. Not all parrots purr, but those that do make the sound when they feel comfortable in their owners’ presence and have bonded with them.

Some parrots purr when snuggling with their owners or being petted, strengthening their connection. However, purring sounds like low-pitched growls show anger and annoyance.

Observe the parrot’s demeanor for signs of comfort or distress to determine what noise you hear. If the parrot’s happy, you’ll notice these signs:

These signify a parrot’s comfort in your presence.

Why Do Parrots Squawk?

Cockatoos are prone to squawking, which they do to get attention and things they want. Squawking also indicates fear and danger. If a parrot sees another animal, it’ll squawk to alert other birds.

Night frights are a further explanation for squawking. Parrots are prey animals, so when they hear scary sounds at night, they become fearful because they’re fearful.

When confined to their cages, they feel trapped and vulnerable. The problem is exacerbated because parrots have poor night vision. Night terrors can be triggered by:

  • Insects are buzzing around the cage.
  • Animals are seen through the window.
  • Family members creep up on them at night.
  • Sudden lights and flashes.
  • Road traffic.
  • Unexplained shadows.

Placing a towel or sheet over the cage at night can minimize squawking.

Why Do Parrots Screech?

Parrots screech when scared because:

  • A new family member.
  • Seeing cats and dogs through a window.
  • Loud and unexplained noises.
  • Stress from a lack of sleep.
  • Unsuitable living conditions.

As well as screeching, parrots may pace, puff up their feathers, lunge, and bite

To stop a parrot from screeching, remove whatever’s stressing the parrot. This could include:

  • Moving the cage to a quieter location.
  • Draping a sheet over the cage at night to block light.
  • Turn off TVs and radios.
  • Keep other pets in separate rooms.
  • Provide bored parrots with toys.

Screeching is an unpleasant sound, so you must minimize this noise.

Why Do Parrots Hiss?

Parrots only hiss when they feel threatened or stressed. The sound has a similar meaning to squawking and screeching due to the triggers that cause it. Things that cause hissing include:

  • Intimidating cagemates.
  • Predatory pets.
  • Unfamiliar or unwelcome objects in the cage.
  • Being approached when it’s not in the mood.
  • Pain or sickness.

Cockatiels and African greys are most likely to hiss. While it’s tempting to do your utmost to make the parrot feel better, leave them alone to calm down before interacting with them.

Why Do Birds Click Their Tongue?

Parrots make clicking sounds with their tongue when happy or excited. This random, joyful noise indicates when a parrot feels contented within its surroundings.

The sound is similar to a human clicking their tongue against the roof of their mouth. The parrots’ tongue anatomy isn’t dissimilar to ours, which explains the similarities.

Not all parrots make this noise, but it’s most common among cockatoos and cockatiels.

Tongue clicking is a way for parrots to get attention. If a parrot wants to be picked up and petted, it’ll emit a soft clicking sound with its tongue to get your attention.

Some parrots click their tongues against their mouths to entertain themselves. It’s not necessarily a sign of boredom but a sign that the parrot enjoys creating the sound.

Don’t confuse tongue-clicking with beak-clicking because they signify different things.

Why Do Parrots Grind Their Beaks?

Beak grinding is most commonly heard as parrots fall asleep. The back-and-forth motion is self-soothing, enabling birds to settle down and sleep.

The noise encourages birds to put their heads down, which compliments the owner because parrots evolved to remain half-awake, with one eye open (called peeking) when asleep.

Parrots grind their beaks to remove food debris and keep their beaks worn down. Some parrots achieve this by moving their beaks back and forth, while others move them from side to side.

Why Do Parrots Chatter?

These “motor-mouth” noises are like a stream of syllables punctuated with words and whistles. Chattering sometimes concerns owners who hear it for the first time, but it’s a way of expressing joy.

Soft chatter signifies contentment and is how some parrots learn to talk. Loud chatter occurs when parrots want to remind their owners they’re nearby and want attention.

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 their flock.

parrot vocalization

Why Does My Parrot Growl?

Parrots growl as a warning to keep away or stop your actions. If you proceed, you may get bitten. You’ll also stress the parrot more, making it more irritated and aggressive.

The African grey parrot may emit a low, harsh-sounding growl in the throat. A growling parrot is angry, regardless of the reason. Signs accompanying a growl include:

  • Raised feathers, especially on the neck.
  • Eye pinning.
  • Low, crouched posture.
  • Wing flapping.

Resolving what’s upsetting the parrot will eventually calm it down.

Why Is My Parrot Making Clicking Noises?

Beak clicking is where a parrot rattles the upper and lower parts of its beak together rapidly as a threat. When parrots make clicking noises, they’re defensive of their space, territory, or mates.

Parrots click when disturbed, highlighting their anger, frustration, and fear. When this happens, the click is accompanied by eye pinning, giving the parrot sharper focus in its frontal field of vision.

Other signs that accompany beak clicking include dilated pupils and raised feathers or wings to make the parrot look intimidating. Macaws and cockatoos are most likely to make clicking noises.

Why Do Parrots Imitate Humans?

Parrots mimic human words. Or, at least, what they think they hear. Parrots can’t understand what they’re saying, but if they listen to the same words enough, they’ll remember and repeat them.

Parrots have brains and neural connectors similar to humans, allowing them to mimic and repeat words and develop advanced cognitive abilities.

According to the University of Alberta, parrots have a medial spiriform nucleus, enabling them to speak.

The medial spiriform nucleus is larger than most other bird species, providing them with an advanced neural pathway that makes them fast learners. 

Parrots have more pallium cells (grey and white matter covering the cerebellum) than most other birds.

Parrots are intelligent animals, able to produce a vast repertoire of sounds and noises. The different vocalizations and meanings reveal a parrot’s mood and happiness level.