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what do parrot sounds mean?

Parrot Sounds And Noises: What Vocalizations Mean!

Parrots make various sounds and noises. While some sound alarming, others sound sweet and happy. Understanding the most common parrot sounds and meanings is essential.

When parrots feel happy, they chirp, whistle, purr, and click their tongues.

Parrots chatter before going to sleep and when communicating with other birds in their flock, which they do to check in on one another.

Scared parrots squeak and screech, while sad birds cry. Angry parrots hiss, growl and click their beaks.

Take note of your parrot’s vocalizations, as they’ll alert you when something’s not quite right.

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 enabling owners to understand what their parrots want. Not all parrots make the same noises, and some species are prone to making certain sounds.

Parrots’ most common noises and vocalizations include:

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 have a voice box disease.
PurringContented parrots purr, particularly while snuggling with 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 that 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 and is 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.

We’ll now take a closer look at what each parrot vocalization means:

Why Do Parrots Chirp?

Chirping is a sound that parrots make when they’re happy, signifying contentment and relaxation.

Parrots will chirp if you put music that they like or do something that makes them happy. If you hear your parrot chirp, it’s satisfied in 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, keeping them healthy and mentally stimulated.

However, birds chirp to alert their flock to flee from predators and other perils. Parrots have calls exclusive to their community, which allows them to communicate with each other, providing safety 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.

Parrot species have different types of chirps, so the sounds will 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 sound like a song. However, whistling is similar to talking for parrots.

Most parrots learn how to whistle from their owners, radio, and TV. Whistling is one of the most common happy parrot sounds because they don’t whistle when angry or sad.

Parrots whistle to get their owners’ attention, especially if they’re bored and want to play. You’ll commonly find your bird whistling 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. Many parrots prefer whistling and find it easier to do, meaning they’re less likely 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 good whistlers and commonly adopt a favorite sound.

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 out because of:

  • Loneliness due to not receiving enough interaction
  • Depression caused by poor living conditions or sickness
  • Fear and worry
  • Pain from illness or injury

Parrots make crying noises due to grief, mourning due to the loss of close companions, such as a mate.

Why Does My Parrot Squeak?

Squeaking isn’t a noise all parrots make, and 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 that parrots make, signifying affection. Not all birds 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 into their owners or when they’re being petted, strengthening your connection.

However, purring sounds similar to a low-pitched growl, which is a sign of anger and annoyance. Listen closely to your parrot to determine if you can distinguish between the two sounds.

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

  • 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 in your presence.

Why Do Parrots Squawk?

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

Squawking indicates that danger’s nearby. If your parrot sees other animals, it’ll squawk to let other birds know.

Night frights are a further explanation for your parrot’s squawking. Parrots are prey animals. When parrots hear frightening sounds during the night, they become fearful because they feel predators are after them.

When confined to their cages, they feel trapped and vulnerable. Night terrors are caused by:

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

Placing a towel or sheet over your parrot’s cage at night will minimize the amount of squawking.

Why Do Parrots Screech?

Parrots screech because they’re scared and fearful. Parrots are affected by:

  • The presence of a new family member
  • Seeing cats and dogs through a window
  • Loud sudden noises
  • Stress from a lack of sleep or poor living conditions

As well as screeching, parrots will pace, puff up their feathers, and bite. 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 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
  • Provide bored parrots with toys to keep them occupied

Screeching isn’t a pleasant sound, so you’ll want to minimize the noise. Don’t ignore it.

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 similar triggers cause it. Hissing signifies your parrot’s feeling stressed.

Several things can cause hissing, 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.

Cockatiels and African greys are more likely to hiss. While you might be tempted to make your parrot feel better, leave them alone to calm down before attempting to interact with them again.

Why Do Birds Click Their Tongue?

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

The sound is similar to a human clicking their tongue against the roof of their mouth. The parrot tongue anatomy isn’t that dissimilar from 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 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 way to direct your attention to 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.

Don’t confuse tongue clicking with beak clicking, as it signifies entirely different things.

Why Do Parrots Grind Their Beaks?

Beak grinding is most commonly heard as birds fall asleep. The back and forth motion is self-soothing and can enable them to settle down to sleep.

The noise they generate 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.

Parrots grind their beaks to clean off food debris, sharpen their beaks, and keep their beaks filed down. Some parrots do this by moving their beaks back and forth, while others move them from side to side with more force.

Why Do Parrots Chatter?

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

Soft chatter is a sign of contentment and is how some birds begin learning how to talk. Loud chatter occurs when parrots want to remind their owners that 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 members of their flock.

parrot vocalization

Why Does My Parrot Growl?

Parrots growl as a warning for you to keep away or stop what you’re doing. If you proceed, there’s every chance that you’ll receive a bite. You’ll also stress your parrot out more, making it more aggressive and irritated.

The African grey parrot may emit a low, harsh-sounding growl produced in the throat. 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

Resolving whatever’s upsetting your parrot will 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 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.

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.

Why Do Parrots Imitate Humans?

Parrots 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 the same words enough, they’ll remember and repeat them.

Parrots have brains and neural connectors 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 that we do. In fact, it’s larger than any other bird species, providing them with an advanced neural pathway that makes them such good learners. 

Parrots 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 produce a repertoire of sounds and noises. Parrots don’t vocalize for no reason, so pay attention to the sounds your bird’s making to ensure it’s happy and healthy.