Parrots make various noises. Each sound conveys a different meaning and plays a significant part in enabling owners to understand what their parrots want.
While some sounds are alarming, others are sweet-sounding, happy, and contented.
Not all parrots make the same noises, and some species are prone to making certain sounds. Note your parrot’s vocalizations, as they’ll alert you when something’s right or wrong.
What Do Parrot Sounds Mean?
Parrots boast an impressive repertoire of vocalizations and sounds, including:
|Sound or Noise||Meaning|
|Chirping||Chirping is a sign of happiness, contentedness, and relaxation.|
|Whistling||Parrots whistle to show happiness and get their owners’ attention.|
|Crying||Crying signifies grief, fear, depression, loneliness, and pain.|
|Squeaking||Squeaking is a sound that parrots make when startled or have a voice box disease.|
|Purring||Contented parrots purr, particularly while sharing affection with their owners.|
|Squawking||Squawking signifies danger, so they squawk to get attention.|
|Screeching||Parrots screech when afraid or in danger.|
|Hissing||Hissing occurs when a parrot feels angry, threatened, or intimidated.|
|Tongue clicking||Tongue clicking is a happy sound that parrots make when they’re contented or excited.|
|Beak grinding||Beak grinding is a self-soothing motion that helps birds settle down or sleep.|
|Chattering||Parrots chatter to communicate with other flock members. It’s a vocalization that signifies happiness and is used to gain attention.|
|Growling||Growling signifies that the parrot’s stressed and angry. It’s a warning to stay away.|
|Beak clicking||Parrots make clicking noises when defending their space, territory, or mates.|
Let’s take a closer look at what each parrot vocalization means:
Why Do Parrots Chirp?
Chirping is a sound that parrots make when happy, signifying contentment and relaxation.
Parrots will chirp if you play music they like or do something that makes them happy. If you hear your parrot chirp, this means it’s feeling satisfied.
Similarly, if you have the radio and TV on in the background, parrots will chirp to join in. This is a fun form of enrichment, keeping them mentally stimulated.
However, parrots chirp to alert their flock to flee from predators and other perils. Parrots have calls exclusive to their flock, which allow 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, such as predatory pets, like cats, stalking their cage.
Parrot species have different types of chirps, so their sounds vary. That said, chirps are universally bound by their positive connotations.
Why Do Parrots Whistle?
Many parrot species make melodic whistling sounds, which are 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 never whistle when angry or sad.
Parrots whistle to get their owners’ attention, especially when bored. You’ll commonly find your parrot whistling as you enter 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 once they know how to whistle.
You can teach your parrot to whistle by whistling along to your favorite tunes within earshot of your parrot. Keep repeating this several times a day until your parrot starts copying you.
African grey parrots, cockatiels, and cockatoos are good whistlers.
Why Does My Parrot Make Crying Noises?
Parrots experience 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 like human cries. Parrots cry out for the following reasons:
- 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 when grieving 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 relatively uncommon.
Some parrots squeak when startled or touched, while many don’t squeak at all. It’s primarily an upbeat sound, but this depends on the bird’s personality.
Unfortunately, squeaking also signifies 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 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, 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.
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 the 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 parrot’s demeanor for signs of comfort or distress, enabling you to figure out what noise 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
These signify that a parrot’s relaxed, comfortable, and happy in your presence.
Why Do Parrots Squawk?
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 danger. If your parrot sees other animals, it’ll squawk to let other birds know.
Night frights are a further explanation for squawking. Parrots are prey animals. When parrots hear scary sounds at night, they become fearful because they fear that 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 the cage at night minimizes the amount of squawking.
Why Do Parrots Screech?
Parrots screech when scared and fearful due to:
- The presence of a new family member
- Seeing cats and dogs through a window
- Loud and 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 in 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 is unpleasant, so you’ll want to minimize the noise.
Why Do Parrots Hiss?
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 its 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 interacting with them again.
Why Do Birds Click Their Tongue?
Parrots make clicking sounds with their tongue when happy, contented, 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 or wants some affection, it’ll emit a soft clicking sound with its tongue to direct your attention to them.
Some parrots 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 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 and enables them to settle down to sleep.
The noise generated 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.
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 signifies contentment and is how some parrots begin learning how 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 members of their flock.
Why Does My Parrot Growl?
Parrots growl as a warning to keep away or stop what you’re doing. If you proceed, you may get bitten. 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 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’re defending their personal space, territory, or mate.
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 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 advanced cognitive abilities.
According to the University of Alberta, parrots have a medial spiriform nucleus, enabling them to speak like we do. The medial spiriform nucleus is larger than any other bird species, providing them with an advanced neural pathway that makes them 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 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 your parrot’s sounds.