Parrots are vocal animals. Screams and screeches can mean several things, depending on the context of the vocalization. Sometimes, parrots scream for negative reasons that require immediate attention. Screaming can also have a positive explanation, leaving owners confused over the message that is being conveyed. Getting to the bottom of your parrot’s screaming involves analyzing its reasons for making the noise.
A parrot will scream if it’s frightened or startled. Excessive screaming signals that something is wrong with the bird, its environment, or how you interact with it. However, it is normal for parrots to scream when they are expressing joy. Parrots may also scream as a means of communication out of boredom or loneliness. Parrots with separation anxiety may scream for their owners when they leave the room.
This is partly because parrots learn that screaming is the best way to get your attention early in life. The screaming may be resolved by identifying and removing the stressors. Parrots are intelligent, social creatures that need lots of stimulation from their owners.
Why Do Parrots Make So Much Noise?
Parrots, by default, are very vocal birds. When they’re performing tricks or mimicking human words, people find this cute or fascinating. However, when parrots revert to their baser noises, the reaction is less favorable.
The thing is, parrots communicate through vocalizations. This may be through chirps, short screeches, or mild yells. This won’t be true screaming, but instead, a form of parrot-talk. Depending on the situation, a screech is a parrot’s way of saying:
- Where are you?
- I’m bored
Even healthy and fully enriched parrots will still make a great deal of noise.
Do Parrots Have To Scream?
Not all screeches and screams mean the same thing. The context of the noise must be analyzed. Look for influencing factors in the surrounding environment and the parrot’s behavior.
In most cases, you can train your parrot to vocalize differently. You can also adjust its environment to be safer and more enriching. This will tone down its screaming and may almost eliminate it too.
However, you must understand that parrots are not quiet pets. Even if your parrot rarely screams, there is a repertoire of other noises it will use to communicate. These include:
Parrots are also excellent mimics and will adopt sounds, words, and phrases that their families make. African grey parrots are famous for their intelligence. They can learn and understand many verbal phrases, as the Journal of Animal Psychology found. In short, parrots are noisy. Unfortunately, owners commonly surrender their pet parrots to shelters because of this “excessive” noise.
Almost all bird species are noisy, and expecting them to be a quiet pets will only lead to disappointment. It is possible to teach parrots that relying on screaming for attention is wrong, but it will take time. However, excessive screaming or doing so in certain situations is cause for concern.
Why Do Parrots Scream So Much?
Parrots may scream now and then – and that’s normal. This may be out of boredom or to get your attention. But what if yours screams properly (not chirping or yelling) constantly?
Most parrots only scream with any frequency if they’re frightened or startled. In the wild, this vocalization is an essential warning system for the rest of the flock. Current Biology even notes that many other animal species have learned to rely on bird calls as a sign of danger.
Signs Of A Scared Parrot
A parrot that screams excessively may feel in serious danger. Normally, you will also see the parrot:
- Puff up its feathers
- Rock itself from side to side
- Bite if it is stressed
These are worrisome signs, especially if the parrot is often vocalizing this way. It means there is something within its local environment that is persistently causing it to be afraid or stressed. Identify what is frightening or stressing the parrot. As a prey animal, it may be frightened of:
- Other animals in or near the home
- By the presence of a new family member
- Seeing the neighbors’ dogs through a window
- Loud noises or sudden noises
- Stress from a lack of sleep
Even replacing the parrot’s cage with a different one can upset it.
What To Do If Parrot Screams From Fear
Whether or not you’ve identified the reason for the problem, your goal is to calm the parrot. Once it feels safe, the screaming will abate. This may not be right away, but over the course of a few minutes and up to an hour.
- Try moving the parrot’s cage and perch to a quieter location.
- Drape a sheet over its sleep cage. This blocks out some noise and light, creating a stable space for it to sleep.
- Avoid playing music or watching T.V. during the night in this room.
- If there are other pets in the house, carefully observe how the parrot reacts to their presence. If it is a negative reaction, keep them in separate rooms.
Parrots will often self-mutilate, like plucking, out of prolonged anxiety. It is important to get on top of the situation as fast as possible. If your parrot is screaming out of fear, pay close attention to where its focus is directed. This should help you quickly identify the problem and then remove it.
Parrot Will Not Stop Screaming
What if your parrot screams constantly, but shows no other signs of fear? What if it screams for long periods of time, several times a day, without the puffed-up feathers or rocking? Then you have a more complicated issue. Most likely, your parrot is bored.
Parrots are very clever animals, which is what makes them attractive pets to many. However, this intelligence requires no small amount of mental enrichment. Without it, you won’t have a happy and fulfilled parrot. An unhappy parrot has no qualms about making its feelings known.
Alongside screeching, it may also develop separation anxiety or destructive behavior.
How To Stop Bored Parrots From Screaming
It’s important to offer appropriate outlets for enrichment. These will stimulate parrots and keep them occupied.
If your parrot is confined to a cage and aviary, that’s even more important. These living conditions aren’t ideal. Parrots should be allowed to free roam outside of a cage for at least 3-4 hours every day.
There are plenty of ways to provide parrots with enrichment:
- Food toys that stimulate foraging behavior. Those designed like puzzle boxes are a great option. Many can be purchased at pet supply stores.
- Offer uncracked nuts for your parrot to open. This will depend on the particular bird’s diet, as some won’t appreciate nuts.
- Hide food throughout its cage for it to hunt down.
Parrots are actually so intelligent, certain toys made for human toddlers are great for parrot enrichment. These can entertain parrots for hours. Try:
- Wooden blocks (without paint)
- Plastic cups
- Puzzle boxes.
There are also many bird-specific toys available on the market. Try some and see what your parrot likes.
You can also offer personal enrichment to your parrot:
- Interact with your parrot. This does more than affirm your bond; it fulfils its social enrichment needs.
- Train your parrot. This gives it lots of mental stimulation. In fact, training can be a great way to teach your pet how to communicate outside of screeching.
Parrot Screaming In The Morning
As a phenomenon seen in wild bird populations the world over, the morning or dawn chorus is a natural behavior. Your parrot may ritualistically scream in the morning.
Why do parrots, or any bird species, scream during those early hours? No one appears to know. Some suggest that birds are expressing joy at seeing a new dawn and are greeting the day. Others believe it’s territorial or related to breeding seasons, as noise levels have fluctuated depending on the time of year.
The Journal of Ornithology has researched an exhausting list of environmental factors. Each of these appears to relate to the dawn chorus:
- Cloud cover
- Even moon phases
From this study, it does appear that sunlight triggers parrots to sing or screech in the morning. This is also a common behavior observed in the evenings too, as birds settle down to roost for the night.
Parrot Screaming At Night
A parrot screeching at night is not a fun experience. In fact, it’s the cause of unrest in many households. If your parrot vocalizes around bedtime, it may be due to the aforementioned dusk-dawn cycle, which is shrouded in mystery.
However, it can also indicate your parrot is acting out due to feeling unsafe. By screaming, it’s trying to alert and locate the rest of its flock. When a parrot feels exposed, these feelings of danger only escalate in the dark, where parrots have no visibility. There are ways to make your parrot feel safe at night:
- Ensure that the parrot’s sleep cage is somewhere it feels safe. This may be away from other pets or noises, like the whirring sound of a kitchen’s refrigerator.
- Drape a blanket over the cage at night. This can help the bird feel more hidden like it would in a tree. It also creates true darkness, instead of mild darkness with appliance lights brightening up (and disrupting) a parrot’s night.
Why Does My Parrot Scream When I Leave The Room?
Parrots bond closely with their owners when cared for properly. They become attached to their families and may vocalize their distaste at being separated from them. Even going into a separate room can cause the parrot to scream for you.
What will surprise most owners is that screaming is a learned behavior. Previously, your parrot would have called to you with a different, softer sound.
Trying To Locate You
In the wild, birds call out to each other when they are separated. You can hear birds that have strayed from the flock (or their mate) respond. This guides lost birds back to the group. Or, it lets the stray bird tell the rest that it isn’t in danger.
Your parrot may do the same. However, you may not recognize its call or know what to do. This leads your parrot to become anxious when you don’t respond. If the bird continues to be greeted with silence, its calls will grow more insistent and worried. This results in an increasingly loud series of noises until it hits the scream.
Getting Your Attention
For any pet owner, when we hear our pet screech or scream, we come running. A parrot will quickly learn that to get a response from you, it has to scream.
Some owners interpret this as stubbornness like the parrot is determined to gain your attention through any means necessary. Others interpret it as the parrot learning that its human is bad at listening, so it tries to accommodate louder noises.
No matter your opinion, you should care about this screaming. Depending on the individual parrot, and if it has a companion bird, it may develop separation anxiety. It is important to ease your parrot’s anxiety by:
- Responding before it begins screaming
- Bringing the parrot with you
- Providing it with multiple perches throughout the house, so it can join you at will
Separation anxiety may also develop when the family group changes or from a lack of enrichment. For a family change, this may be due to:
- Work commitments
In time, the parrot may adjust. However, it will take patience on your part and plenty of alternative outlets to help the parrot recover.
If there’s a lack of enrichment, the parrot will become very attached to your company. It can’t entertain itself, so the parrot depends on you to keep it happy. When it is parted from you, the parrot is naturally deprived of its main source of fulfillment. Separation anxiety can be eased by developing your own contact call.
- Use a phrase when it calls for you.
- Keep using it at every instance.
- Eventually, the parrot should learn that this is you saying I’ll be back soon and that you’re okay.
Why Does My Parrot Scream When I Play Music?
As it turns out, birds and humans have similar responses to music.
Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience discovered that birds respond positively to music. A search on YouTube will also show many videos of pet birds singing and dancing along to songs or melodies. Parrots may even learn to mimic certain tunes.
A parrot may scream when you play music because it is enjoying itself. Parrots do occasionally scream out of joy. Equally, the parrot may screech because the music has startled it, or it really doesn’t like the song. Closely watch its body language for other signs indicating its mood.
You can also try playing different songs or genres. You may find one that it quite enjoys.
Is My Parrot Jealous?
Parrots thrive on attention, so they may become quite jealous when that attention gets turned elsewhere. In these cases, it is important to ignore the screaming and not reward this attention-seeking behavior. Should you, it will learn that screaming is the best way to get your attention. The key will be directing its energy into more constructive outlets.
- Give the parrot enrichment toys, so it stays entertained
- Give your parrot social time with yourself to keep it happy and healthy
- Try using positive reinforcement methods to train it out of bad habits
Is My Parrot Hurt?
Screaming could be a sign that your parrot is hurt. Carefully observe it for any signs of illness or injury, and take it to the vet if there are any. If there are no visible signs of injury, look for other signs of pain, such as:
- Screaming for no apparent reason
- Refusal to eat
- Biting or shying away from contact
- Lack of grooming
- Unexplained aggression
- Pacing or restlessness
An unwell parrot may also:
- Puff its feathers frequently
- Discharge from the nose
- Have fecal matter stuck to the bird’s vent.
Acting fast is critical when it comes to birds being unwell. They are fragile animals and have limited fat reserves to handle an inability to eat.
Is My Parrot Lonely?
Parrots have social needs. When these needs are not met, parrots can act out from boredom and loneliness. In part, this can be resolved by providing the bird with plenty of enrichment. Without appropriate companionship, however, this will only go so far.
If you or your family cannot spend more time with your bird, consider getting it a companion bird. Despite what some owners suggest, this doesn’t have to be a mate. It doesn’t even have to be the same species or live in the same cage.
How To Quiet A Screaming Parrot
Parrots will naturally vocalize at points during the day. There is no way to prevent them from doing this, and it’s cruel even to attempt doing so. However, should your parrot scream extensively, there are methods for teaching it that this isn’t acceptable behavior.
Find The Source Problem And Fix It
Determine why the parrot is screaming and resolve the issue. Identifying the source of the behavior allows you to correct the problem. Otherwise, you’re just expecting your parrot to ignore or get over it.
In most cases, correcting its screaming habit relies on resolving boredom and not rewarding this bad behavior. Properly enriched parrots may still scream, though, as it is a natural way for them to express fear and joy.
There is no immediate way to quiet a screaming parrot. Covering its cage with a blanket is a suggested method, but this isn’t guaranteed. It may even encourage the parrot to make more noise.
Training a parrot out of a bad habit like screaming requires patience and consistency. It can be difficult, and we recommend consulting a vet or a bird behaviorist for a training plan.