Screams and screeches can mean several things, depending on the context of the vocalization. Sometimes, parrots scream due to fearful and worrying reasons that require immediate attention. Screaming can also have a positive and happy explanation, leaving owners confused over the message being conveyed.
Parrots scream when frightened and startled or to warn flock members of danger. Parrots may also scream as a means of communication due to boredom or loneliness. So, parrots with separation anxiety call out for their owners when they leave the room. Parrots also make screeching noises when expressing joy.
Parrots are intelligent, social creatures that need stimulation and environmental safety. Parrots quickly learn that screaming is the best way to get your attention early in life. The problem may be resolved by identifying and removing the cause or stressors or by changing your own level of responsiveness to loud parrot noises.
Why Do Parrots Make So Much Noise?
Parrots are vocal birds that communicate through vocalizations. This may be through chirps, screeches, or yells. This won’t be true screaming, but a form of parrot-talk. Depending on the situation, a scream is a parrot’s way of saying:
- Where are you?
- Spend time with me
- I’m bored
Even healthy and fully enriched parrots will still make 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 reduce the amount of screaming.
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 great mimics and will adopt sounds, words, and phrases that their families make. The Journal of Animal Psychology found that African greys can learn and understand many verbal phrases. Unfortunately, owners commonly surrender their parrots to shelters because of this excessive noise.
Almost all bird species are noisy, and expecting them to be quiet pets will only lead to disappointment. It’s possible to teach parrots that relying on screeching for attention is wrong, but it’ll take time.
Why Do Parrots Scream So Much?
Parrots may scream occasionally, and that’s normal. This may be out of boredom or to get your attention. But what if your parrot screams constantly?
Most parrots only scream with any frequency if they’re frightened or startled. In the wild, this vocalization is a warning system for the rest of the flock. Current Biology notes that many other animal species have learned to rely on bird calls to alert them of a predator.
Signs Of A Scared Parrot
A parrot that screams excessively may feel in danger. Normally, you will also see the parrot:
- Puff up its feathers
- Rock itself from side to side
These are worrisome signs, especially if the parrot is regularly vocalizing this way. It means something in its environment s persistently causing it to be afraid or stressed. As a prey animal, it may be frightened of:
- Other animals in or near the home
- Presence of a new family member
- Seeing the neighbors’ dogs through a window
- Loud noises or sudden noises
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.
- Move 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, observe how the parrot reacts to their presence. If it is a negative reaction, keep them in separate rooms.
Parrots may self-mutilate, like plucking, out of prolonged anxiety. If your parrot is screaming out of fear, pay attention to where its focus is directed.
Parrot Will Not Stop Screaming
What if your parrot screams all the time but shows no other signs of fear? Your parrot is likely bored.
Parrots are clever animals, but 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 develop separation anxiety or destructive behavior.
How To Stop Bored Parrots From Screaming
Offer appropriate outlets for enrichment. These will stimulate parrots and keep them occupied.
If your parrot is confined to a cage, 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 ways to provide parrots with enrichment:
- Food toys that stimulate foraging behavior. Puzzle boxes are a good option.
- Offer uncracked nuts for your parrot to open. This will depend on the particular bird’s diet.
- Hide food throughout its cage for it to hunt down.
Parrots are so smart that certain toys made for human toddlers are a source of 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, so see which ones your parrot likes.
You can also offer personal enrichment to your parrot:
- Interact with your parrot. This affirms your bond and 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 worldwide, the morning or dawn chorus is a natural behavior. Your parrot may ritualistically scream in the morning.
Why do parrots scream at the start of the day? No one appears to know. Some suggest that birds are expressing joy at seeing a new dawn. 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
- 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, as birds settle down for the night.
Parrot Screaming At Night
A parrot screeching at night is the cause of unrest in many households. If your parrot vocalizes around bedtime, it may be due to the dusk-dawn cycle, which is shrouded in mystery.
However, it can also indicate that 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 make the bird feel more hidden like it would in a tree. It also creates darkness, instead of mild darkness with appliance lights brightening up (and disrupting) a parrot’s sleep.
Why Does My Parrot Scream When I Leave The Room?
Parrots bond closely with their owners. 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 reaches the right level of scream.
Getting Your Attention
When we hear our pet screech or scream, we come running. A parrot will quickly learn that to get a response from you, all it has to do is scream.
Some owners interpret this as stubbornness. Others interpret it as the parrot learning that its human is bad at listening, so it tries to accommodate louder noises. Regardless, you should care about this screaming. Depending on the parrot, it may develop separation anxiety if it has a companion bird. It is important to ease its anxiety by:
- Responding before it begins screaming
- Bringing the parrot with you
- Providing it with multiple perches
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 reliant on 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. There are many videos of pet birds singing and dancing to songs or melodies.
A parrot may scream when you play music because it’s enjoying itself. Parrots can scream out of joy. Equally, the parrot may screech because the music has startled it, or it doesn’t like the song. You can play different songs or genres.
Is My Parrot Jealous?
Parrots thrive on attention, so they may become jealous when that attention gets turned elsewhere. In these cases, ignore the screaming and don’t reward this attention-seeking behavior. Direct its energy into constructive outlets:
- Give the parrot enrichment toys to keep it entertained
- Give your parrot social time with yourself to keep it happy
- Use positive reinforcement methods to train it out of bad habits
Is My Parrot Hurt?
Carefully observe your parrot for signs of illness or injury. If there are no visible signs of injury, look for other signs:
- 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 vent.
Acting fast is critical as they are fragile animals and have limited fat reserves.
Is My Parrot Lonely?
When a parrot’s social needs aren’t met, they can misbehave due to boredom and loneliness. In part, this can be resolved by providing the bird with enrichment. Without companionship, this will only go so far.
If you or your family cannot spend more time with your bird, consider getting it a companion bird. This doesn’t have to be a mate. It doesn’t even have to be the same species or to 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, if your parrot screams excessively, there are methods for teaching it that this isn’t acceptable behavior.
Find The Source Problem And Fix It
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. Enriched parrots may still scream as it is a natural way of expressing fear and joy.
There is no immediate way to quiet a screaming parrot. Covering its cage with a blanket is suggested, but this isn’t guaranteed to be successful. It may even encourage the parrot to make more noise.
Training a parrot out of a bad habit like screaming and screeching requires patience and consistency. It can be difficult, so consider consulting an avian vet or a bird behaviorist for a training plan.