Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Carrie Stephens
All parrots scream, but some species are particularly vocal and noisy. Macaws, Amazons, conures, and cockatoos are very communicative birds, sometimes yelling for several minutes.
Screaming can be triggered by fear, startlement, stress, loneliness, jealousy, injury, or ill health.
Attention-seeking is a common reason parrots scream, especially if you always rush over to meet their needs. Parrots quickly realize this behavior garners a response from you.
If a parrot panics when you leave the room, screaming constantly, it’s due to separation anxiety disorder. This happens when a parrot fears you’ll go away and never return.
If you yell or scream back at the parrot, its vocalizations will only get louder and more persistent. Parrots instinctively increase their volume to make themselves heard over other birds.
Screaming is an engrained behavior that can’t be entirely prevented. Many owners rehome screaming parrots, but training from a bird behaviorist can reduce the frequency and duration.
Why Parrots Scream
Wild parrots communicate through screams, conveying life-critical messages to members of their flock. Parrots scream for up to 20 minutes (usually less) and are most vocal at dawn and dusk.
Here are the main reasons for screaming:
Nothing To Do
Parrots require physical and mental stimulation to remain happy. Never let a parrot grow bored, or else it might scream. Avoid leaving a parrot alone all day, and provide fun toys while you’re away.
If you fail to engage sufficiently, the parrot will announce its frustration.
A parrot may scream for attention if it fears you’ll miss one of its mealtimes. Parrots are routine-driven birds, expecting everything to happen on time each day.
When wild parrots wake up, they gather in flocks and forage for food together. Parrots communicate with each other when it’s time to eat, and an abundant food source has been located.
If you fail to provide a pet parrot with a meal, it’ll let you know it’s hungry and needs food.
Warning People To Stay Away
Sometimes, a parrot’s scream is a message to a human to stay away from its cage, not attempt handling, or to alert other birds that there’s a nearby threat.
If a parrot shares a home with other pets, ensure that predatory animals (like cats) aren’t distressing it. If you notice body language accompanying screaming, it may be issuing a warning:
- Crouching low with a rigid body.
- Flared tail feathers.
- Pinning the eyes while staring attentively.
- Spreading the wings and puffing up to look more menacing.
- Raised crests in all members of the cockatoo family.
If a parrot is agitated enough to scream, it’s likely to do whatever it takes to defend itself.
Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Parrots are rarely comfortable alone. If a parrot is lost in the wild, it’ll scream to notify its flock until it’s found and reunited. A parrot is replicating this scenario with you.
Separation anxiety disorder isn’t just related to a fear of being alone. If a parrot screams when you leave the room, it considers you essential to its survival and fears for its safety when you’re not around.
Cage Is Too Small
Is the cage large enough for the parrot to stretch its wings and move freely? If you have two or more parrots, each bird will need territory to feel contented with life.
Parrots dislike bright colors (like red, orange, brilliant white, etc.) Different shades of red are a universal sign of danger in the wild. When decorating the home, only use pastel shades.
Sudden, loud noises (like roadworks, television, arguments, etc.) can distress parrots. If you live in a city with many passing cars and street noise, consider moving the cage to a quieter room.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is vital to a parrot’s well-being. If a parrot screams at night, it could be because the lights are on and you’ve not covered the cage when it’s time to get some rest.
Parrots don’t have the same thought processes surrounding sleep as humans. They won’t stay up late on Friday night and sleep in on Saturday morning to compensate.
Following an established sleeping and waking routine will benefit a parrot’s long-term wellness.
Neophobia (New Things)
Parrots are neophobic (an aversion to all things new). If you add a new toy to the cage without introducing it, the parrot may grow alarmed and scream. Some plush toys can be life-like.
Injury And Ill Health
Constant screaming could be a request for help from a sick or injured parrot. The symptoms of illness are becoming more uncomfortable, so the parrot is letting you know it’s struggling.
Check the parrot for injuries. Verify that the eyes, feet, and beak are in good order. Is the parrot struggling to perch and favoring the bottom of the cage? Is it limping or struggling to fly?
Listen to how the parrot breathes to determine if it has a respiratory tract infection.
Parrots become more vocal in spring because it’s the breeding season. Hormone levels rise when the number of daylight hours increases and temperatures start to rise.
It’ll experience a hormonal surge and grow frustrated at being unable to breed.
Parrots are emotional animals, hence why they can bond closely with humans and other animals. If you have a lone parrot and its world revolves around you, it’s likely to become jealous of others.
It may grow distressed if it sees you petting another animal or showing affection to a loved one. If the parrot screams when you engage with others, perform these activities in a different room.
How To Stop Parrots from Screaming
Expecting a parrot to be silent is entirely unrealistic. Although parrots communicate with other birds (and humans) through vocalizations, the amount of screaming can be significantly reduced.
You can reduce screaming by doing the following:
- Ensure the parrot is healthy and injury-free.
- Provide mental stimulation to avoid boredom.
- Establish a reliable routine for food, play, and sleep.
- Keep the cage clean, removing poop, food waste, and feather dust.
- Reduce hormonal activity by controlling light exposure and temperatures.
- Ignore screaming and react positively to good behavior.
- If a parrot screams, cover the cage with a blanket for 5-10 minutes as a time-out.
If a parrot screams and you yell back, telling it to quieten down, it’ll consider this attention. Similarly, if you give it a snack, you’ll teach it that screaming is a behavior that earns it a reward.