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Acceptable Parrot Screaming

Is your parrot’s screaming unacceptable or actually acceptable? Here are 8 acceptable reasons for screaming.

Sally Blanchard

sun conure

Parrots scream for a lot of good reasons  — a fact of life that people who keep parrots must accept. Excessive and manipulative screaming or screaming for self-stimulation, however, can be a serious problem. But the following are acceptable reasons for parrot screams:

1) Sunrise Serenade
Parrots normally greet the sunrise. As a group of parrots awaken, they call to each other. They then fly from the roosting area to a feeding area where they noisily forage for food. This is why parrots rarely sleep beyond the time that their caregivers become active in the morning.

2) I’m Happy To Be Alive!
Happy, playful screaming may be somewhat unpleasant to the ears, but screaming for the pure joy of being alive should not be squelched.

Cockatoos are famous for their "happy to be alive” screaming, and I find that when people actually encourage that playful exuberance on a regular basis, it cuts down on the irritating kind of screaming.

3) Hey, I’m Hungry Too!
Parrots are social eaters. Never eat in front of parrots without giving them some tidbits so they can share the meal with their human flock. Plan ahead so they get something healthy to eat while you eat.

4) Bedtime
After foraging for the day, a parrot family or group gathers together. These vocalizations in the late afternoon create another cacophony when the birds call back and forth on their way to the roosting area.

5) Contact Calls, Greetings And Farewells
The vast majority of companion parrots are social animals that rarely stray far from the other members of their family or flock. They stay in touch with contact calls, especially if they are out of visual range. It is perfectly normal for a parrot to call to its human flock as they depart or return from the bird’s territory.

Get into the habit of saying something like, "I’ll be right back,” as you leave the room; this prevents screaming from what could be called separation anxiety. Most parrots become very excited when their caregivers return from being gone. In this situation, pay attention to a screaming bird. If people consistently greet a parrot when they come into the house (even if the bird is screaming), the bird has no reason to continue screaming beyond the greeting.
 
6) Hey Stupid!
This is a rather loose category that can fit a number of situations. One day when I was in a particularly cranky mood, my black-headed caique kept screaming. His screams went on for most of the afternoon, and then this very dim light bulb went on in my brain. Duh, I had forgotten to put his water bowl back in his cage after cleaning the cages and feeding the birds.

7) Alarm Calls — Warning Communication
If a usually calm parrot starts screaming in an intense, agitated manner, this is most likely an alarm call. The bird may also exhibit a stressed body posture. It may freeze and stand stiff and straight, or it may go into a pre-flight posture with its wings quivering. Something has threatened the parrot’s security, and the caregivers need to figure out what is happening and resolve the situation.
 
8) Health Concerns, Illness, Injury
Increased agitation and screaming can be an indication of injury and/or illness in a companion parrot. As with any other significant change in a parrot’s behavior, talk with your avian veterinarian at the onset of excessive screaming behavior, especially if there are any other indications of compromised health.

The Best Advice Possible
When your parrot is screaming to get your attention, don’t give her a drama reward by screaming back.

Want to learn more about bird screaming?

Unacceptable Screaming
Pet Bird Noise 101


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Posted: December 2, 2013, 1:45 p.m. PDT

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Acceptable Parrot Screaming

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Reader Comments
Interesting article
n, n, TN
Posted: 12/6/2013 6:06:50 AM
I have a new U2 in my flock. Augie is 10 and very happy to be here. He loves to put on little dancing and screaming performances for me. They're adorable and I wouldn't miss them for the world. He is a star.
Charles, Orlando, FL
Posted: 12/4/2013 6:47:43 PM
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