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Help My Parrot Is Noisy

Help My Parrot Is Noisy

Posted by Noisy Parrots, Parrots talking, birds talking on 6/6/2023

“Help, my Parrot is noisy!”

Elaine Henley P.G. Dip CABC

Full Member Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)
Animal Behaviour Training Council (ABTC) Registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist

Phone: 01294 833764



Parrots in the wild communicate with each other a great deal; this may be general chitter-chatter, an alert to danger, to bring the flock together or to move the flock on. For other flock members to be able to hear them, they have developed loud and often shrill calls. Whilst all Parrot caregivers expect some usual or normal vocalisation, out of context or excessive vocalisation is difficult to live with and very stressful.

Caregivers often contact me for advice to help them reduce their Parrots’ screeches. Another cause for caregiver’s stress, is when their Parrots pick a random sound and continually repeat this at varying pitches.

So, what is usual for normal Parrot communication and how can this be modified?

Parrots are most likely to be vocal around sunrise and sunset; this would be the time that wild Parrots would be leaving their roosting area to meet up with others and forage for food. This becomes a problem when living in a home as they may become vocal when their caregivers are not ready to get up, or screaming when they return home after work. Whilst you can never eliminate this, you can modify it by using a technique referred to as ‘shaping’.

  • Once you have turned out the lights for bedtime, leave some food in the Parrots’ food bowl overnight, so that they have access to food early morning. This gives them something to do and prevents hunger.
  • As sunset approaches, again feed them or give them a food activity toy before they begin to vocalise. This is important, as to give when they are being noisy, is to reward and encourage the behaviour.
  • Modify their exposure to early morning light; this is not a problem in winter but is from mid-March; by using black out blinds you can keep the rising sun at bay.
  • Black out blinds can also be used if you are going to bed before sunset.
  • Avoid directly covering the cage as this may cause some less confident Parrots undue stress, resulting in excessive vocalisation or to demonstrate other stress behaviours such as feather destructive behaviours.

Parrots are highly social and they have developed a variety of vocalisations that serve as contact calls. These are used to identify where other members of the flock are and to help the flock stay together.

When Parrots are kept in the home, we humans become their flock, so it is only natural for our Parrots to display contact vocalisation with us; and more so when they are separated from us. To begin with, these calls may be calm but can quickly progress to more distressed and anxious vocalisations if they receive no response to the calmer calls.

  • When separated from your Parrot in the house, either make some sounds – verbal or even a whistle, to let your Parrot know that you are still there.
  • Build up a tolerance and expectation for your Parrot that you will leave the house, but that you also will return. To begin with, tell the Parrot that you are leaving them, then go out the house for five minutes before returning and telling them that you are home. In increments of five minutes build up the time that you leave them alone.
  • It may be useful to leave a radio or TV on in the house when you leave your Parrot home alone – as this provides background noise and some auditory enrichment.
  • If these simple tips do not work after a few weeks, then it may be that your Parrot has separation anxiety, so help should be sought from a qualified clinical animal behaviourist as soon as possible.

Parrots may make alarm calls to warn a perceived threat away and alert flock members to danger. These vocalisations may differ in intensity depending on the apparent threat, but generally, they are loud! When hearing these in the house, caregivers may react by removing the threat.

Those alarm calls which happen infrequently are not a cause for concern, however, if they are happening frequently or for prolonged periods of time, then this suggests that there is an environmental factor at play.

  • Identify and remove any stimuli that is provoking the alarm calls. Sometimes this may not be obvious to caregivers. It may be a new toy, or an existing toilet that has moved, new cage, furniture, anything new or novel outside of the cage, new people coming into the house, other pets, a change in caregiver appearance and/or seeing an image of a predator species, even a photograph or on TV. My own African Grey Parrot freaked when he first saw on TV the dragon on Game of Thrones.
  • How we respond to our Parrot’s alarm calls is important. Firstly, calmly, and without fuss, remove the stimuli out of sight – when possible. Secondly, behave in a calm manner around the Parrot. Following the removal of the stimuli and the ending of the vocalisation, give the Parrot something nice; this could be a treat or toy you’re your attention.
  • Introduce new objects and environments gradually and over a period of time.
  • If these approaches do not work, then this suggests that there are underlying anxiety issues; help should be sought from a qualified clinical animal behaviourist, who will be able to advise on systematic desensitisation and counterconditioning protocol, specific to the needs of the Parrot and the caregiver.

Talking and mimicking: One of the reasons why people may choose a Parrot as a pet is because of their incredible ability to talk and mimic. Just as with human children, they can often pick up and use frequently the words that you would rather that they did not.

This is because these words may have been said by a human at high-volume, or with a high level of emotion; Parrots are often attracted to dramatic vocal displays from people.

A Parrot mimicking sounds like beeps from phones or fire alarms can feel soul destroying for caregivers. Often the behaviour is unintentionally rewarded as the Parrot learns quickly that making this sound causes their caregiver to do something i.e. to check their phone or fire alarm, or when the sound is repeated, by giving the Parrot something to divert them from making the noise.

  • Overcoming these issues takes time and patience, as these behaviours have been learned and are often unintentionally rewarded.
  • Remove the sounds and/or words as far as possible from the environment.
  • Ignore the behaviour and when this may not be possible, use headphones as an aid.
  • Ignoring a behaviour is harder than people realise as Parrots are adept at reading subtle body language.
  • Extinction bursts are common and to be expected; that is, the behaviour will increase in both frequency and intensity before it is extinguished.
  • Diverting the Parrot’s attention to something else will not work, instead it will reward the behaviour.
  • When ignoring is not working, the use of a punisher may be appropriate. Given the fact that Parrots are very sociable and gregarious creatures, each time that the Parrot uses the word or makes the sound, all humans should leave the room for 30 seconds to 1 minute, before returning. In other words, the word/sound drives the caregiver away.

Learned vocalisation: this happens when the Parrot has learned that their caregivers will pay attention to them when they are loudly vocalising. Remembering that any attention may be positive in the Parrot’s eyes, caregivers should avoid returning to the Parrot and/or shouting or scolding them – this teaches the Parrot that when they are loud, you will return.

  • Ignoring the Parrot who is loudly vocalising is always the best option.

Punishers: the internet is full of advice on various punishers that caregivers could utilise to reduce their Parrot’s vocalisation. All, but removing yourself from the presence of your Parrot must be avoided. These punishers include, throwing water at the Parrot, physically trying to hit the Parrot or covering their cage. The use of these types of punitive punishers may result in the Parrot developing stereotypic behavioural problems.