The majority of behavior problems arise from two parallel tracts of reality. On one hand, there are usually deficits in the environment that prevent the parrot from getting his needs fully met. Diet may be inappropriate and play a part in the increased noise. Social relationships may be setting the parrot up to be louder.
At the same time, there is always a lack of effective guidance from the owner. By guidance, I am referring to the reinforcement that is provided to the parrot.
Every time that we interact with a parrot, we are training the bird. The problem is that, if an owner is unaware of this reality, he may very well reward the very behaviors that are the problem. This is just normal. We all do it.
Thus, the way to resolve a noise problem is to correct the issues in the environment, social life and diet that may be setting the parrot up to make unacceptable levels of noise, and then to learn enough about behavior that you can consciously reinforce the behavior that you do want and not the behavior that you don't want.
These efforts to correct environmental, dietary, and social factors all come under the heading of "Wellness." A parrot cannot behave well unless he IS well - in every way.
It is a mistake to assume that misbehavior on a parrot's part is NOT a result of a physical problem. As we know, parrots hide illness until the very last minute. Therefore, a parrot should have an annual exam with an experienced avian vet before assuming that a behavior problem is simply that and nothing more.
Don't worry about having to go to great expense. An exam is an affordable thing, given the value. A great many issues are uncovered simply by a thorough visual once-over. You can decline recommended diagnostics or postpone them if they are not affordable at the time.
Many benefits accrue from such an annual visit. You have an accurate record of your bird's weight range. You maintain a good working relationship with your vet, which can go a long way in an emergency. You receive valuable advice regarding diet and behavior.
If your parrot hasn't been to a vet in over a year, please consider scheduling such a visit before you begin on a program to resolve the screaming. If you do not have a vet you trust, please read my blog post "The Avian Veterinarian: Tips for Choosing One You Can Trust."
I would prefer that you receive your diet recommendations from your avian veterinarian.
However, in the absence of that, I stand confident in my own recommendations, working with a fair number of avian vets as I do.
Parrots eating a seed mix or other foods high in fats and carbohydrates will likely be much louder birds. Fats and carbohydrates are the categories of nutrients that the body uses first for more energy.
A bird who spends most of the day in his cage and who eats an inappropriate amount of such foods has more energy to channel into screaming and other noise. In order to resolve your screaming problem, you may need to improve your parrot's diet by switching from seed to pellets, supplemented by a variety of healthful, nutritionally complete foods
You may have tried to switch your bird from seed to pellets in the past without success. I have a method for doing so that is 100% successful and results in a parrot who eats not only a good quality pellet, but a variety of other healthful foods.
Our captive parrots have the same needs as their wild cousins - to forage, bathe, chew stuff up, exercise, make independent choices, enjoy freedom of movement and problem-solving activities.
A parrot who does not, or who does not know how to, engage in these various activities is likely to be a louder parrot. A bird can't forage for food and scream at the same time. He can't chew on wood and scream at the same time. He can't, or usually doesn't, scream as he bathes.
By making sure, though training, that a bird engages in all of these normal everyday activities, you will vastly decrease opportunities for screaming.
You may have a parrot who "hates" to bathe, or who "won't play with toys." Don't despair. These activities can be taught in a manner that increases your parrot's'quality of life and allows him to make more choices.
In most cases, this is simply a matter of just doing the wright things for long enough.
Time spent in affectionate closeness is often a wonderfully reassuring and relaxing activity for both parrot and person. However, extended physical closeness and very affectionate interactions backfire in a rather dramatic way.
Extensive anecdotal information indicates that interactions of this sort can cause the parrot to form a pair bond with the owner. If such a bond is in place and physically affectionate interactions continue, increase noise will be the result.
The reasons are numerous. A pair bond appears to cause increased production of reproductive hormones, which creates a louder bird. Also, the screaming often evolves to have a very demanding function - to make the favorite person come near and stay near and to make others go further away. This often becomes an untenable situation.
In order to resolve your screaming problem you are going to have to evolve your pair bond into one in which the parrot learns to look to you for guidance, rather than physical affection.
The longer I live with my own parrots and consult with others about theirs, the more convinced I become that parrots cannot enjoy true behavioral wellness without the abilty to have control over a good percentage of their own choices. They need the liberty to move around and create a life of independence for themselves. Parrot who are micro-managed, unable to move around due to wing clipping and who have little to no control over their existence sooner or later display elements of behavioral pathology, such as screaming, aggression, feather damaging behavior, self-mutilation, and stereotypies.
There is only so much emotional, intellectual, and physical confinement and deprivation that an animal can stand. If you compare the way in which one of your bird's wild cousins lives with the way that your bird lives, it is often a no-brainer to see that more must be done to increase enrichment and opportunity in the home.
These latter two categories could have been (and actually fall) into the category of enrichment. However, I consider access to the outdoors in a safe enclosure and freedom of choice to be so important to behavioral health that I wanted to have a separate section for each.
I have been very gratified to see that the provision of outdoor aviaries is finally being accepted as a commonplace effort. This is again, to me, a no-brainer.
How would you feel if someone told you that you could never go outside again - never hear the birds, feel the breeze and the feel of the sun on you? It would be a devastating loss to your own quality of life and emotional health.
Should it be any different for our parrots, who evolved to live their entire lives outdoors. When I see a parrot get outside for the first time, they respond as if answering a call from beyond. Even if nervous initially, they respond very positively.
And, what results is a quieter parrot. That same relaxation that comes over you comes over them.
Obviously, improving a parrot's quality of life through enrichment, the evolution of the pair bond, and a better diet will go a long way toward resolving your screaming problem.
However, equally important is addressing the behavior directly by removing any reinforcement for the screaming and teaching new behaviors through positive reinforcement training. It's also necessary to change any circumstances that immediately cause the behavior to erupt.
No doubt, this by now seems a monumental task. However, I have created a webinar for you that allows you to solve this problem for good! During this webinar, I take you through the process of solving your parrot's noise problem in a step by step manner to ensure success.
And, not only do you get the hour-long webinar recording to listen to over and over, I provide you with supportive materials for making enrichment and training.
YOUR SCREAMING PARROT: LET'S SOLVE THIS PROBLEM FOR GOOD!
This is what you will be able to do by purchasing this webinar and implementing the program as I have outlined it.
This is the same process that I go through with every client during a consultation on screaming and other noise. Don't delay! Help is right below:)
A complete program for resolving your parrot's noise problem!