What to Do When Your Parakeet Won't Stop Squawking
How to Quiet a Screaming Bird or Parakeet
I've had parakeets my whole life. They've always been well-tempered, social birds that I can get along with very easily—they chirp in the morning and whistle back and forth with me. I've always found my parakeets to be absolutely delightful and a joy to have in the house. Then again, I've never owned a male parakeet . . . until now. Because of him, I've learned a lot about techniques on how to get a screaming bird to quiet down:
Tips for Reducing Screaming in Birds
- Move the cage
- Use Avicalm
- Interrupt mean behavior
- Give them a break
- Socialize them
Our Story: How We Acquired a Noisy Parakeet
When my last parakeet, Hedwig, passed away two years ago, I was sad. She was the third parakeet I ever owned since I was 14, and I didn't know what I was going to do without a bird in the house. That's when my lovely boyfriend decided to bring home a couple of parakeets for me as a gift. He picked out a male and a female this time, concerned that a single parakeet might get lonely by itself while we're at work.
Things went great for the first few months. I immediately began socializing them. I noticed right from the start that the male was much harder to socialize than the female. The female loved to interact with me and learned tricks right away. The male, on the other hand, always acted like I was trying to kill him anytime I got too close. He would scream and throw himself around in true "Drama King" fashion. Still, I wasn't going to give up on him.
Video: What Does a Noisy Budgie Sound Like?
Help! My Parakeet Won't Stop Squawking!
About six months after getting these birds, I began to notice a real behavior problem with the male. He squawks a lot! It's actually more like a scream . . . a really high-pitched, shrill, gut-wrenching scream. Why does he do this? After two years, I still have no clue. He seems to be irritated by literally everything.
My male parakeet screams if he hears someone talking. He screams if the TV is on. He screams if he sees you move. He screams at the other bird when she eats. He also screams at her when she dares to move. He screams if anything in his cage changes. If I put a new toy in there, he will scream nonstop for hours. Heck, he even screams for no reason at all, all day long.
What I've Tried to Reduce the Screaming
I've tried everything with him. I do everything I can to keep him busy and entertained; he is healthy, eats a proper diet, has plenty of toys, and gets a ton of time out of his cage. He has everything he could ever need and more. But he still screams all day. Here are some things I've tried:
- I've given him a ton of attention, but he still screams (and he still freaks out when I get near him).
- I've tried ignoring him when he's loud, but it doesn't help.
- I've tried vocalizing back at him—that helps for about 5 minutes, then the screaming starts again.
- I've tried separating him from the other bird, but that just makes it worse.
- I've tried moving the cage to different rooms and even outside during the day, but he still screams.
Does this sound like you? I know I can't be the only one who owns a parakeet like this! Nothing I've tried has solved the problem completely, but here are some things I've found that make it a little bit better.
Parakeets and Mimicry
Parakeets have the gift of mimicry—they can imitate a cat meowing, a phone ringing, a radio sounding, etc. They also can pick up common words that they hear every day.
5 Tips: How to Get a Parakeet to Stop Squawking
1. Try moving the cage.
This is my first course of action every single day. I put the cage outside or in a different room to change up the scenery a little bit.
2. AviCalm can be used to calm them.
This stuff was recommended to me by a friend who has an aggressive bird. It's a powder that you can mix in with their food and it calms them down. This is one of the most effective tactics I've found. I have to give it to him every single day, though, as it seems to wear off after a while. Many days it only helps the situation, but it doesn't make him stop entirely.
AviCalm for Anxious Birds
3. A squirt bottle can interrupt aggressive behavior.
I know it sounds harsh, but he has pushed me to the point of tears more times than I can count. When he's being mean to the other bird, I give him a little squirt. He guards the food when she tries to get near the food bowl, so every time he goes near her while she's eating, he gets a squirt. He catches on pretty quickly, and it reduces the behavior. Just be sure not to do it in cold weather or if you move your bird's cage outside and there's a draft—give them time to dry off. Use this technique sparingly.
4. A "time out" helps them calm down.
When none of the other things work, I put him in time out. I have a separate cage for him to spend some time in alone so that he can calm down. He has his own food and water and toys in there. I partially cover the cage with a blanket and put him in a room with soothing classical music. It works half of the time. If he is quiet after about an hour, I will put him back in his cage with the other bird. Usually, he is fairly decent after that.
5. Habituation helps to socialize them.
I usually don't like clipping wings. Many owners clip wings or "flight feathers" to ensure that their bird does not fly away and get into trouble or get injured. His wings are currently clipped, and because I am still trying to get him to like me, I'll take him away from his cage and put him on my shoulder when he's acting up. When he tries to move, I just put him back on my shoulder.
After 10 minutes, he will stop screaming and burrow into my hair. I just let him chill there while I'm going about my business. This usually means he will be quiet for 2 hours, and it seems to be a huge relief for the other bird as well. My female bird usually takes this time to eat and play in the bath—two things he never lets her do while he's around.
Video: How to Calm a Noisy Bird
Do You Have Experience With a Noisy Parakeet?
I work from home, so I'm at home with my male bird all day long. I get a little desperate sometimes and have tried everything I can think of to resolve the issue and get him to be quiet. It would be so nice if he could just chirp all day like normal birds do, like all of my other parakeets! It's as if he doesn't know how to communicate without squawking.
Imagine a shrill-sounding blow horn going off in the room next to you. Now, imagine that sound repeating over and over in 1-second intervals for long, drawn-out periods of time. Squawk. Squawk. Squawk. Squawk. SQUAWK! After 2 long years of hearing him scream all day long, it has really started to weigh on my sanity.
Please Share Your Tips and Tricks
Do you have a similar situation? How do you handle it? Do you have any tips and tricks that I haven't thought of? Please share in the comments!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2017 Kristen Haynie