Peace and quiet is hard to come by when certain members of your family happen to be feathered. While some noise is inevitable, cockatiel screaming can sometimes spiral out of control. Help your feathered friend tone down his screaming before he permanently screeches his way onto your bad side.
Create and stick to a routine. Your bird is a creature of habit who expects things like food and playtime to be delivered at the time and in the fashion to which he has become accustomed. If his routine is unexpectedly altered, your feathered friend may use his vocalization skills to protest the change. Sticking with a routine for feeding and playtime can help reduce your cockatiel’s desire to go into a screaming frenzy.
Keep your cockatiel entertained with bird toys. The more interested your feathered friend is in his toys, the less interested he will be in screaming. Cockatiels are clever little creatures who thrive on intellectual stimulation. If your cockatiel doesn’t have enough toys to keep him entertained or if he gets bored with the same old toys, you can bet that you’ll hear all about his dissatisfaction. Make sure that your cockatiel always has access to several bird toys that he enjoys playing with. Rotate the toys in his cage every once in a while to minimize boredom.
Ignore the screaming. This is by far the most challenging aspect of stopping your cockatiel’s excessive screaming and also the most crucial. If your bird is engaging in a screeching marathon and you react by yelling back at him, banging on the cage, squirting him with water or making some other type of commotion, you are essentially reinforcing the very behavior you hope to eliminate. Your bird’s primary motivation for screaming is to get your attention. If you give in and provide him with any kind of attention (even negative attention) when he screams, he will interpret screaming as a successful strategy and will continue to use it accordingly. When your cockatiel screams, avoid making eye contact with him, turn your back to him, and if possible, leave the room entirely until he quiets down.
Reinforce more acceptable noises and behavior. Teach your feathered friend to whistle or whisper and give him lavish praise when he engages in appropriate behaviors. Just like you have to make a conscious effort to ignore your bird when he is being too loud, you also need to make a conscious effort to shower him with attention when he is being quiet or engaging in acceptable noises like whistling. While attention is the most powerful reinforcer when it comes to birds, a tasty treat or two when he’s being good can also be a big help.
- If ignoring your cockatiel’s screaming doesn’t work, put him in time-out by covering his cage for a period of about 10 minutes or until he stops screaming. If he stops screaming right after you cover his cage, uncover the cage and give him immediate praise. Avoid leaving the cage covered for too long so that he understands that the cover is a direct consequence of his screaming.
- Excessive screaming is your bird’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. Take your cockatiel to the vet for a health screening to rule out illness as a trigger for his screaming.
Kristina Barroso is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, a break-up survival guide, in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.