A cockatoo has all the attributes to make a great pet for your child. They are affectionate, but it’s the deafening screams that put many people off.
There are many reasons why cockatoos make so much noise, but most of the time, the pet bird is just trying to get your attention.
There is the natural noise that owners can expect from a pet cockatoo. For example, normal calls in the morning and evening and a little calling out at different times during the day However, these birds can make loud noises to get attention.
The good thing is that cockatoos are smart, and you can train them not to scream too much when in the house. There are instances when your cockatoo will scream; that’s expected, but your pet should be mostly quiet.
How Loud Can Cockatoos Get?
Due to the neighbors’ persistent complaints about the noise a cockatoo makes, some people have even moved out of apartments. Others have bought earplugs to keep the noise down, while some opt to transfer the birds into an aviary outside where they can scream their hearts out.
These are not lasting solutions because they do not solve the problem.
Understand Your Pet Cockatoo
Before you bring your pet cockatoo home, it’s important to understand that they are loud, especially when in captivity. Most cockatoo owners don’t know this and only choose a pet bird because it’s beautiful. But you need to understand that cockatoos are loud, and the sooner the better, or you might be forced to put your bird up for adoption.
Loud noise is the number one reason why so many cockatoos are put up for adoption. In most cases, the problem is not the bird but the pet owner, who’s not committed to having a cockatoo at home.
You have to be sure that you, your child, or any other family member is comfortable with the pet bird and knows what to do to deal with the noise.
First of all, there are some things that you must understand about these birds and why they make noise.
Making Noise Is Their Primary Way of Communication
If you want to keep a cockatoo as a pet, you should be prepared for the noise. The fact is, birds are noisy, and that’s how they reach out to others. Think about it: there are a lot of things going on in the wild, and birds and even other animals have to be loud to be heard.
Some bird species have to make noise very early in the morning or late in the evening, and pet birds, including cockatoos, are no different.
Other birds will make noise at certain times during the day for a period of time, like 15 to 20 minutes.
In the wild, birds raise alarms to warn others of impending danger, like when they spot a predator roaming around the nest. This applies to pet birds too, because they will make noise when they sense something that makes them uneasy or afraid.
These are the normal calls, screams or noises that you can expect from a cockatoo pet bird
Birds, especially social birds and those who enjoy company, don’t appreciate isolation. When communicating with others in the wild, cockatoos will make calls and then wait for a response with brief silences. If your cockatoo makes similar noises while you’re at home, it’s just trying to get your attention.
There is no reason for your pet bird to make deafening screams for long periods, and if it does, then you need to intervene.
Other Causes of Extreme Cockatoo Screams
If your pet bird is mostly quiet or only makes the expected noises but suddenly starts raising alarm, this is a sign of an underlying issue. Your feathery friend might be stressed because of:
- Sickness: Unexplained screams from your cockatoo might be a sign of sickness. In most cases, it might be a change in diet that’s causing the problem. Call a vet if this happens to identify the issue.
- When a bird’s familiar companion moves away: If the cockatoo forms a strong attachment to a member of the family and that person suddenly leaves, the bird will begin calling out.
- Jealousy: When a cockatoo sees its favorite person spending time with another pet, it becomes jealous and starts making noise. It will also make noise when it feels neglected.
- Unfamiliar territory: Your cockatoo may begin making noise after you move to a new house or apartment.
- Lack of sleep: The cockatoo will start making noise when it is unable to get a good night’s rest because of excessive light, noise, or activity in the house.
This is something that you should immediately look at, and you should bring it under control as soon as possible.
How to Reduce Excessive Screaming in a Pet Cockatoo that Wants Attention
As a parent or guardian, you must know that the aim is not to eliminate squawking but to lower the noises to acceptable levels. Therefore, you must have the time and patience to see this through. You need to know what to do when the bird is making noise and when it’s behaving properly.
The following is what you need to do to identify the issue:
- The first thing is that you’ll need to make sure that your pet bird has all the basic needs.
- Take note of anything that’s happening during that time. This should be the time of day, the day of the week, the mood of the bird, and that of the person close to it.
- Set a good time to solve this issue, i.e., a time when the noise won’t bother anyone.
If the reason for screaming is not down to any serious issue, then you need to punish that behavior and encourage good behavior, i.e., silence.
Don’t Give the Cockatoo Any Attention
When your pet cockatoo starts screaming, do not give it any attention. Any kind of attention given to your bird while it’s screaming is a reward, whether it’s from you, your kid, or anyone else in the house. Any response, whether physical or verbal, is a positive reinforcement.
If the cockatoo is in the same room as you and starts screaming, it should be disciplined. Simply giving the bird a dirty look and then leaving the room should do the trick.
Wait until the cockatoo is quiet, and then reward “that behavior” with a toy or a treat. Chewable toys are also great, and you can extend the reward further by playing or cuddling with the bird.
The trick here is that you need to give it something that keeps its mouth (beak) occupied. You can also reward the silence by running towards the pet bird with joy.
Cockatoos are smart enough to notice that you only give a reward after screaming and will do it more often. So, what can you do in this instance? You can solve this issue by randomly rewarding the bird for staying quiet.
This strategy is called positive reinforcement and involves rewarding the bird only when it behaves correctly. Cockatoos are smart, and they identify even the finest details, so you must be patient and tactical when training them to keep quiet.
Allow the Bird to Scream, Yell, Quirk or Whatever
Allowing the cockatoo to make a lot of noise is another option. However, isn’t screaming the undesirable action that we’re trying to curb?
Keep in mind that the aim is to reduce screaming, not stop it. You cannot keep your cockatoo from making noise because it’s their natural behavior. Worse things could happen if you stress out the bird or yourself.
You can allow the cockatoo to scream, but only when you want it to.
You can get the bird to yell by starting to yell or signaling with your hands, like clapping repeatedly. Let the cockatoo lose its mind, but the screaming needs to end when the hands come down or when you stop shouting.
You can create some sort of game between the bird and you or your little one where they are allowed to scream. Remember to reward good behavior like giving a treat when the cockatoo stops yelling as directed, and punish it when screaming continues, like a timeout.
This is not only beneficial for the bird but also a great time for you to bond with your feathery companion.
Allow the Cockatoo to Vent Its Energy in Other Ways
When cockatoos are bored, they make a lot of noise. Therefore, you must ensure that they have sufficient toys to keep them occupied. Remember to switch the toys up, or your bird will become bored by them.
Give your pet bird items they can rip apart, like branches with leaves, old books, and paper cups. Another mentally stimulating activity that will keep your bird occupied is hiding food in puzzles and foraging toys.
Don’t Isolate Your Cockatoo
Do not make the mistake of keeping your pet cockatoo in an isolated room away from everyone. Keep the cockatoo where most people spend the most time, like a living room. This is good for the bird because it won’t feel neglected or unwanted, as this is the time when it’ll make the most noise to grab attention.
Also, play fetch or any other game with your cockatoo for 20 to 30 minutes every day. The bird will no longer demand your attention because it has had enough playtime and interaction.
Reassure Your Pet Cockatoo
You may recall that we recommended keeping track of the day(s) and hours(s) of the day(s) when your pet is the noisiest. Once you have this information, take the initiative to call your cockatoo before it starts screaming.
For example, call out his or her name loudly. This lets your bird know that you are in the house and shouldn’t be worried or stressed. Therefore, your bird won’t have to call to get your attention.
Keep Cuddling to a Minimal
Cockatoos are Velcro birds, and you should be really careful when cuddling with them. The reason? A cockatoo might see you as a mate, and this is problematic because it will constantly call out for you.
When to Get Concerned
Only when your pet cockatoo is disturbing your sleep should you be worried about it. Something in the bird’s diet or medical condition could be causing it discomfort. Usually, this is accompanied by other peculiar behaviors, like plucking. Get immediate medical attention from a veterinarian to identify the problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a cockatoo a good pet for a child?
Cockatoos make great pets for beginners and kids in general because they are fun, social, funny, and easy to cope with. But for the relationship to work and to properly train the pet to behave correctly, i.e., avoid making lots of noises, it’s best to get them when they’re young.
Do cockatoos poop everywhere?
A cockatoo that spends most of its time in a cage will poop inside the cage. But because you can’t keep the bird locked in 24/7, you must housetrain it. Because of their larger size and reduced bowel movement frequency, cockatoos are relatively simple to potty train.
How long does it take to train a cockatoo to minimize screaming?
You need to start training the first day you bring your feathered pet home. Giving treats is great when training your cockatoo to minimize screaming, but you can also use verbal praise and facial expressions. This takes time, and you might need help from a professional.