Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of unwanted birds who are being sold, given up for adoption or abandoned by their owners.
The following training tips will hopefully help to turn your screaming pet bird into a well-behaved family companion.
- Ignore your bird when he is screaming.. Don't go running back to him; he will perceive this as a reward for his bad behavior. Don't scream back at him either. That will only reinforce the behavior and create a long-winded shouting match between you and your feathered companion. Your bird likes your being around. So, you must remove all the incidental reinforcement for your bird's screaming. When your bird screams, you must not look at it, pet it, talk to it, feed it, play with it, give it a toy, let it in or out of its cage. Doing any of these things right after it screams or vocalizes (Aha! The human member of the flock obeys! Cool!)
- Praise good behavior. Look for chances to reward "quiet behavior." Don't fall into the practice of only noticing your bird when it misbehaves. Randomly throughout the day notice when your bird is quiet. Say, "Good" and "Quiet," toss it a treat or a toy, and keep on walking. The bird will figure out what type of behavior earns a reward. Chronic screaming will decrease; quiet behavior will increase.
- Speak softly and let the bird have its own big stick!. It is often counterintuitive for you to speak softly to a bird that is vocalizing at the top of its lungs. Those avian-powered lungs can throw a sound for miles throughout the rain forest. Imagine what they do in close quarters! Speaking softly often models for your pet bird the kind of vocalizations that are accpetable. This will teach your bird his decibel level to yours. If your parrot is happily screaming away in your car when you have your radio blaring as you drive
around town doing errands don't scream back to your bird just to be heard! Start speaking softly and turn down the radio volume. Soon your bird will chortle happily instead of sounding off. From avian heavy metal to fine feathered classical music in a few hundred miles!
Preventive distraction for your pet bird. If you know that a screaming event will happen at a certain time, you can prevent the unwanted behavior from even occrring in the first place. For example, if your feathered companion vocalizes when you get home from work but before you release him from the cage, or when you are on the phone, stop the behavior before it starts.Before anything else, go and give your bird a treat the moment you arrive home, before it begins to scream. Use the "contact call" as well, talking to him from throughout the house, so that he feels acknowledged and secure. If you get a phone call and know your bird will try to react or "compete" with your conversation, give him something to shred or eat before you start talking.
Remember, your dog, cat, or bird thinks you're talking to it when you're on the phone; they hear you speaking, but can only see and smell you in the room. Hence, our beloved canine, feline and avian household members conclude we are talking to them and expect and answer in response. Redirecting your bird before you get on the phone to a newspaper or piece of corrugated box to peck and play with should help keep your pet bird busy and occupied. For smaller birds, you may want to use a fresh branch or sheet of paper to direct their attention. This serves as both a distraction and reward for your former screamer. The key here is to give your bird something fun to do just before it begins a screaming maraphon.