Cockatoos are a type of parrot, and although they make for excellent pets that are intelligent and loving, they are also heavily known for their screaming.
Out in the wild, cockatoos live in groups, and they use their screaming to communicate with one another. They also sometimes have screaming sessions, during which they all scream together as a group.
Kind of like they’re having a band practice! Usually right before night time and sleep.
So the first thing you need to understand is that screaming is a natural behavior in cockatoos and there is nothing you can do about that.
You can’t simply stop them from screaming completely, because that goes against their nature. If you want a silent bird, the cockatoo is not the one for you.
However, there is such a thing as excessive screaming. So while screaming is normal for cockatoos, they aren’t screaming all the time.
So if your cockatoo is screaming more than the average, or it tends to always start screaming whenever you leave the room or you aren’t around, then this is an issue that can and should be solved.
Usually, if your cockatoo screams every time you leave the room, it’s a sign of it seeking attention and wanting you to come back, instead of you leaving. Parrots love attention and interaction, especially cockatoos, so this is a pretty common issue.
Here are some of the steps you should take, in order to stop the screaming when you leave the room:
- Do not shout back or reprimand:
The first rule for stopping your cockatoo from screaming every time you leave the room is to not react by shouting back, or reprimanding, or rushing to them to see what’s wrong.
One thing you need to know about parrots is that they love drama. Cockatoos are intelligent, and they want attention and interaction, basically all the time. The thing is, they know how to manipulate you into getting it.
Your cockatoo knows that if it screams loud and long enough, you will rush to try and silence it, meaning it ultimately gets your attention.
It’s super important, therefore, to not play into this.
If your cockatoo is screaming, do not react dramatically, and do not make a huge fuss out of it. The instinct is to get angry and try and solve it quickly, but instead, be calm and don’t rush back to the cage to see what’s going on. Your parrot needs to understand that you do not answer just because it’s screaming.
- Do not give your cockatoo the attention it is demanding:
The first thing your cockatoo needs to learn and understand is that it will not get attention through bad behavior such as excessive screaming.
If your cockatoo screams when you leave the room, give it a few minutes. Then walk back into the room, but don’t directly go over to the cockatoo. Make it obvious that you will go on your terms, and that you will not be called on in such a way.
Trust us, parrots are super dramatic, your cockatoo is perfectly fine, it just wants your attention. But it’s got to learn that the screaming is not a ringing bell for “humans come here”.
- Do not outright ignore the cockatoo:
A lot of people think that the answer to solving this screaming problem is to just ignore them. And sure, if you ignore them for long enough they will eventually stop screaming, and it will definitely send out the message that screaming doesn’t get them attention.
But the problem with outright ignoring your cockatoo is that it can have a very negative impact on them, and it will make them feel abandoned and unsafe. What if they one day need to call for actual help?
Plus, it means that they won’t have a way of communicating with you, because they will learn that talking to you (aka screaming), just doesn’t work.
Instead, you need to give them reduced attention, or delayed attention. You can interact with them after they’ve screamed, but you shouldn’t rush to it.
Ignore for short periods of time, so you can use it as a training tool, and not as a punishment.
- Use a reward scheme:
The best way to train your cockatoo is through rewards. This includes training your cockatoo to not scream every time you leave the room.
If you leave the room and it starts screaming, wait. Once it has stopped, go to them and give them a reward and some attention. They will slowly learn that they get more affection and treats when they’re not screaming at full volume.
You can also teach them to whistle or whisper as a way to call for attention so that you don’t have to deal with the louder screaming. This will provide them with a way to call for you that is much more controlled and manageable.
- Ensure the cockatoo has an enriching environment:
If the cockatoo is constantly calling for attention as soon as you leave the room, it could be because it gets bored very fast as soon as it doesn’t have someone to interact with.
To fix this, you need to make sure that it has an enriching environment. Does it have toys and things with which to get distracted within the cage?
Your cockatoo should be able to have some fun by itself from time to time, with engaging activities and objects within its cage. This way, it won’t have the need for you to be there all the time.
- Interact at the right times:
You can’t interact with your cockatoo all the time, non-stop. But you also can’t ignore your cockatoo to solve the screaming.
Instead, you have to time your interactions just right, so that your cockatoo gets enough of you, and so that it learns to respect a sort of routine and boundary, of when it is okay to ask for attention, and when it is not.
A good idea is to reassure your cockatoo before you leave so that they don’t think you’re simply forgetting about them. Quick praise of affection so that they know you care, right before you leave the room.
If your cockatoo still screams after that, it could be because they demand more. In this case, the best option is to distract them.
So during your interaction, leave them with something to do like a time-consuming treat, or an engaging toy. This way they will barely notice you leaving, and they won’t be as prone to screaming for you immediately after.
- Avoid over-interacting or excessive affection:
Snuggling and interacting with your cockatoo is great and necessary, especially because they need big amounts of interaction in order to be happy. However, you should be careful with the amount of affection you are providing, especially in regards to physical affection.
Too much and your cockatoo might consider you their mate, in which case behavioral issues will massively escalate. They will become jealous, possessive, and will demand your presence constantly.
Why does my cockatoo scream all the time?
Cockatoo parrots scream pretty often, and this is part of their natural and normal behavior, which is something to be respected. However, excessive screaming, such as screaming almost all the time, is a sign of behavioral issues that need to be addressed.
Some of the main reasons why your cockatoo might be screaming all the time are as follows:
- Seeking attention
- Screaming out of boredom
- Separation anxiety (they want you to return to their side)
- Illness or pain of any kind
- Feeling scared or insecure (they are calling for your presence so that you may protect and reassure)
- Feeling happy or over-excited (they want to celebrate with you)
Cockatoo parrots can be very dramatic and attention-seeking, so it is important to discern when they need something important, and when they are simply putting it on to get you to answer.