Why Do Cockatiels Scream?

Some people don’t like the piercing scream that cockatiels make, which is the reason that they choose a canary or a finch as a pet. However, a cockatiel scream is a lot tamer than the screams that come from the larger members of the cockatoo and parrot family. My bare-eyed cockatoo loves making a lot of noise, especially in the evenings.

If the scream becomes obsessive and carries on for a long time, even the most patient bird owner will become frustrated.

Why Do Cockatiels Scream?

First, you need to define what your bird’s normal scream is and what his abnormal scream sounds like.

Your cockatiel uses vocalization in order to communicate a message. Their voices are a survival mechanism both in the wild and in captivity. Vocalization is a natural part of any parrot’swhy do cockatiels scream behavior, and they will get loud and scream from time to time.

Cockatiels normally scream loudly and repetitively for the following reasons:

  • fear
  • frustration
  • desperation
  • discontent
  • unhappiness

A screaming bird is not generally a happy bird and you will hear that it sounds very different from his normal twerpy sound.

Do not punish your bird for screaming. The best thing to do is to find out just why he is screaming, as there is always a reason. There are always ways in which to curb his behavior with just a little patience.

Normal behavior will be your cockatiel chirping, whistling, singing, and squawking at sunrise and sunset.

In the mornings they are normally vocal as they forage for food. Birds in the wild normally call out to each other. In the evenings they normally gather to roost so there will be some noise again. If you listen carefully you will notice birds in the wild doing this as well.

They like to keep in touch with their human flock members as well, which is why they sometimes call out to you when you leave the room.

Try calling or whistling back to him from wherever you are in the house to reassure him that you are still there and have not abandoned him.

If your bird is frightened by something or he sees danger coming he will also let out a loud piercing scream (much like a human would do in the same situation). You may notice he screams when you arrive home from work, or if someone comes to visit. Because birds are such tiny creatures in relation to everything else in their environment, they need to be on high alert. Even placing a new piece of furniture near the cage or a new toy in the cage may seem scary to him.

Here are some of the reasons that your cockatiel scream could be driving you mad:

  • child or toddler in the room
  • loud music
  • fireworks
  • thunder
  • a new dog or cat
  • a door slamming
  • deep voices
  • humans screaming or yelling
  • wild birds in the vicinity

Other things that could trigger a cockatiel scream are things like not getting enough sleep (10 to 12 hours a day), being moved to another part of the house, a bored bird, or even a bird that has lost its mate.

What To Do With A Screaming Cockatiel?

It is obviously not normal if the cockatiel screams excessively all day long, and the problem is that other birds can learn the same bad habits from him.

It becomes a real problem when cockatiels scream for attention, and this is why you never reward a screaming bird. Your reaction to your bird’s screaming will determine whether or not it will become a habitual pattern.

Your first course of action will be to identify what is making your bird scream in the first place. If he is outside there may be something scaring him, try moving him inside.

Most avian experts agree that one should never reward negative behavior and instead reward positive behavior like keeping quiet, singing, or talking. Unfortunately, most of us tend to do the opposite, by paying attention to the bird when he is screaming by shouting at it or giving it attention, and when he is quiet we tend to ignore it. Even if you are giving it negative attention, you are still giving him attention. The best thing to do is totally ignore the bird when he is screaming unless he is in some medical emergency, and give him loads of attention when he is quiet.

If your bird is screaming because he is scared or has his claw stuck in his toy then you will obviously need to reassure him and calm him down.

It is far easier to prevent screaming in the first place than to deprogram a bird once the screaming has turned into a habit, however with patience and time it is possible to restore normalcy.

screaming cockatiel

Here are some things to try with your screaming cockatiel:

  • Never yell or punish your bird. You will destroy the trust you have built between you.
  • Establish a call that will tell your bird you can hear him when you are in another room. It could be a bird sound or even a whistle.
  • Walk away and don’t come back until your bird has stopped screaming.
  • Keep the cage against a wall and away from doors that are opening and closing.
  • During the breeding season, the screaming may be worse so cover the cage for 14 hours at night as they do need more rest. This normally happens in spring and summer.
  • Keep some toys in the cage and rotate them from time to time so he doesn’t get bored.
  • Let him out of your cage each day. If he screams put him back immediately and wait until he is quiet.
  • Try covering the cage with a blanket if he is overstimulated and only uncover it again when he is quiet.
  • If you know your bird screams at certain times during the day, distract him with a treat before the screaming starts.

Please feel free to comment below and let us know what you have done to stop your bird screeching.

3 Comments

  1. Can these birds be kept as a pet? Won’t the screaming disturb you, especially at night? I did not know that it was possible for birds to scream. Well, you learn something new every day haha. I will be sure to share this article with friends and family. Thank you for this. 

    1. Hi Aubin,

      Yes, these birds make great pets. Luckily at night, they sleep as we do, so it is very rare for a bird to scream at night unless it is frightened or interrupted.

  2. Hello mate,

    Cockatiels are intelligent, social, and very lovable. This is a fun-loving pet that is always eager to please. Cockatiels are easy to train and receptive to handling. They will become a great friend to their human as well as other pets in the home. Personally, I love this bird and I saw them everyday in the parks here (In Australia).

    I think If your bird is screaming it probably needs more attention, food, water, or has a health issue.

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