Anyone looking for a quiet bird may find themselves on an impossible mission. All birds make noise, although some are, admittedly, louder than others. So just where do cockatiels fit in?
Cockatiels can be incredibly loud birds. In fact, the loudest cockatiel shriek on record reached 123 decibels, about the same as a jet taking off! Cockatiels adore the sounds of their own distinct voices, and they consider any reason a good reason for them to make themselves heard.
If your cockatiel’s cacophony is causing concern, there are a few ways you can help reduce your cockatiel’s racket to a tolerable level.
1. Pay Attention
Start with making some observations. Keep a daily record of all of the conditions surrounding your cockatiel’s screaming and squawking for a week or so.
Does it happen more often at specific times of the day or on certain days of the week? Does it occur during an unexpected activity or while in the middle of a usually trying week? Have you started leaving the window blinds open on nice sunny days?
If so, you may be able to easily identify the catalyst of your cockatiel’s increased noise and work to eliminate the cause quickly.
To help you a little more, we created this article here: 7 Reasons Why Your Cockatiel Is Screaming All The Time! We highly recommend reading it after this article.
2. Reinforce the Quiet
If your daily journaling yields no distinctive patterns, positive reinforcement needs to be your next step.
Many bird owners inadvertently reward their cockatiel’s continuous screaming by going up to his cage and yelling at him to quit.
Because cockatiels love any and all attention and thrive on theater, a frustrating encounter with their owner can be almost as pleasing to them as a favorite treat.
Cockatiels can manipulate all but the most experienced owners, and as soon as they discover that their screaming will bring a visit from you, they will take full advantage of the situation.
They may even think your scolding is just your way of joining in with their screaming, much like birds in a flock would do.
Rather than unintentionally rewarding the unwanted behavior, be sure to only respond to your cockatiel when you notice him behaving in a quiet and mellow way.
You may see him sitting calmly on his favorite perch or waiting patiently for you to open his cage. When you catch your bird displaying a behavior you want to reinforce, treat him with something you are positive he likes.
You may choose to provide him with some freedom from his cage, an extra – special treat, or coveted time spent interacting with you. Remember, absolutely no reaction should be given when the unwanted noise takes place.
3. Try Clicker Training
When peace-loving bird owners get desperate, some of them turn to clicker training.
If you are a beginner in clicker training, you need to start by helping your cockatiel understand that a clicking sound equals an immediate and coveted treat. It is most effective if you use the snack he loves more than any other.
Once the click-then-treat connection is established, wait for your bird to show the quiet, calm behaviors you desire. Then click and supply him with a treat. It is of the utmost importance to catch him often at first.
After that, you can start phasing out the rewards as you notice his quiet behavior increasing. With enough time and persistence, your cockatiel will understand and accept that to get his most favorite snack, he will have to be quiet.
4. Ignore Him
Another approach you can take is to completely ignore your bird altogether when he squawks. Do not enter the room under any circumstances until he is quiet. If you are already in the room when he starts his screaming, immediately walk out, making sure to return the instant he is quiet.
In this approach, your presence is the only reward for silence. Eventually, he will understand that loud noises scare his favorite human away, while silence brings you back. In this case, ignoring the noise actually reinforces the silence.
5. Cover the Cage
When all else fails, some bird experts suggest covering your cockatiel’s cage until he stops the excessive noise. If his screaming stops immediately after you cover his cage, remove the cover and reward him at once.
Do not leave his cage covered for very long, however tempting it may be; this will help him to associate that the cover is a direct result of his screaming.
It is critical in the beginning stages of the training that you cover his cage whenever he screams, with no exceptions. If you only do it occasionally, it will confuse your cockatiel, making it that much more difficult to obtain the peaceful home you are desperate to have.
6. Be Sensitive to Night Frights
If your cockatiel seems to be the loudest in the middle of the night, it is likely that he is experiencing the common cockatiel phenomenon known as night frights. This is something you should never punish your cockatiel for.
In the wild, sudden silence is often the first sign of danger. A quiet night interrupted by a loud sound is enough to put any prey animal on high alert. A pet cockatiel in a cage can feel trapped in its enclosed space, making its panic all the more unpredictable.
To help prevent night-time noise and panic, provide your cockatiel with a night light close by. Also, make sure the room he sleeps in is free from drafts, other four-legged pets, and loud noises. This will aid in keeping your nights noiseless.
If your Cockatiel has night frights, you should read our articles on that below:
- Are Cockatiels afraid of the dark?
- Why you need to cover your birdcage!
- Are Cockatiels afraid of cats? How to make it work!
If your cockatiel’s consistent training is not yielding positive results, and he is still consistently screaming throughout the day, there are some other factors to consider.
- Loneliness – It is distinctly possible that your feathered friend is acting out simply because he wants to spend more time with you. Remember, your cockatiel needs at least an hour of your attention a day (more is better). If that is not possible, it may be time to consider getting him a feathery companion.
- Boredom – Cockatiels are very intelligent birds who require lots of mental stimulation. It is very likely that he needs some new toys, food puzzles, and things to destroy in his cage. Busy birds are quiet birds!
- Environment – Birds are often suspicious of new things in their environment, and cockatiels are no exception. If you’ve moved a picture or placed a new piece of furniture in his room, he may be screaming to let you know he is concerned about the change.
- Fear – Your bird is, by instinct, always on the lookout for threats. Anything new is cause for alarm. Consider your appearance. Have you changed your glasses or facial hair? Have you taken to wearing a new hat? As far as birds are concerned, different is not always good.
- Too Much Noise – If your cockatiel lives in a room of the house that sees a lot of excitement, he may believe that it is necessary, as a part of the flock, to make his voice heard above all the chaos. Consider moving him to a quieter room or turning down the noise in your house to avoid overstimulation.
- Exhaustion – Cockatiels require ten to twelve hours of consecutive sleep at night to be rested during the day. If you are prepping your bird for bedtime in the early evening but still moving about his room, chances are that he is not sleeping soundly which can influence his behavior – and noise level – during the day.
- Diet – Check to make sure your cockatiel’s meals consist primarily of high-quality pellets, as they should account for around seventy percent of your bird’s diet. Seeds are more like treats, so do not give him too many. Also, be sure that he is getting plenty of dark leafy greens throughout the week.
- Insecurity – Pet cockatiels often make an ear-piercing flock call when the human members of their flock are conspicuously absent; your cockatiel may just be trying to locate you when you are out of his sight. You can develop your own quiet flock call to reassure him of your whereabouts which will put him at ease.
- Illness – Your cockatiel may not be feeling well. If his screaming is accompanied by sudden inactivity, increased sleeping, watery eyes, or a change in droppings, schedule an appointment with your avian vet right away.
Is a cockatiel a good pet? Cockatiels, despite their propensity for loud noise, do make great pets. They are one of the easiest birds to train and care for. They are affectionate, and they can mimic speech and songs, providing hours of entertainment.
Are male or female cockatiels quieter? While all birds are their own individuals, female cockatiels are, as a rule, quieter than the males. Male cockatiels sing and chirp to impress their potential mates, while the females wait quietly to be charmed by the noise.
Are cockatiels loud at night? Noises in the wee hours are atypical for most birds. Unless a cockatiel is experiencing night frights, as mentioned above, they typically sleep a full ten to twelve hours at night. Make sure to keep them in a darkened room if you want to sleep past sunrise, as most cockatiels do enjoy heralding the arrival of a new day.