Screaming Birds

I get emails from time to time asking about Screaming Pionus.  Some say that their Pionus screams a lot to the point that it can drive their owner insane.  They don't know what to do or how to get their bird to stop screaming.Screaming to drive you Crazy!!

It is not real often that people who have Pionus have this problem.  I don't have this problem at all.  I keep 3 pet Pionus, a Coral Billed, Maximilian, Blue Head and I can say that none of them have any sort of a screaming behavior.  My breeders don't scream either but what the breeders do is they have their morning and afternoon secessions of what comes natural to them but I still don't classify it as a screaming problem because they do it only for a short while and then stop. 

The screaming that some of you may be experiencing can extend from many reasons as to why they do this  Even though the Pionus is fairly easy going and and does not demand a lot of attention, you will find that there are some that are not happy for many reasons.  Pionus like many other parrot species may have many things that bother them for some reason.  It can be how you have placed them in your home, maybe they don't like something that sits near the cage. Some birds don't like a change in the location of where their cage sits.  Certain people can annoy them for no apparent reason, it can be the way you talk to the bird or how you react to when they do scream.  Birds actually thrive on your reaction when they scream.  It can promote them to scream more because it will bring them attention.  Putting the bird in the cage because it's screaming is not punishment to the bird as they have no understanding as to what is really happening.   I firmly believe that putting a bird in its cage because you think it was bad, does not do anything for the bird to teach it a lessen to be learned.  Parrots don't have reasoning skills, meaning if you behave you can come out of your cage, the bird does not put two and two together and abide by the rules.  A bird that bites does not learn a lesson of being thrown in the cage just because he bit you.  About the only thing the cage does is, it gives time out or gives a break in between two situations.  What is mostly does is let you cool down after all your bird sees it as no harm done!  The bird does get a thrill out of seeing you get upset or mad and believe me birds do get excited over you getting upset or screaming and yelling at them.  I am one who knows too well that it is very hard to keep your cool when a bird bites the heck out of your finger but if you want to gain anything with them, coming unglued is not a thing to be doing in front of them.

  • The bird you own, are you its first owner or second or third? 

  • You must first try to find out why your bird is screaming.  If the bird already came to you with the screaming problem then it may be hard to find out why the bird does it.  It is a possibility that you can change their excessive screaming pattern after having the bird, but will take a lot of work and patients to work around what might be causing the bird to scream excessively.

  • Some birds that move from home to home will sometimes develop this screaming behavior.  You have no idea how the bird was treated by its previous owner or what within the other home may have aggravated the bird, may be there was small kids teasing the bird.  May be enough attention was not given to the bird. 

  • When birds get nervous they sometimes develop a screaming pattern.  A Pionus may freeze before squawking or screaming if they are scared.

  • Some birds will scream to get you to come over to pick them up.  They learn quickly that you will be there if they start screaming.  It is their way to communicate to you that they want you there and as you have guessed, it works! Birds can manipulate you very well without you realizing it.

  • Sometimes when a bird is jealous this can cause them to scream.  Bringing a new bird into the family can create your bird its new screaming habit.  May be your bird has picked it up from another bird that has the screaming problem.

  • You must also be able to figure out on what kind of scream it is that your bird is doing.  What time of the day is it when your bird screams?  There are 2-3 times a day when a bird either squawks, screams or yells from natural instincts and you can't prevent that from happening if they insist on doing it.

  • Your tolerance & patience is probably the key to help them to stop screaming.  Yelling back impatiently at your bird may make them scream more.  Getting up set at the bird usually makes it worse.  Reflect back on situations as what may have changed in and around your bird's situation.  There can be numerous things that up set a bird that may be unknown to you but will be for you to figure them out.  If a person sold you the bird that is screaming almost right after you got him probably already had that screaming problem and that might be why they sold the bird to you but as usual they fail to tell the new buyer about the screaming problem.

  • Some say excessive screaming can be from some sort of medical problem, this I'm not sure of.  You would have to ask  your vet if this is true or not.  Screaming can be induced from a physiological problem.

Birds in general will choose you or a family member to be its "mate" or "companion".  They can indeed feel inferior when you are socializing with others.  Did you notice when you get on the telephone many times your bird may start screaming or vocalizing loudly?  Some of my birds sure do.  It is done as you are giving your  attention elsewhere.  I hear some say their bird starts screaming when someone like a friend or whom ever comes to visit.  This can happen as your bird does not want you socializing with others, remember you are its mate and they do get jealous.

None of my pet Pionus' scream like I said earlier, but here is some info about my Blue & Gold Macaw, Kuka and Orange Wing Amazon, Tater.  I have had Kuka ever since she was 2 weeks old and now she is 11 years old.  She is very jealous of when I give my time to others. It was not quite so bad when she was younger but now it is.  One of our recent additions was a 15 month old Scarlet Macaw named Starla.  Kuka is really jealous when I give time to Starla and to the other birds.  Kuka will also just sit there when I am in plain sight of her and yell Mama.  She will also start bellowing out the screams until I go and pick her up. I don't always go over to her to pick her up just because she screams.  She has learned that she does get more attention when she screams.  Going to your bird every time will reinforce their screaming pattern more.  Kuka has other ways to get my attention as she will start counting or quacking like a duck and I will respond back to her and this is fun for her but that is when she is in that particular mood to do it.  If she gets in a screaming mood then I try to get her to do fun things like her counting her numbers from 1 to 5 or making the sounds that she likes to do.  Usually it helps and she will do that for a while but sometimes when she wants to be desperately be on me and I don't pick up on it, then she will scream until I get her on me.  It's something she really desires.  Even though I'm her Mama she still classifies me as her mate or companion.  She loves to try to feed me, this is a mate behavior because she loves me.  I know why Kuka screams, its to get me to pick her up.  She will also do it if something startles her.  Overall she's a great bird.
My other bird Tater, almost 2 years old and being an Amazon he screams often as this is a real trait with the Amazons.  When its that time of day there is no shutting him up easily.  If I pick him up he will settle it down a bit but when he does yelling at the particular times he is such a happy go lucky bird and he has a fun ole time while in that mode.  He does not do actual screaming just to be screaming.  There is no other reason he does it other than his natural instinct calls.   The three Pionus' that are around Kuka & Tater do some vocalizing along with them at times, but Tater's vocalizations are far more ear piercing than the three Pionus' put together.  All in all my Pionus do not get very loud or noisy.

It is almost impossible for me to help someone with the screaming problem of a bird as I can't see your life style or situation of how things are.  It can be a real puzzle trying to figure out the reasons behind excessive screaming or yelling.  You must take a long hard look at your situation and go back in time before your bird had this problem and see what may have changed or what new things have taken place since the bird started the excessive behavior.  Keep in mind that it is normal and natural for a certain amount of screaming or loud vocalization to take place.  If you try to suppress it too much that might lead to other problems.

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Updated: Oct. 2013

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