Sunday, September 18, 2011

Parroltet Being Too Loud

Hi Sandee,
Our parrotlet is quiet a lot of the time. Sometimes however when we leave the room and occasionally when we are still in it, he chirps loudly and repeatedly. Someone suggested spraying water at him, I don't know if this is the right thing to do. I know he just wants attention but we can't give it to him all the time. How is the best way to get him to stop? We do play with him in the mornings and evenings for 1/2 hour each and his cage is where he can see us when we are in the living room. Thanks

Dear Jean:

Sorry for the delay in responding. As I had explained I was on vacation and just returned.

What you are describing is a 'location call'. It is the way that an individual bird communicates and keeps track of its flock. This is the way they instinctually behave in order to survive in the wild. After all, it is how Nature designed them to protect them from predators and find food, shelter and mates. It truly is a bird saying "Hey, where are you? I'm over here!" All parrots, not just parrotlets engage in this behavior. If you think parrotlets are loud, you should listen to a sun conure or blue and gold macaw!

Unfortunately, it is one of the instinctive behaviors that may or may not be 'trained' out of a bird. It is part of their biological makeup for survival - just like them being territorial and aggressive when it comes to their cage. It really is up to the owner to change their behavior and their reaction rather than trying to punish a bird to make them stop, which is what happens when you spray them with water.

The best thing to do, is what you are doing. Ignore it. Do not react and that includes not yelling, screaming, spraying them or otherwise engaging them. Birds respond to any kind of attention, both bad and good so even if you punish them, they are still going to do the undesired behavior.

My pet parrotlet once developed a very annoying call. I have no idea where he learned it since he wasn't around other birds but at around 4 or 5 he started making this very shrill, very loud call that sounded a lot like a lovebird (and he had never been around lovebirds). I chose to ignore him but he kept making the noise. I realized that whenever he would make the sound, I would look at him. After all, that is a human characteristic and the minute we made eye contact, he got his reinforcement and kept doing it. I then started to train MYSELF to look down when he made the noise and then physically turn my back on him. As soon as he stopped making the sound, I would then talk to him and praise him in a soothing voice. I was irritating but after 2 days, it worked. He stopped making the sound.

So that is my best advice to you. Ignore the sound. Do not respond verbally, physically or by looking at him. All it does is reinforce the behavior. As soon as he is quiet, praise him. I can't guarantee he'll stop doing it but he probably will do it less often and eventually may stop altogether when he realizes that location call does not work with his flock. But it is important to remember that no only do you give the 'punishment' by ignoring him but that you reward him by acknowledging and engaging him immediately when he stops making the sound.

I know it can be annoying but remember he is not doing it to irritate you. He's a parrot and that's what parrots do. Be grateful that parrotlets are the quietest parrots you can have - a Moluccan cockatoo can literally rattle your teeth they are so loud. Remember, that many times behaviors that work to insure survival of the species are not desired in a captive pet situation but that is the burden that we must bear not the bird. The bird didn't ask to be a pet so we must learn to adapt ourselves as well as training our bird in order for everyone to live in harmony.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner,

Join the International Parrotlet Society, – the World’s Largest and Oldest Parrotlet Organization

A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest.
Camaroonian Phrase

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