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Hey all. I'm a first time cockatiel owner, and I've had my cockatiel, Nila, for 3 months now. She's an amazing bird, decently quiet, whistles some, and plays nicely. She's well-trained, very good with people. Just three days ago she developed this loud chirping call whenever someone leaves the room or enters the house. She does it with other family members, but it's mostly with me. The only thing I did different was switching her food four days ago, but I didn't think that would cause this. When I'm in the room, she's fine though. If I call back to her, she usually just gets louder and it lasts longer.
She usually last 10-20 minutes with this siren, and I have no idea what to do. My mom's getting irritated with it just as much as I am. She's trying to talk me into selling her. :( Does anyone have any suggestions?
 

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When you leave the room she is calling to you because you're leaving her and when she hears you get home she is probably excited that you're back, mine both do this as well. I always call back as if to say 'yes I'm still here' lol, and they normally call back as well, it's their way of communicating and it's just part of owning a bird ;).
 

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This is known as flock calling. Our pet birds will flock call, to keep in touch with their human flock members as well. If you leave the room , your bird may scream trying to locate you. This is normal. Your bird needs reassurance that he/she has not been abandoned by you. Calling back to your bird from where you are and establishing a flock call, (a specific word or whistle to repeat whenever your bird screams when you're out of his sight) will reassure your bird that you have not abandoned him. A simple wolf whistle or a phrase like "YooHoo, YooHoo", once recognized by your bird, is usually enough to stop the screaming.

Reinforcing Screaming:

Although screaming is a part of owning a parrot and a flock behavior, it's not normal for a pet bird to be screaming all day. If 1 cockatiel screams, it's more than likely that your other cockatiels will learn how to scream too. Screaming becomes a behavior problem when a parrot learns to scream excessively for attention. Our reaction to excessive vocalization will determine whether or not this behavior becomes a habitual problem. Birds who are considered screamers have in some way been rewarded for this behavior, even though their reason for screaming is rational from a bird's perspective. It's up to us to identify what has caused screaming in the first place and to either eliminate the source if possible, or to slowly desensitize the bird to the source. We must then identify what we have been doing to reward and reinforce screaming. If screaming is being caused by seeing wild birds outdoors, move the cage away from the window. If a barking dog in the bird's room causes screaming, don't let the dog in the bird room.

Most avian behavior consultants agree that negative behavior like screaming should always be ignored and positive behavior, like being quiet, playing, doing tricks, talking or singing, should be rewarded. However, we often do the exact opposite of what we should be doing by encouraging and rewarding screaming. It's common for even the most dedicated and loving cockatiel owner to ignore a bird when the bird is quietly playing then reacting with strong emotion and drama when a negative behavior like screaming is exhibited. Your bird perceives any type of reaction to screaming as attention and a reward. If your bird screams and you come rushing into the room or go up to his cage or he if he screams and you yell at him to simmer down and be quiet, you are giving him the attention he wants, You are reinforcing the behavior. It doesn't matter if it's negative or positive attention, it's still attention.


Solutions:

It's much easier to prevent screaming than it is to deprogram a bird and stop screaming once it becomes a habit and a constant call for attention. It takes a great deal of patience to stop screaming but it can be done. Avian Behavior Consultant Liz Wilson states that it takes about 10 days to eliminate an undesirable sound, like an annoying word, from a bird's repertoire, and you do this by ignoring the word. Getting a bird to stop screaming can take much longer. The habit did not develop overnight it's not surprising if it takes just as long to undo the behavior that we reinforced for so many months. There's also a pretty good chance that the screaming will get louder and longer at first. Have patience and be firm. Ignore the screaming and do not show any reaction to it at all.
  • Do not reward screams. Whenever you rush over to your bird in response to a scream, you are teaching your bird that screaming gets the results he wants.
  • Establish a flock call so your bird can keep in contact with you when you leave the room. Choose a word or whistle that your bird recognizes to let your bird know you're home.
  • Use your flock call when you leave the room so your bird knows where you are.
  • Yelling, punishing, responding with anger, banging on the cage bars or any other negative responses will damage the trust your bird has in you. It also teaches your bird that screaming gets desirable results.
  • Make vocal contact with your bird first, before he has a chance to scream for you.
  • Ignore the screaming and only give your bird attention when he is quiet.
  • Walk out of the room and don't come back until your bird stops screaming.
  • Reward and praise your bird for good behavior like playing with toys or making pleasant sounds like chirping, talking or whistling.
  • Lower your energy level. If you are prone to talking or moving quickly and you show excitement in your voice, use a more quiet, slower and calmer voice tone.
  • Keep the cage away from doors and put it up against a wall, near a corner for security.
  • Keep the back of the cage covered so your bird has a place to retreat when frightened.
  • When your bird is hormonal, during Spring and Summer, cover the cage for 14 hours each night for 2 weeks to break the hormonal cycle.
  • If your bird always screams when you have company, move his cage into another room where he will be more comfortable, before your guests arrive.
  • If you know your bird screams when you are cooking, walking the dog, watering the garden or on the telephone, distract him with some millet seed or a favorite toy before you start.
  • Although not always effective and as a last resort, covering the cage may help to calm a bird that has been over stimulated by noisy children, barking dogs or outside noises. Take the cover off when your bird is quiet.
  • Take your bird out of the cage several times a day when he's quiet, not when he starts screaming, to break up boredom and give him the attention he needs..
  • Put your bird on a play gym when you are in another room folding laundry, paying bills, reading etc. This gives your bird extra out of cage time.
  • Keep a supply of colorful, interesting shreddable and movable toys in the cage and rotate them every week to keep your bird busy.
Cockatiel Cottage
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks!

I tried all of those methods, and it didn't stop. Turns out it was the food. o.o I switched her back to her old diet when I noticed her droppings weren't normal, and now she doesn't make that loud noise anymore. :)
 
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