So you have a pet bird and thought it was cute when it was so vocal in the beginning. But now, your fid (feathered kid), is getting out of hand with screams and squawks and shrill loud sounds that make your house sound like the entire Bronx Zoo has been moved inside your living room. You can’t talk on the telephone without the other person commenting on the background noise. You can’t hear your DVD and you are wondering if your headache will ever go away. Your bird doesn’t listen to you when you tell him to simmer down or be quiet. So what’s a bird dad or mama to do? As caretaker and house role model, it is your job to figure it out and restore some silence and sanity. Here are some tips to quiet your bird and at least minimize the amount of time you have to listen to bird noise insanity.
1. A healthy bird will scream and squawk for one of two reasons. Either he lacks attention, or he is happy. Paying attention to your bird doesn’t mean you need to be playing with it the whole time, but it means being with it. That means give your bird plenty of time to be with you, even if in the cage, to watch you while you go about your business. Let it hang out with you when you read, watch television, knit, wash dishes, cook, or are working on some indoor project. Your bird is your buddy, so them them feel like it a and treat them that way. Most pet birds need at least a few hours attention every day, and some breeds need several hours. Resaerch your bird type to see if you are spending enough buddy time with it.
2. Give your bird a small stuffed animal to play with or talk to if you can not be with it. Be sure the stuffed toy has no embelleshments that are potentially dangerous, such as attached eyes or doodads.
3. Have a cover for your bird cage that is dark in color, but lightweight and breathable. Cover up the cage with this cover to see if it quiets the bird for a while. Only do this for short periods of time because you do not want your bird to get worried or paranoid.
4. Many birds will get quiet when it is completely dark. Put them in a room where the lights are completely shut and see if that works.
5. Have a talk with your bird. Get close to the cage and talk in a low and relaxed voice. Be cheerful and loving. The bird will need to get quiet to listen to you, or at the very least be fascinated at what you have to say as you don this attention and they will talk lower to mirror your sound level. They know they have your attention, so there is no urgency to squawk.
6. If your bird temporarily quiets down when you are whispering or talking low, then remove him from his cage and gently pet or scratch their neck as a reward for being quiet. You can train a bird for good behavior with rewards of gentle loving attention.
7. Reward your bird with an edible treat such as fresh apple or greens or birdie bread when it does quiet down. Reinforce the good behavior.
8. Be tolerant of bird noise, the bird has the right to speak. You just want to control overly loud and long excessive bouts of screeching. The goal is to tone down the volume and frequency of the intolerable bouts of prolonged extremely loud noisemaking.
9. Be sure your bird is not bored by providing a rotating supply of toys to keep them engaged and active. A bored bird that has not enough to play with, or is kept in their cage too long may scream just for attention.
10. Designate bird singing times. Bird singing times may result based on nature and when the outdoor animals begin their noises. Bird singing times can be when you open the window shades and let all the light in. Bird singing times could be a time you set up happy music the bird enjoys and finds soothing and relaxing. If your bird is allowed to sing, without the stress of you trying to quiet him, he will use his energy productively and not feel as great a need to shout continually.
Rather than think of punishments for your bird, use the power of positive reinforcement and reward. Often our pets mirror our own personalities. If you are stressed out and feel anxious, your bird is intuitive enough to pick that up and will reflect that same personality back. If you are patient and loving, your bird will be more relaxed. Make an effort to talk to your bird, often and in a low voice and if your bird becomes loud, turn your head and break eye contact. When the bird lowers their volume, make eye contact again and continue talking low. Your bird is smart enough to know when he is pleasing you. Your positive reinforcements, both with physical items such as toys and food and attention, coupled with your show of love and respect for the birds right to talk should take you on a quieter path where you can enjoy being together in the same space. Love your bird. And good luck!