Pet birds are naturally vocal with a wide repertoire of whistles, chirps, and other sounds, but what do those sounds mean? Understanding common pet bird sounds can help you interpret your bird's language and ensure it is healthy and happy.
Why Birds Make Noises
Birds make different sounds to express their needs for food and companionship, raise alarms about danger, or just share joy or relieve stress. Young birds generally make fewer sounds, but as they mature, they learn more vocalizations. If you recognize your bird's sounds, you can more easily meet its needs and understand its behavior.
Common Pet Bird Sounds and What They Mean
Different birds may have different vocalizations depending on their species, age, gender, and what sounds they've heard around them. Most pet birds, however, make similar sounds in similar situations, and these common sounds offer great clues to your bird's health and emotions.
Chirping is 1-2 quick notes with a burbling tone as the notes are repeated. This is a generally happy sound to reassure other birds in its immediate flock, though if there is a raspy quality to the chirps, the bird may be getting stressed or upset.
More melodious and drawn out, whistling has rising and falling notes and may change pitch in a distinctive pattern. Pet birds may whistle repetitively, but this is a happy, healthy sound, so there's nothing to worry about.
A hiss-like or “tsssk” sound, chiding is a raspy, abrupt noise. This signals anger, stress, or frustration, and could be used to warn off another bird in the cage. When the bird is most angry, chiding could be accompanied by raised wings, lunging, or biting.
4. Squawks, Screeches, and Screams
These sounds are related but differ in degree. A louder alarm or distress call might signal that the bird has seen a cat or other predator, is unhappy in the cage, or is annoyed at some disturbance. Shorter sounds are squawks, midsized sounds are screeches, and the longest, loudest sounds are screams.
Many pet birds are excellent mimics, copying sounds they hear. This could include doorbells, ringtones, music, and even words. Different parrots can learn dozens of different sounds, showing their intelligence and attentiveness to their environment. Repeating these sounds is generally happy and a way to get attention.
Quieting A Noisy Bird
It is impossible to expect a pet bird to be quiet, and in fact, a completely silent bird is one that is likely stressed, injured, or sick. If a bird is too noisy, however, there are ways to discourage excess sound.
• Address the bird's needs by providing food, toys, and interaction.
• Check for nearby threats or unknown objects that may be causing stress.
• Lower the room's overall noise level so the bird is not competing for volume.
• Do not reward undesirable noises, so long as the bird isn't in real distress.
• Cover the bird's cage for a short time to remove unwanted stimuli.
Above all, be patient. Making noise is natural, and the better you interpret what your pet bird is saying, the better you both will communicate.