Parrot Talking

Many birds chatter all day — whether they are speaking recognizable human language that they have been taught or unrecognizable “bird speak.” Parrots generally make a lot of noise because they are naturally very social; in the wild, they often live in flocks of hundreds that spend all of their time together foraging for food, hunting for nest sites, soliciting mates and raising their offspring. Thus, it is not natural for them to be housed alone in cages without other birds to communicate with.

Birds often bond to their human caretakers as flock-mates and will try to communicate with them as if they were also birds. Sometimes this communication is quiet chatter or recognizable human language (previously taught to the bird) that is socially acceptable to bird owners. But at other times, it is loud screeching or screaming that is normal in the bird world but annoying to owners.

Quiet, Please

The most unproductive and potentially detrimental reaction a pet owner can have to excessive bird chatter is to run over to the bird as it is making the undesirable noise and yell at it to stop, even though this is what we all naturally want to do. Yelling at the bird simply reinforces the undesirable behavior by rewarding him with attention each time he performs this behavior.

The best way to encourage quiet is to reward your bird when he is quiet. Rewards can be a novel food treat, verbal praise, a head pat or a favorite toy. When rewards are directly associated with a specific behavior, they reinforce that behavior — in this case, being quiet. When you reward your bird for being quiet, he will talk less, and your house will sound less like a wild bird sanctuary.

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