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petergy 05-20-2010 04:44 PM

Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
Mitch is a 5 year old Major Mitchell Cockatoo and is quite friendly although he is a little phobic. He likes being stroked and shaking hands but cannot be fully handled and is nervous. He thrives on human company and whenever he walks around the house or garden he follows me everywhere. At night time and for part of the day he sits on an open perch in the house and during the day he lives in and climbs all over an open cage under the veranda.

I am wondering if there is something I can do about his squawking. All is fine until I open the front door or have visitors arrive, then he starts loud squawking and he looks frightened, it is like a panic. Also, during the day when outside in his cage he carries on in the same way whenever he sees a neighbor's head over the fence.

Most of the time he is quiet and happy but is there something I can do to stop this panic squawking ?

parrotqueen 05-20-2010 06:40 PM

Re: Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
Yes, there is. He just needs to be around strangers more and more. With an increasing amount of exposure to strangers, he should get better about that. He's only panicking because he perceives the stranger as a threat. Strangers, guests, and friends should also offer treats to him.

HRH Di 05-21-2010 07:18 AM

Re: Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
PQ's advice is good. Parrots are a lot like people. Sounds like you have a shy, introverted MM who needs some help getting used to the fact that there will always be the chance for strangers to be about.

Spiritbird 05-21-2010 07:56 AM

Re: Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
PQ is right on correct with her advice for increased socialization. I must work on that with Rosie. I intend to take her to my bird club meetings that happen monthly. Many of us take our birds. If you can find one suggest you do this also. It really helps the birds.

Auggie's Dad 05-22-2010 01:57 PM

Re: Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
PQ and SB are right on.

The key to socialization and/or overcoming phobias though is to take it VERY slow. Keep everything positive. Don't try to force him to deal with new people or situations to quickly, rather keep practicing right around his comfort zone while giving positive feedback (praise/treats) when he is calm.

Sometimes it is easier to build socialization in a neutral territory: try bringing him out of the house (provided you have harness or other safe way of going out with him). He can meet new people outside the home before they come in to 'his' territory.

Note though that sometimes this could be worse if he is also uncomfortable with new surroundings. So if he is nervous exploring new areas don't throw new people at him at the same time.

petergy 05-27-2010 05:27 PM

Re: Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
More on this ...

Thank you for replies but I don't think the issue is exactly with strangers, Mitch does see many visitors come and go, like I said he thrives on human company. Their presence doesn't seem to worry him at all. The problem seems to be based on activity that he HEARS and cannot see, he is forever listening for things such as the front door opening, or planes going over (we are on a flight path). As long as he sits on his cage under the veranda and can see me he is ok, but if I get out of his sight for a while and he hears me doing things he will start a panic squawk. And ... if I come back into view he stops ! A knock on the door will start him but as soon as someone appears he shuts up.

HalfInsane 03-25-2012 01:42 PM

Re: Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
If he's squawking when you're out of sight, that's a flock call. Birds will call to eachother when they cannot see eachother; he'll be expecting you to either reappear (as you've been doing) or to reply verbally. Could you perhaps locate his cage somewhere he can better see the goings on in the house? This might alleviate his calling. Also, when you do leave, try using a phrase like "be right back" or "goodbye". When you return, greet him right away. This way, he should hopefully begin to realize that when you leave, you'll come back.

Pedro 03-25-2012 03:10 PM

Re: Can my bird be trained to stop squawking ?
Petergy, I hear you loud & clear because my male Major Mitch does the same. I doubt your bird is being phobic at all, he is being typical of Major Mitchell behaviour. Most don't enjoy being touched. My bird is the same. They are not a cuddly bird at all.

The squawking is their alarm call. My male will go off if he see something outside our back fence. It could be a different native bird he hasn't seen before, a dog or a stranger. We have actually hung up a piece of shade cloth in front of his aviary, but now that the lemon tree has grown up & has blocked off most of his view down the park i have a bit of peace. But if he does get a view of someone walking their dog he will not shut up until they move on. That said it isn't that he is really a problem as it's not all day only when he sees or hears something out of the ordinary. It's not everyday & some times he can ark up a few times. We often say that our Majors are the best watch dogs we ever had. Thank goodness because both our dogs are useless. LOL.

I can take strangers down to see him & my other birds without any problem at all, infact he enjoys visitors & loves having a chat.

I think you have buckleys trying to stop a parrots alarm call. I also have the same problem with my male eclectus when the hen is sitting, boy i am sure he can hear a pin drop.

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