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Old 06-05-2013, 02:41 PM
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Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

Hello everyone. I know this get's asked so many times!

I have done everything, covered the cage up when he screams and ignoring him. All that great jazz! My only question is, how long should I ignore my bird before I let him out?

It get's annoying because I can't have him out of the cage when my family comes over, he bites them. Hard! I laugh because it's funny see my brother and his girlfriend run in terror over a little bird, but I don't encourage the behavior because I know it's bad.

I put him in his cage when they are over, He is in the living room watching TV or the movie with us, not like he is alone in a dark corner somewhere. He just screams and he is making a bad case of owning a Bird to my family. They say they were right and he is annoying, and they don't like coming over anymore because of his behavior.

I know they are being very childish over a small bird screaming (It's not that loud, to me). He just won't shut up, and he does it more so when friends and family are over.

I am just wondering if I am doing something wrong, when I have time I have him out all the time. He is not locked in his cage all day, he gets out at least 3 or 4 hours a day. On a bad day maybe 2. He is out with my wife and I when were home. Were not neglecting the bird!

It's just makes me wonder why he can't be like he was at the pet shop, just sitting on he perch all day to himself, being a good bird. In the pet shop he never flew off the perch or even tried to bite anyone else. I know he is just thinking he is protecting my wife and I and really just curious.

He is a healthy bird and just turned a year old. I know he is still young and needs to learn. He is not really too misbehaved. Sometimes he attacks my lip really hard for no reason, but that's about it. He likes to bite my hand a lot, but it does not hurt too bad, but sometimes he bites harder!!

I am just wondering if I am doing anything wrong with the approach I am taking. I ignore him, and when he is quit I take him out. I cover the cage up when he is being really bad and open it again when he is quit. He starts right back up when I open it. I don't like punishing my bird, makes me feel bad. lol Is there a difference I should be aware of between screaming and just tweeting? I tweet back when he tweets to find me, but than he screams after I tweet back.

Also, My wife and I can't afford another large bird purchase, but I think he would be better behaved if he had a small flock. What about parakeets? I wouldn't put them in the cage with him of course, but a separate cage for at least two parakeets, next to his cage for flock company. Do you think that would help?

Last edited by baron1282; 06-05-2013 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 06-05-2013, 03:14 PM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

I think it would be helpful if you clarified in greater detail what you're doing to encourage or stimulate the behavior. You mentioned laughing when he bites and terrorizes your relatives ... that probably encourages him. Generally, I think the best approach is to stop behavior by not providing the triggers for it. Otherwise, the behavior becomes a habit or familiar thing for the bird to do. I doubt getting another bird would solve your problem, and might make it worse because it could trigger other behaviors such as territorial protection. With my GCC I stop problem behaviors as soon as they start by returning her to her cage with calmness and then leaving her alone. I suppose there is some conditioning going on so that she associates the problematic behavior with being returned to her cage, but I think it also helps because it simply stops whatever was going on that caused the behavior, preventing it from becoming a habit.

Hope that helps!
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Old 06-05-2013, 04:59 PM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

I don't laugh right when the Bird is terrorizing my relatives. I pick him up and put him back in his cage. I only laugh at them when we talk about it outside of the room.

Returning him to his cage simply triggers the behavior. He wants to be out 24/7 until bed time. I don't mind him out, but I can't have him out 24/7. He wonders way too much away from the cage top we provide for him. When we are on the computer he is out with us, when we watch TV he is out with us and we play with him. Sometimes he likes to shower in the shower in the mornings. Generally he is out! As soon as we put him in the Cage it's scream time!

Maybe he is just not use to staying in the cage all day? We got tons of toys for him in there.
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Old 06-05-2013, 05:01 PM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

should I leave him in the cage for a few days without getting him out and just take the screams?
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Old 06-05-2013, 05:08 PM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

I don't think it's the laughing per se that encourages the behavior; instead, the bird is encouraged to act a certain way when it is allowed to happen repeatedly ... it becomes something normal for him to do when your relatives visit. So I would either keep him in his cage when others come to visit, or immediately return him to his cage if he is terrorizing others. I wouldn't go overboard and leave him in his cage for three days, but it sounds like you'll need to put up with some screaming to get him used to being in his cage more. I would also turn off any noise-making devices during this times, such as the TV, which seem to stimulate birds to make noise. If the environment is quiet, birds tend to quiet down. But remember that you can't turn parrots on and off ... every bird is going to make unwanted noise at some point, but that just goes with having a parrot.

Last edited by legal_eagle; 06-05-2013 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:38 PM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

Oh, I know with the noise. I didn't know about keeping it quit! I always left the TV on for him when we leave the apartment so he had something to do.
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:10 AM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

It sounds to me like your bird just wants to be out of his cage most the time. Most animals love routine, so if the normal routine is for him to be out, then when he's in the cage, he is NOT a happy camper.

What you need to do, is to break that conditioning, by getting him to a point where he has fun in his cage. The goal is to get to the point where you can be in the same room with him and he's still in his cage, playing and being content.

You'll have to experiment with different ways to get to this point, one thing you can try is just playing with him while he's inside the cage. If he hops out, put him back in like it's a game, and play with toys with him. Get him to the point where he doesn't view his cage as an undesireable place to be.

I had this same situation, that you are having, so I know what you're going thru. Now my lory can play inside her cage, with me in the same room doing something on the computer and she's content. I'm not saying she doesn't have out of cage time, she has lots. But she now knows the routine, and our routine is that she is out here and there on weekends, she is out in the evenings from 8pm until bedtime (which can be midnight), she usually goes to the kitchen with us for dinnertime and breakfast time (we have a small cage for her that sits on our counter in the kitchen). We play with her outside of her cage in the kitchen, and she spends some time in the kitchen, in her kitchen cage too... but this is a routine she knows and is comfortable with... in fact she will run to her kitchen cage and hop in all by herself... most of the time we just leave that cage door open.

So, just ask yourself "what routine am I setting for my bird, what do I need to change about it"... then be consistent with the routine you do set up. Because the bird will be very upset when routines are messed with!

Hope this helps!
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:42 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

Baron,

Your question is "how long should I ignore my bird before I let him out?" correct?
Before we can assume that the only way to change this behavior is to ignore him we have a be a little more scientific about this to understand why he is screaming and how you know that. You mention him screaming under a variety of different circumstances in which this behavior may serve a variety of different functions for him.

If you are unfamiliar with the field of behavior modification then I have an introduction on my blog you may want to catch up on.

I am sure you are aware that you are attempting to use extinction to extinguish this behavior, but there are a few things to do before picking a behavior treatment plan for your bird.

For each situation a Functional Assessment (FA) needs to be implimented in order for us to difintively know why your little buddy is acting the way he is. An FA is a clear and precise way to look at a behavior occuring and can be done directly or indirectly.

Direct assessment is defined as observing the behavior in real time, which I should not need to tell you this is what you are doing! LOL! But what you may not have considered is using a video recorder to document the behavior. Sometimes when animal trainers are having difficulty training a behavior to an animal they realize that they might not be 100% aware of their own behavior, and this can cause hiccups when training an animal. So in order to fix this they record themselves interacting with the animal and critique themselves to find out whats wrong. How clever! As a bonus you might be able to share exactly what is going on with us on here as well and we can add in our two cents.

Once the FA is conducted we can begin to form a hypothesis about why the screaming is occurring. But just for fun let's say I have a bird that starts screaming as a way to let me know he wants out. My imaginary FA would look something like this:
Context of behavior: Jo-jo the cockatoo is out and Caitlin needs to clean Achilles's cage. Achilles and Jo-jo do not get along so Jo-jo needs to be in his cage while Achilles is out on the playstand.

A: Caitlin leaves Jo-jo's in his cage.

B: Jo-jo screams.

C: Caitlin comes back and lets jo-jo out.

Predicted future behavior: Jo-jo will continue to scream until he is out of his cage.
Because we predict that jo-jo will continue to scream in the future we can safetly assume that me letting jo-jo out of the cage is Negatively Reinforcing for him! Once you have drawn your conclusion about what the consequence of the behavior functions as, your FA is complete!

Now its time to focus on how to change the screaming behavior. Do I want the screaming to happen less often, less loudly, or would it be more acceptable if he learned to ring a bell to be let out?

Also consider asking why the cage acts as a negative reinforcer because we want the cage to act as a positive reinforcer! I would transform the big bad cage into birdie heaven by giving him a treat as soon as he gets in his cage and by providing foraging and playtime opportunities that keep him interested by rotating the toys weekly.

Otherwise my go-to strategy to reduce screaming is to teach a bird that quieter yells (or talking, toy playing, whistling, bell ringing) will get them out of their cage. Once they know a more acceptable way to get what they want that's when I'll either start using the theory of extinction, or intermittent reinforcement so that I don't have to let him out every time he asks.

This is what has worked for me and my cockatiel and I hope you can do us proud!
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Old 06-06-2013, 04:19 PM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

Quote: Originally Posted by baron1282 View Post
I don't laugh right when the Bird is terrorizing my relatives. I pick him up and put him back in his cage. I only laugh at them when we talk about it outside of the room.

Returning him to his cage simply triggers the behavior. He wants to be out 24/7 until bed time. I don't mind him out, but I can't have him out 24/7. He wonders way too much away from the cage top we provide for him. When we are on the computer he is out with us, when we watch TV he is out with us and we play with him. Sometimes he likes to shower in the shower in the mornings. Generally he is out! As soon as we put him in the Cage it's scream time!

Maybe he is just not use to staying in the cage all day? We got tons of toys for him in there.
When was the last time you rotated his toys and perches? Does he have forging toys as well? He could just be bored and he is testing you. Do you ever take him out of the house with you like on a harness or in a carrier? Birds need natural sunlight and fresh air every week. There are other stands you can get that are mobile so he can go with you into other rooms.
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:08 PM
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Re: Screaming (I know a million times asked) :-P

I completely understand how you feel. I really want to rip my hair out. I bought a bc and got a sun that was rehomed and put into the cage with him. The have bonded. You can't separate them. I feel like crying. I don't know what happened to Zeus before I owned him but he is so timid. He screams all day long. He got Athena doing it at the top of her lungs.. She is very loud. But she responds to time out. Zeus does not... I have tried everything. I love them both dearly. I wish I could get Zeus from screaming.
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