Female Eclectus vocalization range -- your experience?

cytherian

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Among the 3 Eclectus birds in our house, the oldest is a female who is 9 years old. While she has shown on rare occasion the capability of making whistle sounds, tweets, and a few words, it has pretty much been over a year now where the only vocalization she does is...


SQUAWK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Rarely attenuated. Mostly loud, and then on occasion SUPER loud, ear piercing shrieks. She usually does them about 1 to 2 per minute when there's someone in the vicinity of her cage (kitchen area). Dead quiet. The other 2 birds are chilling. I'm changing the water for the older male. As I walk by her cage, SQUAWK!! right in my ear (can you say 'ouch?'). And she just sits there with a rather mean look on her face.

She probably doesn't get enough sleep. None of them do. TV is watched in the living room until about midnight. Then the lights are out. Curtain for the large floor-ceiling window is pulled closed. The cages aren't covered over. And then they wake when the sun comes up. The birds get an hour or less of out-time per day. The female is an egg layer. Even after getting a chip inserted to cease production, she managed to squeeze out 2 after a 5 month hiatus just last week. When she's out, she makes a rapid bee-line for the carrier cage that sits on the couch, where she gets to act out her nesting instincts. Usually she gets along with her male mate, but at times he goes into harassment mode, head bobbing, wing raising, and occasionally a beak sparing session (then they have to be separated).

Sorry for the lengthy intro... but I'm trying to understand this female... if her singular super loud squawks, nothing else offered, is a sign of her frustration, madness, or... just a personality trait. The other male birds have a nice range of sweets, and squawks that are more gentle to the ears. One male is a chatty fellow with quite a vocabulary (he's the darling). But that female... NEVER does anything quietly. :red: Is that typical or atypical of a female Eclectus?
 

chris-md

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They’re going to have a range. She’s communicating something very specific here. Is it just a short pulsed sound or a desperate sort of protracted sound?

Given the chronic egg laying, lack of out of cage time, excessive waking time, and the proximity to the males, my bet is a hormonal vocalization.

How long has this been going on for?
 

Scott

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My female Vosmaeri Ekkie "Angel" had a frequent but subdued single tone "honk." Not at all objectionable compared with cockatoo screams. She had limited vocabulary of roughly half a dozen crystal clear words.
 

Iyanden

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Female eclectus (Celeste, ~1.75 yrs old)
Mine makes a variety of sounds: [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMVWvA66tyw"]Celeste talking - YouTube[/ame]

She has made this shrieking/squawking sound before when we were taking her home from being boarded. She was extremely upset and screamed the entire car ride home.
 

justinlm24

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My 6 month old female ekkie does EXACTLY the same squaaaaaawwwwwkkkkk. Especially if I am in the room or leave the room briefly. It's not a desperate kind of squawk it's just like once every minute or two for a bit and then nothing. She does the occasional jabbering as well. I know she is quite young still but I understand what you mean. She has lots of out of cage time and always has food in her cage though I am still giving her one hand feeding in the evening. I just assumed the squawk was maybe a juvenile thing but maybe not.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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They?re going to have a range. She?s communicating something very specific here. Is it just a short pulsed sound or a desperate sort of protracted sound?

Given the chronic egg laying, lack of out of cage time, excessive waking time, and the proximity to the males, my bet is a hormonal vocalization.

How long has this been going on for?

Sorry for my late reply. Thanks for asking this.

To me, it sounds like a desperation kind of squawk. It's VERY loud. Not a short pulse. Usually a 1.0 to 1.5 second duration, repeated once or twice per minute when she's in a "mood." The other birds don't even come near that decibel level in their normal vocalizations. And it's all she does. Sometimes the intensity is less, but as of the 6~9 months, it's louder. Her owner has acclimated to it... doesn't bother her. She posits I may have extra sensitive hearing... and that's simply untrue.

When she's nearing the point of egg laying, she's not vocal much at all. She just finished laying a 2nd egg just 2 days ago. Now, she's back with a vengeance on the squawks. Btw, she had a chip inserted to stop egg production which seemed to work for about 4~5 months, but then it started up again.

There's a carrier on the couch that is set aside for her. When she's out of the cage, she makes a b-line for it. Then huddles inside, waiting for her male to come in. This mated pair seems totally fixated on making progeny. And the fact that she's cooped up in her cage most of the time, I think that's grating against her imperative... thus extremely vocal.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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Here's a clip of her squawks. LINK
Note that this is time compressed. Her squawks end up spaced apart by 30~90 seconds when she starts up, as based on a sampling of timings. There are no repeats. Notice the distortion in the recording--because if I balance it, you don't quite get the grating effect.

This is what she does. She doesn't chirp. No whistles. No words. Although she has done those in the past, but they were very seldom. Now, non-existent. I find this vocalization rather unpleasant as it's a jagged, scratching, voluminous sound.

I haven't yet recorded another variation of this squawk she makes, less often. It's not as "gritty" and scratching, but more high pitched. Just as loud.

You will hear a couple of other chirps in there, but that's not her. That's the 3 year old male.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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Here's an audio clip of her squawks. LINK
Note that this is time compressed (I eliminated some time between squawks so you don't have to wait as long to hear them). There are no repeats. Her squawks mostly end up spaced apart by 30~90 seconds when she starts up, as based on a sampling of timings. Notice the distortion in the recording--because if I balance it, you don't quite get the grating effect.

This is what she does. She doesn't chirp. No whistles. No words. Although she has done those in the past, but they were very seldom. Now, non-existent. I find this vocalization rather unpleasant as it's a jagged, scratching, voluminous sound.

I haven't yet recorded another variation of this squawk she makes, less often. It's not as "gritty" and scratching, but more high pitched. Just as loud.

You will hear a couple of other chirps in there, but that's not her. That's the 3 year old male.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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That definitely strikes me as hormonal vocalization.
Thanks for sharing your perspective.
That makes sense to me, given the dynamics of the situation.
I wonder also if there's a habitual aspect... meaning, because she's caged up for long periods wanting to work on nesting & procreating, she can't think of any other way to express herself. It's this squawk or nothing...
 

chris-md

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Honestly, I believe you’re probably overthinking it. She’s vocalizing like that because she’s hormonal. It’s a natural behavior. You’ll want to do what you can to try to take the temperature down on her hormones.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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Honestly, I believe you?re probably overthinking it. She?s vocalizing like that because she?s hormonal. It?s a natural behavior. You?ll want to do what you can to try to take the temperature down on her hormones.
But I thought hormonal behavior would be cyclical. She's been non-stop like this for half a year now. Her owner tried a chip implant to cease egg production, which worked for about 3~4 months, then she started producing eggs again. The re-chip didn't work.

Aren't Electus birds capable of being trained? I wonder what method could be followed to encourage her to make other vocalizations... It's just so very unpleasant. Standing in the kitchen, she's looking in from her cage, and just does these seriously loud ear splitting squawks. If you close the kitchen curtain so she can't see you, she increases the emphasis as she knows you're nearby.
 

chris-md

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Thats what you're not grasping about eclectus care: Eclectus hormones are not always cyclical

Its one of the things that makes them unique in the parrot world.

Unlike most parrots who only breed during the spring, ekkies can breed at any point in the year. Yes, to an extent you'll have spring and fall hormones, but the rest of the year you can easily induce them to hormonal behavior simply by giving them too much sugar (including excess fruits/fructose), too much rice/carbs, giving the females access to a nest box/dark corner, touching them in the wrong way.

As an ecelctus owner, you need to master the art of hormone maintenance. Anyone should be aware of hormone controls for taking the edge off puberty and annual hormones.

For eclectus owners, if they are hormonal anytime of the year besides spring and fall, its usually the direct result of something you are doing and you need to fix it. In NY, i would NOT expect an eclectus hen to be overly hormonal right now.
 

chris-md

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As for training, if this were behavioral, sure, you can train something else.

But this isn’t a behavioral issue. This is a physiological issue, an important distinction. You can’t train/shape physiological behaviors. You might as well ask if you can train a hen to NOT lay eggs. Even if you could, it’d be a bandaid to the larger issue. Your energy is better placed addressing the underlying issue: why is she so hormonal right now and what can you do to mitigate it?
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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Thats what you're not grasping about eclectus care: Eclectus hormones are not always cyclical

Its one of the things that makes them unique in the parrot world.

Unlike most parrots who only breed during the spring, ekkies can breed at any point in the year. Yes, to an extent you'll have spring and fall hormones, but the rest of the year you can easily induce them to hormonal behavior simply by giving them too much sugar (including excess fruits/fructose), too much rice/carbs, giving the females access to a nest box/dark corner, touching them in the wrong way.

As an ecelctus owner, you need to master the art of hormone maintenance. Anyone should be aware of hormone controls for taking the edge off puberty and annual hormones.

For eclectus owners, if they are hormonal anytime of the year besides spring and fall, its usually the direct result of something you are doing and you need to fix it. In NY, i would NOT expect an eclectus hen to be overly hormonal right now.
OK, I think I get you now.
So the owner really shouldn't be giving her nesting places to hang out and "indulge" the hormonal motivation then? She had set up one of the carriers on the couch and when let out, she makes a b-line for the carrier and hangs out in it most of the time, shredding paper, etc.
As for diet, she's fed fruits in the morning and veggies in the evening, plus has a perpetual bowl of kibble to nosh on. Maybe cut out the fruits altogether?
 

chris-md

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Bingo!! You've got two problems there: the dark nesting site AND (what sounds like) pure fruits in the morning!

Correct on all accounts: do NOT provide her with such nesting sites and don't indulge them - she may start laying eggs, which leaves room for egg binding.

And DON'T feed fruits much. You can add one bit of fruit to their otherwise vegetable mix. A grape, or a chunk or two of papaya. Thats it. My ekkie in the morning gets a dry mix - Goldenfeast Hookbill Legume blend - and in the evening gets his chop which is mostly vegetable based (though has such things as chia, flaxseed, rolled oats, whole grain pasta, etc). Both usually get some sprouts thrown in.

Their diet in captivity should primarily be a vegetable and grain diet, NOT a fresh fruit and veg diet you always hear about.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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Bingo!! You've got two problems there: the dark nesting site AND (what sounds like) pure fruits in the morning!

Correct on all accounts: do NOT provide her with such nesting sites and don't indulge them - she may start laying eggs, which leaves room for egg binding.

And DON'T feed fruits much. You can add one bit of fruit to their otherwise vegetable mix. A grape, or a chunk or two of papaya. Thats it. My ekkie in the morning gets a dry mix - Goldenfeast Hookbill Legume blend - and in the evening gets his chop which is mostly vegetable based (though has such things as chia, flaxseed, rolled oats, whole grain pasta, etc). Both usually get some sprouts thrown in.

Their diet in captivity should primarily be a vegetable and grain diet, NOT a fresh fruit and veg diet you always hear about.
What had happened was after her owner took away the nesting opportunity, the bird began to get more aggressive. A few times she was bitten by the bird, so hard her skin was punctured. So when she made the nest area available again, she was more docile when handled. Kind of a Catch-22. Maybe there just needs to be a long enough stretch of time without the nesting hut/carrier... But what does also tend to happen is she'll fly off to start exploring around parts of the room, to see where she might nest.

Great advice on the diet. I'll let her know. FYI, her set-up is this: 2 bowls of dry food--one in the back that gets changed weekly, and one in the front that is refilled daily. Then on the cage bottom, a ceramic dish is placed with the fresh food in it, fruits in AM and veggies in PM. Is there a specific recipe that you follow for the evening chop and is it from scratch? Or do you start with a base and add to it?

Btw, they all love fresh corn and peppers (the seeds are the real draw, but they also eat the pepper flesh), as well as snow peas and cucumbers. They'll also nosh on broccoli.


One other thing... just out of curiosity I decided to do an interactive experiment. After the bird started into her squawks knowing I was in the kitchen, I went over to her cage, knelt down and started talking. The 3 year old male nearby is VERY vocal & interactive, so he'd chime in, but I stayed fixated on the adult female. After a minute she edged up near the front of the cage, listening to me talk. She never said anything back... but no squawks. When I left about 10 mins later, she started up again. So, could they also be vocalizations of loneliness?
 
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chris-md

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You’re making it worse! This is exactly how you develop a screaming habit.

Not loneliness. Hormones. And maybe a bit of attention seeking.

For screaming you are hoping to describe (attention seeking), It’s not “I’m lonely, let me scream”. it’s “I scream human comes running. So I’ll scream again and human will come again…and again…and again. So I’m going to scream all the time so a human will always be around. Human not coming? Scream more! I’ve learned if I scream enough they will ALWAYS COME”.

The LAST thing you want to do is come running when she screams. You can’t stop it, but you sure can make it worse. THATS your positive reinforcement at work.

For diet, I start with a leafy base, some kind of kale, and build out all sorts of other roots, stems, leaves, grains, assorted frozen veg. It just cherry pick from a list of parrot safe produce, ensuring a diversity of both colors (Fred the rainbow for nutritional diversity) and plant parts. My chops tend to hover around 15 or so ingredients. We actually just made chop today. This one was made with:

Lacinato/dinosaur kale
Red cabbage
Bell peppers (asst colors)
Ginger root
Sweet potato
Fennel/sweet anise plant
Spaghetti squash
Rolled oats
Red lentils
Green Lentils
Black beans
Flax seed
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Chickpea pasta
Red lentil pasta

This came out a bit snot like unfortunately, it might have been the spaghetti squash and possibly lentils. It just shows you have to be cautious about the ingredients you procure for the chop. I learned the hard way to never add okra.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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You?re making it worse! This is exactly how you develop a screaming habit.

Not loneliness. Hormones. And maybe a bit of attention seeking.

For screaming you are hoping to describe (attention seeking), It?s not ?I?m lonely, let me scream?. it?s ?I scream human comes running. So I?ll scream again and human will come again?and again?and again. So I?m going to scream all the time so a human will always be around. Human not coming? Scream more! I?ve learned if I scream enough they will ALWAYS COME?.

The LAST thing you want to do is come running when she screams. You can?t stop it, but you sure can make it worse. THATS your positive reinforcement at work.
Sorry, you misunderstood. She makes these vocalizations when she knows a human is nearby... but we don't go to her cage when she's doing it. No positive reinforcement. And at times she'll riff off these squawks (averaging 1 per minute) when no one is around. And nobody comes. If I'm in line of sight when she's doing it and she's looking at me (I'm like 10' away), I may look back and stare with a scowl on my face to show I'm not happy. She usually doesn't say a thing when someone is looking directly at her. Otherwise, I draw the thin curtain that blocks line of sight from the cages to the kitchen. She will amp up her squawks a bit, because she's likely mad that she can't see the kitchen any more. But after a bit, she'll tire of doing it. I'll try to be quiet as to not draw attention. But if I make some loud noise in the kitchen, like spraying water in the sink, she'll start up again.

For diet, I start with a leafy base, some kind of kale, and build out all sorts of other roots, stems, leaves, grains, assorted frozen veg. It just cherry pick from a list of parrot safe produce, ensuring a diversity of both colors (Fred the rainbow for nutritional diversity) and plant parts. My chops tend to hover around 15 or so ingredients. We actually just made chop today. This one was made with:

Lacinato/dinosaur kale
Red cabbage
Bell peppers (asst colors)
Ginger root
Sweet potato
Fennel/sweet anise plant
Spaghetti squash
Rolled oats
Red lentils
Green Lentils
Black beans
Flax seed
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Chickpea pasta
Red lentil pasta

This came out a bit snot like unfortunately, it might have been the spaghetti squash and possibly lentils. It just shows you have to be cautious about the ingredients you procure for the chop. I learned the hard way to never add okra.
Thanks for the tip on the diet. I've written it down and will pass it on. Hopefully she'll warm up to trying this out.
 
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cytherian

cytherian

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OK, have an interesting update on this.

With the female going through another cycle of egg laying, and most of the time dropping them in the cage (breaking), she was left to indulge in nesting activities in her carrier that's placed on the couch. When she's in that carrier she hardly ever squawks. When she laid an egg there, it was nearly impossible to get her out... until she was so hungry she came out for food. This wasn't a tenable situation, so the egg was removed.

We then got the idea of something new--using fake eggs. There's a supplier who makes synthetic eggs that look exactly like Eclectus eggs. A small nesting bin was placed in her cage with the eggs and the female immediately accepted them. She started a regular routine of keeping them warm and leaving only to poop, eat, and drink. During this time it was... BLISS! NO SQUAWKS. Of course, periodically the nest would become a mess because of pooping & shredding of paper, so an alternate was created to swap in while she was out of the cage for a bit to cavort with her mate. For very brief periods. He kept up his "feeding from above" on her cage.

5 weeks! During this time, it was so nice not to face her previously relentless ear piercing squawks. But of course, it had to end. Eventually she realizes they're not hatching. A mental timer goes off. And then she's pooping on them or just not as attentive. So they were removed. And you'd think OK, her maternal instincts were duly fulfilled. She should be back to a more normal kind of life.

WRONG.

She's back to the squawks. Dead quiet. Come into the kitchen and start making a little noise with using things, preparing food, and then.... SQUAWK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Same as before. She's often on a roll of giving one or two per minute. Everything taken care of like food and water, but that doesn't solve it. NO OTHER INTONATIONS. No tweets. No soft squawks. It's either very loud, or turbo loud.
 

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