Scarlet Macaw started screaming ONLY when I'm talking...

cuckoos_nest

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Feb 20, 2015
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I adopted a 9yo scarlet about a month and a half ago. I love him to death. For some reason though, he's decided to scream and squawk over me when I'm talking to someone else in the house. I've tried squirting him with water when he does this & firmly telling him, "Not nice." But he's only quiet when I'm holding the spray bottle. Other people can talk without interruptions, just not me. I'm the only one that handles him too, he doesn't allow anyone else near him. This started around 2 weeks ago & is a constant now. It's driving me CRAZY!
 

MikeyTN

New member
Feb 1, 2011
13,296
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Antioch, TN
Parrots
"Willie"&"Lola"B&G Macaw,
"Dixie"LSC2, and "Nico" Scarlet Macaw.
Spraying him would only make him act out more cause he knows he's getting your attention. Willie does the same thing and will scream if your on the phone. He does it more to my partner then me.
 

Puck

New member
Mar 8, 2015
802
4
Spraying him isn't going to make him stop. He make not like the spraying but he's accomplished his purpose--getting you to pay attention to him. I would take my conversation into another room and make a very strong point to ignore him COMPLETELY when he screams, as if he doesn't exist. Then reward him when he is quiet with treats and praise. His need for your attention is greater than his fear of being sprayed or he wouldn't still be screaming--parrots are smart enough to make that connection. And you don't want to hurt your relationship with him by giving him negative attention. It's kind of like how little kids will do things to piss you off if they want your attention even though they know they'll get spanked. Only he's not going to grow out of it like a kid, unfortunately!
 
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cuckoos_nest

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Feb 20, 2015
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I didn't know spraying him was a no-no. And to be clear I only spray his feet because I think spraying him in the face would be rude. What else can I do though? I had first tried a time out type thing where I turned the lights off & would leave the room until he calmed then I would go back & give him a treat. That didn't work. Neither does giving him treats when he does let me talk because he doesn't let me anymore. He does get treats throughout the day when we're playing though. Also, it can't be an attention thing. When I got him, it was from a home where he was getting very little attention. He was never let out of his cage, nobody talked to him & he didn't even have a window to get sunlight. I absolutely dote on this bird though. We spend a good portion of 14 hours a day together. All I do is talk to him, play with him, love him. He's somehow filled the void I've had for 4 years since my mom died. Lol, if anything he's probably wondering if or when I'll ever shut up. So, the problem isn't so much him hearing me talk, it's when I talk to anyone but him. It's not realistic to always go into another room to talk to my husband or kids. The way my house is set up, if I'm on the main level where our family interacts, he can see & hear me. (living room, kitchen & dining room) Please keep the advice coming, he's my first bird & I know I have a lot to learn.. Thanks in advance!
 

Puck

New member
Mar 8, 2015
802
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No it's not realistic FOREVER but you may have to make that sacrifice while you retrain him. Basically you have trained him that when he screams when you talk to others that you will indeed stop talking to that person and at least LOOK at him. He needs to realize that you have others in your pack. By spending so much time with him you have trained him to be dependent on you for entertainment. In other words he has gone to the opposite end of the spectrum from his last home. Of course unlike them you were well intentioned, but it is just as unhealthy. Starting off when he screams give him
NO attention. Do not spray him or turn off the lights or even look at him. Either keep talking over the noise or stand up and go to another room without even giving him a single glance. Let him know that screaming is utterly useless and won't get him an iota of attention. He will catch on eventually and try new methods--Big Macs are smart.

The next step is to teach him independence. Take those 14 hours down to 13 then 12 then 10. Teach him to play with toys on his own and reward him for it. Randomly put him in his cage to play alone while you sit with the kids or hubby. Make the time he spends entertaining himself gradually longer. Let him know that while you are there for him he is his own bird and doesn't need you 24/7--and that he CAN'T have you all the time because you have other flock members to spend time with that are as important as him. It may be a long journey, but undoing things we have unintentionally taught birds is one if the hardest things to do. Don't expect change overnight, just dedicate yourself to doing these things and NEVER making exceptions. Eventually it will click that screams are useless and you can teach him a better way to signal his needs. Good luck!!!!
 

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