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My mother's cockatiel

November 4th, 2006, 07:08 AM
My mother and I rescued a cockatiel 10 years ago from someone who neglecting it.

When we got the bird, he sat quietly terrified for months. Finally, my mother who doted on him constantly, had a breakthrough, and for the last ten years, they have their own language and are great friends. When he wants a cracker, he chirps one way, when he wants his bird CD turned on, he chirps another way. They have their own little system now.

The bird is now about 13 years old and over the last few months just screams the second he sees her. Non-stop. She has no idea what to do - he's now partially covered half the day so she can hear herself think.

Nothing has changed in his environment - and she can't figure out what his problem is. She's ready to tear her hair out. She thinks this might be due to his older this a common thing in older birds? Can anything be done or will she have to put up with the screaming for the next 15 years (I read that these birds can live to be 30 years old).

November 4th, 2006, 07:54 AM
IMHO I would think he was trying to tell her something like "take me to the vet I don't feel well" especially if nothing has changed in his enviroment including the amount of time mom would spend with him.

Just a thought...:confused: maybe someone with more bird experience will have a better explanation

November 4th, 2006, 04:58 PM
Birds usually become screamers either when they get rewarded for screaming (ex: the bird screams and you talk to it to calm down, or you touch it, or pay attention to it), or they're not getting enough attention, or both.
Birds can need A LOT of mental stimulation and like children want to be involved with everything you do. Cockatiels are usually one of the easier birds to keep but they can still be lacking in mental stimulation and it can cause them to start screaming.

If the bird squawks, don't pay attention to it, don't tell it to shut up or talk to it, just ignore it. If it continues to squawk give it time out for a few minutes. Either cover the cage (this must be done completely so it can't see you), or put it in a dark room for 5 minutes to calm down. ONLY give the bird attention when it's quiet. If your mother walks into the room and the bird is quiet THEN the bird should get lots of attention. Make sure though that the bird does get plenty of attention throughout the day at the appropriate times (when he's not making nosie), because lack of attention will make him scream even more.
You could also channel the birds squawking into something else such as chirping or singing. Encourage the bird to do this by giving lots of attention when he does it, while ignoring him if instead he squawks.
Your mom should also give the bird a routine. Handling and play at certain set times will make the bird less likely to squawk throughout the day because he'll know exactly when he's going to get attention. Birds have a fear of the unknown, and when their enviroment isn't structured they can become screamers or develop other behavior problems.

You may want to try this forum for more suggestions:

They have a section specifically related to cockatiels.

Btw, birds will often squawk for a few minutes at night before they go to sleep, and in the morning after they wake up, that's normal.
You may also want to try and find out as much as you can about cockatiel nutrition. I don't know that much about cockatiels specifically, but the wrong diet in general can make any parrot type bird act up.

he's now partially covered half the day so she can hear herself think.

That needs to stop IMMEDIATELY. Birds are too smart to be treated like that and will become resentful from lack of attention. The screaming will also get worse and worse. Not to mention it's bad for his health - birds need proper lightning to keep their feathers and body healthy, and if he's covered half the day he's lacking that. I would look at the parrot forum and ask about what kind of lightning he needs, as lack of it will make any behavioral problems worse and cause phyiscal ones.

November 5th, 2006, 08:26 AM
Thank you both for this feedback! I'll email this to my mother today. I'm sure one of these suggestions will help or help to alleave the screaming.

Kind regards,


November 11th, 2006, 06:29 PM
Just to give you an update, I spoke to my mother today, and she followed all the advice you gave her and she said it has made a huge difference, and he has almost stopped screeching all together.

Thank you!!:thumbs up

My mother and Poe the wonder Cockatiel thank you as well.

November 11th, 2006, 11:17 PM
That's great to hear! Thanks for the update.:D