Excessive Vocaliziation in Birds

Birds are social animals and thus communicate through vocal and non vocal methods. They chirp, chatter, squawk, scream, warble, honk, crow.... you get the idea. They make noise!

Birds are most vocal in the morning and evening. We have been able to utilize this behaviour through history by rising early thanks to our roosters. Some common types of calls include contact calls to other flock members or a mate, alarm calls, and even calling as a learmed behaviour for getting attention.

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These calls can be disturbing in the early morning for sure. Many birds can be extremely loud and can result in problems with neighbours and family members. Many people ask if we can de-vocalize their bird so that it can't make all that noise. Can we take out their rooster's voice box? Well it just isn't that easy.

Dogs have their vocal cords in their larynx, which sits high up in their throat. This location makes them easy to access if  "de-barking" is a chosen procedure. Birds have their vocal cords in their SYRINX. This is located deep in the chest cavity, just where the airway branches into the two lungs, right above the heart and its aorta. All of this sits below the solid breast bone, making it near impossible to access without losing the life of the bird.

 

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Roosters are not easy to neuter unless they are 1 to 2 days old. These neutered birds tend not to crow when they reach adulthood. Neutering  an adult bird is a procedure with a high risk of dying as a result of bleeding at surgery. Even successful removal of testicles ( which are deep inside the abdomen near the kidneys ) can be followed by regrowth and development of testicular tissue. So this is not a solution either. 

Behavioural Management of Noisy Birds

It is important to identify why your bird is squawking, screaming or crowing. This is of great help in knowing how to manage them.

Early morning and late evening voclizations are normal. These are known as contact calls. Teaching your bird a call back signal that you hear them may be enough to help them stop calling you until you are able to get them in the morning. If your parrot is not content having heard your reply and carries on screaming, he more likely than not is screaming for your attention.  In this case wait until he is quiet before you attend to him.

If your bird wants your attention, and screaming gets it, even if it is scolding from you, this is still attention. This usually serves to reinforce the screaming because it works. It is more appropriate to teach your bird what you do want him or her to do, through training and reinfocement with praise and rewards. Find out what motivates your bird. Treats, toys, scratches, being let out of the cage... Remember it is what your bird is motivated by, not what you think your bird should like. 

Use access to privileges, attention, praise and rewards to reinforce good behaviour. Withdraw attention, food treats, etc. when the behaviour is inappropriate. This can be as simple as turning your head or body away from your bird for a moment until the screaming stops. Then return and give praise and attention for the quiet behaviour.

Providing play, exercise and mental stimulation are all part of a healthy bird. Environmental enrichment can be achieved using bird jungle gyms for climing, hiding, perching and playing. Food puzzle toys where your bird has to work to get his food is an excellent method for enhancing natural foraging behaviour of birds. Be sure the toys you provide are bird safe toys, and do not contain metal with lead or zinc. Accidental ingestion of these parts can result in heavy metal toxicity.

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Remember birds are social creatures. If they do not have bird companions, they are going to rely on you for their social interactions. You will need to spend quality time with them every day, often several times per day.

Relationships are what it is all about!

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