How do I get my bird to shut up?
A question that arrived in the subject line of an email today. I emailed back my own subject line. You don't. You don't 'get' a parrot to do anything. You can get a snake out of your garage door blinds. We did that today. You can get groceries. You can get your brother on the phone. If you're so inclined, you can get a tattoo. With enough time and money, you can get just about anything. Which has nothing to do with your parrot being a parrot.
What should be gotten is the idea that parrots are loud, at times. Parrots vocalize consistently, at times. Parrots need to communicate. Their prime directive is flocking, which is loud. At times. A parrot lifestyle includes sounds. All kinds of sounds made in all kinds of voluminous ways for all kinds of reasons a simpleton human cannot possibly understand. Human communication is a road paved in potholes. We are not good at communication.
How does a person communicate with their parrot, so that their parrot has no need to demand communication loudly? How does my parrot see living with me in a house? Even better, what can I do to help my bird feel safe and comfortable? Or where do I begin to earn the trust of my bird? Is a loud parrot upset about something? Should I take my bird to the vet because he screams so much? These are the questions proving interest in relationship building and 'bonding' with a parrot. The question, how do I get my bird to shut up, proves an interest in controlling and changing something to fit inside an expectation, that considering the question, is unreasonable at best.
Steps to Take for a Happy Trusting Parrot
- Remember who you're dealing with. A parrot can choose to do and be anywhere. Flying is a parrot's superpower. His brain tells him that every minute of every day. This instinct truth has a head-on collision with the reality of living with a human. Loving a parrot costs them freedom of choice. We owe them choices. Things to choose freely. Options to investigate, consider, reject or accept. We owe them a lifestyle that reflects their nature. You don't ask a cat to heel and you don't expect a box turtle to use a liter box.
- Food doesn't grow in bowls in the wild. Parrots expect to forage. Their brain tells them so. Foraging employment opportunities are mandatory. Your bird wants to find surprises and foods. A bowl of chop, pellets, or mixes is mandatory as well. So, you can keep an eye on their nutrition. You need both equally. Things will get messy. They are supposed to be messy.
- Parrots want to chew trees. Their brain tells them so. A parrot that chews your furniture is foraging and engaging in mental exercise. Your bird needs a mental workout. Parrots climb as much as they fly in the wild. You'll do well to keep them mentally and physically working by creating a cage full of foraging, chewing, puzzling, tasting surprises.
- A parrot will be loud at times because their brain tells them to. Sit outside and listen to the birds in your neighborhood. Songbirds sing. Raptors call. Crow communicate incessantly. Boat tailed blackbirds are notorious in their noise making. They create a loud bongo sound with their wings. Here we have gull. Hundreds of gull. Calling and laughing all day long. Consistently. A parrot is loud at times naturally. There is nothing wrong with your parrot. There is something wrong with your expectations.
- Your parrot is looking for you to be part of the flock. You brought her home. She rightly assumes your purpose in the choice was flocking. Parrots want a relationship. Trust isn't earned until you've proven yourself trustworthy. Humans are not very good at unconditional love and trust. A parrot calling out is looking for company with you. A lifestyle choice requires lifestyle change. You wanted a parrot but they want a relationship.
- Yes, you can lower the volume. A game of Marco Polo will do it.
You cannot shut a parrot up. You can shut a parrot down, mentally. But then why would you want that? You chose a parrot lifestyle, not a house plant.