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My Caique Won't Stop Screaming!

Peetree

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Hello everyone,

I really need some help. I apologize for the lengthy post.

I have an 8 year old female caique parrot who has learned some bad behaviors because of my unintentional reinforcement. I would rush to the cage when she would scream because I live in an apartment with roommates. So, when she wants ANYTHING she screams this horrible loud shriek! I have had her for 8 years so we aren't strangers at all and I believe we are very comfortable with each other. Most of the time she screams because she wants me to let her out. Whenever I am home she is out of her cage. But, when it is time for me to leave she screams for me. Now, it is habit that whenever I come home I take her out. That's how it goes, Peetree screams I rush to figure out what she needs.

Even out of the cage she screams the same noise, a high pitch, repeated shriek that isn't what I would call her normal happy singing. I recently moved back to the apartment after living with my family for 6 months so I understand the adjustment. But, it has been nearly a month.

I thought that maybe she was afraid? I'll come home to find her pressed against the bars shrieking! She was directly in front of a window so I moved her where she has two walls against her cage and still a view of a window.

Today, Peetree stood on perch connected to the outside of the cage and shrieked repeatedly. I waited for her to stop and then went to see what she needed. Usually i pick her up but, this time she refused to step up and began shrieking again! I don't know what to do! I don't want to force her to step up so I give her some time and come back hoping she will step up when I ask. Still she wouldn't step up and continued to scream a repeated high pitch shriek. This makes me wonder if she is screaming for another reason other than wanting attention.

I worry that maybe she's bored so I make sure to always shower with her and sing. We are working on some tricks, right now its fetch. But, even then, she will start hopping around and shrieking. When she was younger she didn't do this. I have so many fun play stands that I intended for her to play on while I did homework. She still shrieks. She seems to be insatiable! Toys don't seem to help either. I have numerous toys that are for shredding, foraging, shaving down the beak, noisy, bouncy, you name it. I even began hand making them to see if perhaps certain aspects of certain toys discouraged her from playing with them.

I give her lots of yummy and healthy food. She is on a pellet diet. I add Avi cakes and fruits and vegetables. If she doesn't want to eat the healthy stuff, I look up a bird recipe to disguise the unfavored food. I was just recently at the vet and he said that Peetree was very healthy and had a very healthy weight and plumage. At this point, I plan on scheduling another vet appointment for a second opinion.

Is this a hormonal thing? Peetree often tries to regurgitate and was successful. Is this something I can wait out while working on not reinforcing screaming?

I am very devoted to making Peetree happy but, I'm not sure what to do. Does anyone have any suggestions?
 

finchly

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Well that’s not fun at all! I have 4 and yes they do that stupid repetitive screa... but it sounds like yours is doing it more.
Does she get 12 hours of sleep or at least darkness?
Are you spending as much time with her since the move?
Does he have some favorite toys? (I know you said she has some, I’m thinking double up on the faves)

Let’s call in some experts.
@saroj12 @Irishj9 @WendyN @rfrank
 
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Peetree

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@finchly

Thank you for responding!

I have been trying to monitor Peetree's sleep and I think I am going to start covering her cage earlier in the evening. She loves the cover but I feel bad covering the cage when there's still some daylight. Peetree has toys but, I am not sure about favorites... she used to play with toys more frequently within her cage. Now it seems she just screams. Some toys have chewed marks which is a good sign she is playing. But, it looks like a lot of toys go untouched.
 

Peetree

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@finchly

Thank you for responding!

I have been trying to monitor Peetree's sleep and I think I am going to start covering her cage earlier in the evening. She loves the cover but I feel bad covering the cage when there's still some daylight. Peetree has toys but, I am not sure about favorites... she used to play with toys more frequently within her cage. Now it seems she just screams. Some toys have chewed marks which is a good sign she is playing. But, it looks like a lot of toys go untouched.
Another thing I noticed is that she will be on my finger and screech over and over again! How do I ignore the screams when she is staring at me on my finger?
 

Laurie

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I honestly don't know how to advise on this. I will say that I am not your rush to the vet at the drop of a hat kind of girl but when you notice a sudden change in behavior you might have her in for a well bird check and discuss this will a vet. If she is not feeling her best she may act differently and with the move and stress you never know what she might have picked up.

I have a female who is seven and twice in her life she refused her favorite treats and seemed like she didn't want to eat breakfast. Both times I went straight to vet and they thought maybe a low grade infection even though she looked normal, both times antibiotics fixed her up. Not that this is the case with Peatree or that antibiotics would be the fix but especially if behavior changes occur or and feeding habits change, a vet consult may be in order, if not just to rule things out.

The other issue as you have brought up is by responding to her screams you have taught her that scream does get attention. I do not advise ignoring her entirely but rather trying to teach her some other sound might get your attention more quickly. If their is a sound you like that she makes you could start making a big fuss over that and delaying slightly your response to the screams. You might even try teaching her to ring a bell or something from her cage. It might be a good training challenge and then she could ring for you like a butler, lol! Just a few creative thoughts.
 

finchly

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I just had 2 of mine out and realized. When they scream I usually turn my back but sometimes I lean toward them and whisper. It startles them out of screaming (mouth is moving but they can’t hear anything). You can’t do it all the time because it’d be a reward? I think? But they’re sort of fascinated and a drama queen will stop mid-scream to watch you.

You could, in conjunction with Laurie’s suggestion of teaching them a different noise, teach that screaming gets the cold shoulder - like your back turned or setting the bird on the floor.
 

Laurie

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I just had 2 of mine out and realized. When they scream I usually turn my back but sometimes I lean toward them and whisper. It startles them out of screaming (mouth is moving but they can’t hear anything). You can’t do it all the time because it’d be a reward? I think? But they’re sort of fascinated and a drama queen will stop mid-scream to watch you.

You could, in conjunction with Laurie’s suggestion of teaching them a different noise, teach that screaming gets the cold shoulder - like your back turned or setting the bird on the floor.
Just to add...the reason I didn't recommend totally ignoring the screaming is that it is already very ingrained and would likely not work. I don't know if it would work but I'd try giving an immediate and enthusiastic response to the new behavior or noise and a much less enthusiastic and not a s speedy response to the screaming, I am talking seconds delay not minutes. Kind of a jackpot reward for the more desirable noise. Slowly phase out the screaming rather than go cold turkey. If it's the current established method you'll have a rough go quitting cold turkey.

Not sure if this is right, just may take? Any other ideas?
 

WendyN

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I don’t think JoEy screeches too often. Or perhaps I have just gotten used to it. When he does he is usually upset about sonething or something is spooking him. I peek in on him and say in slightly animated voice “Hi, Joey!” And I wave my hands. And that distracts him enough.
When he does his very loud “flock calling” vocalizing and I just whistle back to him. Unfortunately this isn’t much advice to offer to you.
1. distracting her when she screeches.
2. rewarding her when she makes more pleasant sound

do you think she feeling lonely?
 

Irishj9

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First things first. Yes it looks like you reinforced her natural jungle call and now she thinks you like it.

You have to train her off it. Teach her a whistle instead, and only come running when you hear that. Every time you pass her cage you give the same whistle.

Reward her lavishly when she uses it. IGNORE THE SCREAMS. She will come round
 

Peetree

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First things first. Yes it looks like you reinforced her natural jungle call and now she thinks you like it.

You have to train her off it. Teach her a whistle instead, and only come running when you hear that. Every time you pass her cage you give the same whistle.

Reward her lavishly when she uses it. IGNORE THE SCREAMS. She will come round
I would love for her to make any other noise than the screeching. She does love the pretty bird whistle so I'll try that. What about when she is shrieking out of the cage right in front of me and refuses to step up? Should I leave the room? I worry that she's afraid of something so getting up and leaving would see to backfire if that is the case. Peetree is quiet most of the time out of the cage but, sometimes outside the cage she shrieks a ton! I don't know if she thinks I like it or what the problem is. I look around for things that could potentially scare her and find nothing.

She also shrieks when I put her on her stand. When the stand was new she would stay on it a ton and would play alone contently. Now I put her on it and she screeches after a minute or so.... How do I limit that screaming? She didn't use to scream like that outside the cage. I mean she would make plenty noise before but, not that repeated high pitch shriek that makes you think you the building is on fire.
 

Peetree

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First things first. Yes it looks like you reinforced her natural jungle call and now she thinks you like it.

You have to train her off it. Teach her a whistle instead, and only come running when you hear that. Every time you pass her cage you give the same whistle.

Reward her lavishly when she uses it. IGNORE THE SCREAMS. She will come round
I like the idea of substituting another sound. I don't think completely eliminating her noise when she wants attention is realistic.

What about when she is screaming on when she's perched on my finger? How do I ignore that? Or when she's out of the cage just standing on the counter screaming and refusing to step up?
 

Irishj9

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I like the idea of substituting another sound. I don't think completely eliminating her noise when she wants attention is realistic.

What about when she is screaming on when she's perched on my finger? How do I ignore that? Or when she's out of the cage just standing on the counter screaming and refusing to step up?
You will not eliminate her noise
She will not take instructions like a puppy

She WILL do what the flock does, and she CAN be bribed

I have 8 of these guys. Thats how I survive
 

finchly

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Or when she's out of the cage just standing on the counter screaming and refusing to step up?
Walk away. Then walk by, look surprised. Oh you're here? Oh you want to step up now? *Happy noises* Of course! Here's my finger.
 

Irishj9

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I would love for her to make any other noise than the screeching. She does love the pretty bird whistle so I'll try that. What about when she is shrieking out of the cage right in front of me and refuses to step up? Should I leave the room? I worry that she's afraid of something so getting up and leaving would see to backfire if that is the case. Peetree is quiet most of the time out of the cage but, sometimes outside the cage she shrieks a ton! I don't know if she thinks I like it or what the problem is. I look around for things that could potentially scare her and find nothing.

She also shrieks when I put her on her stand. When the stand was new she would stay on it a ton and would play alone contently. Now I put her on it and she screeches after a minute or so.... How do I limit that screaming? She didn't use to scream like that outside the cage. I mean she would make plenty noise before but, not that repeated high pitch shriek that makes you think you the building is on fire.
Ignore all shreiking unless she is obviously being attacked by a huge vampire bat

In all other occasions you DO NOT reward this beheaviour with your attention

She is bored in a cage all day and now she realises that you love drama as much as she does. It must be true because you react EVERY TIME

So what if she refuses to step up?. Is she in danger? NO. Leave her to play
 

Irishj9

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Also don't forget that caiques lean forward and point at what they want.

Is she trying to ask for something?
 

Peetree

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Also don't forget that caiques lean forward and point at what they want.

Is she trying to ask for something?
I can't tell! Earlier today she was screaming and then suddenly started running away. While running she was standing very tall like when she does when she's scared... I tried to figure out what could cause the fear and found nothing...

When she screams outside of the cage is that because of boredom? I try to get her to interact with toys but she seems uninterested.
 

Peetree

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Ignore all shreiking unless she is obviously being attacked by a huge vampire bat

In all other occasions you DO NOT reward this beheaviour with your attention

She is bored in a cage all day and now she realises that you love drama as much as she does. It must be true because you react EVERY TIME

So what if she refuses to step up?. Is she in danger? NO. Leave her to play
Okay, I'll try to ignore it. Luckily my roommate is incredibly understanding. She can go on for 20 minutes at a time and it starts to make me feel a little crazy. I try to wait until she stops screaming so that I can reinforce not screaming but, she starts up again the moment I walk towards the cage. I tried whistling at her to get her to mimic the sound and then I would pick her up but she just screamed over my whistling.
 

finchly

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Could she be in pain? @Laurie suggested a vet visit. Maybe it's not a bad idea.
 

Irishj9

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Most animal experts agree that an animal beheaves in a certain way because it gets a reward

You need to carefully consider what is triggering this screaming and what possible reward she is getting from it
 
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