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Screaming Gonzo is driving us CRAZY

MacawMom87

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Hey friends,

Gonzo is our almost 3 year old B&G male macaw. He’s mostly awesome but he has started SCREEEEEEAMING soooooo much that whole family is on edge.
It starts in the morning as soon as anyone wakes up and he just screams and screams all dang day. He has a huge breeders cage with toys and foraging f wheels and food and water, he gets out frequently, gets attention, flies around, I vary his diet… all the things I can think of to be a good mom.
I’ve tried ignoring him, scolding him, rearranging his cage, changing his diet. I don’t know WHAT to do!! I understand that birds make noise but this is getting excessive to the point that everyone in my family wants to get rid of him. I love him and he’s my baby and I don’t want to get rid of him but I also need to keep my sanity. What the heck do I do!?
 

expressmailtome

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I know that this may sound rude, and I honestly do not mean it that way, but sometimes we the owners have caused this issue. When a bird is used to constant attention, and receives attention for every sounds/movement/etc. they make, they become very accustomed to it. Some to the point where they scream constantly "every second" that they are not receiving attention. It can be mitigated, but it does take time, unfortunately. I am not saying that that was the case here, just that it is a possibility.

Now, some people feel differently, but in my experience, "scolding" has the exact opposite effect. You are giving him exactly what he wants: your attention. I have found that when Michael screams, if I leave the room and close the door behind me, counting to ten and starting over whenever he verbalizes a sound, and then open the door and go back in praising him, it works quite well. Granted, I never got to the point that you are describing, but I know many people who have done similar things to what I have described.
 

Shezbug

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I simply pretend I am deaf (I do not leave the area/room, screw my face up or anything at all as that is all an action of acknowledgement of the unwanted behaviour) when either of my large birds scream for attention and I just patiently carry on with what I was doing and I wait till I hear a quieter sound that I am ok with and I then quickly make a big obvious deal to respond, praise and acknowledge it. They both have very quickly worked out screaming means nothing in my language as I do not react. I have also taught my Mac to whisper which he gets massive attention and praise for.
My mac actually started lengthy screaming sessions a short time back whenever he was uptight or saw/heard a particular person due to some seriously unpleasant behaviours he was not happy about being in the middle of.
I have him back to only screaming/alarm calling when there is a problem (like the neighbours cat sitting on his window sill or the cheeky kids from next door jumping our fence where he can see it)- it took me a few days of the person encouraging his screaming being away from the house to get him out of the constant carry on.
 

Pixiebeak

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As above
Also for my quakers, it's spring scream, hormonal screaming...happens every year ..I have limited success with spring scream...the other kinds I have had good success
 

expressmailtome

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I have also taught my Mac to whisper which he gets massive attention and praise for.
Thank you for the reminder! When Michael will not stop, I walk up to him and whisper to him quietly. It does not matter what I say, but he almost always stops to try and hear what I am saying. Usually he calms down after this for a while as well.
 

Toy

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At "almost 3 years old" he is testing his voice & you. It's called the "terrible twos". Around age 3.5 they tend to settle down a bit. They test their beak, voice & can be unruly during the terrible two stage. I know it's hard, but ignore it. Only respond to him when he is not screaming. He needs to learn now that he will not get attention if he screams. This needs to be dealt with now before he gets older.

Morning & evening screaming is normal, but should only last a short while. It's their way of acknowledging the morning & evening. Wild birds do this. A good example is the American Robin. They are the first birds awake, often at 3AM, & they start singing & calling. Just before dark they sing & call again. Macaws scream. They also scream when they are beating up a toy. You can try to train him to laugh when playing with toys. Grab the toy, shake it & laugh. Keep doing this every day until he gets it.

I greet my birds in the morning with "good morning & say each of their names". After that I ignore them. They get breakfast. There will be some calling & talking. All 3 of my parrots (U2, CAG & B&G Macaw) are pretty quiet most of the day. They jabber some, play, but are not loud. Depending on what we are doing they will get some out of cage time. Around 3 PM they start up, as it's feeding time. Some screaming & loud noises, but they go quiet once fed. Later the calling & talking starts. They get a hour or two out of cage time before bedtime.

You can also try whispering. It tends to make them go quiet so they can hear you.

Where is his cage located? Is it where he can see you during the day? Can you post a pic of his cage? Perhaps we can offer suggestions on set up.

Try to stick to a routine for out of cage time. He needs to learn to be by himself, playing in his cage. Also ask him to step up/down, if he wants something to eat, tell him where you are taking him & why, when it's time to go night night, etc. They like to know everything that goes on in their world.
 

MacawMom87

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Thank you for your replies, everyone! To answer some of the questions his cage is in our living room. I definitely noticed that he ramps up his screaming when the kids are home and being rowdy. We try to encourage the kids to keep their rowdy behavior outside, so as not to stress out Gonzo. But sometimes his screaming is when it’s quiet and I think he’s just wanting constant attention. He and I have a very good and bonded relationship. I’m able to handle him well, he steps up when asked, and he flies to me. He does very well with my husband and my three kids but he’s definitely most bonded to me.
i’ve attached a picture of his cage and his tree below. I haven’t done the morning refill of his foraging toys yet but this is his setup. I recently rearranged it and tried to give him more space to stretch his wings. He has a swing, two different foraging, toys, a nuts and bolts toy, three chewing toys and a long rope hanging in the center that he likes to climb up and down and swing on. He has his noisy “pots and pans” toy on his tree.
 

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Toy

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He senses the kids high energy, which triggers him to be excited. Perhaps playing some soft music when he gets wound up may calm him a bit. Give him time to get thru the terrible twos. Hopefully he'll settle a bit. Think of when your kids were 2 & getting into every thing, screaming, etc. Yep that's a macaw in the terrible twos.

That's a HUGE cage. Can he go to the bottom of his cage to get foot toys? My B&G, "JaKhu" is female. She will be 4 years old in April. She LOVES foot toys. Her favorite is a chime ball I get in the baby section at Walmart. She destroys them & plays with the little ball inside, before destroying it. Spark.create.imagine Sci Rattle Ball - Walmart.com I often buy several at a time. As soon as she sees me with one she gets all excited. She grabs them out of my hand. I'd suggest some foot toys he can easily destroy that aren't wood. Paper, rattan, vine, etc. Also heavy duty rubber Kong dog toys like a pacifier, rubber ball, etc. Old phone books, if you can find one. Drill a hole in a corner, put a chain on it & hang it up for him to chew up.

Jan at Blu's Bird Toys - Stimulate Your Bird's Senses! makes amazing stainless steel toys. All parts are welded, heavy duty & parrot safe. I highly suggest you get him at least one or two before she sadly closes her business in April. Buy as many as you can afford now, as no one else makes these toys. JaKhu has 3 SS toys in her cage right now, along with many other toys. Her favorite is the "Foraging Bell". She plays with it every day. You can drop treats in it. Keep in mind your bird may destroy the beads, as JaKhu has on hers. The bell is not overly loud or annoying. The "Fill It Up" toy, size large, allows you to add toy parts. Jan has toy parts on her site as well. Any of the large toys should hold up to a macaw, even some of the medium sized ones, especially if your bird is not overly destructive. I would hang one close to his swing so he can easily reach it.

There's room for more toys, perches, etc., in his cage. If it were me I'd raise the wood swing on the right up higher so he can reach the top of his cage easier. I'd also add more perches & place some hanging toys closer to the corners, perches & sides of the cage.

You could also add a Tiki Rope Perch (2 inch size) Parrot Ropes, Tiki Ropes, Bird swings, Bird Perches, Parrot perch | Natural Inspirations Parrot cages high up in his cage. I have one in our outside aviary. Yes expensive, but well worth it.
 

sunnysmom

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I think you've already been given great advice and think it's what everyone said -a combination of hormones, wanting attention and him getting excited that the kids are playing. My cockaoo wants to be part of the action all the time and I'm guessing that's what is going on with your bird when the kids are playing. I am NOT saying he should be part of the action out of the cage but maybe the kids could include him somehow with him safely in his cage. Go and dance with him or something.

Also, routine has saved us with my cockatoo's screaming. I really dislike having to have him on a schedule but if I don't, he screams constantly to be let out. So he gets out at certain times every day. He knows this. So in the in between times, he just plays in his cage. I feel bad because I would like to get him out whenever I have some extra time but if I deviate at all, the screaming starts again. And as for ignoring the screaming- it really is not reacting at all. Not leaving the room, not looking at him- just pretending he's not there. And then praising and giving attention when quiet.
 

Jan

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Thank you for the reminder! When Michael will not stop, I walk up to him and whisper to him quietly. It does not matter what I say, but he almost always stops to try and hear what I am saying. Usually he calms down after this for a while as well.
Haha ... yah, me too, when Kuka (B&G) would scream I would walk up to her in whispering voice and say her name ... she most often would whisper her name back to me then she more less was over screaming. She wasn't a big screamer but she did do it now and then. She loved it when I whispered to her and she took on whispering to me a lot.
 

MacawMom87

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Update:

Thank you everyone for all the suggestions! Gonzo is making great progress. We have implemented ignoring him and of that doesn’t work or he’s particularly wound up we cover his cage for 5 minutes to get him to settle down. I’ve got him on a more consistent routine of when he gets out and we are going to add some more things to his cage this week to make it more entertaining. Thank you all for helping save our sanity!
 

April

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Update:

Thank you everyone for all the suggestions! Gonzo is making great progress. We have implemented ignoring him and of that doesn’t work or he’s particularly wound up we cover his cage for 5 minutes to get him to settle down. I’ve got him on a more consistent routine of when he gets out and we are going to add some more things to his cage this week to make it more entertaining. Thank you all for helping save our sanity!
That's a fantastic update! I'm so glad that the changes are helping to positively impact yalls lives. As someone who unfortunately had to rehome a beloved parrot because of non stop screaming I 100% empathize and really hoped yall would be able to find a solution that worked for all of you.
 

Toy

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Update:

Thank you everyone for all the suggestions! Gonzo is making great progress. We have implemented ignoring him and of that doesn’t work or he’s particularly wound up we cover his cage for 5 minutes to get him to settle down. I’ve got him on a more consistent routine of when he gets out and we are going to add some more things to his cage this week to make it more entertaining. Thank you all for helping save our sanity!
That's great things are working. Keep in mind it's in his nature to scream some.
 

MacawMom87

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That's great things are working. Keep in mind it's in his nature to scream some.
for sure! I don’t mind it when he is only doing it here and there when he’s excited, or as he often likes to do when the sun first comes up, it was just getting way too often way too much!
 
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