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I've read a bit about dealing with bad parrot behavior, such as that it's cruel to throw a nightcloth over the cage if the bird won't shut up. Well, our conure Krikkit (yeah, her again!) has pretty much established her daily schedule to include several hours of loud, constant shrieking between mid-morning and early afternoon. Our standard method of dealing with this is to take her downstairs and put her in the alternate cage where we can't hear her screescrawing.

I always cuddle her on the way down the stairs, place her gently in the cage, and make sure she has plenty of food, water, treats, toys and music to last her through the afternoon. Still, she obviously would prefer not being there -- she gets more and more wary of being grabbed every day. But hey, she's not the boss of me!

She first developed her high-pitched sounds in pursuit of communicating better with the 6 budgies we also share the room with, and the best guess I've got from observing her is that she now is trying to converse with the mockingbirds, grackles, finches and doves she hears in the flora outside our window. It's a different sound from the "I want a sink-bath" or "I can't get into this closed cage, dummy!" announcements, and there seems to be no way to get her to cease her "afternoon yap" as long as she's up there with us.

So my question to you folks is: do you find our solution to the problem to be inhumane in any way? As soon as she's allowed to return upstairs for the evening, she starts right up dancing and cuddling, so she doesn't seem to be suffering any lasting bad effects from her periods of exile. (Her overworked previous owner left her alone in her cage for 14 hours each day, so she's got a lot better deal going with us!)

- mf
 

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could she be screaming because she was left alone 14 hours a day before and now is scared it will happen again? like some sort of separation anxiety?
 

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Ken,
I don't read anything that sounds cruel. I do not get the impression that you are frightening her, hurting her, or neglecting her. You seem to be leaving her on a good note with plenty of treats and toys. My theory with parrots is that anything you can do to avoid loosing your temper with them is a million times better than loosing your temper. My green cheek really feeds off of my emotions, and I suspect most green cheeks do. If I ever find myself becoming angry, I always gently put her away as quickly as I can safely do so. If I find myself getting mad, it isn't her fault. It is usually something going on in my life, but I dont' want her to get a bad vibe when she is with me. If putting her where she doesn't cause stress for your family keeps her safer, that is what should be done.
My behavioral specialist veterinarian tells us that nuisance screaming is one of the main reasons birds are rehomed or put down. It is also one of the most difficult behaviors to redirect. The old adage that it is best to ignore the bird doesn't work, she says, because people really just can't indefinately ignore the screaming, and in the end the bird always gets some sort of reaction. Then, with behavioral modification, one of the big truisims happens to be that intermittent reinforcement establishes behaviors more solidily than any other type of reinforcement, and that is exactly what happens when people try to ignore screaming.
For this reason, to me, if you honestly have a place where you can put her so that in truth she does not bother anyone, you won't be falling into this trap of eventually giving her some sort of reinforcement for the screaming. So, to me, this solution, since it is available to you, may work well. If she were a bird with a louder scream, you probably would have no place in which to isolate her where she could not be heard. However, it seems, from reading your post, that this place works fine and she really doesn't bother others while she is there.
IF you find the behavior increasing, then something about what is happening is reinforcing to the bird. At this point, it doesn't seem that you are finding the behavior is increasing. However, you do seem to be experiencing some "fall out", because she is resisiting being taken to the alternate cage.
To help reduce "fall out", I might suggest, if at all possible, to simply move her BEFORE she starts her daily chorus. Then she won't associate it with a punishment, but will just see it as a routine of life.
Oh, and one other suggestion, what about doing a bit of clicker training with her when you first arrive at your alternate destination, so that she has a really fun time with you before you leave her. Clicker training sessions can be very short, even as short as five repetitions, and still leave a really good taste in the bird's mouth for the experience with you. IMPORTANT - Do NOT try to clicker train when you arrive at the other cage IF she has already started her screaming tyrade before you take her down there. If you are having to move her on a day when she started in earlier than you realized she would, just gently take her down there and leave her with tons of fun things to do in that cage. You might inadvertently reinforce the screaming if she associates the fun of clicker training with the fact that she has just been screaming, and you might be a bit angry if she has already been screaming, so that in and of itself would nullify any benefits of the clicker session.
Another idea - put some toys down there that she loves that she only gets to see in that particular cage so that she will look forward to her "vacation" cage.
One other thing that can help reduce screaming, if you know when a bird is going to start screaming before it actually happens, is to give the bird a drenching bath. This is NOT punishment, and only works if it occurs BEFORE the bird starts to scream. The bird then uses up some of the energy it would have expended in screaming by preening itself from the bath. I mention that only because if she starts at roughly the same time daily, or if she starts whenever you are watching your favorite tv program, you might be able to give her a bath before she starts so that she will use up some of her energy preening instead of screaming.

She is one fortunate bird to have you. :thumbsup:
 

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Great post Nanay! So helpful.

And I too believe that Casey could be right, my Joey has separation anxiety and as soon as I leave a room it sounds like murder and mayhem coming from the room haha!
 
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Oh, yes, I suspect she developed this behavior in her first home because she had nothing else to do. Poor baby. It is so wonderful she is where she is now.
 

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Hi Ken,
I really LOVED Nanay's post to you, and agree you are not doing anything inhumane. I have a very picky, demanding parrot named Tootsie. She's a Hahn's Macaw. She would prefer to stay on me all day long, be fed from a spoon (I did that for a year), and if she wasn't getting these two things, she would be a screaming mimi all the time! She is far from independent. I think a lot of screamer's lack this independence, because in nature, they would be with their flock members all the time, day and night. So, the screaming is out of frustration. Tootsie does have a birdie friend which I think helps. But more than that, I have had to really work with her over the past few years to learn how to be an independent player. She is a bird that will usually ignore most toys, and doesn't like to chew wood, etc. So, I found my refuge through foraging!

Every day, I put out a new foraging toy or activity for all of my parrots. In the beginning, she ignored this too. But over time, this has really helped her to become more independent and she really does not scream much at all now unless she's startled by something.

Here are some things I do to encourage foraging:

1. In addition to offering food in a regular bowl, I always put pellets in favorite foraging toys. Some of these include stainless steel buckets, Foragewise Turning Logs, coconut cups, etc.

2. I put seeds in more challenging toys (rarely in bowls), and also pine nuts, which they all love to shell and eat. Some that require a turning of a wheel, or pulling of a part. The Caitec company makes some great ones for this.

3. I try to utilize skewers and kabobs made for birds when feeding fresh vegies and fruits, as often as possible.

4. I know that all of my birds love pine nuts, pistachios, and nutriberries. I hide these with favorite foot toys, pony beads, toy parts, shredded paper in foraging toys. Sometimes they are palm pockets. Other times it's a bucket of stuff. I do this every single day, and all of my birds love to rip through their foraging toys every day.

I have found with time that my birds have all become very independent players, and will literally spend at good 4-6 hours of their day foraging, sometimes more. In the wild, this is what they would be doing too, though they would be flying for miles in spurts too.
Foraging has really helped keep Tootsie's screaming to a minimum. She still gets her mommy time, but now happily enjoys her foraging activities throughout the day. I have to also say that much of this time is spent out of the cage, though many of my food foraging toys are also in cages too.
 

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Very good posts NayNay and Kristen! they are very useful, and i agree completely. i remember when a family member had a conure and she would do the same thing, when i was over there (which was almost every day) and she would start screaming i would take her into the basement with me where most of my family hung out. and i would set her aside and let her play or i would ignore the screeching and she'd eventually stop. and every time i was over she would gradually stop.
 
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