Training ‘Separation Anxiety’ Out
Of Umbrella Cockatoos
One of our customers had a question and we decided to share it as well as the answer because it’s a concern of many umbrella cockatoo owners. How to train my umbrella cockatoo not to scream when I leave the room. His question and my response are below. You can find more information on how to stop your parrots screams for attention here as well.
Hi Guys ,
Since you have been so nice as to send out these bird behavior tips I thought I would give some feedback as a loyal BT customer. I have both video sets tricks and talking. I have 3 toos, 2 girls and an adult male cockatoo that I got from a pet shop.
He came with a history of , the birds owner died and he was sent to the sisters home and they didn’t like the bird much. So that’s how they came to the pet shop. He, Caesar is a very large and demanding bird. But he bonded to me instantly and I can tell that he suffers terribly from Separation Anxiety, plus he has temper tantrums.
He screams horribly and pitifully whenever I leave his sight. I admit I feel so bad that I pick him up and he clings to me like a lost child burying his face in my neck and holding on desperately.
I love this bird so much , do you think he will ever get over this fear and screaming behavior. My younger female is totally independent and loveable and has learned lots of tricks quick as you show her, and she talks readily to get what she wants.
She is head over heels for my border collie. The other female is another rescue situation. She came with a sweet voice, singing, and above average intelligence. But She is chewing holes in her skin. Been to the vet twice . I don’t want to keep her on tranquilizers, which the vet had recommended. Birds like these are not meant to be caged. HELP!!!!!
The first thing I recommend for owners of parrots that have a screaming problem is to start feeding their bird a healthy diet.
It’s a proven fact that you can cure up to 30% of animal related behavior problems by giving them a more nutritious diet. Because it just makes them feel better. You can find more information on a healthy diet containing natural parrot food here.
However in this case, I happen to know that Will is already feeding his Umbrella Cockatoo our Life Enhancing Natural Parrot pellets… so in this case, even though his bird is going to now live a healthier life, it doesn’t seem like Caesar is one of those birds who’s going to have his screaming problem fixed by changing up his diet.
And I think I know why…
… if you go back and read Will’s question I can tell why his birds screaming… because Will is giving in when it comes to giving his parrot what it wants, instead of what it needs.
Will uses words like, “He screams horribly and pitifully whenever I leave his sight. I admit I feel so bad for him that I pick him up and he clings to me like a lost child burying his face in my neck and holding on desperately. I love this bird so much…”
I see lots of people who just can’t emotionally handle a living creature that whines.
In my opinion it’s actually an epidemic that’s sweeping through our society.
These people cave into every want, need or desire of anything, so as to finally have something love them. You see people do this to their kids, puppies and anything capable of showing affection.
So the first thing will needs to do is realize that the bird will be OK without him, it really will.
And he needs to start setting a new foundation for his bird that builds up the birds ability to entertain himself, and be comfortable being alone.
And the first step towards building this new foundation for his bird is to teach the bird that screaming for attention will NEVER get attention from this day forward… NEVER!
Giving a bird ANY form of attention, even a quick look towards his cage, can be a reinforcement for screaming. So we need to give the bird what’s called a negative reinforcer… meaning that when the bird screams, it gets exactly what it doesn’t want — for Will to leave the room.
Think about it… if you were a bird, and every time you screamed your owner came and gave you attention, wouldn’t that be self reinforcing? And if all of a sudden you screamed for your owner (cuz you wanted attention) and your owner didn’t come, what would happen?
At first you would think hmmm… maybe he didn’t hear me, I’ll scream louder. And in the beginning you’ll try extra hard at screaming for attention. This will cause you to get frustrated, maybe even VERY frustrated, and you may even feel like screaming just because you are frustrated right? More information like this can be found on my Stop Screaming Course.
So as pet bird owners we need to realize this.
We need to realize that when we first start ignoring a birds screaming, its going to get worse. And that it might actually cause your bird to scream for other reasons, like frustration.
But after a time, let’s say the 1,000th time your bird has screamed for you’re attention, and EVERY time that screaming caused you to immediately leave the room… do you think it might catch on that screaming causes you to leave?
After all, your bird was smart enough to figure out that screaming made you come give him attention, so with a little time and patience your bird will learn that screaming no longer gets him what he wants… and for LOTS of birds they stop screaming when they finally realize this.
It’s the hands down best technique for fixing screaming behavior in parrots that scream for attention.
But I have to warn you!
Some people don’t think this method I just taught you works. They say they tried it, and their bird still screams for them… even longer and louder than before.
But they’re wrong… the reason the bird is still screaming has actually CHANGED, from wanting attention, to being frustrated, and requires a second step in the training to fix.
It requires that you teach the bird a way to get you’re attention instead of screaming for it all the time… like how to SPEAK or SING for you’re attention.
I talk a lot about how to train parrots to do this in our Teach Your Parrot To Talk Program.
Here’s hoping this has shed a little more light on how to cure your parrots screaming!