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Thread: Screeching cockatiel - bored or hormonal?

  1. #1
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    Screeching cockatiel - bored or hormonal?

    Hi, first post! I've had my hen cockatiel (Yuki) around 3 months now, I bought her from a breeder at a bird auction which isn't ideal as I don't know anything about how she was brought up, if she lived with other birds, outdoor or indoor etc. They also told me she was 2 months old which I didn't think much of at the time, but I'm now thinking is highly unlikely. Coming from a bird auction, she might not even be a hen!

    For the first month or so, she was fairly quiet, just the odd loud chirp here and there. For the first month I had her so there was constant noise around her with kids, dogs, budgies etc. but I've since moved into my own apartment on my own, and it's very quiet around here. I also work 9am-5pm which I know isn't ideal for Yuki as she's alone most of the day, but I wanted to work on taming her before getting another bird. And as I live in an apartment, I wanted to gauge how loud cockatiels really are before committing to another. I do try and socialise with her as much as I can when I'm home but as she won't step up and doesn't seem too interested in coming out of her cage, it's sometimes a bit tricky. While she isn't hand tame, she does love head scritches so we are getting there with the bonding.

    Since moving into her nice big cage and settling in to her new environment, she's become more vocal and chattery. However in the last few weeks to a month, she's been doing this vocalisation where she chatters to herself for a while fairly quietly (sometimes squeaking but other times it's almost like clucking) then will randomly screech at the top of her lungs. Sometimes it's the odd screech, sometimes it's for minutes at a time. Talking to her or whistling doesn't do much to interrupt her. During these periods, she also becomes quite aggressive towards me, screaming at my hand when I go to try and calm her and trying to bite me. This makes it really difficult to socialise with her - as I'm out all day, I do want to interact with her as much as possible but it's difficult when she's trying to bite me!

    I'm wondering if maybe the reason she's having these mad spells is because she's bored or even lonely after being on her own all day? I have been looking at getting another bird but as I live in an apartment and she's already really quite loud, I was a bit wary of getting another cockatiel and risking having double trouble if she's got something to scream at and something to scream back! I was thinking of maybe getting a bourke parakeet as they're super quiet and docile so might get on well with her, but I cannot seem to find any hand reared bourkes at all in the UK. She does have plenty of toys and these are rotated and changed around regularly.

    I'm also wondering if maybe she's a bit older than we think, and maybe she's becoming hormonal? I'm not sure when cockatiels can come into their hormonal stage but the way it's described, it does sound like how she acts. I've noticed in just the last couple of days that she does seem to be quieter - she is still having the odd screaming fit but before it seemed to be 80% of the time she was in her cage she'd be screeching.

    Any ideas please? I do want to get another bird as I do feel guilty about her being alone for most of the day but I'm stuck on what to get as I would want to house them together - her cage is really quite big so it's not really practicle to have another cage. I know another cockatiel would be the safest bet in terms of housing but like I said, I'm a bit worried I'll end up with 2 screeching cockatiels and very angry neighbours!

  2. #2
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    Re: Screeching cockatiel - bored or hormonal?

    Hi, Abbie, and welcome to the community. Since you have had him or her for about 3 months, and usually a breeder will send a baby bird home with you at about 12 weeks or so of age, it is entirely possible the hormones are beginning to surface. I have had hens in the past, and usually they are quite docil, very loving, and do not do screeching. As they approach hormone time, they like to be on cage floor, shredding paper towel, or if there is nothing on the cage floor, but the grate, they like to do nesting rituals. I once had one who would line up seeds along the cage bortom, and also, they try to find a toy, that they can rub their "back" with as though a male had mounted her.

    Males also get into hormones. They often begin biting, and screeching, and like to use toys as their mate. They also like to use our hands for that purpose. They also like to dive bomb our heads when flying around the house, and can get quite aggressive.

    I would hope that the breeder provided you with a young tiel, no older than about 3 months, but sometimes breeders prefer homing them at about 6 months, and my thought is your bird could have been about 6 months of age when you got her or him. Nine months of age is about the usual age for hormones to set in.

    You could get a bird DNA test on line. They send you a kit, that you pay for, and then you pull a few feathers from the bird, send them back, and they will then send you the result. Or, an Avian vet will do the test. Hormonal activity usually lasts for a few weeks. Once it is over, the bird usually gets back to being his or her happy self. This behavior can happen literally overnight. It happens usually in spring and fall. Some birds have it more often throughout the year.

    My thought is if you could wait a few weeks until this behavior is passed, and get the DNA test, then you could decide if you want to get a friend for her or him. Quite honestly, I feel getting a cockatiel would be the best choice, if you wish to cage the birds together. If you were going to get another species, then I recommend putting that bird in its own cage

    Cockatiels love music of all kinds, and they also love cartoons and kids programs like Disney, Mickey Mouse, etc.,on TV. I suggest playing the radio or a CD Player, during the day when you are gone, or, the TV at low volume.

    Be on your guard for sudden bites from your bird! They really hurt, and often times, they happen very suddenly. All cockatiels, especially males, often do have loud behavior. That is just their nature. But usually it is hormones that cause most of the noise.

    Some owners have their birds wings clipped, which help tamp down hormonal behavior, somewhat, but, you have to be sure you get a nail tech that is very experienced in wing flight trimming. A bad wing clip job is not good at all.

    I hope this info will be of help to you. Please respond with your thoughts and or other questions.
    Last edited by maxollie; 11-26-2019 at 01:20 PM.

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    Re: Screeching cockatiel - bored or hormonal?

    Thanks for the reply, Ellen!

    I've started leaving the radio on low for her when I'm out in the day but I've no idea if this is keeping her quiet through the day or not!

    It's strange because I can't seem to find any consistency in her noise. The other day after I came back from work, she was quiet all evening as she was happily either playing in her cage or hanging out with me - I can't remember her screeching at all. However, I've been in all day today as it's a Sunday and she's been very noisy since before she was even uncovered. For the most part she won't let me near her when she's like this, she just screams and lunges at my hand so I'm not sure if the screaming is even for attention? I've attached a video of her chattering and screeching so you can hear her - hopefully someone much more experienced than me can tell what her noises mean (warning - it does get quite loud!)

    https://youtu.be/JGxsNBx1IL8

    When she's making these noises, she's usually sat in her cage. Sometimes she's just sitting still, puffed up and making these noises. Other times, she's moving around, attacking her toys and flapping her wings.

    When she's out of her cage, she's generally very quiet as she's usually stomping around on my laptop, chasing the cursor on the screen, or playing with mouse wires, charging cables etc. (not chewing them, she doesn't cause any damage to them). When I'm home, I move her cage so she's next to me as I sit on the settee, and put a ladder out so she can come out of her cage and hang out with me if she wants.

    She does have her wings clipped as the first time she came out of her cage and flew around, she flew in to a wall or two and it terrified me - I don't think she's a very experienced flyer! As she wasn't tame and wouldn't let me help her if she did get in to any trouble with flying, I thought it would be safer to have her wings clipped until she was more tame and would let me actually go near her. Unfortunately, I think this does limit how much exploring she does as she has to climb everywhere - whenever she's out of her cage, she doesn't stray from me and my laptop. When her cage is in its usual corner, I put a large ladder down to the floor which she knows to climb up to get in to her cage, but she won't climb down it to come out and just explore the room without me (but with my supervision of course). I'd love to take her around my flat myself and help her explore, but unfortunately she still won't step up!

    I really would love to get her a cockatiel friend, but I am worried that it will make her louder and/or the other tiel will join in with the screeching! As she's still not fully tame and won't step up to allow me to easily bring her to me to socialise with, I'm also worried that she'll bond more with the tiel friend and it will be much harder to try and train her.

    When she's quiet and she's hanging out with me, she's generally a sweetheart (though she does have her moments where she decides she doesn't like my hand and has a good peck at it). I'm really hoping the screeching is something environmental that I can fix or boredom that I can find a solution to. I know all birds have their noisy moments as they're birds and of course I expected some noise, but it just seems that whenever she's making noise, it is accompanied by the screaming and it just doesn't seem right to me.

    (Also, can anyone tell just from the picture on the video what kind of tiel she is from her markings?)
    Last edited by Supadackles; 12-01-2019 at 05:43 AM.

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    Re: Screeching cockatiel - bored or hormonal?

    Well...sure sounds like a boy to me! I even heard a ....pretty bird....in there!!!! He even looks like a male to me!! Of course, time will tell, but he is at an age now, he will get more verbal. My male, Penny, is about 2 years old, and he sure did like your video!! He made some of the same sounds. Your bird is a white faced pied!! He reminds me a lot of my Penny, when I got him, at six months of age. Watch for him to do what we call heart wings. Males hold their wings out so that they look like the shape of a heart. I also heard a short wolf whistle from him.

    Usually, females would not make these sounds and whistles. I think he will be fine. Usually they tend to be more vocal when we are with them. I doubt he is being loud in the daytime when you are gone. If it were me, I would wait a few months, to get a friend, and then I would be sure to get another male. There are many folks that work every day and have to leave their birds alone. And the birds are fine. In my view, the quality time we spend with them is more important than quantity time!

    And of course, you could do a DNA test now, and find out for sure the sex. If it is a male, I would get another male, because if you get a female, that will be a pair, and they will pay more attention to each other than you. And also, then you will need to deal with mating and eggs. And if you do have a female, then you would need to decide if you wish to have a female or male. If you decide a female, then you could, one day, have two laying hens, because females do not need to have another cockatiel in the home at all to begin laying eggs. I have had that experience in the past. And two females often do not get along to well, especially when their hormones set in, and one or both lay eggs. Females are very protective of their eggs. And there can be aggression between two females when one or both lay eggs.

    I will be interested to hear how he or she is doing. We will welcome your updates anytime.
    Last edited by maxollie; 12-01-2019 at 12:09 PM.

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    Re: Screeching cockatiel - bored or hormonal?

    Oh wow, that would explain a lot! I know females don't chatter too much and prefer to just chirp, so I did suspect Yuki might not be a hen when they started becoming really vocal. I've also noticed their sounds changing within the last week or so, less screechy and slightly more melodic - still quite ear-piercing and high pitched, but it definitely sounds like the sounds are like, developing? Even from just yesterday, their noises have changed quite a bit. I think you might be right, my Yuki Girl might actually be my Yuki Boy!

    I'd love to do a DNA test, but I think it will have to wait until Yuki's a bit more tame. I think trying to pluck some of their feathers out now might cost me a chunk of my finger. Now that we know Yuki might just be a vocal little boy and not a screechy lonely girl, I'm not so desperate to run out and find him a friend but you're right, it'd be best to get another male if I was to get another (assuming now Yuki is male!)

    Thanks for the advice, it definitely makes much more sense now. I'll eventually get a DNA test to be sure but I am now leaning towards Yuki being a boy. Maybe they'll learn how to whistle a song and I think then I'd be pretty sure I have a male!

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    Re: Screeching cockatiel - bored or hormonal?

    If you do have a boy, and it sounds to me like each day, his sounds and chatter are confirming that, you will have an awesome journey with him, and I totally agree that you need not hurry to get another one. He most likely will be content being an only bird!! The skys the limit for what words, sounds, and whistles he may learn. I love music, and began tapping rhythms on a jar lid for my Penny. And now, he sounds just like a drummer! He gets on the cage floor, and drums just like a human. He has different ones he taps!!

    P!ease keep us updated! And I wish you the best love of him, and FUN on the journey!!

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