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Thread: My screaming sweet tiel - help!

  1. #1
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    My screaming sweet tiel - help!

    Hello everyone, I just stumbled over this board, and I found a lot of good information, but I feel I need more, so I would really appreciate any help you can provide. I just got this baby tiel on Saturday, and she was the sweetest thing ever! She is about 5-6 weeks old, got her from a friend from work who has a bunch of other ones. She used to live with her parents and siblings, and now all of a sudden she is on her own. I know we have made a few mistakes - high cage, and handled her a lot over the weekend. We did that though because - for the first two days - she was just so good, no screaming, no noise, just sit quietly in her cage. She got a little rowdy at night, but we took her out of the cage and she was fine (probably another mistake!). This morning however I had to leave for work, and my husband stayed home. She was a little wild in the morning, but we took her out for a few minutes and fed her (that's another thing, we never see her eat inside the cage, she does it only outside when we put the little bowl right in front of her - should I be worried?). Anyway, after 'breakfast' we put her back into the cage - she was just fine. However, when I got to work I found this message from my husband saying that, 10 minutes after I got out the door, she started screaming and she hasn't stopped, she gets very wild in the cage, and she won't stop. I called home - he is right, SHE IS LOUD! - nothing like the last two days, when she would chirp a little, but that's it. He tried a lot of things - took her to a different room, put a towel over the cage, take her out (that calms her down a bit, but he can't keep her out constantly!), ignore her, but to no avail. She seems like a totally different bird than yesterday or the day before. At the same time, the poor man (my husband I mean!) seems to be very annoyed with the loud noise. I have to admit that over the past few days she pretty much did what she wanted, but she was so good. Please help me with any suggestions you have, I don't want this to become a bigger problem than it already is, and I want to keep her - and I won't be able to if she continues like this, since I live in an apartment, and my neighbors may not be as understanding as I am - then again, I have not been in the same room with her yet when she is like this, I have only heard her over the phone.

    On a different note, I have not seen her sipping a drop of water, should I be worried?

    Thank you so much for any help you can provide, I am new at this and I would appreciate any input from more experienced bird-people.

  2. #2
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    Re: My screaming sweet tiel - help!

    To be blunt: Your'e doing everything wrong here. Everything you've been doing to 'stop' the screaming is actually encouraging it, and will make it much worse over time.

    I'd rather not retype my novels on that subject, so here are the links to other posts


    ...and here's a bit from the behavior section of my site:

    <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> Behavior problems. No matter what your bird is doing wrong, seed scattering, biting, screaming, running away from you, do not EVER hit him! Not only can you accidently kill the bird(they've got fairly fragile necks), but your bird may never fully trust you again, and it will only serve to make the problem worse. They don't understand hitting, water squirting, yelling, etc.
    The most important command your bird must learn is "UP" or "Step Up". This can be used to re-establish top bird status, or before a more 'drastic' time out is used.
    Even if your bird hops onto your hand willingly, make a habit of saying either "up" or "step up" each time he does so. It's best to not allow your bird onto your hand without the command first; my guys will sit in front of my hand and wait until they hear either "Up" or "Step Up". When they misbehave by biting or being overly loud(yes, they get a little rowdy sometimes), they do a 'ladder' of 5-10 step-ups. That's generally pretty good at getting them to calm down a little bit. Each 'step' in the 'ladder' is preceeded by the phrase "Step Up" in a disapproving tone.
    Once the laddering is done, he's a good boy again, and he gets praised.


    If you do have a screamer(and he's not screaming because he's hurt, sick, or neglected), try the "time out" method I use with my bird, and be sure to praise him like crazy after he's been quiet; you could also offer him a treat when after he's allowed back out and is being quiet.
    The first step to stopping the screaming is to determine WHY the bird is screaming in the first place. Some things to check are:

    Does the bird have ample fresh food and water?
    Is the bird shoved off in a back room or bedroom where it's alone for much of the day? Birds who feel isolated will scream in a desperate attempt to get some attention.
    Does your bird have a good number of safe, varied toys? Bored birds will scream just like a bored 2 year old will scream.
    Does your bird get enough exercise? Sometimes pent up energy gets re-routed through screaming.
    Is your bird in a tiny cage? See letter D.

    If your bird is screaming because it's isolated from the family and you absolutely can't, for whatever reason, relocate the cage to a more active part of the house, you can try responding to the bird in a quiet voice, with quiet
    whistled tunes, etc..this encourages the bird to make softer contact calls and sounds; in cases like this the bird simply wants to know that it hasn't been abandoned by the flock or that something hasn't happened to the flock. If you are in the room and the bird starts screaming, this can work as well. Whispering to the bird is also effective.

    Some things to ask youself if your bird has "suddenly" become a screamer:
    ...when you first got him:

    Did you spend every second of your day with him?
    Did you spoil him?
    Did you come running every time he'd call?
    Did you give him treats or take him out when he was noisy to "quiet him"?
    Did your daily schedule suddenly change? Example: You were previouslly unemployed/a student on vacation and home most of the day, and you've found work or have started classes again and are gone most of the day.

    If you did #3 or #4, you've successfully taught him to scream for attention. Good luck breaking that habit, it'll take a LOT of tolerance to a LOT of noise...tolerance from neighbors too. It can be done, but it takes the patience of Job.

    If you did the first two, he's pretty much got every right to scream. He doesn't understand why you don't always spend time with him, and doesn't understand that your life may have changed and you CAN'T spend the time with him that you used to.
    He probably also doesn't know how to keep himself entertained if he's always had you for entertainment.
    All he knows is that for his life up to this point, he was the center of attention, and now he's not, and that's upsetting and confusing for him.

    Imagine how a human toddler would act if you doted on him for the first, say, year and a half of his life, then suddenly just started "ignoring" him or spending drastically less time with him...that kid would scream its' head off for some attention, and would likely NOT understand why attention levels suddenly dropped.
    That may be what your bird is doing.
    Unlike a human child, who will eventually understand the situation on his own, a bird usually will not.

    Un-spoiling a spoiled bird is a pretty big task.

    Curing a spoiled bird will also take a lot of tolerance to screams and yelling.

    Be sure he has a wide variety of toys that are different colors, sizes, and textures...try some of those toys that you can hide treats in him to try to get his interest.
    Do NOT give him attention while he's screaming, even yelling at him to be quiet is attention, and will only strengthen the bad habit.
    If you notice he's being quiet, go into the room(for now, drop whatever you're doing ) and praise him for being a good boy. ONLY do this when he's being quiet, otherwise he'll probably still associate "calling" with "his flock returning"(hint: You're his flock ).

    You can call from the other room with something like "I'm right here!" or "Hi!". I do call to my birds from the other room when they're calling to me to ask where I am..which may be what your bird is doing.
    Once they hear my voice and know that I'm still "alive", they usually calm down.

    Whatever you do, however, don't respond to screams with treats or by taking him out of his cage. If you let him out or give him a treat to quiet him down, you're teaching him that whenever he wants to come out or have a treat, all he has to do is scream. I made this mistake early on(he'd scream, I'd let him out/give him a treat to quiet him down), and YIKES, did I ever have a screamer on my hands! It took quite awhile to undo it too, and you have to be able to put up with LOTS of screaming when you're trying to correct it!
    Do keep in mind that it's normal for a cockatiel to be loud sometimes. It's not a "screaming problem" when your bird is doing it in the morning, evening, or when you first come home. That's just his way of greeting the day, greeting you, and saying goodnight.
    Remember, just because a bird's vocalizations may annoy you doesn't mean they're excessive. Keep in mind birds are NOT quiet pets, and happy, healthy birds will vocalize frequently throughout the day. My boys tend to sing and whistle for several hours at a crack.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

    Single birds also need more attention than those kept in pairs.

    If she's only getting a half hour or so of out of cage time or one on one attention, she's screaming because she's desperately lonely.

    She needs a MINIMUM of two hours out of the cage and one on one time where she's the center of attention.

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