Help for an Excessively Screaming African Grey Parrot

Help for an Excessively Screaming African Grey Parrot

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

How can you stop screaming–excessive (Question from Quora)

Screaming is never excessive for a bird – they are merely communicating, it’s what they do.

Before I can answer your question I need to know the species, age, sex, the diet and a picture of the cage set up if at all possible – thank you.

Hi Mitch,

Bubba is a 30 yr, old CAG (congo african grey). dna’d male on basically harrisons with nutriberries and healthy people food,.. I don’t know how to take a pix of his cage. 2x2x4 feet – 5 perches – all different materials. at least 5 toys I try to keep changed.

He screams whenever I leave the room. I’ve tried clicker, but didn’t seem to make the connection. Covering worked for awhile. Now he goes into his play/sleep cage into another room. Off and on all day until I go crazy.

Also, I have a YNA (yellow nape amazon) who will start to imitate bubba. I worry that the neighbors will complain. YNA is 4 y.o., male-similar cage. on zupreem–otherwise same diet.

I put sheets across the back of the cage for security and they are in a centrally located place. I have tried banging on a pan with short-term results. I’m about to give up.

Thanks for your response. I love the Sunday brunch.


Hi Jayne – And thank you for the kind words.

For now let’s put down the clicker as it is inadvertently reinforcing bad behavior.

It’s important to understand that your birds have the mental acumen of the three or four-year-old but has been relegated to basically isolation in a birdie jail with a handful of toys.

We recommend 10 to 15 to 30 toys for an African grey, so many toys you can’t see the bird because they represent the leaves of the tree that they would be living in the wild.

Toys not only offer activity but they offer privacy and parrots being prey animals live better having their own areas of privacy.

My sense is that both birds are lacking enrichment activities. They are bored out of their mind and the screaming is really nothing more than “HEY COME BACK AND TALK TO US WE’RE BORED”.

Please watch this video to get a better sense for what I am talking about.

Important to create foraging/enrichment activities making it more difficult for your birds to get their food. Nobody lays out food dishes in the Serengeti plains or the Amazon rain forest.


Your birds are hard wired to be looking for food all day long and right now they have no mental challenges to help them burn up the energy.

I want you to start filling their bowls to less than halfway full and then covering the food with things around the house that you can find like rolled up balls of newspaper, cut up drinking straws, parts from old bird toys. Try some mechanical toys to fill up with bird food.

It’s important to make them remove these components in order to access the food because they will feel better about themselves.

Here’s a link to oodles of free and DIY bird toys

Let us know your birds reaction to these new changes.

Best of luck – mitchr

Never yell “shut up” to a screaming bird. The bird perceives it as engagement and thinks “great someone is finally talking to me!”

New topic

[email protected] replied

Sep 30, 3:28pm

I have a phobic male African gray, he’s blind in one eye and also continues to chew under his wings or around his wings.

It’s a shame because before he went phobic he was my bird and loved me to death I’ve tried everything He is terrified to come out of the cage the only thing I can do is scratch his head but my thought was possibly trying CBD oil I’m curious as to your thoughts on this possibly a correct dosing.


Hi Brad


Trust me when I tell you I am pro-medical marijuana. That said I have no idea on the effects CBD (cannabidiol hemp) oil will have on your bird.


We are just now learning the effects of cannabidiol on humans. One of the things that we’ve known for a long time is that it can lower blood pressure and increase heart rate.


The last thing we want to do is increase a bird’s standing heart rate which is already about 200 bpm.


You’re not giving me near enough information to provide any advice. Is the bird flighted or are the bird’s wings clipped? Has the bird been to a vet for a thorough examination?


If the birds been in his cage, his wing muscles might’ve atrophied. In the meantime please try this.


Take the most high value treats that your bird likes be it peanut, almond, or nutri-berrie.


Every time you walk by the cage drop the treat in his food dish. The goal is to have the bird make the association that every time you come by the cage good things will happen.


We do that with newly rescue birds who are scared of new humans. It can be a way to slowly pry your TAG or CAG out of the bird cage.


If you can get the bird out of the cage onto your hand. After few days of handling the bird I would grab the birds feet and slowly move the bird up and down allowing the birds wings to flap to see what kind of mobility it has.

Please let me know how that goes for you.



Here’s a pic of the cage Mitch


mitchr replies

Looking at the cage I have three recommendations

1) the light should be on a timer turning it on and off with the 12 hour intervals not respecting daylight savings time. (say 8 am to 8 pm in the summer which goes to 7 am to 7 pm in the winter without changing the timer for DST)

2) the cage should have 10 to 20 more bird toys. A single bird toy is boring to the bird and he may like other stuff here’s what I call a decently cagescaped bird cage for a gray.

3) birds get bored eating when a full bowl of food is always offered thus I would advocate a new delivery system.

from Brad S

Oct 6, 6:29pm

He rarely touches a toy, I’ve been easing him out to take him to the shower with the other two grays. They have their own shower rod to sit on.

you replied

Oct 6, 11:25am

The rope perches are the perfect substrate for bird to sleep on.


I can’t help but wonder especially because of the incident with the bird hitting the ground if there wasn’t some injury to the foot of the leg.


Most people don’t realize that the birds have no muscles in their feet or legs only two tendons extending from the hip to the toes.


I would advocate easing the bird out of the cage and get it into a towel hopefully with the second person and doing a close inspection of the birds feet using a magnifying glass.


See if there’s a particular reaction when you touch a particular toe.


That will be the start of our investigation. My approach to solving physical issues with captive birds is much different than vets. We look at the birds environment holistically.



written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

your zygodactyl footnote

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu