Every cockatoo will scream. This is natural behavior and is mostly used to communicate with group members. Every day, for many species in the evening before going to sleep, there is a screaming session. If you have more than one cockatoo, they will usually scream together. Please keep in mind that this behavior is natural and should not be curbed. Excessive screaming is a different story and arises from boredom or is even accidentally taught to the bird.
Screaming out of frustration or boredom is common among cockatoos. Often this screaming behavior is actually trained by the owners of the bird: every time the bird start to scream people will go to see what’s going on or try to make the bird stop screaming (“Shut up!” ). Negative attention is also attention for a bored bird. Do not underestimate the volume and duration of this screaming.
To stop excessive screaming, permanent changes need to be made to the cage and your interaction with the bird. It should be able to perform natural behavior and should get enough things to do to relieve boredom. Possible solutions are: getting a larger cage, getting is a suitable companion, providing the bird with more toys, adding more natural branches and wood to chew on, spending more time with your bird and making it more challenging to forage.
Young cockatoos, until around 1 to 3 years old, will not scream or only very rarely. Don’t be fooled; all species will eventually start to scream. Some species or individuals will scream a lot more than others. Real screamers are Umbrella cockatoos, Goffin’s cockatoos and Moluccan cockatoos. A species that is reported to be more quiet is the Galah.
The screaming of a cockatoo is often the reason a pet cockatoo is given up on, and sold or put into a sanctuary. Even if the people in the household can deal with the loud screaming every day, the neighbors are often less forgiving. Keep this in mind when considering to get a cockatoo as a pet.
A screaming Umbrella cockatoo. There are many kinds of screams, ranging from this kind of noise-making to actual screeching.