There are many different species of birds, each with different physical characteristics, mannerisms, and calls. However, despite the differences in their songs, most birds can and will sing. The singing of birds, to our human ears, can be beautiful and pleasant, yet when it is too loud or at an inconvenient time, it can also be unnerving and annoying. People the world over have all heard of the proverbial cry of the rooster in the early morning, but how can one stop him (or any other bird) from making such loud or obnoxious sounds?
Birds generally make loud noises when they are calling for a mate or when they are nervous. The best way to deal with loud birds (to distract them) are to use decoys, install spikes on the top of shed and house, spray birds repellant spray on birds resting and roosting places. Alternatively, you can soundproof your windows and doors to reduce noise.
But that is easier said than done, right? Well, there are actually many ways you can deal with loud birds, whether they are your pet or simply visitors in your yard. In the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss a few humane methods for dealing with our loud feathered friends, and the reasons why they feel the need to be louder than necessary in the first place.
Why Do Birds Sing and Call Loudly?
Before you can learn how to effectively quiet your birds (be they domestic or wild), it is essential to understand why these animals make noise to begin with.
- First, these animals can call with short sounds, unique to their own species. Birds use their calls to communicate with each other if there is danger, food, or simply to make their presence known.
- Birdsong is slightly different than simple bird calls because it is typically more prolonged and done for specific reasons. The number one reason why birds sing is to attract a mate. An additional reason for birds singing, and this is closely related to mating, is to mark and maintain their territory.
- Squawking is a unique sound to parrots, and parrot owners should be aware that this is a natural and inevitable noise that their pets will make. They will make these noises in the wild to communicate or to find their families and typically are the most vocal in the mornings and late afternoons. To your pet, you are his family, so he will usually make noise for you.
Generally speaking, birds tend to sing more in the morning because they have the most energy then, and the food is the most plentiful. Most people find these noises pleasant, but in some cases, they may be unwanted or much too loud to pursue daily tasks without distraction.
So, for those of you who want to quiet birds down when it gets too noisy, the following sections are for you.
How to Quiet Domesticated Birds?
While most people want to eliminate bird noises that come from outside the home, sometimes birdsongs and calls may originate from inside if you own a pet bird. This is usually the case if you do not own a naturally quiet bird species such as:
- Senegal Parrots
If you have a pet bird who is kept inside the home that’s making a little more noise than necessary, there are several ways you can quiet them down:
Covering the Cage
Covering the cage with a blanket or towel makes their world dark, and they will think it is nighttime, when most diurnal (awake in the daytime) animals do not make noise. Black cloths work the best to block light, but try to use natural fibers, as they breathe better than synthetics. Do make sure that there is still airflow, so your pet does not suffocate.
Use or Remove Stimuli
- Provide stimuli to give your bird something to do instead of calling or singling loudly. Oral stimuli, like snacks or toys, can distract their mouth from making noises. Visual stimuli can also distract or entertain.
- Do not reward noisy behavior; ignore your bird’s calls if you can. They might just want your attention, and responding with affection or treats will encourage the noisemaking. Responding verbally also encourages the bird to make more noise because they will think you are calling back to them.
- Give affection, only when your bird is nice and quiet, to reward them. Some birds, like cockatoos and parrots, can be trained to be quieter through treats and affection.
- You should also remove stimuli that cause your bird to chirp or sing to deter noisemaking. If there are other birds outside within their view, that could bother them or make them call or respond to mating calls. If there is a lot of quick movement in your home, it could also make them nervous. New or different clothing and decoration they are not used to can frighten them.
Provide a Calming Environment
- Calming your bird with physical touch, soft words, or closeness can make them relax, and cause them to stop chirping. (Some birds, like lovebirds and cockatiels, like it when you tuck them under your shirt.)
- Darkness, warmth, and a gentle hand will comfort a pet bird in distress but only do this with friendly birds that trust you. Some birds (an example being the African Gray Parrot), no matter how long you have had them, will still bite you if provoked.
- Speak in a soft voice to encourage quiet, indoor voices. Your bird will likely not have any other examples of good behavior except the ones you give them, so do not yell, or make loud noise yourself.
- Take good care of your pet by making sure he is healthy and well-fed. This will prevent him from having to call for attention, water, or food. Changes in his vocal patterns can indicate that something in his body or environment is making him uncomfortable.
- Contact an Avian Behavior Consultant as a last resort. They can help identify the exact reason your bird is making so much or unusual noises, and sometimes they can help train your bird to be quieter. You can find a behaviorist through the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior or by asking your veterinarian. Depending on the expert and the situation, you can get help in person, in the clinic, or online.
Please remember, your bird is a living animal, and its instinct is to make noises! Although these methods can help to quiet him or her, it is unlikely that they will stop being noisy altogether—and it is unreasonable to expect them to.
How to Quiet Wild Birds?
Unfortunately, there is no real way to quiet or calm wild birds in your yard. The only two ways you can try to get rid of the noise would be to get rid of the birds themselves or take on a new soundproofing project to limit the disruption within your home.
As far as humanely getting rid of loud, obnoxious birds goes, you can try the following:
- Decoy predator statues, like this false owl, can be displayed in an attempt to frighten birds. However, unless they can be moved or have animatronic parts, the birds will eventually smarten up and will no longer fear the decoy.
- Eye decoys are like predator decoys because they scare off the birds by tricking them into thinking a predator is near. Eye decoys can be made with two small reflective spheres, reflective paint, or shiny gems. You can also purchase them here, to hang in trees or on the side of your home. As with other decoys, moving them throughout the property will keep the birds away longer.
- Predator noises, such as the call of a hawk or the bark of a dog, played on a sound system can be enough to scare away birds. This method works well because the birds cannot see the “predator” like they can with physical decoys, and thus cannot figure out that it is a fake. This CD has calls specifically designed to scare woodpeckers, while this one is aimed at crows. Ultimately, the only trouble with this method would be that you are replacing one animal noise for another.
A repellant spray can be sprayed on birds’ favorite resting and roosting places; this keeps the birds away due to its spicy and sour odor. The repellant spray can be purchased here. You can also make it at home by simmering chili peppers in equal parts water and vinegar. Then, simply pour this concoction into a spray bottle and use it where necessary.
- Loud noises or flashing lights are another way to scare birds. This can be as simple as playing a radio, hanging wind chimes and bells, or plugging in some party lights. But remember, the noise and the lights deterring the birds might be less pleasant than the birds themselves.
- Shiny surfaces, including CDs, aluminum foil, and Christmas bulbs, can be used to reflect the sun and will act like a flashing light to deter the birds. However, this low-cost, no battery option only works during daylight hours. You can also purchase pre-made, adhesive, and reflective “scare tape” here.
- Ultrasonic devices emit a sound at a high frequency, which deters all small pests from your space. You can find these at hardware or gardening stores or online here. Most devices allow for some calibration of sound, and because it is such a high frequency, it does not bother dogs, cats, or humans. However, it will disturb any pet birds you may have.
- Spikes specifically made to deter birds can be attached to the tops of sheds and houses. This will eliminate some resting places for the birds, and help them to choose another location to sing. You can find a lot of good options for spikes and glue on Amazon. This could harm a child or pet, though, so be cautious of where you place them.
Alternatively, you can also clear out nests as soon as you see a bird making one; this will drive them away. However, if you do decide to do this, make sure it’s done before a mother bird lays her eggs, to avoid harming the babies and causing too much disruption. The best time is usually before or after early spring.
The Ultimate Solution for Quiet Birds: Soundproofing
Naturally, just as you don’t want birds to disturb you, the last thing you want to do is really bother the birds with some of the silencing tips discussed above. For that reason, one of the best things you can do to try to eliminate the noise birds make without causing too much disruption to their environment is through a few DIY soundproofing methods.
For Pet Birds
- Try placing the birdcage in the corner of the room to dampen the sound.
- Try hanging blankets, tapestries, quilts, or other soft materials around the cage to absorb sound. If your bird is in a designated room, you can attempt to soundproof the room with additional dampeners, and seal the windows and door frames with soundproofing tape.
- Try filling your room with more decorations and items to block or reduce sound. This is a more aesthetically pleasing method, as compared with hanging specific soundproofing blankets and materials. Plants work well to dampen sound; however, be sure to keep them out of reach of your pet, as some leaves can be toxic.
- Empty walls and hard surfaces will reflect and amplify sound. Rugs are a common way to soften hardwood or tile floors, but can also be harder to clean if placed under the bird’s cage.
- Try padding or covering one to two walls of the birdcage. This will act to partially soundproof the cage, but will still give your bird plenty of space to look out and have breathing room. You can buy a soundproof blanket for this, but be aware, these are typically used for advanced music production, so they are not cheap.
- Ceiling and wall soundproofing can be achieved by attaching acoustic foam tiles, which can be done easily with nails, glue, or double-sided tape. You could also consider soundproofing your ceiling if you are living in a multi-story building.
- Try using an acrylic birdcage. There is some debate about the safety of these cages, but they are designed to let enough air into the cage for your bird. Be careful with covering these, though, because they only have a few air holes. Additionally, they can be quite expensive, and it is vital to buy the correct size for your bird. The prefabricated kinds, as opposed to the cheaper, snap together kinds, are sturdier and will last longer.
For Wild Birds
- Try canceling out the birds’ noise by playing music or other sounds. Even a fireplace crackle can be enough to drown out outdoor noises. Wearing earbuds or headphones playing music will also cancel out other noises (including those of the birds).
- Try planting plants, both outside and inside, for a natural way to block sound. In general, plants with broad leaves and many branches work well. For your yard, a wall of cypress, juniper, or holly, can help absorb noise. Inside, in pots, ferns, palms, and broadleaf tropical plants like the Rubber Leaf Tree, can be placed in noisy corners.
- Try soundproofing your windows and doors with this soundproofing tape. This also helps for weatherproofing.
- Try using heavier curtains to absorb sound.
- Try adding decorations to reduce the reflection of sound off hard surfaces.
- Try window inserts, or splurge on noise-reducing triple-paned windows. Note: This is a costly solution, but can also help with other problems and keep the heat in better during the winter.
There are also many ways to build or renovate for a more soundproof home, such as using concrete blocks in the walls, adding specific soundproofing insulation, and installing double layers of drywall. This, however, is only possible in some cases and is usually the most costly and time-consuming solution. But, if you really want to block sounds that go beyond the birds outside, it’s worth looking into, especially if you’re interested in building your own home or doing a major renovation.
Ultimately, the best way to quiet noisy birds depends on the species of bird, its location, and the reason for its noisemaking. When it comes to pet birds, there are numerous methods you can use to train them to be silent when you need them to be. However, there are no ways to quiet a wild bird outside unless you scare them away from your yard entirely.
To avoid causing any harm to the birds or disrupting their environment, it is usually best to add a few soundproofing tools to your home to reduce the amount of noise you hear. This can range from adding soundproof blankets or curtains around a birdcage or window to having more items around to block the transfer of sound.
If you follow the above tips, you will be able to humanely discourage birds from making too much noise, regardless if they are your friend or a neighborhood nuisance. And, even if the birds still produce a lot of noise, hopefully, it is far enough away from earshot or at least quiet enough for you to concentrate on the things that need your attention.