For some people, noise is a major consideration when bringing a parrot into the home. If you live in an apartment, you don’t want to alienate your neighbors with a Moluccan cockatoo screaming his lungs out at 7 am. You also have to think about their ability to learn sounds. I’ve heard funny, and not-so-funny, stories about African greys who learned to cry like the newborn baby in the house, imitate the construction going on next door, and let out embarrassing sounds that an owner might be reluctant to explain to visitors.
Noise levels can really vary from parrot to parrot within a species, so these are general guidelines. If you are someone who relishes quiet and tends to get irritated by noise, stick with the 1s and 2s.
If volume is a consideration for you, this is basically a primer on the noise level for certain species of parrot. I’m rating the noise on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being not offensive at all, to 5 being pretty capable of infuriating your neighbors.
Amazons: have a tendency to call the flock early in the morning and in the late afternoon. I’m lucky because my amazon only does it in the afternoon when most people are at work or not likely to complain. She usually goes off for about an hour with various calls, screeching, laughing, and babbling. It can be pretty funny. Fortunately, the screaming is short-lived. However, if I lived in an apartment, I don’t think she’d have many fans.
Amazon noise level: 3-4
Cockatoos: probably have the worst reputation for real crazy screaming. They get bored, they screech. They need a pretty good amount of attention to be content. Here’s a video of some awesome Moluccan screeching.
Smaller cockatoos will obviously have smaller lungs, but they can still get going. Rose-breasted cockatoos are probably a lot easier on the ears than Umbrella Cockatoos.
Cockatoo noise level: 3-5, depending on species
Conures: Their really high-pitched shreeeeek makes a lot of species of conure hard to take by many people. The sun conures, cherry heads, jendays and similar species can deafen you with one loud screech in the ear. The smaller species, such as the greencheeks, are really relative quiet and are definitely better apartment birds. People are often attracted to the gorgeous orange and yellow sun conures, then end up hating themselves when they realize what that screech is like.
Conure noise level: 2, Pyrrhura species like the greencheek; 4-5, Aratinga species like sun conures, jendays, cherry heads (half moon considered quieter than sun conures though).
Senegal Parrots: If well-trained they can be pretty low on the noise scale along with their cousins the Meyer’s. My senegal developed a nasty habit of screeching as loud as he could when a friend walked by him. I had to work on that diligently, and he rarely does it now.
Senegal noise level: 2-4, depending on whether you let them develop bad habits.
Budgies/Parakeets: probably the least problematic in the noise department. Pleasant chirps and rarely a problem for neighbors.
Budgie noise level: 1
Lovebirds: Have one, no problem; get a couple of them or more, they can really get going. Compared to larger parrots, they really are pretty quiet, with brief periods of high noise activity in the morning and late afternoon.
Lovebird noise level: 2
Macaws: These are big birds, so they have a big voice. These are definitely not apartment birds. Generally, training can help with excessive vocalization. Often, noise problems are due to boredom, lack of exercise, and other issues that probably mean you shouldn’t have one in the first place.
A happy, well-adjusted macaw will normally vocalize to call the flock a couple of times a day, and that can be a bit much for some people.
Macaw noise level: 4-5
Cockatiels: Great apartment birds and really not a noise problem. They have pleasant sounds and rarely screech unless agitated or excited.
Cockatiel noise level: 1-2
Parrotlets: Really tiny amazons is how I would describe these dynamos. They have one of the most pleasant little chirps that is evocative of the rain forest. No noise issues really.
Parrotlet noise level: 1