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Thread: Training a young bird

  1. #1
    abcdefz
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    Training a young bird

    Hi --
    In searching around, I get sort of conflicting information about training.

    My bird is about four months old and is very healthy. I've had him (?) for a few days. On the first day, he had a travel cage which was rather small. By the second day, he would step on my finger or hand and I could bring him out. He didn't seem to want to stick around by my side, but he was very easily handled.

    On day three, he got his own cage. Fair sized, probably 5 x 2 x 18". He definitely did not want to go in, but I had him on my finger and backed him in with a fairly quick motion -- nothing violent -- and he accepted it.

    He spent about 20 minutes on the cage floor (his wings are clipped) and then began exploring the cage. So far so good.

    But now he's begun biting my fingers when my hand is in the cage. I've tried bringing him out so I can stroke him -- nothing doing. In fact, he doesn't even want to sit on my finger anymore. Yesterday he wouldn't get on at all and today he'll do it if he can't get away, but hops off almost right away.

    Granted, it's only been about five days, but does this seem to be the normal course? If I whistle, he chirps back sometimes. And if I haven't been near his cage or spoken to him in a while I'll get the occasional inquiring chirp -- at least, that's how I interpret it. And if I cover his cage, he'll chirp and manage some whistling.

    Some websites suggest getting him out with a towel and holding him close until he settles down. Others suggest a longer regimine of allowing the bird to respond more slowly, gaining trust that way. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Your friendly admin! Tailfeather Community Administrator Dan's Avatar
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    Re: Training a young bird

    Hey! Welcome to the board!

    Cockatiels usually take a few days to get settled in. Sometimes even 2 weeks. It is possible that he will be nice again...only time can tell.

    This page might help a bit. It has training tips.
    www.thecockatielstop.com/...urtiel.htm

    Hopefully, necroangel, a moderator here that knows a lot about cockatiels, will be able to help you out more than I can!

    Good luck, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask them!!


  3. #3
    abcdefz
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    Re: Training a young bird

    Thank you.

  4. #4
    Your friendly admin! Tailfeather Community Administrator Dan's Avatar
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    Re: Training a young bird

    You're welcome!

  5. #5
    Old admin Baby Tviokh's Avatar
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    Re: Training a young bird

    <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> By the second day, he would step on my finger or hand and I could bring him out. He didn't seem to want to stick
    around by my side, but he was very easily handled. <hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

    He was probably doing that out of fear.
    Some birds react to being frightened by being very complacent or "calm" seeming, when in fact they're terrified.

    <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> But now he's begun biting my fingers when my hand is in the cage. I've tried bringing him out so I can stroke him -- nothing doing.
    In fact, he doesn't even want to sit on my finger anymore. <hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->


    Yep, that confirms that his previous "tameness" was fear.
    He's now reacting they way most birds do the first few weeks in their new home. He's biting you because he's frightened of you.

    You should let him be for a least one week(7 days) with NO handling, and your hand should be in his cage ONLY for changing food, water, and cage paper.

    This gives him time to settle in and get used to the sights and sounds of his new home.

    After that you can work on handling, but don't expect miracles. Some birds tame very easily, and some are very stubborn and take longer.

    <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> does this seem to be the normal course?<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

    Yes. If he's from a pet store, expect it to take 4+ months before he's tame enough to handle. I've had one of my pet store birds(a budgie hen) for nearly a year now, and she's nowhere NEAR tame, even though she's worked with every day.
    If he's directly from a breeder, and was sold right after weaning, he'll likely tame down much faster as he's very used to human handling.

    <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> Some websites suggest getting him out with a towel and holding him close until he settles down.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

    Sure...if you want to stress him out needlessly and risk damaging any trust he had in you to begin with.
    I use the towel only when I'm clipping wings or nails, and to catch my one untame budgie hen(it's less stressful and easier to catch her when she escapes...her mate is semi-tame, and sometimes while I'm getting him out she flies past me).

    <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> Others suggest a longer regimine
    of allowing the bird to respond more slowly, gaining trust that way. <hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

    That's the best, least stressful way for the bird...however, it takes a lot of patience on your part.

  6. #6
    abcdefz
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    Re: Training a young bird

    I just read your post, so you'll see that in part I haven't followed your suggestions -- nothing personal.

    I had him out of the cage quite a bit today, and he did fairly well. He lets me handle him, including a few strokes here and there or letting me get feather lint out of his beak, etc. Sometimes there are attempts to bite ("No bites," I say with a somewhat raised, sterner tone) and sometimes he's fine. I let him perch for a while right on the entrance of his cage, and the concept of he could choose to go in or stay out hopefully was coveyed -- but he just stayed perched there for a long time -- maybe forty minutes or more. I think I'll handle him very little unless he initiates it for the next few days; there's some small level of trust now. He let me put him in the cage with little fuss, and he seems to enjoy running about on my shoulders and preening the hair on the back of my head. I left at one point to get him some fruit, and my friend said she noticed he was calling for me intermittantly until I got back. He's fairly quiet otherwise unless I get him started or ignore him for too long.

    My question now is: he puffs up and trembles sometimes when I've approached the cage. Is this still fear? The office is about 72-74 degrees.

  7. #7
    Old admin Baby Tviokh's Avatar
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    Re: Training a young bird

    Be careful about allowing him to run up to your shoulders.
    Just about any parrot behaviorist(and 'tiels are parrots) will tell you this is a bad habit to let your bird get into.

    This article is by Sally Blanchard, who is a well known and knowledgable parrot behavorist.
    www.companionparrot.com/a...ulder.html

    She does not say that a parrot should never be allowed on your shoulder, what she teaches is that the parrot should be allowed there only when you specifically set him there, only if he behaves, and only if he will step willingly onto your hand when it's time to come down.
    Even cockatiel beaks can cause some pretty bad injuries.

    Also, try to avoid running to her every time she makes noise...down the line it will only teach her to scream for attention, time out of the cage, or treats, and she'll go on for hours and hours on end without stopping(believe me, I created a screamer before I knew better! They really can constantly call for 8+ hours.). It's a VERY hard habit to break once they've got it.

  8. #8
    abcdefz
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    Re: Training a young bird

    Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I definitely don't go or even respond to each chirp or whistle, and sometimes make a point to give him attention when he's been very quiet for a while. He's pretty good about that, actually.

    I appreciate that you take the time to respond to my posts. I think he's a little blue because up until now, he lived with eight other birds.He'll make the transition okay, I think.

    Also, he will eat with me standing right at the cage, so I'm assuming he's not absolutely terrified, right? Or is that a bad assumption?

    Also, when I've had him out, sometimes I've just put my hand out and called to him, and he'll take a few steps over before he gets wary. Then he backs off, circles around, and steps closer again. That seems like progress, but I think at this point now I'll just lay back and do the food and water thing for a while unless he initiates something.

    Thanks again!

  9. #9
    Your friendly admin! Tailfeather Community Administrator Dan's Avatar
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    Re: Training a young bird

    I've never really had a young tiel, so necroangel will answer this a lot better than I can.

    To me, it seems as he's doing ok, and him eating with you seems like a good step forward.

    Like necroangel said, try to keep handling to a minimum while he is adapting to his new house.

    Good luck with your new tiel!

  10. #10
    abcdefz
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    Re: Training a young bird

    Thank you.

  11. #11
    Old admin Baby Tviokh's Avatar
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    Re: Training a young bird

    Good I just mentioned the "responding to every chirp" because I know a lot of new owners who come running every time their bird makes noise...I know I did with my first tiel, every time he'd get loud I'd give him a treat, take him out, or rush to his cage to "quiet him"...what I didn't know at the time was that I was only training him to scream for attention, treats, and time out of the cage...and I created such a screamer that I was threatened with eviction...so I had to give him up.

    I really do try to keep others from making a similar mistake and possibly ending up in the same situation I was in.

  12. #12
    abcdefz
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    Re: Training a young bird

    I bet! That sounds awful.

    I've got another question if I'm not trying your patience. I understand that if there's complete silence, the bird assumes there's a predator about. What I do is leave music on very, very low so there's some sort of sound (along with the hum of the computer) to create just a bit of background noise. Does this sound right? He stays in my office since that is where he will be able to see me the most and receive the most interaction.

    Also, I'm concerned about the puffing up and trembling. He seems to do this as he rests/sleeps. the office is about 72-74 degrees.

  13. #13
    Old admin Baby Tviokh's Avatar
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    Re: Training a young bird

    Mine don't seem to mind silence, but they also love watching TV(especially children's programming and cartoons). I generally leave a TV on for them during the day.

    <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> Also, I'm concerned about the puffing up and trembling. He seems to do this as he rests/sleeps. <hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->


    That's pretty normal. My birds fluff and shake as they're settling in.

    If he's doing it all the time it could be one of two things:
    1) He's nervous or chilly
    2) He's ill

    If you're really worried about it, I'd suggest a vet trip with bloodwork and fecal smears to test for illnesses.

  14. #14
    mouse11182
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    I know the feeling

    When i first got mine after training many i was in shoock. He like hated me for two or three weeks but whenever he bit i just kept him out anyhow, otherwise he knew he got what he wanted. Now he's so freindly he wont stay in the cage hardly. :yeap He is mister personality let me tell you!

    Michelle

  15. #15
    abcdefz
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    Re: I know the feeling

    Well, we're on day six.

    He's still acting a bit skittish, but I think it's coming along well. I left his cage door open yesterday but only passed my hand inside to change food and water. He stayed in. Today, when I was down the hall, he let himself out. He seems to miss me when I leave -- he starts chirping which I assume is a call. Anyway, he's perched on top of the cage. My typing also seems to make him chirp, or else maybe it's just that he knows he doesn't have my attention; I don't know. It's hard not to respond when he does that.

    He was just calling for a bit and I wasn't responding; he hopped down off the cage and walked over on the floor toward me. He saw that I saw him, and so he scooted back a little and is watching me now. How funny.

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