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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    I adopted a cockatiel from a friend about a week ago. She is about 10 years old. I have TWO questions.

    First, she won't do anything. She'll get on my hand and shoulder, but she won't play or do much but sit in her cage, on top of it or anyplace I put her, but she won't play. Does she just need time adjusting for a while? Her previous owner did not take her out of her cage or interact with her at all. Is there a way I can teach her to play? I had parakeets before and they played as soon as you put a new toy near them....so I'm not sure about cockatiel behavior.

    Also, I would like to change her to a pellet diet. She leaves LOTS of seeds....like the big ones...in her dish and I don't think she is getting enough nutrition. What is the best way to make the transition? Thank you.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Congrats on the new fid. There are a few reasons she may not like her toys:

    #1 Some birds can be very picky about type of toy. For example, my tiel will only play with shredders or foragers, he doesn't like anything else.

    #2 She does need more time to adjust. Some birds are introverts, some extroverts... so the amount of time it takes for them to feel comfortable depends entirely on their personality. A week is a short time, she needs to settle in.

    #3 She may not have been given toys and the like so may not know what they are for, exactly. You can play with them in her view, that might spark her interest. Before I add a new toy, I make a big fuss over it and "play" with it by pushing it around with my fingers a bit before I add it into the cage, my tiel gets overcome with jealousy and rushes to see what the thing i'm giving attention to is.

    As for diet transition... that may take some doing. At 10 years old,if she is on seeds, she is likely a major seed junkie.

    Start out by contacting Harrisons and Roudybush and getting them to send you samples. My tiel LOVES roudybush crumbles, they are small like millet seeds but a natural pellet. Not sure what other companies offer samples, I know zupreem doesn't.

    Different people have had success in different methods - I prefer to offer new foods as breakfast, with no other options, to get my tiel to at least nibble. I always pretend to eat the food myself, since as with the toys, his jealousy over takes him and he HAS to have whatever I have. Never let your bird have anything your mouth has touched, but pretending to (or actually doing it) eat a food will often spark interest since birds are flock animals. This works well with veggies too.

    Some people mix the seed/pellet to try to get the bird to taste the new food while pushing around for seeds. Some leave it as the only option for several hours at a time throughout the day (make sure to offer enough seed so you aren't starving her though).

    Expect a lot of waste to start with, they can sometimes be stubborn about new foods!

    In the meantime, there are vitamin supplements your avian vet can give you to help with her nutrition needs while you get her to take to a better diet. You can also try a different seed, volkmans and dr harvey have gotten good reviews. She may eat more of the different kinds of seeds if there is a brand she likes better.

    Also, try to get her to eat some fresh foods... broccoli, corn, leafy greens (be careful with most of these, as a lot are mostly water or contain oxalic acid so should be given in moderation) and sweet potato were the easiest for me to get my bird to eat.

    The key to anything with a bird is patience and respect. You have to earn her trust, as that happens your relationship will become easier. Being a cage bound rescue, it may take more time than usual, but it is always rewarding to win the trust of a rescue even more so than a baby.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    I believe the root cause is the fact that her previous owner did not take her out of her cage or interact with her at all.
    She is 10 years old thus her behaviour can be institutionalized or worse compromised.
    Now,it is very difficult change her behaviour but you must at least to try.
    you have to insist you begin to leave that she chews your bracelet,ring, buttons of the shirt; thus you try to earn her attention through bright objects.
    if you wear the glasses then you can get close her to your face so she will begin to play with the glass and she will have a first contact with you..(only if you know that it is not danger).When the bird are near to eyes and he continue to have trust it means that the relationship begin to become strong.
    I would do so! I would begin with personal bright objects for stimulate her attention and for create an relationship with her.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    I think it's great you've given a second chance at happiness to a senior bird

    When you can, post a pic of your bird!

    I don't have much to add, you were given very good advice so far. Good luck with your new friend.
    Marie

    R.I.P. little Bailey

    Now slave to new budgies Dexter & Deb

    If birds of a feather flock together... don't stand under them!!!!

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    You have gotten some excellent advice! I want to add that female tiels I've had have been less inclined to play with or chew on anything, compared to males. Marc is right about jewelry, though - all females love jewelry : ) right ladies? Diet change may also be difficult in an older bird. Keep trying, though. I'm happy you rescued her and will give her a good place to live out her life.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    She's an older bird and hasn't been exposed to very much from the sound of it. She could just be overwhelmed by all the new things. The Quaker I adopted in July is 5-6 years old +/- and she is just now becoming more adapted to our household. She's started eating veggies, sprouted seeds and some fruit. She will also shake the bejeebees out of anything that has a bell attached to it - be it bell in a ball or bell at the bottom of a hanging toy. She also loves chewing up any woven wicker circles or any grass woven things. But this is 6-7 months later - she's also started to pick up new words (she started w/hello and kiss kiss) and has added aha! and a couple of other things we can't understand yet.

    At a week your girl is only just beginning to adjust to everything that is so new to her. She's in a new place and has someone who takes her out now. She is seeing so much more of the world she should have seen years ago it is probably mind boggling. If you'd been locked in a bathroom for 10 years and then were allowed out in the whole house wouldn't it be a little overwhelming?

    I wouldn't try switching her diet to only pellets as it could be dangerous to her health. Maybe havea dish w/pellets separately and then gradually add them to a seed mix. From what I've read so far the jury is out on an all pellet diet as much as they are on an all seed diet (depending on the bird species). I'd suggest maybe try her on broccoli florets - for some reason my tiels liked them without ever having them before - I suspec the colour may have something to do with it. Aslo corn and sweet peas and if you eat rice separate a little and try her on it. Sorry, way too long winded, just hope your lady is okay. Please keep us posted.

  7. #7
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    Thumbs up Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Thank you all for the wonderful advice on helping my new Bella adapt. You're all right....she was not taken out of her cage or played with for a VERY long time. It breaks my heart to see her just sit in one spot for hours on end. I will take all of your advice....I get her up and out of her cage every morning FIRST thing. She's afraid of anything new right now....bright necklace, two new toys with bells, etc. But, I can tell she loves the new attention she's getting and perks up every time I walk by and talk to her....she knows her name is Bella now. Any time I leave for a time, I leave the radio or TV on so she doesn't feel alone. I had parakeets before and since they were babies....a different bird and older bird is a bit of a challenge. They always began playing with a new toy right off the bat. So thanks again for all the great advice. I'll post again when questions arise. Pleasant "tweets" to all of you.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    It's good she is starting to adjust I will caution you on one point - if you cannot ALWAYS get her out of the cage first thing in the morning, don't get her used to that, because she will expect it thereafter. Tiels get quite stubborn about what they think they deserve if you spoil them when you first get them. It is best to have them live by the schedule they will have usually, rather than get them used to one and then change it on them.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    You are so right, Marrie! Mine would scream if the schedule had to be changed.

  10. #10
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    Smile Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Quote Originally Posted by Marrie View Post
    It's good she is starting to adjust I will caution you on one point - if you cannot ALWAYS get her out of the cage first thing in the morning, don't get her used to that, because she will expect it thereafter. Tiels get quite stubborn about what they think they deserve if you spoil them when you first get them. It is best to have them live by the schedule they will have usually, rather than get them used to one and then change it on them.
    OH MY....I had no idea. Apparently there's a lot I need to learn between tiels and keets. So...this morning I just opened her door and left it up to her. She went back to sleep...go figure. Thanks for the heads up on the schedule thing. My keets had their own play area and just 'did their own thing together' most of the day....but I had them both since babies. I think Bella and I will both need to be getting used to each other. I just want to so make her life better than it was when she had NO attention and no playing....just sitting in her cage by herself all day. She may need a birdie psychiatrist.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Hehe no worries, I just warn you to save you the scream battles when she settles in if you have to get up and get dressed or get breakfast before letting her out when she is used to being the first thing on your routine. My tiel gets let out right after I brush my teeth in the mornings and if I do something else before then after he hears my toothbrush go off (I use an electric) he will scream bloody murder that I forgot him.

    The upside to their love of schedules is that my tiel knows when it is bed time, he even puts himself on my keyboard since I am usually on the computer at night and sing sme his goodnight song to remind me!

    I'm sure you'll be all the care she needs to learn how it is to be a beloved pet than a thing in the cage that gets fed

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    Red face Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    OH....your tiel sounds very cute and very smart. I remember my two keets would scream at me if I didn't put even one toy, ladder, swing or whatever where they thought it should be until I saw my mistake and made it right. I'll be very glad when Bella does something....anything really.....she just wants to sit on one perch in her cage all day....that's all she would do if I let her. At her age, I hope she can learn to live a little....I hope I can teach her and not give up. Thanks for your posts. They are encouraging.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Maybe if you played her some youtube videos of other tiels singing she might respond to that?

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    There's also a really cute showering tiels video on youtube w/a children' song performed by John Lithgow. You can see the tiels being sprayed and hear them.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    ZoZo does not play with traditional bird toys on his own. He will only play if me or my husband initiates it. He likes to play tug-a-war with a shoelace or keep away with a paper clip. Mainly he wants to sit on my chest and sing. If I stop and he still wants to continue, he lets me know by giving my bottom lip a tug.

    The only time he will initiate play is with one of my storage containers. He has taken over one of my kitchen cabinets and likes my 3 quart round container. He will get in the cabinet and get behind the container. He then grabs the lid it sits on and starts rocking it out. Once it gets to the end of the shelf he pushes it and it comes crashing down. He then runs to the end of the shelf, looks down at the container and says "come here". I then have to pick it up, hold it in front of him and tell him to give kisses. After he gives it a kiss, he will then back up and allow me to put the container back in and it begins again. This is his version of "fetch". He tosses it and I fetch. He has pushed this container out so many times that it has split all around and we duck taped it together for him.

    ZoZo is also not a fan of pellets. I mix pellets with his seed and he tends to eat around the pellets. Fortunately, mine is not a picky eater as he likes most fruits and veggies. Whatever we eat, he wants. My vet has told me that ZoZo is very healthy and to continue to do what I am doing.

    Talk to her, sing to her and praise her and I am sure she will be happy that she is now with you.

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    Wink Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Thank you for telling me about your ZoZo. He sounds so cute, playful and fun. I hope I can someday get Bella to that stage. She seems to like it when I do get her out of her cage, but she will back up and try to bite first....she's never bit hard except once when I first got her and clipped her flight feathers....but never since then. She will sort of spread her wings a bit, begin backing up and open her mouth to bite....until I just PUT my hand under her.... then she will ride along and seem to enjoy it. The poor girl just has NO idea how to play and is not used to anyone coming to get her to play,take her out of her cage or anything. It's a bit frustrating because it was easier to get keets used to you....they came across right away even when older. But I am SOOOO happy to have Bella....AND I'm hoping changing her name from '*****' to Bella will help too ....SHAME on the one who named her that. She's very pleasant....just very, very quiet. I'd never know she's there if I didn't make it a point to pay attention to her. I sure hope I can bring her around. Maybe she'll be playing with a canister one day too like ZoZo.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Aww, Bella sounds a lot like my Ernie! He's 25 years old and sat in a small cage for 20 years. My mom used to have other birds, but Ernie outlived all of them. I brought him home with me a couple of years ago, and he was totally silent and refused to eat anything but seeds.

    I mashed up pellets and then added a little water to make a sort of dough, then I added seeds and rolled it into little balls. Ernie would have to pick the seeds out of the pellets, and after a few weeks he started eating the pellets too. Now whenever I introduce a new food, I sprinkle a little bit of seed on the top. I've successfully used this method to introduce three other cockatiels to pellets now.

    When we first brought Ernie home, he didn't make any noise. We started paying attention to him and talking to him every time he made a sound, and he came out of his shell a lot. I got him interested in toys by hanging millet on them.

    A few months ago I got a second elderly cockatiel, Eliot. She turned Ernie into a different bird. The two of them go exploring together, groom and sing, and take a lot of naps. They also like to sit on my hands while I type.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Awww, Zozo sounds like an imp! I gotta say that the female tiels I've had were not all that... playful. They were, however, very sweet, liking nothing better that to sit on my chest and snuggle and demand scritches. This might be the case with Bella. Just love her and praise her and give her lots of goodies.

  19. #19
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    Talking Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Oh my...your Ernie sounds adorable!! What Ernie did...making no noise....is what Bella is doing. She'll come around a little when I whistle to her and take her to my lap or lay down with her. But, she still acts VERY afraid any time I head toward her cage. She'll open her mouth wide, spread her wings a bit, and begin backing up. I hope I'm doing right by ignoring that....I'd never get to her if I didn't. I just get her anyway and take her to my lap or lay down with her, talk to her, try to teach her to laugh, whistle to her, and so on. I can tell by her look that she likes it. Otherwise, she just sits in or on her cage looking at me....like she's waiting for me to do something or for something to happen. That's a bit new to me because my keets were so active and vocal. But I'm just going to keep on loving her until she comes around. I'd like to get one of those "flight suits" the the nice weather to take her outside....I think she'd like that.

    What a wonderful idea for introducing pellets. I sent an email to Harrison's just last week and ask for a sample and they sent some right off...I already have them. They sent a FULL size bag of Roudybush Mash and one of Pellets. I tried some in her dish....I think she ate some, but mostly pushed them out. OH....right now she's climbing OUT of her cage for the FIRST time by herself without ME taking her out. YEA!!!! I'm going to attach a photo. I don't have a camera, but I found one on the internet that looks exactly like her. I'm going to go get her after I write this and spend some time with her. Thanks for sharing and I'm glad Ernie has a friend...he deserves it. Give him a kiss from Bella.



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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    A possibility is since she was cage bound, she may have developed a screaming problem ... usually a bored cage bound bird will and her previous owner may have done things to shut her up. I've seen people with cage bound cockatiels hit the cage, yell at them, throw random stuff over the cage to stop them yelling and all they wanted was to come out! After a while they stop screaming. Might be why she is showing aggression when you approach the cage - usually I would suggest leaving her cage as her safe zone and letting her come out herself, but after 10 years cage bound she may need to be taught that it is OK to come out. If she isn't showing signs of fear/distress once outside the cage with you, it should be ok. Once she starts coming out on her own regularly I would probably just let her choose to come out.

    Yeah roudybush always sends huge samples, my tiel loves the crumbles, but since she's a seed junky it may take her some time to realize what it is. Just keep offering them to her

    Caution with the flight suit, it takes a LONG time to get them adjusted to it. If you put it on them without proper introduction they can freak out pretty badly - one member even with proper introduction had her bird vomit from stress, others have had their birds flap around wildly... I would probably wait until you have a better bond with her to get one. Some birds take to it fine, but some have a serious problem with having anything around their chest / wings like that. With training and patience you can usually get them over it, but no point stressing her out while you still are forming a bond.

  21. #21
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    Cool Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Thanks for the heads up on the potential problem with a flight suit....I had no idea. I'm just getting used to a different breed of bird myself. I'll make sure I take extra precaution when I get one. I don't know of any other way to take her with me outside to the garden or on walks. Any ideas there?

    About the cage-bound thing....I don't think they did that, but I couldn't be sure. I don't think they'd tell me that. Today has been a great day with her. It's just been her and me 'hangin out'. She's coming around a bit more and I actually think I saw her smile. She loves sitting on the back of the sofa while I'm on the computer, reading or whatever. She has even been a bit more vocal today (for Bella that is). I had to smile a bit....I had a neighbor stop by and I think Bella was a bit scared....so she 'ran to mama' and hung out with me the whole time. I think we're going to make it after all.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    I adopted a very abused female cockatiel some many years ago. She used to absolutely whimper and cower for the first few weeks whenever I opened her cage door and asked her to come out. At first, I just gently insisted she come out on my hand and placed her on a pillow on top of her cage (she also had "bumble-foot," hence the pillow). She started by sitting on the pillow as far away from me as she could get. Weeks later, she was sitting closer. Several weeks later, she climbed onto the recliner next to the pillow where she had been (and where I had been sitting with my male tiel). Not too long after that, she found her permanent place in life, right on my chest underneath my chin. It took another year before I could scratch her head. My point is, keep offering your hen kindness, and she will respond. She seems to be doing quite well!

    P.S. I would not consider a flight suit for a very long time. Just my opinion.

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    Cool Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Your post gave me some hope. Thanks for that. Some days get a bit discouraging when she just sits....all the time...just sits....no chirping, no whistling, no singing.....she just sits. My two parkeets were so vocal and active. It'a a bit hard to get used to. For the life of me, I can't see how that poor girl did that for SO many years....I would have lost my mind. But, when I DO see a spark in her...when she hears me call her "Hi Bella...how are you Bella?"...and so on, she does perk up now. I can tell she loves the attention. But, she still gets so frightened when I first go up to her cage and when I try and get her to come out. Once she's out, she LOVES the attention. I'm SOOO glad yours came around over time. A heart warming story of rescuing. Thanks again for your post and the encouragement.

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    To take my tiel outside with me I have a small cage I can carry out so he can get some sun and see the other birds, without worrying he'll fly off. I latch the doors so he can't figure out some way of opening them and keep an eye on him so no predator can get near. My tiel would not take well to a flight suit, so I haven't even tried it. First few times I took him out in his cage he freaked out pretty badly as well, though now he's used to it and will just sit and chirp.

    And yeah, they probably wouldn't tell you if they did that. Most people don't even think about it, or think of it as being mean... just like they don't really think of leaving a bird in a cage as being mean. One of the biggest problems with most peoples bird care is just plain ignorance of what a parrot needs, not any wish to be cruel on the part of the owners.

    Glad she's showing improvement steadily. hopefully you have many years left with her to show her how to come out of her shell!

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    Re: Adopted older cockatiel...she won't play or do anything.....????

    Thank you Godfreygirl. Few things in life have been as rewarding and satisfying as rescuing a bird, and I've rescued more than a few. Jasmine the girlie-tiel will always have a special place in my heart. I used to cry at her whimpering those first few weeks trying to get her out of her cage. I'll give you a little insight - Jasmine came to me with her crest cut off (scissors), her wings clipped to the nubs, her tail feathers cut off, and with Magic-Marker marks (WTH?) across her back. Time, time, patience and more time is the key. I remember telling her that not ALL people were bad. Eventually, she came to understand that. I spoiled her rotten, and suggest you do that, too. As Marrie stated, you can't know how her former owners treated her.

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    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 04-25-2006, 06:56 PM

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