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  1. #1
    Brand New Egg jennac94's Avatar
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    Exclamation My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    I got my first cockatiel 2 weeks ago and she was about 6-8 weeks old when I first got her, hand raised. When I went and collected her she was the most placid of all the birds the breeder showed me (he'd only had her for a couple days). She sat on my finger calmly for the entire trip home. The second I brought her home however - and from that moment onward - she has been so aggressive! My fingers are covered in nasty and DEEP bites and I can't even walk past her cage without her opening her beak and flattening her crest and/or hissing at me! I leave her cage door open all of the time when I'm around, and sometimes she comes out to have a look around and wander on the floor (her wings are clipped) but the second I give her attention the hostility returns. Usually for about 2 hours a day she is climbing about her cage, but for the rest of it she's statue-like on her perch.

    I can't imagine the breeder would like to buy her back, and I don't really want to give up, but her aggressiveness is getting ridiculous. I don't think she's ever approached my hand and if she steps up she flies off almost instantly. If I put my hand near her she knows immediately what I'm going to do and she hops away without even considering stepping up. I don't want to neglect her but I have no idea how to treat her... I give her a lot of love by talking to her a lot and I leave her be when she has had enough - perhaps I have lost her trust in some way? Upon reading hundreds of posts by others who have aggressive tiels I've been hoping, but there has been no improvement whatsoever! Any advice would be dearly appreciated.

    Thank you!

    From a sad cockatiel owner

  2. #2
    Livin the Good Life Brand New Egg sunnyvmx's Avatar
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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    Take a dozen steps back and begin slowly. Her aggressive posture is from fear. She's in new and strange surroundings and she's all alone. Don't force her to interact with your fingers if she shows her fear to you, back off. First get her used to you doing the cleaning and feeding chores in her cage while talking to her. Learn about the target touch training with reward and begin to teach her that hands mean good things and nothing to fear. Offer her the millet, holding it between your fingers so she begins to look for your hands offering her a treat. Go slow and back off when she's aggressive and fearful. Try again later. Birds cannot be forced. They will only do what they want to do. If I want Pepe to explore the gym, I put the birdie mash in his cage, but a seed stick or millet spray beneath the gym. He comes out on his own for the seed and not because I reached in and grabbed him. Use a short wooden dowel to rescue her from the floor until she has gotten used to stepping up on your finger to reach the stick in the target training. Taming your bird is a journey for both of you and there are rewards and discoveries to be made along the way. Don't hurry to the final destination, whatever that may be. If you can accept that changes in her behavior must first come from changes in yours, then you will be successful and you will have no reason to be frustrated or sad.

  3. #3
    Brand New Egg jennac94's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    Thank you sunnyvmx!

    I've read a lot of different streams, some saying I should persist and get her out of the cage as much as possible so she doesn't become "cage bound" and many have also said to leave her be for about a week. What did you do with Pepe? She likes to come out of the cage in her own time sometimes, but getting her back in when I have to leave the room becomes a drama in itself. She shy's away from the perch I put in front of her (identical to those in the cage so she has some sense of familiarity with it) as opposed to my fingers, but even then she does mini charges at my hand! And I know making her do something she doesn't want to do makes her lose my trust instantly. Should I keep her locked in for a while?

    Some good news though! I introduced the millet like you suggested, it took her a while to actually realise it was food but once she had that sussed I tried the "power pause" technique. Worked an absolute treat in 10 minutes! She's already improving :') I also began the "target touch" training which she was starting to get the hang of, but stopped training so she didn't get bored/frustrated. Will definitely make that part of our daily routine!

    Thanks a lot for your reply again, you've really helped!
    Last edited by jennac94; 08-20-2012 at 07:02 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    Sunny is a wonderful caregiver to her two tiels, so any remarks or suggestions she has made are super for you to consider. Another comment I have is that it seems to me she is very, very young to even be handed over to a new owner. Usually tiels are not given new homes until they are at least 12 weeks old. And it does seem very strange to me that if she was hand raised, she is so very scared, and is biting you as she does. Another thing I might mention is that if her wings are clipped, depending upon who did the clipping, and how well they were educated to do so, her little wings might have been bruised or may be hurting.

    Tiels LOVE music. And they LOVE for you to sit by their cage and talk to them. Also, you can get a little child's book and read to them. And when she is eating food, sit a distance from her cage and you eat some of your food also. I play classical music for my budgie and tiel all day, every day, at a soft level.

    All birds are afraid of hands. It will take some time and training for her to overcome that. Personally, if I were you, I would not at this point, rush the out of cage time for her. Why I say that is because when she comes out you are having a problem getting her to go back in the cage (which by the way is very normal), but it is scaring her even more, so I would back off of that for awhile.

    What seed, pellets and/or food do you feed her? Since she is so very young, I would suggest you supplement her diet with some organic foods like organic cereals such as grapenuts (my babies love them), wheat flakes, or flax flakes, perhaps some brown rice flakes. You can get these at any large food market, or a natural food store. Mix some of them in her seed, and also put a separate cup in the cage with some. I also feed fresh red leaf lettuce (not head/iceberg lettuce because it causes loose poops), cilantro, celery leaves and sticks. The best website you can go to to get ALL kinds of information about tiels is a site called "Cockatiel Cottage". And further, there is a web site called "Dr. Foster and Smith" (they are Vets), that have all kinds of food, toys, etc., and also they have a library on line with lots of information about birds and other animals.

    Patience always wins out with a little bird, no matter what kind you might have. I would predict you will see a big difference in her within the next two weeks or so. I've had tiels that wouldn't even eat food for 5 days or so, nor would they feel comfortable to drink water. Please keep us posted about how things are going for you. As I stated, Sunny is an excellent caregiver for her birds, and she has only had one bird 3 months and the other one is brand new to her home. Also, on the pictures she posted, you will notice how creative she has been with her play gyms and cages.

    I know that you and your little friend will be "best buds" one day soon. When you make progress and she isn't so scared, please post some pics. We LOVE pics here. I look forward to seeing your posts and the progress you make with your new baby.

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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    Keep searching online web sites. Some birds simply act like yours does. It is hard to deal with.

  6. #6
    Livin the Good Life Brand New Egg sunnyvmx's Avatar
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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    Neither Pepe or Miko are biters. Miko has banged me with his beak, but not bitten. I ignored him and continued to say Step Up as I put the perch under his chest. Not so easy when they have drawn blood, I know. I use food to lure them where I want them to go. In the morning they get their birdie mash so I know they are eating veggies instead of seed. In the afternoon I put seed under the gym so they come out to play and then towards evening I put pellets in their cages. If I see one go into a cage and it's getting late, I quick lock him in and then the other sees him eating his pellets so he retreats to his cage to get to the pellets too. Use a longer perch if necessary so you don't get bitten and the same command everytime. I would even use two perches, one in front and one blocking the rear from retreat. Do this calmly, there's no hurry and lots of praise when she gets on the perch. This is probably the one time I insist on the bird doing what I want. Miko may fuss, but like Pepe he will soon hear the command and head for his cage. The bird needs to find out that you didn't do anything to hurt her and she's relieved to be back in the security of her cage. In the beginning I thought Pepe would never come out, he also sat like a statue for hours and I was beside myself with cage bound worries. In using the target touch method, I moved the stick around the cage, a little at a time, always rewarding with verbal praise and millet until I enticed him out the door. This worked, but it took months to reach that point. I also attached a wicker paper plate holder to the top of his cage and he came out to destroy it on a regular basis. I made the mistake of taking the cage away to clean it when he left it for the gym and thus destroyed his trust. It took time to rebuild that trust and I let him go back and forth until it wasn't his security anymore. I must say that taking his cage out to the garden patio for sun and fresh air is what brought him to life. That was when he sang, played and danced the most. I introduced a bowl for swimming and he would wallow around in it 4 or 5 times each morning. He ate better outside and loved watching the wild birds flying around. It's going to be 5 months now that I've had Pepe and he goes in and out of the cage on his own all afternoon. One other thing I found was that Pepe came out when I left the house more than when I was present. When I would return he was almost always on top of his cage and he would rush back inside. I believe you are now on the right track so take baby steps and be excited with the progress you both make everyday.

  7. #7
    Brand New Egg jennac94's Avatar
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    Red face Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    @maxollie:
    WOAH I bet it took you ages to write that up, I appreciate it
    12 weeks - really! I did not know that. Mango is 10 weeks old at the most now... So a real little baby. And with regards to her behaviour, that shocked me as well! As I said in my first post she was so placid and calm on the owner's hand and she was happy with sitting on my hand for about half an hour on the trip home, it was just when I brought her back to my home a switch had flicked!

    I have played some music for her, and she seems to be quite interested in where it comes from and all of that! What genre though, just specifically classical do you think?

    I feed her a seed mix, which has a variety of different seed types in it. I also feed her millet as her treat and I have a fruit/seed stick in her cage that she hasn't touched yet (I put it in yesterday). I tried putting some chopped apple in her bowl but she didn't touch that either... Okay! I will go down to the shops and look for some of that. I have discovered Cockatiel Cottage and it's like my bible haha! And I'm currently looking on the Dr Foster Smith site

    Thanks so much, I will definitely keep you posted and take some photos along the way, and fingers crossed!



    @birdmanka:
    That's exactly what I've been trying to do - but Mango seems to be quite unique



    @sunnyvmx:
    What's in your birdy mash? Do you make that up yourself? I'm trying to get her interested in other foods, but other than millet she hasn't touched anything else other than her seed mix. I might also get some pellets, I really like the little system you have for rotating food types!

    I might try with another perch if it happens again, she backs herself into a corner so I can't get around her and I feel so bad trying to get her onto the perch because she looks terrified Sounds like Miko and Pepe have a cute "I'll go if you go" relationship! I may get another bird way further down the track, but one is all I can look after right now. But it's assuring to hear that Pepe seemed to have acted similarly to how Mango acts in her cage, and that he's much more confident now.

    Ahh okay, so should I try keep the cage in Mango's view at all times so she has a bit more of a sense of security? I can 100% agree with you there! Mango loves it outside, she doesn't sing (only little chirps every now and then) but she is certainly always looking around excitedly (by the looks of it)! The same with Pepe doing things when you're not around - Mango seems to get a bit of stage fright when it comes to walking around the room and even when eating at nighttime, if I cover her cage before bed I can hardly get to sleep because of the racket she makes stuffing her face! Hopefully I am on the right track, thank you again

  8. #8
    Livin the Good Life Brand New Egg sunnyvmx's Avatar
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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    If given the choice, Pepe would only eat seeds so I took the choice away. I first started him on pellets by putting a little seed in the pellet cup, not the other way around. When the seed was gone, he tried the pellets and found he liked it. Some won't agree, but I don't believe a bird will starve itself to death if the food is there. They may be stubborn and go hungry, but soon enough they will eat. Good nutrition for the life of the bird for me is the most important part to parronting and there is no choice for them or for me. Now Miko will eat anything I put in a food cup so he's easy, but Pepe would go hungry each morning until I put the seed in that afternoon. After about three days he gave up and ate the pellets in the morning. Now he goes back and forth between pellet cup and seed cup as he chooses eating both. I started the veggies cut up in a salad mixture. He tasted the carrot, broccoli and green pepper, but really only ate the wheat bread and egg. I was throwing a lot away and I still felt he wasn't eating enough of the really good stuff. So I now take all sorts of veggies with nuts, granola, chick peas, corn, bread, egg etc... and grind it in a food processor. I'm careful to keep it dry and crumbly...no wet fruits and veggies. Cockatiels are not big fruit eaters, but I might add that separately. I make quite a bit so I first tried freezing, but it defrosted too wet so I use my Seal A Meal machine with the vacuum bowls and then it stays fresh for at least a week in the fridge. I also feed it to my landlords amazons and they love it. Miko dove right in and helps me put it in his cage each morning. Pepe eats to live while Miko lives to eat. By feeding in separate shifts, I keep watch on what they're eating and how much, especially now with two birds. I closely observe their poop too, so I'm glad they have separate cages. I brought Nutri Berries back from the States which makes a nice treat while they play on the gym, but I only give millet as a reward in their lessons and that's usually when they have only had birdie mash and pellets so they relish the seed and are more eager to do the training for that reason. It's hard to be smarter than a bird so you have to work at it.

    Females don't really sing so I'm afraid Miko is a female too. Pepe sings loud and long. I leave the cages in place beside the table with the gym all the time. Pepe is now confident that the cage will return so I can take it outside for cleaning more often, but at first I had to clean it as best I could even with him in it. I just used water and paper towels. I like to clean it and leave it in the sun to dry while they play on the gym at least once a week. With clipped wings and a large gym on the table, there's no reason to walk around on the floor. Sometimes when I return home after a few hours away, I find one has fluttered to the floor and is perched on the leg of the table waiting for my return and rescue. Neither one really likes being on the floor so they don't explore the room. Bedtime is from 7 to 7 and I remove the food cups. By morning they are ready for breakfast and here come's the veggies. Whoooppeee.

  9. #9
    Brand New Egg jennac94's Avatar
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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    Thank you sunnyvmx for your advice! I love that "parronting" phrase you used... Sooo cute Miko and Pepe sound like happy little birds so I'll definitely experiment with your routines you have for them to see if they work on Mango too

    Meanwhile I've been doing the "power pause" and "target touch" with Mango for a couple of minutes about 5 times a day, and have seen an awesome improvement. I also tempted her with millet to come onto my hand! Here's a photo:



    A couple of seconds after I took the photo and put my phone down I tried the "step up" command. Slowly and hesitantly - but surely - she stepped up onto my finger WOOHOO!

  10. #10
    Livin the Good Life Brand New Egg sunnyvmx's Avatar
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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    Wow, you're a natural. It sounds like she's getting used to her new home and you and she likes it. Starting with a hand raised fid has to be much easier. I'm almost certain that Miko is a female now since she hasn't whistled a tune so one day I'll have several hand raised babies. We'll skip this spring and let them mature by next spring 2014 and I'll be doing a lot of research and reading here about raising babies. This also gives me time to tame Pepe and Miko before they take on the duties of mom and dad. How are you doing with the pellets and veggies? You'll do better if you remove the seed stick and just put it in on occassion or after she has been good eating the pellets and veggies. Pepe has a wing that needs clipping. Each time he's much better about it and I use a towel to catch him on the floor. He gets over it much quicker now so it's not so much of an ordeal for both of us. I have ceiling fans so they must stay clipped. Miko stepped up on the perch without any fuss yesterday when it was time to go to her cage. That's progress and we made some with the target touch training also. She wanted the millet which was on the table and I would put the stick in front of her approach so she bit it and then I sang her praises and pushed the millet to her. In her cage she wanted nothing to do with the stick or the millet. She was fearful so I waited until she came out onto the table. It was different with Pepe. He felt much safer in his cage so all training was done there. He was all over the gym yesterday and going up and down the ladders like such a smart bird. Miko has made a big difference and I may have been right that Pepe was longing for a bird friend. Be careful of what you wish for, Pepe, you may have a whole flock someday. Your little girl is beautiful and looks very sweet, I imagine she will be a very loving bird. Lucky you.

  11. #11
    Brand New Egg jennac94's Avatar
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    Re: My new female cockatiel is so aggressive and antisocial! Help?

    She is definitely improving! Still a bit skittish though, but she did let me scratch her head for a couple of minutes today (after preoccupying her with a long stick of millet)! That's our biggest achievement so far!!

    I read up some ways to work out their sex, apparently if you put a mirror in their view, males will take a lot of interest in their reflection, parading around and showing off, while females lose interest pretty quickly... Maybe try that?

    How cute! That'll be a very exciting time when they finally have babies! I haven't changed her diet yet, in fact I planned to go to the shops to get some food tomorrow but I'll keep you posted.

    That's good Pepe is getting used to it - clipping their wings keeps them dependent on you so chances are your bond will be strong with him It's also good to hear Miko is a lot less dramatic now! It's interesting to hear she's a lot more fearful INSIDE her cage... I would have thought she'd feel a bit more comfortable in her castle, but as you said, progress is good

    Yes she's very pretty, Mango and I definitely getting to know each other now

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