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Thread: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

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    Bird beginner Brand New Egg Sonneillon's Avatar
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    Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    I have brought home a 4 month old cockatiel from a pet store 3 days ago.
    It was a generic petstore which does not specialize in birds. The birds are not tame and scared to death of everything. When I chose the bird I wanted, the store lady put on a glove and grabbed the screaming bird in a flurry of feathers, after which it was put into a shoebox for me to take home.

    I am completely new to birds and did not realize at the time that I should have visited a breeder who has hand raised their birds with care and on a proper diet. @_@

    Anyway, she (assuming it is a she) has been with me for 3 days now.
    Feeding
    I am currently supplying her with seed mix until my order of pellets arrives. I have tried putting chopped spinach and carrot into her bowl but she tosses those aside. Hopefully she will start to get a taste for veggies eventually.
    I put crumpled pieces of paper on her food to encourage foraging.

    Behaviour

    On the first day, she did not eat and stayed in one spot at first for half of the day. She responded quietly to sounds and my voice. Some time in the evening she began to climb around the cage , jumping into the water bowls and trampling all over her food. She did not eat. She sat at the bottom of the cage fluffed up throughout the night.

    Second day, she seemed to be more calm. She began to show preening behaviour, beak grinding, stretching and shaking up her feathers. She also began to make loud noises in the morning, and in the evening when i came home from lectures. I have tried leaving my hand in the cage for a while, and offering treats. She would not accept millet, or anything else i offered, whether it was in my palm or between my fingers. Even when I left millet spray in her bowl, she would peck at it, and throw it out.

    The strange thing is that sometimes she acts like my hand is not there, and clambers all over it to reach a different destination. Video of this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3UkweHR178
    She quietly sidesteps away though if my hand approaches her.

    I am next to the cage most of the day, either at my desk or on the bed. (Cage is in my room) I would talk to her very often. She seems to be relaxed when I am around , as she still shows normal preening/stretching/grinding behaviors. I hope this is a good thing.

    Day three. She is MUCH noisier in the mornings, and when I come back from Uni. Scree scree scree scree. I think i read somewhere that it is a flock call. She scree's once about 7 seconds into this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MCs1aWAX0c.
    She is eating a lot and drinking well at this point. I can put my face right up to the cage to talk, and she wont run away. However she is still afraid of my hand, and wont accept millet or other treats. She will peck at it and back away.



    Question time now, finally:




    Once in a while, she just sits in one spot, looks all fluffy and I can see her shivering. She also looks quite tired, as her eyes open and close slowly.
    Is this normal for a young, newly adopted cockatiel?

    I am concerned about health and temperature issues.
    My room is poorly insulated, and the average outdoor temperature at the moment is 13 degrees celcius, or around 55 farenheit.
    The behaviour i am addressing is shown in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-c55P0de3U
    Is it normal? Is she just resting?

    On rare occasions, when she looks very sleepy (as addressed above), I can put my hand near her and she wont move. Is she in shock? Is she accepting my presence?
    Video: http://youtu.be/gMtRupxLu80
    She stays still like this for quite some time. Maybe 20 minutes, and falls into what seems like a nap.
    After her 'sit still, nap and shiver' sessions, she looks well again. Stretches. Begins to climb around again.

    Another question
    How do I train her if she does not accept treats? Not even millet spray?

    I have purchased and watched some of the videos on birdtricks.com, and have learned about clicker training and touch training. They seem to be extremely effective, except they rely on the bird accepting treats.

    My issue was addressed in a short section of their taming video, saying that the 'reward' for the bird could be leaving the bird alone instead of food. Eg: If a bird shows comfortable body language, click with the clicker and give the bird space. Thing is, what is considered comfortable body language? And my bird seems to be comfortable when I am within just a few inches of the cage (continues to eat, preen and grind). Though the issue really seems to be with my hands approaching her. What do I do?

  2. #2
    Administrator Tailfeather Community Administrator
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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    Wow, your videos show a lot of good progress with her for a pet store bird.

    First question: The fluffed up behavior you have in that video is just a sleepy cockatiel. If she fluffs up like that _all the time_ then you may want to work on making a draft free area for her. But, in the video she just looked like she was about to take a nap. Which, my bird takes a nap a few times during the day + his 12 hours of sleep at night. It takes a lot of energy to carry such a high metabolism.

    Second: When birds get sleepy they tend to relax a lot more. I can pick up my tiel when he's like that because he's sluggish. But, don't worry, if she didn't trust you and you spooked her during that she'd show you how a prey species reacts when a predator wakes them up.

    Third: For treats, they can be anything she enjoys. It looks like the seeds she has in her bowl are mostly white millet and sunflower seeds, I assume you got them from the pet store? If so, that could be why she's not interested in millet - why bother with yours when she has a ton in her bowl at all times? If she likes sunflowers, you could try a sunflowerless seed mix and use sunflower seeds as treats.

    As for diet - the best way to get a tiel to try a new food is if you use their flock instincts. In the wild, birds eat together. So, in the morning before breakfast remove her seeds, put some veggies into her bowl and pretend to eat out of it (or actually eat a piece or two) then give her the bowl. Show her it's safe to eat. Also, birds are picky little monsters and the way you present food is often as important as what you present. Some like their veggies whole, some like them chopped, some like them in kabobs, some like them shredded, some like them wet, some like them dry, etc etc. Once you get pellets, it's OK to keep feeding seeds as well, as long as it's a good seed mix (volkmans, dr harveys, etc.. something with a good variety of seeds and not a lot of additives).

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    Marrie has given you great advice.

    My added comments!
    Remember you have only had this bird for a very short time.
    Do not push too hard. Step back a little and let her set the pace. She needs time to adjust to being in a new home with a new person. It can be a very traumatic time for them.
    Just make sure you are there for her when she shows she needs something.
    Barbara Heidenreich can help you with Positive Reinforcement Training. This can help you form a strong bond.

    As for seed mix, you can get other seeds and grains to add to this mix or even feed them in other bowls.
    The only thing I would say I am not into any man made additives to any of the foods I feed my birds.
    Oh! Cuttlebone and mineral block are things that should be available to her.
    R.I.P my little ones.

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    Aw, she is adorable!! Lucky her for getting such a caring owner after her early traumatic experience in a pet store.

    It does look like you are making excellent progress. I am also still learning; if you look back at some of my posts you will see that I adopted an adult bird (don't know how old he is, but at least 5 or 6) that wasn't tame at all and I thought I'd made a mistake to take him on. But it's so true that you need patience, and even completely ignore the bird for a while, just sit near its cage doing your own thing. At least yours doesn't seem to be afraid of your hand; she hops over it no problem.

    You've had her less than a week; with both my birds it took several weeks for them to get really comfortable; the first one was tame already, and the second one not; with the second one I am still seeing improvements/progress 8 months later. Patience is key, and I really had to learn to back off with him. It's hard because you want to love them to bits. You know when my second bird (Malcolm) really relaxed? It was on an evening when I was too busy to pay attention to the birds at all; I was packing for a trip and doing my own thing packing and gathering stuff in the kitchen (near the bird cage), quite loudly, and totally ignoring the birds while they were maybe 5-6 feet away sitting on top of their cage.

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    Bird beginner Brand New Egg Sonneillon's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    Hey! Thank you all very very much for the sound advice. Il take it to heart and i am pretty sure that my new bird and i will be great friends.

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    She is precious! It sounds to me like things are going well with you two for such a short time of bonding together. I'll be looking for more updates! Congratulations!

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    Bird beginner Brand New Egg Sonneillon's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    Well, she is now accepting treats from my hand, and my pellets have arrived. She is LOVING the pellets. She likes them more than millet which is funny.

    I have also found a veggie that she will eat: Broccoli.
    Her new favourite perch is the side of the food bowl. She will nap, sleep, and poop from there too. Just concerned about her feet, because the side of the bowl is narrow. Though if she is staying there for extended periods of time it must be comfy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXATUlvEGn8 < food bowl lover

    I love her so much. I am always taking videos and photos. She is quite photogenic!



    http://imgur.com/a/g9vqt (more)

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    I love the video and pictures. She really is a beautiful baby. And I love her pearls and her darker colored feet. Broccoli is a great veggie to feed her. It is quite normal for her to sit on her food bowl. My tiel, Sunny does that alot during the day. He has also been known to nap, sleep and poop while he is sitting on his food bowl as well.

    I fully understand how much you love her. They just have a way of wrapping their heart right around our hearts and never letting go! I do agree with you, she definitely is photogenic. Thank you for sharing about her with us, and I hope to see many more of your posts and pics! Wishing you two the best friendship ever.

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    She is so beautiful!! I had no concept of the bird/human bond until Birdi Lou arrived on my doorstep (at 10 PM, in a budgie cage, with a friend whose neighbour didn't want her anymore because they liked their lovebird better!) You and she (what is her name?) will be the best of friends.

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    She is just starting to get used to you and your home. Just be patient with her and you should have a fine pet relationship when she learnns that you are her friend and that you take care of her needs.

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    Broccoli is a good start, sweet potato is another one they tend to take to easily. And yes she is very photogenic! Such a pretty girl. Don't you just love when you go to change out their bowls and they insist they have to eat/drink right then? Hehe looks like you two are going to form a good bond.

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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    She is Beautiful and I am happy she is already so calm and sweet to you. I had good luck with giving my bird dehydrated fruits and vegetables because he didn't mind them as much because they were not soft and mushy like most fresh ones are. Pellets are good for them however I would also keep giving her the seed mix and fresh foods as well. A good varied diet is what my avian vet preferred for all the birds she took care of.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Bird beginner Brand New Egg Sonneillon's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    At this point in time I have begun to clicker train my bird. I have taught her to step up onto a perch and to touch the end of a chopstick for treats.

    I also sometimes share my meals with her. This morning she even flew onto the rim of my cereal bowl to take a peek at what I am eating. She enjoys rice and corn.

    I have made a perch so that she can sit on my desk next to me while i work, study or just browse the internet. She easily falls asleep when I am typing and clicking away.

    Even though she is so comfortable being around me, she is still not comfortable with me touching her yet. I am going at her pace so she does not develop any hatred for my hands.
    I can rest my hand very close to her though, to the point I am almost touching her, and she wont move or act aggressive. Which is nice. Hoping we can progress through her fear of being touched sometime.


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    Parent clawnz's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    Sounds like you both are doing great.
    I could say that I have had Dexter 16months and he still dislikes me touching him. Yet he is a humanised shoulder bird and can be very demanding if he thinks I am going off without him.
    Anyway keep working on it, you really are doing very well.
    Bird stand looks good idea, but could I say I would think about her feet being in the same grip for any period of time on those round dowels. Could you find some bird safe branches to use?
    Last edited by clawnz; 03-15-2014 at 08:51 PM.
    R.I.P my little ones.

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    Bird beginner Brand New Egg Sonneillon's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie bird owner with some (long) newbie overview, and questions.

    I was actually just doing some research on what native new zealand trees are safe for birds, but i cant find info in new zealand trees specifically.

    You appear to be from auckland, what safe foliage grows around your area?

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