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Old 10-11-2018, 09:40 AM
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Living with a Wild caught Bird

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(sorry for the long post in advance)

Weíre back in the Max hole of problems.

Backstory for those who donít know Max -

We found Max few months ago. He was kept in a small cage (like a travel one) which was the size of him. The person who had Max had bought him from a guy who sold wild caught parrots (something we found very recently). His diet was ONE tomato PER day. He also had a beak injury just below his nose, which we later found out was probably from a fight with another bird (said our CAV).
We managed to convince the person who had him to give him to us. Max has been with us since. Itís been almost three months now.

Lots of people have told us that its unethical to keep a wild caught bird in our house. While I agree with them, I donít think I can release Max back to the wild because its too dangerous. We donít know how long heís been living with people prior to his previous owner. Heís a very clumsy bird and not very good at flying now. He bumps into things all the time (which is why I always keep a close eye on him).

The vet estimates him to be 10+ years old but ofcourse, he could be much older. This means that he spent a lot of years in the wild. I understand that heíll probably never be fully tame and Iím okay with that as long as Max lives a healthy happy life. A good suggestion that I recieved was to provide him an aviary which would be good for him. However, I donít know any people here in my country (Not from the West) who have avairies and I donít have place for one. However, I have lots of big balconies around the house which are meshed and Max can sit outside and enjoy the view.

Iím still trying to change his diet but have had little success. Still working on it.

Living with a wild caught bird is extremely challenging. I was hoping for some answers.

Few problems Iíve been facing -

1. Max doesnít like his cage at all (His cage is very big). In a way, it is his safe space but he HATES going back in. I previously posted a thread on this asking for help. Some things Iíve tried -

* Coaxing him with food. Worked only the first week.

* I then Did this a few weeks - Allowing him to go in on his own. He goes in exactly at 6.30pm for a snack in his cage and I close the door. However after a few days, he got creative and would stand by his door, literally pick up food in his mouth and fly off from the cage. If I came near the cage to close him in, he would run out of his cage. Doesnít work anymore.

* Currently ongoing method - He stays out till 8pm after which I have to close him in. This means trying to get him inside. Heís flighted so I have to close every door nearby so he doesnít fly away. I have his previous cage and I have to use it to catch him (no hands) and then put him in his present cage. I know it sounds terrible but this is the ONLY way he will go in.

The reason I have to put him in is because like I said earlier, Heís very clumsy. The week we brought him home, I moved away for one minute and he flew to the kitchen (off limits) and right into a container of oil I had put there accidentally. The lid was open. He dove in. I had to give him a thorough bath and was extremely scared about any reprecurssions. He sometimes just flies into everything and risks getting hit. Last week, he flew into my glass cabinet thinking he could get inside. So i canít leave him out unattended at all.

Now the problem is that since Iíve been closing him in everyday, heís become fearful of me. He has started turning away everytime he sees me now. We had made little progress since he came in but I feel like all that is lost. He ignores me now when I call him and does not want to interact with me at all. Is there something I can do? Iím out of my wits end.

2. How do you stimulate a wild bird? Max has toys but never plays with them. I have tried showing it to him but he doesnít understand them at all. He either roams around the house / sits in one spot and watches us. Thatís it. Iíve tried everything I could think of but he just doesnít want to do anything except sit and stare. Suggestions please?


Has anyone else rescued a wild bird? I would love to hear your stories and how you handled them!
Thank you.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:44 AM
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Re: Living with a Wild caught Bird

Have you ever just waited and see what time he goes "to bed" if left to his own devices? He might go back to his cage at night (when darker) if he thinks of it as his nest. That's why (future reference) if you have to trick them into going into the cage, you should only do it once every "blue moon" or it will backfire. Have you tried putting the food in the cage on a skewer so that he can't take it..But this time, don't shut the door...You have to remind him that sometimes he can eat in there freely.


If he stops thinking of his cage as a cage and more like a child thinks of their bedroom, that would be better. It will take time, so don't fret too much. A wild caught bird with a history is a GIANT challenge, so 3 months is still VERY early. Don't give up and always stay one step ahead of the bird---they are masters at figuring out patterns.


If I tell my bird I am going to the store, she is WAY cooler with that than if I am going to work. I tell her what I am doing AFTER she is in the cage (if I have to shut her in) but she knows one takes longer than the other, and she based her disappointment on that lol

Last edited by noodles123; 10-11-2018 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:03 AM
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Re: Living with a Wild caught Bird

Quote: Originally Posted by noodles123 View Post
Have you ever just waited and see what time he goes "to bed" if left to his own devices? He might go back to his cage at night (when darker) if he thinks of it as his nest. That's why (future reference) if you have to trick them into going into the cage, you should only do it once every "blue moon" or it will backfire. Have you tried putting the food in the cage on a skewer so that he can't take it..But this time, don't shut the door...You have to remind him that sometimes he can eat in there freely.


If he stops thinking of his cage as a cage and more like a child thinks of their bedroom, that would be better. It will take time, so don't fret too much. A wild caught bird with a history is a GIANT challenge, so 3 months is still VERY early. Don't give up and always stay one step ahead of the bird---they are masters at figuring out patterns.


If I tell my bird I am going to the store, she is WAY cooler with that than if I am going to work. I tell her what I am doing AFTER she is in the cage (if I have to shut her in) but she knows one takes longer than the other, and she based her disappointment on that lol

Yes, I have! He didnít go back in...at all. He stayed out all night. I was awake all night because I was studying hence it was okay. Otherwise, it would have been a problem since I always need to keep an eye on him! The next he went in his cage was when I put him in the NEXT night. He really doesnít care about his cage. At all.

I have also done that! He used to come back in and eat but he would be VERY nervous that I would close him in so he would run off if he heard / saw someone nearby. I realize now that I was mostly torturing the poor soul....

Do you think that forcing him everyday is harsh? I only do it for his safety

Thank you for your response!
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:31 AM
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Re: Living with a Wild caught Bird

Well, I wouldn't leave him out unsupervised (especially since he is flighted and will get bored).....I just wish I had a better solution...I would leave him out as much as you can...Was he caged up all of the time before you got him?



Do you feed him outside of the cage as well? You could try keeping all of his food in there all of the time so that he has to start going in and out...Obviously if he started eating less, that could be a problem too...but something to think about trying (if you haven't).


This last idea may be controversial to some, but they do sell anxiety medications (prescription) for birds. They all have pros and cons...and the impact will vary depending on the bird, but have you talked to your CAV about that? IF THEY THOUGHT IT COULD WORK, it wouldn't have to be a permanent solution, but it might make take the edge off of his nervousness enough for you to make some progress. I know that is sort of a last-resort option and many people will cringe at the thought, but your situation is kind of extreme in that he was neglected and wild-caught....You might consider asking the vet if there is a safe option for him (after reviewing blood results etc to make sure he doesn't have any underlying issues that could be worsened by certain meds).
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Old 10-11-2018, 11:23 AM
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Re: Living with a Wild caught Bird

that is hard, I can only go with noodles' thoughts because they seem to be the kindest. Ultimately to keep him out when you're not around is dangerous and to allow him to hurt himself knowing he's clumsy is a far worse thing than having to do something he doesn't like, at least for now, hopefully you can find something he is more comfortable with.

I didn't know about the anxiety medications but this is the sort of thing they are made for, you can't get a more extreme scenario than you're in. You just need a little help breaking through to him and getting him to realize you're not there to hurt him.

Is there potential to make a bird safe room for him? If you could do that, let him have run of the room and it be safe for him but keep the cage there with food inside there and only inside and perhaps he can begin understanding the cage isn't a bad place
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:05 PM
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Re: Living with a Wild caught Bird

I have two wild-caught birds, a pair of Goffins. They were likely captured in the very late 1970s to early 1980s; I acquired them in 1987. The female is incredibly tame, loves to cuddle and has unconditional shoulder privileges. I can tell she has a constant state of higher awareness and is a far better flier than her offspring. The male is far more cautious with people but can be hand fed and enjoys head scritches.

Cannot offer a comparison with IRNs as not familiar with the species. A bird-safe room as suggested by LordTriggs would be the optimal situation in captivity.
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Old 10-12-2018, 08:05 AM
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Re: Living with a Wild caught Bird

I think that simply "time" is going to be a big factor in Max's training, as he's gone from one extreme to the other, and then again to the other...First he's out free in the wild, then he's caught and kept in a tiny little carrier and fed basically nothing (certainly not what a wild bird would be eating each day), and now that he's with you he's been given a great "captive" environment, but he has no idea what is going on as of yet. So he's actually doing pretty well considering...

As far as getting him back inside of his cage, as Noodles already mentioned, he hasn't quite adopted it as his "safe space" yet, or his territory yet, though he's moving in that direction obviously. He knows that's where his food is, and that's where he sleeps, so that's half the battle. Trying to allow him to go in on his own is probably better than chasing him or trying to get him inside the carrier...I know it's a problem/annoyance, but then again, the last thing you want to do right now is hinder or impede his progress, and nothing impedes training progress in a bird like chasing them around to catch them does...

As far as him not playing with his toys, again, this is going to take time, and probably more time than him adopting his cage will. He's not ever had any toys, so he has no idea what they are or what he's supposed to do with them. I would imagine that he first needs to adopt his cage area as his territory before he's going to start playing with any of the toys inside of it, however they do learn well by mimicking, so the best way is to simply play with the toys in front of him, while he's watching you, and hopefully he'll catch-on...

in the meantime, have you tried setting-up any foraging activities for him? Wild birds do have an innate foraging instinct, so this may very well be something he'll catch-on to doing very quickly...Try starting out with a simple foraging box, where you fill it will crumpled paper and other things he has to dig through, and hide a bunch of whatever his favorite treats are throughout the box, starting with laying a few of them right on top of the crumpled paper and the rest of the contents inside of the box, so he'll see the treats are there, and then make a few of the treats visible underneath the top layer, and hopefully he'll start digging...Things like smaller nuts in the shells are good for IRN's, such as almonds in the shell. They are soft and easy for them to shell...Any activities that he would be doing in the wild naturally to find food are going to be the types of activities that he's going to naturally take part in right now, until he starts to adopt your house and his cage as his territory. Once that happens, then things should start to become easier.

Again, I think time is the biggest factor here...well, time and consistency. He's not been with you long, and it sometimes takes months and months to years for them to really start to settle-in and feel at home, take territory as there's, learn to trust people, etc.
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Old 10-12-2018, 04:14 PM
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Re: Living with a Wild caught Bird

You have received great advise above, so I will add just a couple of additional ideas.

The Parrot will go to the source of the food and water and the less attention one makes regarding when the Parrot goes in and out, the less of an issue it becomes for the Parrot. Making a rush to close the door has likely resulted in where you are today. It is likely that the action of closing the door has created a fear of being trapped. Had you left the door open, the Parrot would be more comfortable with going in and out on its own. Now, once the home is semi-dark, the Parrot would more easily step-up on your hand or a branch. Or if already in the cage, would likely be comfortable with the door being closed.

The Parrot crashes into things: It is because they are reacting to a fight or flight reaction, which is a natural reaction. The Parrot takes off in a straight line and since it has not built 'flight plans' of its new home, it is common that they will fly into things, like windows, mirrors, glass cabinets, etc... The goal is to help the Parrot create safe flight plans in the home with safe landing areas. This is commonly connected to what I call the "Real Estate Agents" tour of the home. A slow walking tour of the home that always starts from common places that the Parrot perches during the day, to and from the cage, or safe landing areas. We tour our home with our Amazon anytime something changes or at least twice each month. This tour is very important as during the early tours, I will slow walk into a wall, window, mirror, picture, glass cabinet, door and then tap it to show that the surface is hard! You will know when the Parrot gets it, because they will lean away and then look at you as if you are crazy.

The goal is in teach the Parrot safe flight pathways in the home. Understanding that the Parrot is in reaction mode and only pre-learned, practiced, routes will take over after the first few seconds. With nothing in place, the Parrot will fly until it hits something.

Fear of Starting Over! Far too many 'owners' have this fear of starting over from zero, day one if you will. The most important part of having a Parrot in one's home is the Bond Relationship! Building and maintaining a Bond Relationship is what everything else is built around. Nothing else is possible without the Parrot feeling safe around the 'owner'.

Hope that in addition to the remarks of the others, this also helps.
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