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Old 08-26-2020, 02:54 PM
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Question First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Hi there,

Two days ago I ended up taking in a young (possibly fledgling?) grass parakeet that was getting bullied in an acquaintance's aviary filled with budgies. The parakeet is still ground bound, incredibly shy, and has sustained some injuries. I asked if I could take her because she was clearly having a bad time, and luckily the previous owner allowed for it.

My only experience with birds are (ungrateful) wild injured birds and a (very confident) hand reared African Grey parrot. This little girl, who I've called Mofu, is a very different experience, and I'm trying to gather a bit more advice to help her out.

Her injuries are mostly some plucked feathers around the eyes, with a healing scabby wound on the top of her head. This clearly itches as she likes to drag her head across fabrics like the towel and carpet. There's also a patch missing from the shoulder of one wing, although it seems more healed than the head wound. Yesterday her left eye was watery and sore, she was mostly squinting out of it, although today both her eyes are bright and clear now.

I don't know the age range for fledgling parakeets. Mofu is supposed to be around 20 weeks old, is this still within fledgling age or is she past this? Regardless, she cannot fly. Aside from the bald spot on her shoulder, her wings appear fine. No missing feathers or limited movement, she stretches them frequently. The closest thing she does to 'flying' is to flap out of reach, always heading for the floor. She doesn't land well whatsoever. I remember my African grey frequently smacking into walls when he first figured out flying, but he liked to aim for spots and try his best. Mofu never flies willingly except to escape from something (AKA me when I try to put her back in her cage using a perch, because I can't get close).

I've used the past 2 days to practice her accepting food from my hand. It's been very difficult, she's extremely frightened of humans. It took me lying on the floor for 3 hours yesterday for her to finally succeed in taking a sunflower seed from my fingertips. Today it took a little less than 2 hours for her to lean over my hand to take seeds from my palm, which I was using to gently curl my fingers underneath and 'pet' her neck and chest whenever she leaned in.

Her bum is a little dirty, there's some faecal matter around the area - no big clumps but enough to be noticeable. I want to help clean her but I'm too worried of pushing her too fast and undoing all of my progress, she seems a frail soul. There's no way I could handle her without her freaking out and possibly making her fear me more. I'm uncertain about when to start spraying her because I don't know if that will scare her too. I added a tub at the base of her cage with the teeniest level of water in hopes she might use it as a bird bath, but no luck as of yet.

My biggest concern however is her dubious state of balance. I'm unsure if this is simply a fledgling thing, or if it could be something more ominous regarding her injuries, but Mofu keeps falling out of the blue. Usually onto her back. She's fell from her perch multiple times without any sort of attempt to fly, she just drops like a rock and then picks herself back up and shakes it off. She's been out of the cage a couple of times, and twice now she's gone from walking on the floor to rolled on her back, it's only for a split 2 seconds, but she makes a quick panicked little vocal sound when it happens with some aggressive head turning to realign herself. Both times I saw it my heart flew out of my chest as I thought she'd broken her neck, but she'd get up so quickly like nothing was wrong that I'd feel a bit more reasonable.

Is this just general fledgling clumsiness, or should I take her to a vet to make sure there's nothing sinister? The only worry I have about taking her to the vet is once again, the lack of trust if I have to grab her to transport her there. I know these things will need to be done eventually but I really want to gain some trust from her and allow her to gain some confidence before putting her through these things. She's such a quiet bird and so gentle, so I can't help but personify her as fragile.

Here are some photo's of her head injuries I caught during yesterday's attempt of eating from my fingers (apologies for poor quality, they had to be zoomed in because of her being too scared to be any closer to me):






Any advice will be appreciated. Thank you for reading.
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Old 08-26-2020, 03:44 PM
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Re: First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Skittiness is very normal for budgies. However, falling and rolling is not normal. It could be the result of her injuries - or, some balance issue OR illness could have been the Cause of the bullying.

Thank you so much for taking her in. She is beautiful I love her already from the pics!

Given what you have said about the falling etc, she looks a little off-balance in the first pic. But maybe that was just the angle?

You might want to put something soft in the bottom of her cage to cushion her from the falling. As far as getting her to the vet, perhaps you can find some way to lure her into travel carrier gently, rather than having to frighten her? IF not -- my own experience with my budgies is that if done slow & carefully, they are easier to handle at nighttime when sleepy. (IF not done carefully, however, can induce Panic instead.) IF that works for her, you might try moving her the night before to a travel carrier.

I do suspect she needs to see a vet probably sooner rather than later. There are a lot of serious problems that can cause the falling-over. ON the other hand - my own Sun Conure has some balance trouble which eventually turned out to be a non-working claw. (It must have been either congenital or else a nestling injury.) Likewise for yours -- her balance problem Might be from a serious issue, could be indicative of disease or illness, or a result of her injuries -- OR it could just be a not-otherwise-dangerous disability.

((IF she continues to fall, you Might want to consider getting her clipped for her safety. IF you and/or your vet were to feel it would keep her safe, that would be the correct reason for clipping.))

She is beautiful, and looks like a sweetie. I hope she heals well and quickly.
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:39 PM
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Re: First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Welcome!
Here is my copy-and paste for potential owners (you already have one, but it's going to be similar):
PLEASE READ FOR DETAIL-- birds are so unique and this stuff is serious with them-esp the chemicals, scented products, teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfcs--they took canaries into coal-mines for this reason:

One really important thing when keeping a pet bird in the house is that you cannot use scented products or chemicals/fumes in your home (even things that smell nice to us(---things like smoke, perfumes, air freshener, standard cleaners, vaping, burning food, incense, cigarettes, glue, paint, window sealing kits, polishes, aerosol sprays etc can harm your bird's sensitive respiratory system (which is not the same as mammals'). Using products that heat or are heated which contain Teflon/PTFE/PFCs = very very dangerous. These products off-gas and can kill a bird in under 5 minutes. Teflon/PTFE/PFOA/PFCs are most commonly found in the kitchen (pots, pans, cookie sheets, drip trays, air fryers, popcorn poppers, baking mats, crock pots, toasters, toaster ovens, popcorn poppers, waffle irons, electric skillets etc. They can also be found in space-heaters, curling irons, blow-dryers, straighteners, heat lamps, heat guns, irons, ironing board covers etc. These fumes have killed birds through closed doors and on separate floors of a home, so you should replace your cookware with stainless steel, cast iron or ceramic. You may be thinking-- well, I have used them before and my bird is fine, but they kill very inconsistently and it depends on what you are cooking, the age of the pot/pan, the specific bird etc. There was a member who lost many of her birds from a pan she had literally used for years...then one day, her husband cooked an egg (without burning or overheating) and many of them died, while the rest showed signs of respiratory distress.

You will need an avian-safe cleaner to use within your home (both on the bird cage, but also, around the house). Again, chemical cleaners cannot be used in the home unless avian safe. F10 SC (the yellow/clear concentrate) is a great, avian-safe disinfectant. Other (less effective) options include products such as "poop-off", white vinegar + water, grapefruit seed extract + water, baking soda etc. Peroxide is also fairly safe for disinfecting places like your bathroom, but you do not want your bird to come into contact with it.

Some foods are toxic to them--avocado, coffee (even decaf), caffeine, rhubarb, alcohol, onions/garlic/leeks/chives, mushrooms etc. Salt is also very bad for them, as is most human food. They love it, but it's not healthy. Also, mammal saliva (from humans as well) contains gram-negative bacteria which parrots do not have in their systems. Never share food or allow your bird to eat or drink after you. Some people do it, but it's not safe.

They should not just eat seed--you will want to feed lots of washed fresh vegetables (sunflower seeds are like crack and should be rare treats) . Fruit is fine in moderation, but too much can lead to obesity and behavioral issues due to sugar. I feed my bird a mix of high-quality seed (no sunflowers, no peanuts) and pellets (in addition to fruit/veg). Fruit pits are toxic, as are apple seeds. Corn cob and certain nut shells (if swallowed in big pieces) can cause blockages, so you should be very cautious if you give your bird nuts in the shell. Peanuts can harbor aspergillosis, and should be avoided altogether (even they you often see them marketed towards parrots).

It is important to make sure that your bird's toys and cage are made of safe metals. Stainless steel is safest. They can get metal poisoning from playing with or mouthing objects made of unsafe metals.

They need a set amount of sleep each night (at least 10 hours) and the largest cage you can manage with lots of different perches. You want to avoid the totally smooth/round ones as they can lead to a condition called bumblefoot. Never place a cage near drafts and never allow cool air to blow on a bird. They are sensitive to drafts and any temperature shift greater than 10 degrees can cause a shock to their system.

They need lots of safe toys and safe wood to chew. Not all wood is safe, so don't just assume you can give them any kind you want.

Avoid dowel perches, as they can lead to bumble-foot. Instead, try manzanita or dragonwood etc. Also, no sandpaper-covered perches and no mite repellents (danger).

They hide illness and so you have to watch them to make sure they are eating normally and pooping normally etc. You should try to find an avian vet (certified avian) if at all possible and take your bird AT LEAST 1 x yearly for an exam. An avian vet is NOT the same as an exotics vet who sees birds--- so if a certified avian vet is available within a few hours of where you live, you will want to set up care.

All parrots can easily confuse the relationship with their human for a sexual one. You don't want this to happen, even though it seems sweet at first. Stick to petting on the head and neck only (the rest is sexual) and do not allow your bird to play in shadowy places, like boxes or under furniture, as these spaces are similar nesting sites and are hormonal triggers. NO SNUGGLE HUTS/TENTS!

Food and water should be replaced daily--- wash the containers daily. Never leave wet food out for more than a few hours (as it can lead to bacterial growth). Never try to medicate a bird via drinking water and never add vitamins to water. Vitamins can be over-dosed easily and harm a bird. Plus, when you add things to water, it makes it impossible to know how much they have gotten and it also encourages bacterial growth. Sometimes it can prevent them from drinking adequately if they don't like the flavor of whatever it is you added.

DO NOT give your parrot grit. They do not need it. It is bad for them.

These birds have the intelligence of a 4-year-old human, but they are wild animals (not domesticated like dogs). This means that they see the world (and humans) in a very unique way and so you must learn about their behavior in order to prevent problems (screaming, plucking etc). They need lots of time out of their cage daily and a lot of interaction (at least a few hours). At the same time, you don't want to spend TOO much time with a bird of they will become overly dependent and not know what to do with themselves when you go to work etc.

Baby birds are ALWAYS sweet compared to adultS.. When your bird hits puberty, expect that it will exhibit some annoying and problematic behaviors (much like a teen). A through knowledge of behavior and setting expectations at an early age will make your life easier when that time comes, but do prepare yourself and expect that things will not always be so smooth-sailing. Think about a baby human compared to a teen...

There is more, but that is a basic overview.

Here is an excerpt from another post (which you may want to reference when calling about Teflon:
The most insidious is the Teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfcs because you have to call the company to verify that anything that heats or is intended to be heated does not contain these ("PTFE free" doesn't mean PFC free and so there are a lot of marketing gimmicks out there to make people buy what seems like healthier cook-ware, even though it still contains a version of the same chemicals). Also-- these chemicals can be woven into fabric, mixed into metal during the moulding process, applied as a powder, applied as a clear-coat, or mixed with a colored coating. You cannot assume that you will be able to identify them visually, so, when you call, you must provide all abbreviations and full names + spellings of each chemical compound (and then they usually give you "the run around" for a week or so IF they ever answer your questions at all---because sometimes it's a "trade secret"). It's all very sketchy and DuPont (manufacturer of Teflon) claims that off-gassing only occurs at really high temperatures, but there have been numerous documented/scientific and anecdotal reports of birds passing away at temperatures in the 300 F range (and again, it kills through closed doors and on different floors).
FYI- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
A perfluorinated compound (PFC)
Teflon (a common brand-name of non-stick cookware containing these chemicals)

10- 12 hours nightly for sleep, so if you get up at 6 and make a bunch of noise, you will wake the bird up (even if they are still covered). If they wake up at 6, bed should be between 6-8. You want to keep it around the same time if possible (because that's how it is in nature).

Food- For adults/weaned birds, I leave a high quality mix of pellets and some seed in my bird's cage (no peanuts, no sunflowers, avoid fillers like corn etc)..Fruit/veg daily (more veg than fruit if at all possible--and not too much fruit). Citrus and fruits high in vitamin C should be given in extreme moderation because they can cause "Iron Storage Disease" (for a cockatoo, 1 small tangerine slice 1-2 times a week was okay, according to my vet). She gets something interesting/ cooked (no salt or sugar or unsafe spaces-- like a grain) 2x daily as well but she is picky as heck, so you have to watch it because some birds will fill up on one thing and not get proper nutrients or they will eat too much and become obese.

Something I didn't mention-- stainless steel is really one of the only safe metals for them. Research the heck out of your cage and make sure that if it uses a powder-coating it is truly non-toxic. Birds can get metal poisoning from playing with sketchy toys (many made in China do not adhere to best practices) and just mouthing things like money, bolts, locks etc can cause toxic impacts...A man I know allowed his bird to play with un-used toothbrushes and (unbeknownst to him) there were small copper bits that held the bristles in place-- this nearly killed his bird even though the bird didn't actually swallow the pieces.

Last edited by noodles123; 08-26-2020 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:45 PM
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Re: First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Parrots also move in SLOW motion compared to dogs or cats, so you want to do everything at their pace and build trust by respecting their body language and boundaries (even if you personally think they are silly).
You can increase or decrease your proximity, depending on bird's comfort level.
You can try reading to the bird WITHOUT getting in its face...you just want to let it get used to your presence and then gauge it from there.
You can try to feed it some seed from your hand, but if it hesitates or moves away, IMMEDIATELY stop trying that and just allow your bird to see you put it in the dish (you are scaring it if you force it).
TALK about your routine as you do it (from afar) and use similar phrases (e.g., I will be right back, I am taking out the trash, I am sweeping etc etc).
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:51 PM
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Re: First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Just read the part about the head-- get her to an avian certified vet. It could be mites, or a virus (PBFD or PDD) or even a fungus, so they need to find that out. I think the clumsiness is concerning too, as certain viruses, other illness, or nutritional deficiencies can cause this...parakeets (as a rule) mature fairly quickly (not sure about grass parakeets, but in general)..I mean, most are weaning at 5-6 weeks...and sexually mature in under a year.

The dirty vent is also concerning---you just need to get her to a vet that knows birds to get a baseline and make sure that she isn't super sick and hiding it (or spreading stuff around your home).

Last edited by noodles123; 08-26-2020 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 08-27-2020, 02:44 AM
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Re: First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Quote: Originally Posted by fiddlejen View Post
Skittiness is very normal for budgies. However, falling and rolling is not normal. It could be the result of her injuries - or, some balance issue OR illness could have been the Cause of the bullying.

Thank you so much for taking her in. She is beautiful I love her already from the pics!

Given what you have said about the falling etc, she looks a little off-balance in the first pic. But maybe that was just the angle?

You might want to put something soft in the bottom of her cage to cushion her from the falling. As far as getting her to the vet, perhaps you can find some way to lure her into travel carrier gently, rather than having to frighten her? IF not -- my own experience with my budgies is that if done slow & carefully, they are easier to handle at nighttime when sleepy. (IF not done carefully, however, can induce Panic instead.) IF that works for her, you might try moving her the night before to a travel carrier.

I do suspect she needs to see a vet probably sooner rather than later. There are a lot of serious problems that can cause the falling-over. ON the other hand - my own Sun Conure has some balance trouble which eventually turned out to be a non-working claw. (It must have been either congenital or else a nestling injury.) Likewise for yours -- her balance problem Might be from a serious issue, could be indicative of disease or illness, or a result of her injuries -- OR it could just be a not-otherwise-dangerous disability.

((IF she continues to fall, you Might want to consider getting her clipped for her safety. IF you and/or your vet were to feel it would keep her safe, that would be the correct reason for clipping.))

She is beautiful, and looks like a sweetie. I hope she heals well and quickly.
Hi thank you for the reply; it's very hard to tell if she's off balance from just looking at her in her cage. She moves around plenty and I did spot her yesterday taking a nap with one foot up, which I'm hoping is promise that she's just a bit clumsy and still coming into terms with being an independent baby bird. That being said, I will bring it up in the vet visit I'll be booking today.

Fortunately I have had the base of her cage bedded with tissue from the get go, so there has been some padding available for her surprise stumbles. Unfortunately the carrier is too big to fit into her cage to lure her in, I might put an open box on the floor with some sunflower seeds at the far back for her to waddle in herself.

It's just a shame with this pandemic going on that it's much harder to get into the vets when needed. I'll be calling them shortly to see when their nearest opening is available for a consultation.

Regarding clipping; I'm a firm believer in allowing animals the freedom to exhibit natural behaviours, and would actually like her to free fly in the room in the future when she's more confident in herself, so I'd like that to never be an option. While I understand your concern for safety, her falls haven't occurred during her 'flights' (if we can call them that). Her hasty escape flaps off the stand to the ground whenever I try to get her back in the cage is frankly the exact same circumstance I'd expect even if her feathers were clipped. Her actual drops that had her roll onto her back were when she was standing idle on her top perch, and twice when she was just walking along the ground.

Even though it sounds concerning, the reason I'm not as worried as I could be about it is because she practically roly-poly'd while doing it, aside from her brief second panic on her back she'd just roll back up to align herself, it almost looked like it could be playful. Still, all will be addressed with the vets, as I type this Mofu is going a bit ham in her cage this morning. She's peeping loudly while she rather energetically climbs around the front of her cage and the floor. She keeps trying to jump the corners of the cage but fails each attempt in a crash landing, peeking up from the base to see if I watched her stumble. It's a bit of a relief to see to be honest, her acting more like a bird within just 3 days.

Thank you again for your response. You are right, she is beautiful and I love seeing her figure out how to garner my attention with her calls (only to psyche me out by walking away from me as if to say "I didn't really want your attention, keep your social distance!")
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Old 08-27-2020, 04:23 AM
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Re: First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Quote: Originally Posted by noodles123 View Post
Just read the part about the head-- get her to an avian certified vet. It could be mites, or a virus (PBFD or PDD) or even a fungus, so they need to find that out. I think the clumsiness is concerning too, as certain viruses, other illness, or nutritional deficiencies can cause this...parakeets (as a rule) mature fairly quickly (not sure about grass parakeets, but in general)..I mean, most are weaning at 5-6 weeks...and sexually mature in under a year.

The dirty vent is also concerning---you just need to get her to a vet that knows birds to get a baseline and make sure that she isn't super sick and hiding it (or spreading stuff around your home).
Thank you for all of the messages. I had already browsed the pinned posts before posting, but a refresher is always handy. We've been keeping things very slow but frequent, I only approach the cage when it seems like she's full of energy/seeming for attention/ parading around the front half of the cage, although as of current she clearly can't tell if the attention she wants is from me or not. I usually offer a seed and there's a bit of tiptoe back and forth regarding "do I take it or don't I". At least, yesterday there was. This morning she's approaching just to take the seed out of my fingers and drop it, so she's clearly not wanting seeds right now. I left my finger where it was however and she did come back and give it a couple tender feels with her beak, as if trying to decipher what it is or not. I'm very fortunate she's so gentle because I feel if it were any other bird she would have bitten me as if to say "I don't want your offerings, now bugger off!"

She's still on the feed she was being fed from the aviary she was from; cockatiel seed mix, which I know isn't very good for her. I've ordered some cockatiel complete pellet food that should arrive in a couple of days, and hope to introduce and slowly wean her onto them and reduce the seeds total. I think her beak is a little long and have provided a cuttlefish, but so far the only interest she has for that is to stand on it and balance on it like a surfboard. I've been leaving fresh vegetables with a couple bits of fruit in a separate bowl but she's clearly never had any before because she won't touch them no matter how fine I've cut them. I sprinkle a couple of bits into her main food bowl but she simply eats around it, not even attempting to pick it up. So weaning her onto pellets might be as equally challenging. I will try my best however.

I wish I could find more information regarding red rump parrots during their weaning-fledgling stage. I've had a deep web search with only information on generic information. The only thing I know at this point is that Mofu is a lutino mutation and that she will reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age. If anyone can find a thread regarding specific grass/red rump parakeet information I'd really appreciate it.

I've finally gotten her an appointment today with the vets, I will bring up all matters addressed here and let you know of the outcome afterwards. Unfortunately her left eye is sore once again today, there appears to be a small white spot on the rim that is making it irritable, so I'm hoping the vets will be able to give her a full diagnosis and preferably a treatment plan. Many thanks for your input.
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Old 08-27-2020, 11:40 AM
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Re: First Time Owner of a Rescued Grass Parakeet - Help?

Here is an update after going to the vets;

It was a bit of a stressful situation. Because of COVID we aren't allowed to go in with the animal during consultations, so I had to sit outside and wait while I could hear her squawking with panic from inside. Our 15 minute consultation became an hour long consultation due to Mofu being such a small bird that they couldn't identify the appropriate amount of dosage for medication. It involved several phone calls, one of the nurses rushing out to find a large tome of animal species dosage measurements, and a literal announcement I heard from one of them say to "Just Google it!" When I asked how things were going, a nurse said "we're just struggling to get her weight right now, we put her in a box on the scales but the box weighs more than she does." In the end I didn't get her overall weight, so that's a mystery for another day. It's a little off-putting only getting an end overview instead of knowing everything they checked for, but here's the synopsis.

They couldn't see anything wrong with her eye despite the squinting, as like yesterday her eyes seemed clear by this afternoon. They couldn't see any balance issues from having her out on the table. I unfortunately forgot to address the dirty vent and didn't get the chance to remind them but they never addressed it in the end so chances are I'm just going to have to clean it myself. They're mostly only concerned with the wounds on her head healing up and so she is being prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. A really tiny amount, because she is a tiny little thing. Literally 0.02mls - 1/5th of a single milligram. Amazing to think about, not as fun to apply.

The biggest mystery of all however is her lack of ability to fly. Her wings are fine, but they said parakeets should be fledgling at 4-6 weeks old. With her estimated 20 weeks, she's quite behind. I guess that means I'll have to boost up her confidence enough to encourage teaching that aspect.

Sadly, my final gripe is that after all this I now have to orally insert medication in her twice a day. I just gave her her first dosage upon coming home from the vets, and she had her first (luckily weak) attempt at biting my finger, so I know our trust building is going to be severely lacking for a couple more weeks. I'm additionally disappointed because just before going to the vets she had successfully stepped up onto my hand for the first time (I even recorded it).


It's exhausting to know that we'll have a stilt in our progress, but it cannot be helped.

I would like to ask to anyone who still reads this; do you have any other suggestions for bonding exercises? We're staying slow and steady, but it would be nice to see if there are any other interesting ways to gain a birds trust other than filling them with seeds whenever they try out something new.

Last edited by pterry97; 08-27-2020 at 11:45 AM.
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