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Old 03-24-2015, 09:29 PM
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Unhappy Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

Hey guys,
So we bought a lovely little 'hand-raised' cockatiel, who is not sexed but we just say 'he', and his name is Olaf... but we are starting to think the job of hand raising him wasn't done too well :/ He will be super friendly one minute, then will bite (hard!) on your hand or toss his head down with his beak open the next. We have had a cockatiel before, but he was no where near as aggressive as Olaf is. We have had Olaf for a few months now, hoping with proper handling he would get better, but this hasn't been the case. A friend suggested I post on here asking for help
He is especially cranky in the afternoons, so we let him out of his cage for 10-15min then put him away again (which is a battle and a half because he knows when he has to go back into his cage, and certainly doesn't want to).

So is there certain handling techniques we can implement to get him to become more 'tame' and not so aggressive? He has bonded to both me and my mother, my father cannot touch him at all without being bitten. I have always wanted a bird of my own since my sisters passed away, and it saddens me that little Olaf can be such a nasty little thing that I cannot touch him sometimes.
He will fly onto you, and stay there, but most of the time if you hold a finger out to give him 'scratchies' he just bites, and sometimes I ignore the biting but he can give a really nasty bite and it hurts a whole darn lot lol. He even asks for scratchies and talks away to you, but when you approach him he gets very cranky. So obviously I am doing something wrong, and I am wanting some help, hoping to be able to redeem the sweet bird which is hopefully just buried for the time being >,<

Please, no nasty comments, we have done what we have learnt to be the way to go, but it jsut isn't working :/ My dad is saying that we should put him in the aviary with the untame birds and let him live his life out in there... Which I am sure he would love but the selfish part of me wants a bird to talk with etc.

Sorry for the novel!
I appreciate any help I can get
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:34 PM
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Re: Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

Sorry, I also realise 'Defensive' is a better word for his behaviour, not so much aggressive
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:39 PM
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Re: Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

Hello and a warm Welcome to you and Olaf!

You say you've had Olaf for a few months and let him come out of his cage for 10 to 15 minutes in the afternoon. Is 10 to 15 minutes a day the only time he gets out of his cage? If so, that could be part of the problem. Even hand raised birds need continued training and socialization to remain friendly.

It sounds like Olaf is being defensive, as you mentioned. Something you are doing is making him feel threatened or uncomfortable. I would take a step back and maybe try some bonding exercises until Olaf builds some trust and self confidence. Here's a link to help you get started.

Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Good luck with Olaf, I think with a little patience and some new training methods he will be a great companion.
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:56 PM
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Re: Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

If he came home from the breeder already biting, then yes something was done very wrong. It could be anything from force weaning to clipping his wings too early, but the damage is done so rather than looking at the breeder we can look at what to do about it now. I suggest reading the thread posted above as well as trying to identify WHAT CAUSES each individual bite. Knowing why he is biting is the key to getting him to stop. Btw I LOVE that you identified that it seems more defensive than aggressive; so many people label every bird aggressive. See if you can identify what is causing the bites. If you know what is causing it, we can help a lot more.
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:37 PM
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Re: Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

One of the first things I would do is try and make his cage a happy place. Reach in and feed him seeds in there. Does he have lots and lots of toys? If he enjoys his cage, he won't fight going back. Also, how much time does he get out of the cage? If you take him out of the cage because he's cranky then put him back because he's bitey, maybe it would help to build him a playstand to hang out on in the evenings so he can be out of the cage longer without risking your hands. And definitely follow the suggestions on the thread linked above.

Good luck with Olaf--that's a great name! (Does he love summer?)
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Old 03-25-2015, 01:18 AM
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Re: Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

Thank you!

Sorry, I meant that in the afternoons is when he is super 'cranky' so I bring him out of the cage and let him do as he pleases for 10-15min. But he is also out of the cage during the morning for about 1-3hrs, with access back to his cage whenever he wishes.
I have just gone and bought a bigger cage for him, as I am a teenager, and paid for his first cage by myself- so it isn't as big as I would have liked. So I have bought one of which he can truly have some fun in when we cannot give him attention all day long.
I will be going shopping this weekend, hopefully, in order to fit his new cage with things to keep him entertained, as at the moment his current cage is quite 'dull'. so I do not really blame him for not wanting back in there >,<

Definitely agree that trust is lacking, so thank you for the link! Will get to it right away I love the little brat, lol- he escaped from his cage once, as my dad changed his feed and Olaf wiggled out. But he came right back to land on me a day later, when I arrived home from a trip to a friends place.

I feed him treats while he is in his cage- almonds are his favourite, although they are only a treat which he gets a few every few days.

See, that is where I am stuck- as to 'why' he strikes out. We have never rough-handled him, he is given plenty of attention, lives outdoors but is brought it of a night to protect from snakes etc, fresh food once a day and fresh water 2 times a day, cage is kept clean etc. So I guess I just need to try and understand it- if only they could talk! Well... a part from the babble and asking for 'scratchies'.


hehe, I have quite and obsession with Frozen (even though I am 17 and most think that is odd lmao), and the first thing he learnt to say was 'warm hugs'... so Olaf seemed quite fitting
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:34 PM
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Re: Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

do you personally take him out of the cage or do you handle him after he has exited the cage? I have found with a good amount of birds outside of the ecletus family that if the bird has exited the cage through an open door he has exited on his own terms therefore where he is standing is his territory and when you enter his territory he takes it as a threat where as if you have taken him out of the cage through step up or opening a door with him on a perch attached to the door you have removed him on you're terms and he sees you as his protector/friend while out of the cage. This is also why when you want him on you're shoulder you don't let him walk up there you put him up there. I have always found wit my whiteface that if he walks to my shoulder he treats it as his territory and it becomes a pain to get him back down where as if I pace him up there he will step back up on my finger without a fight. it sounds stupid but a lot of birds do think this way.
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:21 AM
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Re: Help with Hand-raised Cockatiel

So you can he can fly! IMO I would clip him to keep him from flying. That's where part of his aggression is coming from. How old is he??? They will sometimes go through this stage right around 9 months old or so. Where they become aggressive, especially when they can fly. Then you can start training him one on one, you need to do it multiple times per day at 20min intervals or more. They need to do step up and repeat the process over and over. Stay close to the floor cause they will hop off. After a few times they'll learn not to hop off. When they get down, ask them to step up, never force them by grabbing at them. There are different ways to train, but this is something I've been doing for many years with Cockatiels as I've raised hundreds of them. I have had several males returned to me due to what yours is doing with you. But they didn't leave me that way, they were returned after 6 months to a year later when they get sassy with them. They came back to me and I retrained all of them back to their former self being sweet and step up on command, then I allow their wings to grow back as I allow my birds to fly.
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