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Old 09-06-2018, 02:23 PM
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Taming two cockatiels.

Hello, around 2 weeks ago we purchased two cockatiels. Both are said to be around 1.5 years old. The previous owner detailed specifically that they need to be bought together since they been like that from the beginning she has had them. She also noted that they don't want to be touched yet they will fly around and might fly on your head without problem. The big problem we are experiencing now is that one of them is rather aggressive yet the other one is more scared. Ever since we got them, we have tried to be around their cage talking, playing music or just generally being there. I slowly managed to get the ''smaller'' one to eat from my hand and actually got him to hop on it too. If I get too close he will be scared and clatter around the cage. The ''bigger'' one will also sort of eat from the hand, yet he will bite the hand at some occasions and might just be scared when you come closer. The ultimate goal is to try and get them tamed. Yesterday we opened up the cage to try to let them get out, yet it was only the big one that got out, and he mostly sat on top of the cage. He wouldn't even eat from a distance away. As soon as he took a few laps, the smaller one started stressing and both of them made loud noises, yet he would still stay in the cage. We got told by a couple of people to try the clicker training or target training as I recall, yet without success. None of them seem interested. After yesterdays ''flying'' session, they both seem to be even more distant, being scared as soon as I put my hand in. All they will do is barely nibble, and if I make a sudden move, they are gone. Is there anyone that could help me/us out? I know that some birds will never be able to get tame, and I don't know the whole background story of the birds from the previous owner, but pictures suggested that they seemed to be in good hands. Also to note, both birds seem to be fighting with each other at occasions. We have put two separate food trays for them, one for each. But the ''bigger'' one will always bite as soon as he trespasses his path or goes by any of the food trays. All help would be appreciated.

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Old 09-06-2018, 02:50 PM
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Re: Taming two cockatiels.

When cockatiels are not handled for a long time, or are born and raised by their parents without being pulled from the nest and handfed by a human breeder, they tend to remain 'wild' and never learn to 100% trust humans, and remain frightened/scared or aggressive towards them. Taming them will take a lot of time and patience.

It has been 2 weeks, which is really not very long at all. Some birds don't warm up for months, so you seem to be making some progress.

For now, keep the birds caged until they learn to be more tame. This just ensures that they don't give themselves a firght again and you don't have to chase them around the room to get them back inside their cage.

Be sure to read this thread: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

I wouldn't bother with clicker or target training until you have hand-tamed them, otherwise it will be useless.

At this point, realize that gaining their trust will take time, dedication and consistency. You want to work slow, as parrots process things much slower than people, so its important that you don't push them to the point that they are biting or scared/aggressive. You want to make sure every single interaction with them is a positive one. Walk by their cage, offer a treat when they calm down and stop cowering. Say hi and talk to them, and drop another treat in their bowl when they calm down in your presence. Spend some quiet time near their cage with them and around them. The key is to work slow so that the eventual goal is that you can have both of them eating out of your hand with no scared or aggressive behavior. After you have reached this point, you can start training them to be hand-tame, which basically means they will step up onto your hand when you open the cage and let them out to play and exercise.

It will take lots of time to gain their trust, as it seems they are still getting used to you. But it's very important that you don't rush them, or you will have to start over from square one like you just brought them home again.

Is their cage big enough? If they are fighting it may be an indicator that they feel cramped in their space. It's important that both birds have the capacity to fully open their wings and flap inside the cage without touching the bars of the cage. If it is small, perhaps it would be time to upgrade them to a bigger environment. Do they have toys, things to play on and chew?

If you haven't already, you should schedule them to see the vet! All new birds should see a vet to have a wellness exam and determine if they are healthy. They can also do DNA tests to determine gender (it's cheap) and trim their nails if it needs done.

What are you feeding them? Diet is really important in cockatiels, as other parrots, they thrive on a varied diet with fresh veggies, they aren't known to be huge fruit eaters but I feed mine things like sprouts (seeds allowed to germinate), bird bread (cornbread muffin mix with veggies and baby food in it), Zupreem pellets, Volkmann cockatiel seed mix (no sunflower seeds) and a variety of veggies that changes weekly. My tiels loves peppers! Maybe yours do, too.
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:08 PM
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Re: Taming two cockatiels.

to be honest for tiels that are 1.5 years old before getting to you and never tamed you've done amazing already!

Just keep offering treats and take your time with them, let them open up to you and accept you as a friend. Just try keeping your hands as nothing but good right now with associating them as givers of treats
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:24 PM
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Re: Taming two cockatiels.

Quote: Originally Posted by itzjbean View Post
When cockatiels are not handled for a long time, or are born and raised by their parents without being pulled from the nest and handfed by a human breeder, they tend to remain 'wild' and never learn to 100% trust humans, and remain frightened/scared or aggressive towards them. Taming them will take a lot of time and patience.

It has been 2 weeks, which is really not very long at all. Some birds don't warm up for months, so you seem to be making some progress.

For now, keep the birds caged until they learn to be more tame. This just ensures that they don't give themselves a firght again and you don't have to chase them around the room to get them back inside their cage.

Be sure to read this thread: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

I wouldn't bother with clicker or target training until you have hand-tamed them, otherwise it will be useless.

At this point, realize that gaining their trust will take time, dedication and consistency. You want to work slow, as parrots process things much slower than people, so its important that you don't push them to the point that they are biting or scared/aggressive. You want to make sure every single interaction with them is a positive one. Walk by their cage, offer a treat when they calm down and stop cowering. Say hi and talk to them, and drop another treat in their bowl when they calm down in your presence. Spend some quiet time near their cage with them and around them. The key is to work slow so that the eventual goal is that you can have both of them eating out of your hand with no scared or aggressive behavior. After you have reached this point, you can start training them to be hand-tame, which basically means they will step up onto your hand when you open the cage and let them out to play and exercise.

It will take lots of time to gain their trust, as it seems they are still getting used to you. But it's very important that you don't rush them, or you will have to start over from square one like you just brought them home again.

Is their cage big enough? If they are fighting it may be an indicator that they feel cramped in their space. It's important that both birds have the capacity to fully open their wings and flap inside the cage without touching the bars of the cage. If it is small, perhaps it would be time to upgrade them to a bigger environment. Do they have toys, things to play on and chew?

If you haven't already, you should schedule them to see the vet! All new birds should see a vet to have a wellness exam and determine if they are healthy. They can also do DNA tests to determine gender (it's cheap) and trim their nails if it needs done.

What are you feeding them? Diet is really important in cockatiels, as other parrots, they thrive on a varied diet with fresh veggies, they aren't known to be huge fruit eaters but I feed mine things like sprouts (seeds allowed to germinate), bird bread (cornbread muffin mix with veggies and baby food in it), Zupreem pellets, Volkmann cockatiel seed mix (no sunflower seeds) and a variety of veggies that changes weekly. My tiels loves peppers! Maybe yours do, too.
The birds tend to eat a seed mix with occasional fruits, some snacks and millets. That's what I try to stick to with for now. They are not that keen on vegetables/and fruit. They will take a nibble or two and leave it. As for the cage, they are now in a cage sized 37x37x72.. It's not the biggest of the cages, but I am intending to buy a new one soon. They can spread their wings out flat without problem though. I live in Norway, so finding a cage here is not one of the easiest tasks. With buying one online you risk of paying a huge tax when you recieve the product.. But I don't have any other choice than buying one online. Any sites you'd suggest? As with the taming thing, the most important thing to remember I guess is to take it slow. I'm a rather impatient person so I think I have to understand that it might take some time. Thank you for your answer!
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:28 PM
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Re: Taming two cockatiels.

Quote: Originally Posted by LordTriggs View Post
to be honest for tiels that are 1.5 years old before getting to you and never tamed you've done amazing already!

Just keep offering treats and take your time with them, let them open up to you and accept you as a friend. Just try keeping your hands as nothing but good right now with associating them as givers of treats
Thank you for taking your time to answer. I guess that's what I will keep trying to do. Maybe I'll just try to stick with giving them from the hand and see how it goes. I have just heard that birds might not have a problem with eating from the hand, yet they will not have the courage to get on it. I just hope it's not the case with these ones!
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Old 09-06-2018, 06:35 PM
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Re: Taming two cockatiels.

Seeds shouldn't be the primary----if you can do a mixture of pellets and seeds (without them starving) that is much better (nutritionally).
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Old 09-23-2018, 01:06 AM
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Re: Taming two cockatiels.

If it helps... what history I know of on this bird - sold at a garage/yard sale with her mate, lived on a porch for some time, then the pair were given to another family as a house warming gift (they had a pair of their own). Female dies from first pair, male given away (me). Her mate then dies and she was kept for a while longer in terrible conditions. Finally given up (aka "payment").


This is what her and her mate lived in...






This is her shortly after I got her... eating seeds from my hands. Pay attention to her behavior.




After she had settled in and learned to trust me - now look at her behavior

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