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Old 04-21-2019, 09:57 AM
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Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

So I have my 4 month old Cockatiel!! I’ve had her for 5 days now, the first 3 days were just kind of not bothering her to let her settle in. I’ve been working with her since then. She’s terrified of my hand. I’ve gotton to the point where I can put my hand right next to her and she won’t run away, but only for a few seconds. She won’t let me hand feed her, and she does not like millet, so I just really don’t know what to do. Do you guys have any tips to help me hand train her? Thanks!
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:00 AM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

You are moving way too fast and likely damaging your bond. There is hope, but you need to stop forcing physical contact. Pushing past this point will result in the destruction of trust and fear-based biting.
My bird didn't step up for 3 months (excluding day 1 when she stepped up to get away from her carrier).
Do quiet things near the cage, read to her, go about your schedule and if it can be done safely, allow her to enter and exit her cage as she pleases...but only if it can be done safely.

Now is also the time to become an expert at reading body language---what does she look like when scared, threatened, ready to bite etc. Read the cues to avoid providing opportunities for trauma and biting.

Before you try to touch her, she should be willing to take food from your hand CONSISTENTLY (as in, for a week or so without hesitation), but when she does take food from you hand, don't assume it's time to move to touching. Your bird will let you know when she is ready.....You should stop trying to initiate physical contact...She probably likes millet but is afraid of you. Pay attention to what she likes when it isn't in your hand...but for now, just allow her to see you putting treats in the cage. You want to build a positive association between yourself and good things (e.g., treats etc). It appears that she is fearful, so trying to feed her from your hand before she is ready will just result in more fear.

Once she takes food from you willingly and is showing more interest in you in general, you could try stick/target training (but this doesn't involve forcing anything on your bird, as they have to do certain things if they want the pay-off...and if not, they just don't get the treat...It is still up to them to make the choice.

Last edited by noodles123; 04-21-2019 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:03 AM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

Was she a hand fed or parent raised cockatiel? Depending on which way she was raised there are different ways you handle taming.
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:16 AM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

I agree with noodles. Taming a bird takes a lot of time. Your moving too quickly and have to slow down. Hand-taming your bird may take weeks or even months! Rushing the relationship will only destroy it.

I wish you luck with your cockatiel
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:48 AM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

Ok, thanks all! I will stop forcing contact immediately! Her cage door is always open (unless I’m out of the room) but she really just doesn’t like being out of the cage. I read to her often and play the ukulele very softly by her, and she seems to enjoy it. She is just very scared of my hand. If I go to grab something by her cage, she climbs away, etc. What foods do you recommend for beginning hand feeding? I’m definitely not ready to feed her little foods that are closer to my hand, so do you guys have any ideas?
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:55 AM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

Quote: Originally Posted by rylanmoore678 View Post
Ok, thanks all! I will stop forcing contact immediately! Her cage door is always open (unless I’m out of the room) but she really just doesn’t like being out of the cage. I read to her often and play the ukulele very softly by her, and she seems to enjoy it. She is just very scared of my hand. If I go to grab something by her cage, she climbs away, etc. What foods do you recommend for beginning hand feeding? I’m definitely not ready to feed her little foods that are closer to my hand, so do you guys have any ideas?
You can always try to hand feed her sunflower seeds. Their one of the best treats you can use and are usually not that expensive.

Maybe slowly move your hand closer to her holding a treat in your hand.
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Old 04-21-2019, 11:03 AM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

In extreme moderation, you can do sunflower seeds (but they are a fatty treat and they are not very good for birds)--never put them in their seed/pellet mix. Moderation will be key will most treats...You could try small bits of grapes (very sweet) ("Dr. Shropshire points out that one grape to a cockatiel is equal to something like 365 grapes to a human" )or banana bits. Some birds like tiny bits of crackers (but again, salt is bad for them, so go the low-sodium route and make sure they are given only in small quantities and infrequently). Nutri-berries are these ball-shaped bird treats that can be crushed and fed as individual seeds as well..Cooked corn might be a hit (although it is generally "junk food" for birds). Some members have luck with peas (non-canned, due to sodium content of any canned foods).

Avoid foods with garlic, onion, rhubarb, salt, unnatural sugars, high fat, avocado (poisonous and fatty), alcohol (poisonous), preservatives,---can cause itchy skin/behavioral issues etc, chocolate (poisonous), coffee of any kind (even decaf)=poisonous, uncooked beans and even certain boiled beans (due to toxins), comfrey (can cause liver damage), mushrooms (can contain toxic compounds), dairy (birds are lactose-intolerant), peanuts (can harbor aspergillosis), non-sugar sweeteners (including Xylitol), raw honey, canned foods (sodium+preservatives), fruit pits (or flesh from very near the pit), carbonated beverages, excess citric acid (moderate citrus and citric acid---too much causes iron storage disease), caffeine, fortified baby foods/cereals/ breakfast cereals (the added vitamins are too much for a bird) and any food that has come into contact with your saliva. Humans can make birds sick.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:04 PM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

Congratulations, a warm welcome to your cockatiel!

You are still in the "honeymoon" stage of newness and will be for a while. As others have stated, please don't rush the process!

Check out this excellent thread to help with bonding and building trust: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:54 PM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

More likely was parent raised, give it time. My Pepper it took him a couple of months as he was a Petstore bird and they didn't treat him right, but one day he step up on his own and now love to be petted and head scratched and fly to me on command. I just kept being around him and doing my routine and left cage door opened.
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:32 AM
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Re: Cockatiel doesn’t like my hand

Well mine is 28 days in home.I tried the water dish even had it set in his cage - nothing happened, he didn't even realised for what is that.So I waited until he gets comfortable around me, just enough so he won't get scared or scream, then I used water sprayer and started to spray up the cage not directly so the water will go on him like rain.He was perfectly fine with that and even let me dry him out with a towel.
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