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Old 07-20-2017, 06:05 AM
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Question cage bound parakeet

I bought a hand raised parakeet from a breeder almost a year ago and I'm having trouble getting him to leave his cage. When I first got him the breeder told me to regularly take him out using a towel. I did this a couple of times but he was so anxious and scared I was worried I was doing more harm than good and just making him scared of me. I stopped grabbing him out and started trying to gain his trust instead. I would sit by his cage, talk to him, and offer him millet from my hand. Eventually he would step onto my finger to reach the millet. Once on my finger he would let me move him around the cage but would get worried if I started moving him towards the door.

We have a weird relationship where hes bonded to me but hes also bonded to his cage. He learned to talk pretty early on and his favorite thing is when I talk to him. He has no issues with my face, he loves to get close to my mouth when I talk to him, he nibbles my glasses, he falls asleep with his beak resting on my nose while I talk to him, and he lets me give him kisses but as soon as he sees my hand he gets concerned (not terrified but definitely cautious). I am trying to be very careful about how I proceed with this because he is "bonded" to me in this weird way so I don't want to do anything that might cause him to loose that trust in me.

I'm also fairly new to keeping birds and very new to trying to tame them. I had pet shop parakeets before but didn't work with them often. I figured hand raised would be a better option for my first attempt at taming, and I can definitely see the difference.

I just don't know what to do next. When he does come out (usually by accident) all he wants to do is go back to his cage. His wings are clipped but he can still fly pretty well. Any tips or suggestions on how I should handle this?

Thanks!
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:03 AM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

well step 1 is to find that breeder and slap them upside the head. Never grab with a towel as you unfortunately learnt the hard way. Could you imagine what that's like. No blame on you, how are you supposed to know, that breeder is a moron.

now for step 2. they're probably going to be nervy of your hands for a long time so I suggest stick training. Essentially the same as step-up training but you use a perch (I found using one you have in the cage already makes life easier. Once that is done I would open the cage door whenever you're home, try this for I would say a week or 2. Make sure the curtains or blinds are drawn when the door is open to avoid any accidents. Then try holding the precious millet at the door to the cage so they have to get near the door, then start working on moving further and further, inch by inch until they have to lean out of the door. then hold the perch just outside the cage so they have to step up to get at it, and keep working on doing it inch by inch until the have to fully step out. Make sure only praise is given during this time, if they seem nervouse or scared just talk softly until they calm down. If they take off and land somewhere in the room don't run over after them as that's only scary. Instead give some praise and maybe put some seed near them. essentially your bird feels that all that happens outside the cage is the towel/your hands come to get them, you need to make him realize that outside the cage is happy and fun and filled with seed!

Remember to go at his pace, a year is a long time to be used to being in a cage only. Hopefully he will come out, other parents have become very friendly after living in bad situations for many years so it's not impossible, just persevere and don't give up!
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:08 AM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

I'll also add it's great that you're deciding to work with him and are looking for help instead of just leaving him to it, or getting rid of him!
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:12 AM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

Thanks for the reply! I haven't tried using a perch yet so I'll definitely give that a shot. Yeah it just didn't feel right yanking him out with a towel.

Heres another interesting bit to this story. He loves to be near my face so much that I've been trying to use that to my advantage, he absolutely loves when I talk to him and will practically stick his head in my mouth he gets so close lol. I have gotten him a couple inches out of the cage (on my finger) just by slowly moving him while talking to him. Sometimes he actually doesn't want to go back in the cage, he'd rather stay and talk with me, but these instances are rare and unpredictable and he will still only let me move him so far. I can tell by his body language when he wants to go back to his perch. Whenever he leans for his perch I put him back in hopes of building trust with him and it seems to be working. Usually when I move my hand to let him back on his perch he either jumps off and comes right back or sometimes he doesn't leave at all after realizing I will let him leave whenever he wants. Is this something I should continue doing?

Thankfully he isn't territorial about his cage as I've read about other cage bound birds. Hes never tried to bite me and he loves when I stick my face in so we can talk without cage bars between us for a bit. He loves to take those opportunities to gently nibble my nose and glasses lol. Hes a great bird, not the least bit aggressive and hes been very forgiving of all my mistakes.

I bought him because I want to work with him, believe me, I never considered giving him away and I never will. This parakeet is literally the light of my life, hes always making me laugh and I cannot get enough of his talking. I just want him to be able to come out and talk and cuddle with me instead of having a cage between us.
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:36 PM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

I agree with LordTriggs on ditching the towel, that is crap advice. And you said he will sit on your hand. how about offering a treat with your other hand at the door....then another treat outside the door while he's still on your hand etc.

Also he may be scared at first, but sometimes just being confident in yourself and having no fear can imprint on the bird. If to you it's nothing he will feel more relaxed. If your 100% fixiated on how he will interpret every single thing he will pick up on that and not be afraid of the outside world but afraid of what he doesn't know but your worrying about.Even though it's two separate things.

If I came over as a consultant, I'd talk to him a bit see if he got on my finger then just pull him out and take him on a tour of the house explaining how the dishwasher works and this a is a bed it's how humans sleep and all sorts of stuff, I'd just keep talking until he was really almost bored, the opposite of nervous or scared. Maybe at least stay in the cage room first time out.....

I can't make you confident but, if you can get to that relaxed state, the bird will too.

Last edited by clark_conure; 07-20-2017 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:35 AM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

Thanks for the reply!

The only fear I have is of him hurting himself really. I mostly worry that he will crawl into a small space where I wont be able to reach him. I bird proof as best I can but I cant block of every small space. I also worry that he will get too stressed and will become sick or die. I don't know if this is true but I've heard untamed birds can die from the stress of being handled. If I try to walk him around the house he will probably fly back to his cage, or as close to it as he can get. Theres also no guarantee that he will step onto my finger, sometimes he wants nothing to do with it and sometimes he'll stay all day. I will definitely give it a shot and see how far we get though. I'll also use it as an opportunity to assess his stress level. If he seems fairly ok with it I will continue to do that with him, but if he gets really freaked out I may have to try a slower approach. I get the feeling he is curious about coming out but not enough to actually leave the cage. I always try to leave nice things out side of his cage but in his view. His favorite toys, millet, and seed are always waiting for him out here.
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:45 PM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

an untamed bird can have a heart attack. BUT this is so incredibly rare and would require a heart problem to exist and for the owner to pretty much be abusing it. Now the stress could bring out any existing illness as it would with anyone but honestly it's so rare and if you go at their pace there's no stress to worry about.

Biggest things for first few times is any mirrors covered, and curtains/blinds closed to help avoid crashing. Do a walk through of your house with one hand on the wall and check for any dangers, think like you are about to bring a baby home. With one hand on the wall as you go you will do a full circuit of your home and should find everything

already putting his favourite items out is really good thinking. Try not to stare at them during htis time as it's a predator behavior that makes them uneasy, try paying them no mind whilst the door is open, he'll relax a bit and curiosity will take hold. Just remember this will be the longest process of your entire relationship for the next 25+ years so there's no need to rush
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Old 07-22-2017, 10:13 AM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

ok so this morning I talked with him for a bit but he didn't seem very interested in stepping onto my finger so I left the door open and sat on the couch. Almost immediately he was bobbing his head all over looking out the door and not much later he flopped out onto the floor. Unfortunately even with his wings clipped he still flies better than I'm comfortable with. He flew into a couple walls before ending up on the floor. He didn't seem injured so I let him wander around. He spent most of the time on the floor under his cage trying to figure out how to get back in.

So after this experience I'm thinking I should provide a way for him to get back in the cage in his own, otherwise I need to catch him to put him back in. I'm thinking about getting a ladder that will reach from the floor to the cage door, is this a good idea? I figure this way he can come and go as he pleases and I won't have to use my hands or the towel to bring him back to his cage. But I also wonder if would trust my hands more after seeing they'll bring him back to his cage?

I don't think I'll try this again until I get a ladder and get his wings clipped a little more. He doesn't seem traumatized, after I put him back in he still wanted to talk to me and is eating. I just worry about him flying into the walls
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Old 07-24-2017, 03:12 AM
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Re: cage bound parakeet

I wouldn't bother clipping his wings again. He needs to develop his chest muscles by flying and it helps with biting tendencies as the fight or flight instinct knows they can fly. As horrible as it is they do crash from time to time even in the wild and it's part of learning. A ladder isn't a bad idea if you can accommodate it. Another way would be to get one of the perches in the cage and try using that if you and him aren't too comfortable using hands just yet. You'd be amazed at how quick the process of stepping up can go when you start with stick training, you just gotta find what he's willing to work for.

Just remember that to move in these few days from completely cage bound to out of the cage and having a wander round without being petrified is amazing! He seems very brave and it seems above all else like he wants to be friends he just needs to overcome his fears and you may just have an extremely friendly companion! Keep doing as you have been doing. Every day, cage door open, go about your business and of course keep and eye out for him. The more he comes out the more he will calm down and relax
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