Extremely Anxious Cockatiel

acainhurst

New member
Feb 29, 2024
2
3
Parrots
Cockatiel and gcc
Hello. I have a four year old (assumed) male cockatiel named Percy, who I got in May of 2020, while I was working from home. He is absolutely obsessed with me. In August of 2020, received a very serious injury to his beak (don't use carabiners on your toys everyone...) and I think that exacerbated his attachment to me, as I was babying him during his recovery. He is now disabled, his bottom beak is split in two and both the bottom and the top require frequent trimming, but he is healthy and is able to eat, drink, play and preen without any issues. He does not pluck, either.

The problem is: since a few months after I got him, any time I am not in his line of sight, or if I am doing something he doesn't like even a little bit, he screams. Over and over. Sometimes it doesn't go immediately to screaming, and he lets out these quiet, nervous chirps and paces back and forth, but that usually escalates into screaming if I don't stop doing the thing he doesn't like. I have tried everything under the sun to try to calm him down.
I've tried:
- calling back to him to try to let him know I haven't left, that makes it worse.
- completely ignoring his screaming, or leaving the room entirely when he does. He keeps screaming, will stop after a few minutes of nonstop squawking, and then as soon as he hears proof of my presence (like me coming back into the room or walking around in a different part of the house)
- covering his cage to try to quell his anxiety, which kinda works if he's doing it because he doesn't like whatever I'm doing, but it doesn't stop the "you left the room" squawking. If I covered him every time he screamed, he would be covered for 90% of the day, and I'm not going to do that. I think going over to his cage and putting the cover on counts as interacting and rewarding him for his behavior, which I don't want to do
- getting him a cagemate. I got a very very sweet female tiel in 2022 in the hopes that Percy would bond with her instead of me, but he wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. I gave them a nice slow introduction over the course of two weeks before I ended up housing them together, and it was so sad because she clearly wanted to be friends with him, but he would just hiss at her and try to drive her away, even from their food. They were in a big cage, so she could always get away if she needed to, but I ended up rehoming her later because he was so hostile to her.
- letting him see his neighbor. I was gifted a GCC, Roach, in 2022, and I try to let the two of them see each other in their cages. Roach also wants to be friends with Percy, but Percy also wants nothing to do with him. I guess it's good for Roach, at least.
- frequent outside the cage playtime. I try to give him a reasonable amount of interaction every day (something I can do consistently so he's not getting more or less on specific days), but when it comes time to return to my own activities and I put him away, the screaming gets really bad again.
- keeping his cage near me when I can't have him out. This results in him doing nothing but pacing back and forth for hours at a time, doing those little anxious chirps
- keeping his cage out of the room where I spend the most time in. Whenever I pass through the room he's in, he gets started all over again.
- giving him more toys and things to interact wtith in his cage. He doesn't seem to care for most toys, even when I get him the ones he does like, (loofah and tissue paper are his favorite because they're easy on his beak), he never spends long playing with them.
- playing music or other videos for him while I'm away. Hasn't seemed to do anything at all.

I am at a loss. I had a pretty bad anxiety attack yesterday because he just won't stop, no matter what I do. I can't drink around him (he screams), I can't sweep around him (he screams), I can't pour water around him (he screams), I can't pet or brush my cat around him (he screams), you get the idea. It seems like everything I do that isn't giving him 100% of my attention makes him anxious and I just don't have the capability to be at his side 100% of the time. I know he loves me, so I don't want to rehome him and worry others wouldn't tolerate his noise or his disability. He was abused by my old roommate (and his friends) who would shout at him and smack his cage when he screamed, so I worry others might be just as volatile towards him. I want to help him be less anxious and be able to exist comfortably on his own.

Any thoughts? Is this just how the next ten years of my life are going to be? Any and all help is appreciated. I love the little guy but he is driving me insane.
 

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I a so touched by this bird, and your goodness toward hm! What a lucky boy he is to deserve such love. I don't have much advice... sounds like you've already tried some good ideas...
I have a similarly demanding, dependent and high-decibel bird. My solution was to give in and put up with it... for 40 years! He's MAYBE a little better now but not much.
SO --- don't take any advice from me.
Others here will have more help, for sure.
Good luck!
 
I came to this website and found your post (and made an account) simply because I am dealing with the EXACT same thing, except I’ve only had my male cockatiel for about 4 months.

I also am desperate for help in this area. Mine screams all day, every day when I am not in sight. And it’s really, really, really becoming a problem for me and my roommate. I can’t go and grab the laundry, or go to the freaking toilet, or do ANYTHING without the bird going crazy and flock calling as loud as he can. And responding has NO effect, like you said, it only gets him going more. I can especially relate to the part about how he acts up as soon as he hears any proof of my existence on the other side of the door, (if by chance, he was having a heavenly quiet moment). Pouring water, he screams. Having bath, he screams. TV talking very quietly (so much that I use closed captions), he screams the entire time. Music on my headphones? He hears that and screams. Phone call? Forget that, I have to be as quick as possible or the whole neighborhood wakes up from his screaming. Cook something? No way.
I am sick to my stomach every day with stress and anxiety over this bird.

I am bumping this and sharing my experiences so that hopefully more people will see this and help.
It is such a frustrating thing, especially when the root of it IS love, and they aren’t intending any harm…. But when it wreaks absolute havoc on every aspect of your life, it becomes unbearable and I personally am growing very resentful. You are a much bigger person than I. Tonight I reached an all-time low as an animal lover and life-long owner… And sprayed the living crap out of my poor bird. No, it didn’t hurt him of course, but I drenched him so bad and shook his cage a little to make noise and said angrily (not screaming) “don’t you get it yet?!?! Be quiet!” (He’s okay, trust me. I didn’t hurt him. But my intentions were so angry and hate-filled that I honestly scared myself).

I feel like an absolute monster. I hate myself for it. I am just at the absolute end of my rope here….. If he cannot be on me or in my sight 100% of the time, he’s screaming his face off. And, he can’t always be with me, because EVERY TIME my roommate is around (who wants nothing to do with him anymore. He liked him at first, but he’s sick of it now), my bird will fly onto him…. And he’ll wave him off, and he’ll just keep going back. It’s at the point where I’m fearing I may lose my place… And I have had to move 6 times in 4 months because my husband left me while I was hospitalized on Valentine’s Day of this year. Not to mention, these past two weeks I have been battling some super gnarly physical problems that I’ve never had to deal with before and it has left me completely without any energy at all- even for myself. But my bird isn’t sympathetic or empathic like a dog or cat… He is just an obnoxious little brat who screams that I bend to his every whim even when I am at my ABSOLUTE lowest. It’s killing me. I have absolutely no patience or energy left for this. I knew getting a bird would be a LOT of work, and that’s fine. But I did NOT sign up to be a slave to a bird who rules and dictates every second of my life …. this is 100% a full-time, 24 hour job of having to cater to him otherwise all hell breaks loose. All day, every day. And, my bird spends more time with me than most birds get to with their owners. He’s with me usually 10 hours every. single. day.

But alas, it is still not enough.

Ugh. I’m sorry for the rant.
I really, really, really hope that you figure out a solution. If you find one elsewhere than here, please come back and share. And props to you for taking such amazing care of this precious Percy. Thank God he has you in his life and not someone like me. (Not that I snap at animals often…. I never have before. This was a first and I’m praying it’ll be my last). But, anyway. I just wanted you to know that someone else is here battling in the trenches with you.

(please help us).
 
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I'm wondering if avoiding will work? When the bird screams, you leave the room and enter only when they're quiet. As soon as they make noise, you leave again. Might take a while to find a quiet spot so you can enter and might take a zillion times before they get the hint. I've heard it works on exceptionally loud cockatoos. Might work in both your cases . **Fingers, toes and tail feathers crossed)
 
Hello. I have a four year old (assumed) male cockatiel named Percy, who I got in May of 2020, while I was working from home. He is absolutely obsessed with me. In August of 2020, received a very serious injury to his beak (don't use carabiners on your toys everyone...) and I think that exacerbated his attachment to me, as I was babying him during his recovery. He is now disabled, his bottom beak is split in two and both the bottom and the top require frequent trimming, but he is healthy and is able to eat, drink, play and preen without any issues. He does not pluck, either.

The problem is: since a few months after I got him, any time I am not in his line of sight, or if I am doing something he doesn't like even a little bit, he screams. Over and over. Sometimes it doesn't go immediately to screaming, and he lets out these quiet, nervous chirps and paces back and forth, but that usually escalates into screaming if I don't stop doing the thing he doesn't like. I have tried everything under the sun to try to calm him down.
I've tried:
- calling back to him to try to let him know I haven't left, that makes it worse.
- completely ignoring his screaming, or leaving the room entirely when he does. He keeps screaming, will stop after a few minutes of nonstop squawking, and then as soon as he hears proof of my presence (like me coming back into the room or walking around in a different part of the house)
- covering his cage to try to quell his anxiety, which kinda works if he's doing it because he doesn't like whatever I'm doing, but it doesn't stop the "you left the room" squawking. If I covered him every time he screamed, he would be covered for 90% of the day, and I'm not going to do that. I think going over to his cage and putting the cover on counts as interacting and rewarding him for his behavior, which I don't want to do
- getting him a cagemate. I got a very very sweet female tiel in 2022 in the hopes that Percy would bond with her instead of me, but he wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. I gave them a nice slow introduction over the course of two weeks before I ended up housing them together, and it was so sad because she clearly wanted to be friends with him, but he would just hiss at her and try to drive her away, even from their food. They were in a big cage, so she could always get away if she needed to, but I ended up rehoming her later because he was so hostile to her.
- letting him see his neighbor. I was gifted a GCC, Roach, in 2022, and I try to let the two of them see each other in their cages. Roach also wants to be friends with Percy, but Percy also wants nothing to do with him. I guess it's good for Roach, at least.
- frequent outside the cage playtime. I try to give him a reasonable amount of interaction every day (something I can do consistently so he's not getting more or less on specific days), but when it comes time to return to my own activities and I put him away, the screaming gets really bad again.
- keeping his cage near me when I can't have him out. This results in him doing nothing but pacing back and forth for hours at a time, doing those little anxious chirps
- keeping his cage out of the room where I spend the most time in. Whenever I pass through the room he's in, he gets started all over again.
- giving him more toys and things to interact wtith in his cage. He doesn't seem to care for most toys, even when I get him the ones he does like, (loofah and tissue paper are his favorite because they're easy on his beak), he never spends long playing with them.
- playing music or other videos for him while I'm away. Hasn't seemed to do anything at all.

I am at a loss. I had a pretty bad anxiety attack yesterday because he just won't stop, no matter what I do. I can't drink around him (he screams), I can't sweep around him (he screams), I can't pour water around him (he screams), I can't pet or brush my cat around him (he screams), you get the idea. It seems like everything I do that isn't giving him 100% of my attention makes him anxious and I just don't have the capability to be at his side 100% of the time. I know he loves me, so I don't want to rehome him and worry others wouldn't tolerate his noise or his disability. He was abused by my old roommate (and his friends) who would shout at him and smack his cage when he screamed, so I worry others might be just as volatile towards him. I want to help him be less anxious and be able to exist comfortably on his own.

Any thoughts? Is this just how the next ten years of my life are going to be? Any and all help is appreciated. I love the little guy but he is driving me insane.
Sorry you’re having a tough time. Research chamomile to see if it’s a good fit for your bird.
 

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