How to destress my upset parrot?


New member
Aug 11, 2018
rescued IRN Max and Cockatiel Honey
Hello Guys. I’m back with another question.
We’ve had Max (an Indian Ringneck) for two weeks now and he’s settling in very well. He’s a very active boy and he loves being out of his cage. We haven’t clipped his wings and so, he flies around the house as he pleases. Still very scared of hands (understandable, he was rescued from a person who kept him in horrible condition and handled him very roughly) but does not mind if we walk by him / stand next to him. He even flew upto me and sat on my head yesterday! :04:
And he loves eating! Show him food and he goes crazy 🙈

So last evening, Max was out of his cage as usual (mornings - he roams the house, evenings - sits on top of his cage) and I don’t force him to go in because he goes in on his own everyday. My uncle had come yesterday to visit us and this was the first time he saw Max. My uncle himself had IRN’s when he was young. And well, he got a bit too excited and wanted to hold Max 😱. As I was telling him he couldn’t do that and it would scare Max too much, my uncle went after him and cornered him and started trying to grab him. Max has an abusive history and is TERRIFIED of hands and he just flipped out. He started breathing rapidly, feathers puffed up and backing away - flight mode activated. Please don’t tell me that I’m a very bad mom because this happened within seconds and I could not stop it. I immediately rushed to his rescue and moved my uncle away, opened his cage and he RAN back in. He was pretty stressed and upset last night, refused to eat anything and he has me worried to bits. He loves food so much that even when we first brought him and he was still terrified of us, he would STILL take the food from us cause he wanted to eat. Plus, fireworks were going on last night and I think they upset him more.

This morning, I went to put his food in and he flipped out. He was trying to get away from me as much as possible. When I moved away, he nibbed a bit on his food and stopped. That’s it. He is his normal self (chirping etc) but now absolutely terrified of us. He wanted to come out of the cage and so I opened it and now he’s roaming around the house. He’s ignoring me when I call him (which he never does) and trying to run away as soon as he sees anyone. I placed his food on the floor and left cause I was desperate and when I left, he came and nibbled a bit.

What can I do to destress the situation? Should I just let him be? but I’m afraid since he’s not eating. He hasn’t eaten since last evening.
I have checked for signs of injury etc to see if that might be causing the behaviour but he’s absolutely fine.
Can someone give me advice? I KNOW two weeks is very less for any birdie to trust you and isn’t any solid foundation, but he was doing better each day. I’m asking this because I’m worried about him.

Also side question, Max doesn’t drink water at all. Why is this? He has fresh water everyday but he doesn’t drink it. Yesterday, he dipped his beak in water and that’s it. He never drinks. Is this normal?


Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Start back at square one and rebuild trust by doing quiet and safe things around him. The damage is done now, but I don't think it is permanent. It will take time, but I am sure he will come around. Think back to what you did when you first got him, and do those things again. Also, make sure he is eating and drinking and try not to do anything more to unsettle him---keep things calm and consistent if at all possible, and don't make any new furniture purchases etc until things calm down lol.
Try providing foods containing liquids---fresh fruit, plain oatmeal (cooled off) and sweetened using chopped fruit, veggies etc. He is likely getting more water than you think if you are already giving him fruit/veg, but do keep an eye on his eating situation and perhaps consult with a vet.
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Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
If he is flying all over and not himself- make sure all family members are aware of this so that they don't accidentally step on him or shut him in a door if he has a random freak-out moment and takes flight. If it were my house, I would remind everyone repeatedly but I would also put neon post-it notes up reminding them that they need to be calm and careful when entering the room where the bird that's the teacher in me.
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May 23, 2018
NL= the Netherlands, Europe
Sunny a female B&G macaw;
Japie (m) & Appie (f), both are congo african grey;
All are rescues- had to leave their previous homes for 'reasons', are still in contact with them :)
Ships happens...
so you need to start over (you already know that - you've read up on it, but I just had to say it one more time.. because you *can* do it).

Okay....just sit down and read your favorite story to him!
Really, realy sell it, like you would make an audiobook for your favorite niece or nephew.
(yup, songteksts work just as well- just don't do the metalvoices ;) )

It will calm both of you- because you both sound upset..
He wil calm down at the sound of your voice and have his human with him without being the (scary) focal point of everyones attention, and reading out loud is a breathing excersize for you as well.

If he keeps freaking out.. you can always cover the cage he has a safe corner to hide.

Actually it is good he can and is flying ... it wil help him get the nervous energy out of his system faster.

I agree with the fruit: quick and easy energy and liquid replacement.


New member
Aug 20, 2016
State College, PA
Senegal Parrot named "Kane"; Yellow-Sided Green Cheek Conure named "Bowie"; Blue Quaker Parrot named "Lita Ford"; Cockatiel named "Duff"; 8 American/English Budgie Hybrids; Ringneck Dove named "Dylan"
He'll be fine, but as already mentioned wisely by Noodles, you need to "Hit the Reset-Button" and start completely over again. Act as if today is the day you brought him home, you just picked him up from the rescue or from his prior owner and just brought him home just now. That's how you have to approach this situation. He's not angry with you guys specifically, but because he has a history of physical abuse that was executed with hands, he basically had the equivalent of a flash-back last night when your uncle grabbed him.

Two weeks is no time at all for any bird with any history to be in a new home with new people, and for a bird with a history of physical/mental abuse and neglect, two weeks is nothing at all. In the two short weeks that you've had him, he was making great strides towards forming a relationship with the two of you, and this will happen again the same way, but today is day #1, not day #14. Just keep doing as you've been doing and he'll be fine. Don't push him, just let him progress at his own pace as you had been doing. This is easier said than done because this time around you're actually worried about his well-being due to what happened to him with your uncle last night, but he wasn't hurt physically and it's a blip on the screen in comparison to what he's already gone through. IRN's are very sensitive birds, and they tend to "lose their tameness" very quickly under abusive situations involving their owners. For a bird to give their trust to a person and bond with a person, only to have that person physically and mentally hurt them and neglect them, well, that creates a barrier that they put-up to protect themselves in the future, and it takes a long, long time to break that barrier down. That being said, it seems like you two were doing a great job of it, and the good news is that it sounds very much like he was receptive to forming a bond with you two. So now it's just a matter of starting completely over from the very beginning again.

****Something that you guys are going to have to keep in-mind with him, most-likely for the rest of his life, is that while over time he's going to form a very close bond with the two of you and you two are going to eventually earn his trust, and eventually be able to handle him, pet him, have him step-up for you, eat from your hand, etc., this is probably going to ONLY apply to the two of you and that's it. Birds that have been physically and mentally abused by a person are very much like humans that are abused by people...They forever will not easily trust anyone, and they will typically only form a close bond and give their trust to "their people", the people who are their new owners, who care for them and who they live with and have a close relationship with. They are not likely to feel at all comfortable with any other people even being near them. So whether we're talking about now, or in 6 months from now, or in 2 years from now, he's probably not going to do well around other people, at least not when it comes to other people physically touching him, not even stepping-up for other people. Socializing him is going to be very important, if that's something you want to try to do, but i'm not talking about having other people touch or handle him. At best you can certainly have people come over to your home, but it may be best to keep him in his cage whenever anyone is in your home, as his cage is his "safe place", and he'll feel much more secure, safe, and overall comfortable being inside of his cage whenever anyone else is in your home.

***What's more important is that you make sure to tell anyone and everyone that comes to your home BEFORE they enter your home that they cannot attempt to touch him or handle him, as he has a history of physical and mental abuse, and he is only comfortable being touched by the two of you and that's it. They can talk to him gently and softly, but that's it. Don't ever force him to step-up for someone else or ever hand him to anyone, or try to force him to take food from anyone else, as this is going to really upset him and make him very uncomfortable, and it could also effect your relationship with him. People like your uncle, who have owned birds themselves and who mean well but just don't understand the situation need to be very clearly told the rules of the house regarding your bird, and that this is just the way it is, and they just cannot even attempt to touch him in any way, as it will only serve to scare him greatly.


Supporting Member
Aug 21, 2010
San Diego, California USA, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.

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