One Year!


May 19, 2013
Cockatiels - Oz & Kaila
Hello all!

I've had Oz (my first bird) for almost 2 years now and I got Kaila last year for my birthday on the 24th of march. When I first got her, she was an almost 2 year old tiel that had never been clipped, and, while she did get out of cage time, she wasn't used to being manipulated past being toweled back into her cage. She didn't step up and the only things that allowed us to get close enough to her for me to be able to put her in my carrier were chips... (needless to say her diet does not include chips anymore lol).

I'd say we've made progress in that year. She learned to step up fairly easily with the right motivator (aka millet) and on the rare occasion that I've had to towel her to make sure she wasn't hurt, she's taken it pretty well (she's such a glutton you just have to offer her millet. Even in a towel, she'll stop whatever she's doing, in this case trying to bite my fingers off, and eat). After a few weeks, she started seeking me out. Now, when I let her out of the cage, she'll often come and play around or rest near me (as I'm writing this, she's sitting on the monitor staring at me while Oz is sleeping on my chair). Sometimes, she'll try to ''groom'' my hair or just rest on my shoulder though most of the time she prefers the top of my head or somewhere she not quite on me but very close.

But the thing is, after one year, I have never been able to pet her.

She refuses any beak rubs, scritches or wing petting. The most I'm able to do is a kiss on the beak (during which there's a very gentle nibble on my top lip so I don't know if that's her way of saying no =S). If I bring my hand closer, she'll move away or open slightly open her beak. That's often accompanied by her crest moving between laying rather flat and being half mast.

I know she's not afraid of my hands since whenever I put it in front of her in a position that clearly means ''get on'' she'll jump right on without a fuss (Jump. Not step. Not anymore. Yes, that's resulted in a few faceplants on my palm for her lol).

So the thing is I wonder if I'm doing something wrong... It's kind of like getting mixed signals, one moment she close to me but if I try to touch her in any way that isn't for transport purposes, she refuses no matter how gently I go about it. If I keep pushing the issue (not forcing her to accept pats, but keeping my hand close to her and very slowly inching closer, she'll eventually fly away... And come back once she's deemed I've learned my lesson).

Are there any ways I can help her open up more to me, or is this just a part of her personality? It's just a little confusing when I have an one Cuddle Monster of Epic Proportions (Oz, he'll grow out of it, the vet said... It's just baby cuddliness... Nooooope. Wouldn't have it any other way :p) and one that wants none of my cuddles. The pet store clerk said I should clip her wings so she'd be more dependent on me, but I've taken the decision a few months back to stop clipping. They just love flying so much that it doesn't feel right to me to deny them of that and Oz, who'd always been clipped before, has only changed in the way he now flies around a room in circles until he's panting, warm and keeping his wings away from his body to cool down.

So bottom line is, should I keep trying to get her to accept my cuddles, or is it just a part of her personality that I have to accept and take as it is?
I had a parakeet for 10 years that was the same way.

How was she taken care of/handled the two years before you had her?

Pickles, I'm ashamed to say, came out of the budgie bin at Petco. I didn't know any better as a 16 year old. Of course, she had a an upper respiratory infection, so her first two weeks with me involved me grabbing her from behind, forcing her tiny beak open, and squeezing in the antibiotic.

I'm sure this was very traumatic for her, but miraculously, with time, she became hand tame. She would never allow me to pet her, though. It sounds very similar to what you're describing. She would perch on my fingers, on my shoulder, play in my hair, play with my jewelry, but I could never ever in 10 years pet her. I attributed it that to her few weeks with me. My other parakeet I had for 9 years was completely tame and I could pet him or manipulate him however I pleased.

Just a thought. All birds are different. You might have to just love the interaction and relationship you do have. Some day she might come around and realize how wonderful scritches can be!
Both my parakeets were "dumped" because they were not tame after a while of being in their first owner's lives. I took them home because I thought I could at least provide them with a large cage, healthy food, and many toys. They are still not tame nor will they ever be, but they look forward to my presence, can't wait for their "good night" song, love their veggies and fruit, and I'm sure they're looking forward to get some real sunshine once the weather is warm enough.

I hope in time your girl will allow you to pet her!

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