Probability of Taming

shro_om

New member
Jun 17, 2024
9
8
Parrots
Budgie/Budgerigar
Hi everyone, this is probably a very popular question but I wanted to gain some opinions from others.

I currently have a 1 year old budgie (give or take) that was previously owned by an acquaintance. He claims that he got her when she was young and used to have a very close bond with her up until a personal trip of his. He flew across the country for roughly two weeks while having someone else care for his budgie, and whenever he returned he claims that she completely forgot about him and has reverted back to being feral.

I am very confident that was not the case and instead see it as little interaction with the budgie as she began to grow and develop, resulting in her having a very feral demeanor. She does not want to be touched, very nervous about hands coming near her, and is very nervous with other people walking around her. I've now had her for roughly 2 weeks and we've been making great progress! We were able to make gentle interaction; quick nibbles on my finger as she ate millet and my finger gently touching her claw as she ate said millet. She no longer freaks out as I walk around her cage but is still nervous whenever I begin taming sessions with her, but slowly begins to calm down and let down her guard a bit.

Back to the main event however, whenever I went to my LPS to buy some more millet and grab some treats for my new budgie, I asked the clerk if there were any recommendations that he has for enticing a shy bird, or maybe just as a new treat (he cut me off before I asked about the treat part however). His response was that more than anything parakeets are not known to develop such an "emotional" bond with their owners in comparison to cockatiels, and that when they're adults its not something that can really be made due to their flighty nature.

Truth be told it did unnerve me a bit and made me lose my confidence in actually taming her, but a part of me still believes that with time and patience she can eventually come around to stepping up on my finger and exist next to me out of her cage, rather than being too fearful to ever come out. I'm fully aware that the older a budgie is (or any bird really) the more difficult it is to actually gain and establish any sort of bond with them, but not impossible. But coming from a pet shop that has been in my area for a very long time and has an outstanding history in selling and caring for birds almost exclusively, it really made me question if what I'm doing is actually just stressing out my feral budgie rather than getting her to come around.

My main question for everyone now is, is it really impossible to establish anything between my new budgie and myself? I don't expect her to see me as a mother or even want to snuggle, more than anything I just want her to trust me and learn that she can see me as part of her flock. All opinions are greatly appreciated.
 
I believe you can, given enough time. Be patient and continue working with your budgie the way you are now, and I'm 100% sure with time and patience she will learn to trust you :) , stay strong
 
You absolutely can bond with your budgie! That pet store guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Budgies are very social affectionate birds! Keep doing what you're doing, spend lots of time near her house, talking to her and short sessions hand training with millet or other treats. Please don't lose hope or give up!
 
You absolutely can bond with your budgie! That pet store guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Budgies are very social affectionate birds! Keep doing what you're doing, spend lots of time near her house, talking to her and short sessions hand training with millet or other treats. Please don't lose hope or give up!
I bonded with my dads female budgie (13yo budgie) to the point she was not scared when I cleaned her house with her hanging out in it. I was able to reached around her she was fine. ( She was never hand tamed before.) I wasn't trying to hand tame to bring her out of the house. But it's absolutely possible with patience.
 
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I believe you can, given enough time. Be patient and continue working with your budgie the way you are now, and I'm 100% sure with time and patience she will learn to trust you :) , stay strong
Thank you for positive feedback, it really made me question my actions in the moment so having some uplifting feedback helps me a lot here.
 
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You absolutely can bond with your budgie! That pet store guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Budgies are very social affectionate birds! Keep doing what you're doing, spend lots of time near her house, talking to her and short sessions hand training with millet or other treats. Please don't lose hope or give up!
Thank you! These really brought me back from my fears of not being able to tame her. I know I've read multiple other scenarios and watched videos of people bonding with much older budgies, so it's nice to have some affirmations and reinforcement that what I'm doing isn't hopeless. I appreciate it!
 
Thank you! These really brought me back from my fears of not being able to tame her. I know I've read multiple other scenarios and watched videos of people bonding with much older budgies, so it's nice to have some affirmations and reinforcement that what I'm doing isn't hopeless. I appreciate it!
You can also try fruits and vegetables for hand taming sessions when you don't want to use millet. Otto loves cucumber, carrots, corn, blueberries etc.
 
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You can also try fruits and vegetables for hand taming sessions when you don't want to use millet. Otto loves cucumber, carrots, corn, blueberries etc.
I have tried using apple, lettuce leaves, and even a slice of bell pepper, but she's very nervous of new things. I've tried clipping it to her cage and letting her come to it herself whenever I'm gone but she has no interest in it whatsoever. Maybe later on she'll be more open-minded lol
 
There's some truth to the statement that budgies (and really most other small species parrots that I've met) are flighty. But, it's a stretch to say that they don't/can't form emotional bonds with their owners. I say this in the kindest way possible, as someone who once was a pet store clerk myself, but pet store employees rarely know what they're talking about and it's not really worth bothering to ask them questions lol. Better to google it.

Anyway. Regardless, you will need patience and the grace to understand that you will need to meet her where she's at, not the other way around. And there is a chance that she will never be cuddly. Even the most confident and well trained birds will have their own personalities, and perhaps she isn't one to want scritches or kisses. I have a lovebird who at this point is barely scared of me after four or so years of trying to bond with her but she's still not keen on the idea of stepping up. I haven't given up, but I have embraced acceptance that regardless she is a well valued and adorable member of my flock.

Also--be wary of "flooding." With cats/dogs/mammals, there is a common belief that if an animal is uncomfy with you, all you need to do is "show them" that you mean no harm by petting them despite their distress. Birds live by boundaries above all else, and even if you're able to demonstrate that you don't intend to eat them for dinner they won't care if you showed them that you have no regard for their fear/discomfort in the process.
 
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There's some truth to the statement that budgies (and really most other small species parrots that I've met) are flighty. But, it's a stretch to say that they don't/can't form emotional bonds with their owners. I say this in the kindest way possible, as someone who once was a pet store clerk myself, but pet store employees rarely know what they're talking about and it's not really worth bothering to ask them questions lol. Better to google it.

Anyway. Regardless, you will need patience and the grace to understand that you will need to meet her where she's at, not the other way around. And there is a chance that she will never be cuddly. Even the most confident and well trained birds will have their own personalities, and perhaps she isn't one to want scritches or kisses. I have a lovebird who at this point is barely scared of me after four or so years of trying to bond with her but she's still not keen on the idea of stepping up. I haven't given up, but I have embraced acceptance that regardless she is a well valued and adorable member of my flock.

Also--be wary of "flooding." With cats/dogs/mammals, there is a common belief that if an animal is uncomfy with you, all you need to do is "show them" that you mean no harm by petting them despite their distress. Birds live by boundaries above all else, and even if you're able to demonstrate that you don't intend to eat them for dinner they won't care if you showed them that you have no regard for their fear/discomfort in the process.
Thank you very much for the insight. I did notice that the individual that I was speaking to wasn't someone who I've seen before, but wanted to give the benefit of the doubt since I know what it's like to be doubted when it comes to the care of animals/giving advice.

I didn't realize that some birds would still have trouble with just stepping up however! I always thought that it would just be a slow, gradual learning process for both the bird and owner into getting comfortable in stepping up and being moved and so forth, so I'm surprised that a member of your flock is still hesitant to step up (especially after four years!). But it is something that I will be keeping in mind moving forward.

Another thing as well, when you described the term "flooding", would my actions be considered so? She's obviously nervous whenever I enter the cage with millet and gets incredibly stiff, but once I perch my fingers fairly close to her she slowly calms down. After waiting a bit longer and inching the millet a bit closer to her beak, that's when she becomes excited and starts eating immediately. I've been thinking that maybe my way of taming may be too fast, or perhaps she needs some more time to really settle in since it has only been two weeks. Besides that, she's eating readily next to me and sings and chirps (both when content and nervous), but still hasn't touched any of the toys that I've provided for her...

Thank you again for everything! It's nice to get advice from so many people rather than watching the same videos and praying that things work out the same way.
 
I will say that my lovebird isn't exactly the same situation--she was a rescue, I have completely no idea how old she was when I got her or the experiences she had with other humans before me. You have a relatively young bird who may have been socially neglected to some extent but was never starved or hurt by a person. So I used my lovebird as an example but there's a lot more context to it than that, I think your budgie is more likely to come around (and more quickly) than my lovebird :)

I brought flooding up because from your OP (I didn't read the entire thread), it seems you may be engaging in it a liiiiittle. Keep in mind that the more serious offenses would be, like, capturing the bird and then holding her close and petting her against her will--actions like that will really harm trust in a way that will be hard to come back from, but things like what you're doing (continuing to approach even when the bird is nervous, etc) might work out fine, it's just that you're skipping a step in the process to get there, and properly completing that step might really help the bird trust you

There's a pinned post on the bonding forum that goes over a really popular bird bonding technique: https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/tips-for-bonding-and-building-trust.49144/

Basically, using clicker training as a basis, you will approach your bird and STOP the second you notice signs of discomfort (becoming skinny/flattening feathers, flinching away, etc). You wait a moment where you are for the bird to recognize that you're not a threat, and once you see the bird return to normal/comfortable posture, you click your clicker and take a few steps back. The taking a few steps back is the "reward" that is typical in clicker training, there's no need to bring treats into clicker training until you're close enough to her to give them to her. Every time you do this, you should notice you're able to get closer, until your presence doesn't cause any anxiety at all while she's inside the cage.

I think the steps above will be quite quick for you, because your new budgie is already somewhat comfortable with you, but I still think it's important to do, because it's my firm belief that it says a LOT to a parrot when you immediately stop the thing that made them nervous and demonstrate that you care about their body language.
 
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I will say that my lovebird isn't exactly the same situation--she was a rescue, I have completely no idea how old she was when I got her or the experiences she had with other humans before me. You have a relatively young bird who may have been socially neglected to some extent but was never starved or hurt by a person. So I used my lovebird as an example but there's a lot more context to it than that, I think your budgie is more likely to come around (and more quickly) than my lovebird :)

I brought flooding up because from your OP (I didn't read the entire thread), it seems you may be engaging in it a liiiiittle. Keep in mind that the more serious offenses would be, like, capturing the bird and then holding her close and petting her against her will--actions like that will really harm trust in a way that will be hard to come back from, but things like what you're doing (continuing to approach even when the bird is nervous, etc) might work out fine, it's just that you're skipping a step in the process to get there, and properly completing that step might really help the bird trust you

There's a pinned post on the bonding forum that goes over a really popular bird bonding technique: https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/tips-for-bonding-and-building-trust.49144/

Basically, using clicker training as a basis, you will approach your bird and STOP the second you notice signs of discomfort (becoming skinny/flattening feathers, flinching away, etc). You wait a moment where you are for the bird to recognize that you're not a threat, and once you see the bird return to normal/comfortable posture, you click your clicker and take a few steps back. The taking a few steps back is the "reward" that is typical in clicker training, there's no need to bring treats into clicker training until you're close enough to her to give them to her. Every time you do this, you should notice you're able to get closer, until your presence doesn't cause any anxiety at all while she's inside the cage.

I think the steps above will be quite quick for you, because your new budgie is already somewhat comfortable with you, but I still think it's important to do, because it's my firm belief that it says a LOT to a parrot when you immediately stop the thing that made them nervous and demonstrate that you care about their body language.
Ohhh, I see! I didn't consider stopping the moment I noticed her discomfort (sounds much worse out of context here lol)! I'll start incorporating this into my daily routine with her then. Along with perching a finger next to her and waiting for her to eat the millet that I'm offering, I'm also placing my hand in the cage (not next to her) for about five minutes. Same body language as well; at first tense before slowly winding down. I'll start practicing the technique that you've recommended along with reading the thread that you had linked. Thanks a lot!
 

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