Quaker is afraid of toys

HeatherG

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My 9 y.o. Quaker, Willow, is afraid of toys. This seems strange to me as my earlier Quakers were thieves who would steal and play with or build with anything. But Willow is the biggest chicken.

I had a pink milk cap sitting next to the cage for a long time. I put it in Willow’s food dish, as suggested by another forum member who has Quakers. He noticed it after a while and stood looking in his food dish, making upset peeps. I felt bad so I took it out of the dish. Then all was good.

Is there a way I can get Willow to be less scared of things? He’s slowly getting noisier and more obnoxious, like a normal Quaker. (He’s been with me for 20 months now.) But he’s still weird about his cage and anything in it and will sit and stare at any changes. It seems boring to me to not like any new toys and to be afraid of sticks and building materials.
 

Laurasea

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They are each so unique, so individual its not fair to compare them. Each of mine are so different . Parrots are so amazingly like us with their social structure and intelligence so even within species they are different.

Ofcourse previous background plays a role.

BTW I've only had one builder out if the 4.

Penny throws a fit if I change her cage, the others could care less. As long as my hands aren't in there while they are in the cage.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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It just seems like it must be boring to be afraid of toys. I don’t want Willow to start barbering again because he’s bored, and he doesn’t get to fly around my house. It’s not simply a desire that he do everything Lucy used to do. But staring at the food dish or bathing bowl in terror is rather sad (and a bit silly).

It occurs to me that maybe Willow had the ability to fly around but he didn’t have many toys or petting and maybe he got scolded if he messed with something? The toys he came with were very old but he liked them when rehabbed, and I know he was not touchable. I sent her photos of him cuddling with me and she said, “that’s hardly the same bird I sent you with.”

It would be nice to see him engaged with something and not just sitting or masturbatjng or scolding for attention. Willow is easily upset by new stuff.

Now Willow is in his cage yelling because I’m home (had a zoom meeting) but not playing with him. What ARE my priorities? Good grief.
 
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zERo

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Will he play with a toy part? My Quaker didn't know how to play with toys when I got him because he didn't have any in his previous home, so I tore up toys in front of him and let him try too, now he loves most toy materials. I notice a lot of birds seem to be scared of very solid looking colors, my Gcc doesn't like things like wiffle balls and things like that that are very solid bright colors but is okay with softer colors.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Willow was ok right away with a cleaned and baked pinecone hung on rope. I thought he would enjoy carrying around milk bottle caps or spools or balls, and arranging them, but he thinks they’re scary. And what bird doesn’t enjoy rattling metal measuring spoons and screaming? Willow, I guess.

I will see if I have some natural color toys stashed away. Maybe those are ok. Or a piece of woven palm leaf?
 

ravvlet

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I’m right there with you, but with an amazon. Sammy has been in his new set up with his toys for over two weeks, and in spite of my best efforts at playing with them (when he lets me put my hands in his cage) he only chews on his rope perch! Some birds just take a long time to come around.

I’m not sure how long you had Willow or if Willow had toys in a previous home - ours didn’t, and I suspect in our case that’s a factor. Sometimes it is also just about finding the right toy; an expensive mystery hunt to be sure, haha. I’m going to try to scoot down to the parrot store this week and pick out a new one and see if maybe I just picked the wrong kind.

Really hoping his bloodwork comes back ok so I can donate the ones he doesn’t like to Kirby!
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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I think the color is part of the issue. Cardboard circles are not scary as well as pinecones. But I will decorate toys with millet and see if that helps.

Apparently all food items are not scary. He just had baked fish, snow peas, and rice.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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I think I need to start a list of scary vs. not scary objects and maybe then I will figure out the secret (to what Willow is afraid of).

Also, I notice he doesn’t LIKE the kitty ball but he will touch it with his beak if I tell him “ball” and then “good job!” We did it twice in case it was stressful.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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We are having some success targeting the kitty jingle ball. He seems to understand what I want him to do when I hold the ball and say “ball. Touch the ball.” And he doesn’t seem as scared of it. He reaches out his beak and grabs the ball now and doesn’t hesitate after he’s touched it once.

Goofy bird!
 

Icca

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Yup I got one of these kids too. Very scared of new anything. To get a new toy into her cage takes days or more of prep work. Step 1 I show her the toy or perch or whatever, from across the room. Probably 10 ft it's not a big room.
Step 2 I sit on the floor in front of her cage and play with the object. After this I put the object back on the shelf across the room where she can glare at it.
Step 3 leave object on the floor close to the cage. Then I leave the room and listen to see if it panics her.
Step 4 attach object to the outside of cage near the very bottom on the least used side.
Step 5 putting object in the cage.

Sounds like alot, and it is. All of these steps can involve treats for being calm and any of the steps can take a few minutes or several days of trying the same step over and over again. The biggest leap for us seems to be from step 2 which is easy for her to step 3 where she is now very aware of the object but doesn't have me as a buffer. So she see it and has to decide if she can be comfortable alone with it close. Step 3 and Step 4 need to go slow and really pay attention to know if she is comfortable around the object or if she is avoiding it. If it does seem like she is avoiding then I go back to playing with the object in front of the cage.
Hope that's helpful and not just super confusing
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Yup I got one of these kids too. Very scared of new anything. To get a new toy into her cage takes days or more of prep work. Step 1 I show her the toy or perch or whatever, from across the room. Probably 10 ft it's not a big room.
Step 2 I sit on the floor in front of her cage and play with the object. After this I put the object back on the shelf across the room where she can glare at it.
Step 3 leave object on the floor close to the cage. Then I leave the room and listen to see if it panics her.
Step 4 attach object to the outside of cage near the very bottom on the least used side.
Step 5 putting object in the cage.

Sounds like alot, and it is. All of these steps can involve treats for being calm and any of the steps can take a few minutes or several days of trying the same step over and over again. The biggest leap for us seems to be from step 2 which is easy for her to step 3 where she is now very aware of the object but doesn't have me as a buffer. So she see it and has to decide if she can be comfortable alone with it close. Step 3 and Step 4 need to go slow and really pay attention to know if she is comfortable around the object or if she is avoiding it. If it does seem like she is avoiding then I go back to playing with the object in front of the cage.
Hope that's helpful and not just super confusing
Not confusing.

Unfortunately I had the scary pink milk cap next to the cage for AGES. No problem. Then I put it in the food dish and heard the horrible Quaker ascending fire alarm call.

For some reason, he’s not at all afraid of my new jewelry. I suppose I’m wearing it and showing that it’s not scary.

(If I find Ralph Lauren jewelry at St Vinnie’s, it is NOT EDIBLE.)
 

Icca

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The Rebel would have a melt down over that too. I started doing the whole "process" because, I did the same thing. I got her a new toy, showed it to her left it by the the cage, she never seemed scared so I tossed it in. Well she was glued to the furthest corner she could get from it. Best I could figure she saw the new toy but it was just a object in the background. She wasn't thinking about it. Once I did all the steps with the toy she was fine.

If you try it again with the offending cap let me know how it turns out. But maybe she just hates pink🤔😁
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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The Rebel would have a melt down over that too. I started doing the whole "process" because, I did the same thing. I got her a new toy, showed it to her left it by the the cage, she never seemed scared so I tossed it in. Well she was glued to the furthest corner she could get from it. Best I could figure she saw the new toy but it was just a object in the background. She wasn't thinking about it. Once I did all the steps with the toy she was fine.

If you try it again with the offending cap let me know how it turns out. But maybe she just hates pink🤔😁
That’s what I think. Willow didn’t even notice it until it was in his cage.

I chose the pink because I think birds usually like that color (ripe fruit?). But I swore off pink for many years so maybe Willow does as well. He needs to think about it ironically.
 

Owlet

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Step 1: Introduce to clicker and target training.
- Purchase yourself a clicker and stick (chop stick sized) A good source for clickers is here: https://shop.clickertraining.com/collections/iclicks-box-clickers
I really like the last option because it has the target built in and you can lengthen it however long you wish.
- Take your bird to a neutral area that they are already comfortable with but doesnt have too many distractions.
- Bring the target as close to your bird as you can without scaring it. Click, give treat (c/t going forward)
- As the bird gets more comfortable with the target, c/t when the bird moves closer to it. Steadily increase your requirements for a c/t until the bird puts their beak on the target. beak on target is the goal.
- Once the bird is reliably interacting with the target by touching it with his beak you can begin moving the target to different locations and having him follow it to strengthen the target training.

Once you've done all that congratulations you've taught your bird several valuable skills.
You have taught:
- Targeting which can transfer into many different types of behavior training as we will go into below
- you have taught your bird the foundations of clicker training which is a great tool in communicating with how birds. You've taught that a "click" means he did something right and will get rewarded for it. This will cause them to reflect on their behavior to find out what the winning action was and repeat it.
- you have taught your bird confidence to try things in hope of getting a reward

Step 2: Introducing the toy
- Begin by picking out a toy that's as least threatening as you can. Something pretty basic without too many colors and bits and bobs. Something like the toy below would work well
- bring your bird back to an area that's comfortable but without many distractions
- Set the toy nearby but far enough away as to not frighten the bird.
- Bring out your target and do some easy targeting so the bird can have some successes and confidence to move forward.
- Slowly bring the target closer and closer to the toy, carefully watching your birds body language as to not spook them.
- Once the target is against the toy, forgo the target and begin c/t when the bird is near the toy.
- as the bird gets more comfortable increase the requirements to only interacting with the toy will get a c/t

Step 3: Profit!
Now that you've taught your bird that new things dont need to be alarming you can apply this to all new things. It may take some repetition but the more you do it with a large variable of different toys and objects the process will become quicker and quicker and eventually you might not need the process at all.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Willow climbed down into the bottom of his perching basket today! I think he was looking for avicake scraps (gave him one yesterday and he dropped most of it) but I had cleaned them up. Sooo, I showed him his ball, and I showed him the end of the rope preening toy. He decided he didn’t want either of them and climbed beck up to the basket handle.

I have to make sure Willow can’t see any food packaging if he’s in my bedroom on his basket or I have no peace. I have to show him that the box or bowl is EMPTY before he will settle down for a head scratch. (I use empty cereal boxes for short term mail/document storage which confuses Willow.)

It was easier when he was scared of everything and sat quietly on top of his basket. And as he gets more comfortable, he’s getting LOUDER. I don’t know if he will ever make sarcastic remarks to me (like Lucy) but I am relieved to be seeing more NAUGHTY behavior. A well behaved Quaker Parakeet is probably sick, imo.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Two month update: Willow is ok with more toys now; I’ve use the ideas you posted and also target training with him on the jingle balls.

Also, willow is in general getting braver and louder. So he’s climbing down into his perching basket to get crumbs of avicake and then shakes the paper! He wouldn’t have done that before.

I am thinking about buying some toys from bonka bird toys. I should probably look through the DRESSER FILLED WITH BIRD STUFF before I buy more toys! But found some sola balls, spools, and a little shopping cart.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Willow is not always willing to touch the ball when asked, but he grabbed it and shook it and threw it today! Go Willow! He also sampled a treat stick but it was bigger than him so he was tentative. Which is reasonable. I’d be careful with food that’s bigger than me, too.
 

Cottonoid

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Willow is not always willing to touch the ball when asked, but he grabbed it and shook it and threw it today! Go Willow! He also sampled a treat stick but it was bigger than him so he was tentative. Which is reasonable. I’d be careful with food that’s bigger than me, too.
Hes making such good progress lately!
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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My neighbor gave me a treat stick he bought for his budgies. He’s afraid they will choke on the sunflower seeds so it’s now donated to Willow.

I’ve hooked it onto his basket handle and he’s inspecting it (after a few days of staring) but he won’t eat it yet.

Willow is now willing to shake the jingle bell ball or another toy that has a brass sleigh bell on the end. But he won’t sit on the basket by himself. I have to pet him or he comes looking for me and pecks me.
25064E7D-EAC1-4EDE-B174-FC9174EBE881.jpeg
 

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