Raising a Cockatiel

Spacey'sMom

Member
Aug 24, 2022
62
27
Parrots
2 Budgies!
Hello All!

So we already have 2 budgies but 2 weeks ago now we got a 12 Week old Cockatiel.. Meet Sirius(Obligatory photo). We have been fairly successful with our budgies' training but they were essentially feral petstore birds. Sirius is a hand raised Baby and he is VERY attached which is mostly fine as I work from home. He is also very mischievous which we are used to with the budgies but he unfortunately has taken to demanding attention in destructive ways... >.<

I spend a lot of time Typing and he likes to jump/climb onto the desk and pull the keys off or chew on the mousepad(faux leather I think). As cute and annoying as that is, I worry about him ingesting things that a dangerous and once his flight feathers grow in, that he will get into even more dangerous things. I generally pick him up and either put him on a bird tree or on my shoulder. At first this worked but now I'm afraid we have taught him to do this as he will try over and over again. Is there a way to gently discourage this? We've tried a couple different distraction methods. He loves Nutriberries in treat toys but I don't want to teach him to do things like this so he gets a treat. He already frequently glides to the food station(food for all our pets) where the jar of nutriberries stays. He is content to stay on the shoulder most of the time but he's taken to leaping off every time we go past it.

He also does a lot of flock calling. Neither myself or my husband can go out of sight without him calling and getting distressed. He calls a bit when we put him to bed but generally quiets once the light turns off. I understand the flock calls are natural but I worry we are making him too dependent on us. We don't go out of town often but it will happen and there are days we won't be home all day. We are thinking of introducing "nap times" to get him used to the idea of us not being with him every waking moment. We keep our budgies out with us 10-12 hours a day but they were already fairly independent compared to him. I also periodically move out of site, wait for a moment of silence then praise him but I can't always do that while working. If he gets too distressed he will try to fly and isn't able to land safely or in safe places. We are encouraging him to learn how to use his wings for very short distance recall but the uncontrolled flights scare us. Plus when he does end up on the floor we need to go get him immediately regardless of the crying so I don't think that will work. Once his flight feathers come back in we won't be able to do that at all.

I encourage him to sit on the tree next to my desk more than sitting on me. We have a tiny Hermit Crab heater(well covered and hidden) and he loves sitting on that. I also move him between my desk and my husband's to help encourage some independence and prevent him from bonding to just me.

Ultimately we know that he will be very different from the budgies and we thoroughly enjoy him but we don't want to teach him bad habits or make him so dependent on us that if something happens to us he won't be able to adjust.

Thanks for any help/advice!

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Jcas

Well-known member
Jan 9, 2023
471
786
Parrots
Quaker, 2 budgies
Aww so cute! Welcome, Sirius! Training independence takes time and patience. Encouraging him to bond with your budgies and to be alone for brief periods ( as you’re doing) is a good start. For the chewing on your keyboard, if it’s just to get your attention, that’s a little harder to change, but if he’s just chewing because it’s fun, I like to recommend substitution. This works for many animals: puppies, birds, kittens. Basically, you are giving them something similar to what they want. If a puppy is chewing a chair leg, give them a safe piece of wood to chew on instead. In your case, with a keyboard, substituting something small and plastic might be successful. I’m thinking, for example, a bunch of plastic bottle caps that only come out for Sirius to play with when you’re on the computer. Good luck with your new baby! He’s adorable ❤️
 
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Spacey'sMom

Member
Aug 24, 2022
62
27
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2 Budgies!
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He also has been getting a little grouchy when handling him in a way he doesn't like or when he doesn't feel like it. He doesn't bite but he starts lunging, open mouthed. We have been ignoring the posturing and just hold our ground until he stops then take away the pressure.

For example, he's been guarding his little heating mat area so if we go to pick him up and he gets grouchy we still ask for the step up and then once he does so willingly we let him back down as a reward. We do the same thing with his wings. We don't ask him to allow full manipulation of the wing right now, just asking him to let up put a finger beneath the wing and then we just follow him and hold it there until he sits still and stops his grouching.

Is this an okay way to handle things?

If he is going after the keyboards for attention how can we address this?
 
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Spacey'sMom

Member
Aug 24, 2022
62
27
Parrots
2 Budgies!
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This might be a dumb question, but could Sirius actually be female? I am only asking because of the "muted"-looking cheek color and the markings on the tail feathers. Some say that females rarely make any noises other than flock calls.
** I know the only way to be certain is to do a DNA test, or wait for the bird to lay an egg someday.
It doesn't matter much to us but if it helps the breeder has heard him whistle and he does make other sounds. Like a grumbly noise or squeaks when tired or getting head scritches. He's been trying out different sounds though not many yet. He's started doing this cute Woohoo kind of sound.

One of her other babies(We looked at 4) that was male had no cheeks. She moved states about a year ago and she says the previous state seemed to prefer no cheeks. I spent an hour getting to know each one and ended up with him :)

He's very outgoing and mischievous. Also quite demanding lol. If he wants his head scritches he bobs his head, peeps, nudges your hand or pokes at your cheek. He's very insistent. If he is a she it doesn't really change much for us. Good to know though!
 

Sparkie

Member
Sep 17, 2023
24
51
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4 budgies, 2 foster IRNs


Fly high Baby blue! I love you
oh how cute!! is that a quaker witht him and the budgie?
 

Jcas

Well-known member
Jan 9, 2023
471
786
Parrots
Quaker, 2 budgies
He also has been getting a little grouchy when handling him in a way he doesn't like or when he doesn't feel like it. He doesn't bite but he starts lunging, open mouthed. We have been ignoring the posturing and just hold our ground until he stops then take away the pressure.

For example, he's been guarding his little heating mat area so if we go to pick him up and he gets grouchy we still ask for the step up and then once he does so willingly we let him back down as a reward. We do the same thing with his wings. We don't ask him to allow full manipulation of the wing right now, just asking him to let up put a finger beneath the wing and then we just follow him and hold it there until he sits still and stops his grouching.

Is this an okay way to handle things?

If he is going after the keyboards for attention how can we address this?
Yes! It sounds like your are handling things very well! Your approach to training Sirius is sound; just continue to be consistent. It takes time for good habits to form 🙂. If he’s engaging in bad behavior for attention I think there are two good options ( normally I would suggest ignoring bad behavior and rewarding good, but if you ignore you’ll need a new keyboard!). Distraction is one option, finding something he really likes that you only give him when he’s by the computer. The other is teaching him to “ leave it” which is similar. If he comes for the keyboard, carefully block him from getting to it and calmly but firmly tell him to leave it. The moment he even just looks away from the keyboard, reward him; preferably with a toy or long lasting treat to keep him distracted. To be honest, I feel like this is less effective for birds than for some other animals because birds are so determined, but it’s worth trying 🙂.
 

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