Rescue Eastern Rosella - Scared


New member
Apr 12, 2021

This is my first post and I'm glad there's a forum like this for advice because I'm a bit at a loss!

I recently adopted an Eastern Rosella from a family member who's friend moved and didn't want to take the bird with him. His cage only had one very thin perch, a basic hoop perch that was too small for him, and every inch of the cage was caked in poop. They told me that he hasn't eaten anything but seed, and when he came to me, he looked visibly malnutritioned and/or depressed.

He's already the love of my life! Super curious, he's now playing with toys, eating a varied diet, and he's looking much, much better!

The one thing that worries me is that he still gets a bit scared around us. When we get too close he'll either run to the top of his cage or if he's out of the cage, he'll fly away. Sometimes I can coerce him with millet, and one time he came onto my leg to eat it, but any movement freaks him out. If we get close, he does this strange thing where he lowers his body and sways a bit, holding his slightly away from his body. I wonder if it's an aggressive stance, but he is seriously the sweetest bird, the first bird I've had that never tries to bite.

My question is, should I just wait for him to become more comfortable? Or keep pressing with the training? We've only had him for a month and a half. I can tell he gets very nervous when I'm close, and we aren't making any strides forward. He comes out and back into his cage without problem, so at the moment there's no pressing need for him to step up. But I do want him to feel more comfortable around us eventually.

Sorry for the long post, thank you for any advice!!


Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
Western, Michigan
DYH Amazon
We have a long history with taking in older, ill and like abused Amazons. With over 50 years, I have learned a couple of things. Birds have no natural reason to trust Humans. We need to 'everyday' assure them that we can be trusted, they are in fact safe around us and with time they will in fact begin to believe.

It just takes time when they have experienced reason not to trust Humans.

- When ever a Human is around, only good things happen!

- Change your vantage point:
It is always the fault of the Human!
It is never the fault of the Parrot!
By changing your vantage point, you can see what you are doing wrong and change it quicker.

- Drop all expectations! Everything is at the speed that the Parrot is comfortable.
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New member
Apr 12, 2021
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Thanks for the replay and advice! Just wanted to make sure I wasn't doing him a disservice by giving him space!


Well-known member
Jun 3, 2013
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Dominic: Galah(RIP: 1981-2018); The Lovies: Four Blue Masked Lovebirds; Barney and Madge (The Beaks): Alexandrines; Miss Rosetta Stone: Little Corella
See if you can open a dialogue with him. LOL! That sounds wanky, but I mean, see if you can ask something of him and get a response. So, you could ask him to step up, using a treat as a lure. (Remember *never* to force the step up by pushing on the bird's belly: just offer your hand and ask).

Or, you could try target training. This is where you point a chopstick near the bird, giving him the opportunity to touch (or bite) its end. Reward with a treat. Move the stick and point somewhere a bit farther away. As *soon* as birdie touches the stick say 'Good boy!' and reward him.

Most birds learn this trick in just minutes, but if yours is timid then be patient. Don't push the issue, just give him an opportunity to try. I've found that this works a treat, especially with 'difficult' birds who have been given mixed or confusing messages by people in the past. It gives the bird an opportunity to earn a reward by pleasing you.

Step up is (IMHO) best taught with the use of a long open-ended perch. The idea is that you lure birdie to the end of the perch (which you happen to be holding onto). Keep rewarding him as he gets closer to you and if he steps onto or touches your hand, give him a big bonanza!

There's nothing wrong in 'buying' your bird's affection with treats. While we don't normally like the idea of offering things like sunflower seeds, sometimes it's a means to an end.

Keep your training sessions short (no more than, say, ten minutes) and if you make some definite progress, end there on a high note. If it goes pear-shaped, put birdie away and try again later. Be willing to do these things again and again until birdie is coming to you willingly and trustingly. It'll be worth it! :)

PS. The odd movement you describe is probably a 'displacement activity' - a thing an animal does in order to avoid confronting a terrifying prospect. I doubt it has anything to do with aggression. Just make sure you're always slow and quiet around birdie until he reaches out to you.
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