Scared adopted cockatoo

KiwiDaWeirdo

Member
Sep 9, 2022
20
26
Parrots
Crimson bellied conure
I’ve recently adopted a 3 year old medium sulfur cockatoo. However, she’s been really afraid of me and my family members. It’s been a few months of trying to teach her to step up but still to no avail. Just wondering if anyone had had any similar experiences or any advice to give. Hopefully she’ll learn to trust us. Fingers crossed.. 🤞🏼
 

HeatherG

Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
3,883
6,844
Are you using treats or bribes? I think that could influence your new bird to try interacting with you.
 

wrench13

Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Parrot of the Month 🏆
Nov 22, 2015
9,813
Media
14
Albums
2
8,148
Isle of Long, NY
Parrots
Yellow Shoulder Amazon, Salty
Waiting for more details on him and yourself, but I can tell you that in general parrots rate of acceptance of new things is GLACIAL when compared to our quick monkey brains. We've read here some parrots take months, some many months, to calm down. Remember - its all about trust with parrots. Everything is to be measured by that yardstick. Does this build or break trust.
 
OP
K

KiwiDaWeirdo

Member
Sep 9, 2022
20
26
Parrots
Crimson bellied conure
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #4
Are you using treats or bribes? I think that could influence your new bird to try interacting with you.
yes she likes treats like corn and sunflower seeds but whenever i try to use them to encourage her to step up, she refuses
 
OP
K

KiwiDaWeirdo

Member
Sep 9, 2022
20
26
Parrots
Crimson bellied conure
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #5
Waiting for more details on him and yourself, but I can tell you that in general parrots rate of acceptance of new things is GLACIAL when compared to our quick monkey brains. We've read here some parrots take months, some many months, to calm down. Remember - it’s all about trust with parrots. Everything is to be measured by that yardstick. Does this build or break trust.
I got her from a friend’s friend that didn’t have enough time to take care of her. They claim that she is free flight trained too but of course i wouldn’t take her out for free flight until she bonds with me better or at least learns to trust me.
 
OP
K

KiwiDaWeirdo

Member
Sep 9, 2022
20
26
Parrots
Crimson bellied conure
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #6
Also wondering if it is a good idea to bring him outside (with a leash) to get him used to the outside again since he hasn’t been outside in awhile.
 

LeeC

Supporting Member
Jun 5, 2019
343
Media
3
393
Harrisburg, PA
Parrots
Timneh: Grady;
Senegal: Charlie;
Sun Conure: Peaches (deceased)
Senegal: Georgia
Peach-fronted Conure: Milton (foster)
Brown-throated Conure: Pumpkin (foster)
Senegal: Fletcher
Senegal: Ivy
I got her from a friend’s friend that didn’t have enough time to take care of her. They claim that she is free flight trained too but of course i wouldn’t take her out for free flight until she bonds with me better or at least learns to trust me.
Free flight intrigues me—but I know little about it. What I have gathered is that you need an amazing recall training success rate. In other words, the parrot should fly to you, on queue, from a variety of places, under a wide variety of circumstances, 999 times out of a thousand, even if there are environmental distractions. Recall training could be viewed as the extremely advanced variant of stepping up (coming to you on queue). So, not to discourage you from free flight, but if she will not step up for you, you are a very long way from safely free-flying her. (I suppose 'safely' is relative and debatable, but I love watching free-flight videos; oh, to see parrots fly!)
 
OP
K

KiwiDaWeirdo

Member
Sep 9, 2022
20
26
Parrots
Crimson bellied conure
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #8
Free flight intrigues me—but I know little about it. What I have gathered is that you need an amazing recall training success rate. In other words, the parrot should fly to you, on queue, from a variety of places, under a wide variety of circumstances, 999 times out of a thousand, even if there are environmental distractions. Recall training could be viewed as the extremely advanced variant of stepping up (coming to you on queue). So, not to discourage you from free flight, but if she will not step up for you, you are a very long way from safely free-flying her. (I suppose 'safely' is relative and debatable, but I love watching free-flight videos; oh, to see parrots fly!)
Yeah i get that :(
However in the meantime, i plan to get her to at least step up. Still, i am having trouble doing so. I’ve tried almost everything. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions or ideas?
 

HeatherG

Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
3,883
6,844
I would encourage you to allow more time for this bird to get comfortable with you.

Think about it as if you had adopted a toddler. If the baby had a hard life before, the baby is going to take a while to trust you and want to interact.

Wrench is correct to say that progress can be glacially slow. I would back up and work on getting your cockatoo more comfortable with your presence. The first step I usually take is to see if a bird will take a treat from me. If not, the bird needs to get to know me better.

You can make friends with your bird by being calm and not scary when you feed her and clean her cage. You can read to her, watch tv with her, sing to her, give her a healthy bit of your dinner at dinner time. How can you connect and make friends with this bird?

Let her see you being not scary and doing interesting things. Give treats. Tell her how beautiful and smart and good a bird she is. Tell her everything good that she does. That is where I would start.
 
Last edited:
OP
K

KiwiDaWeirdo

Member
Sep 9, 2022
20
26
Parrots
Crimson bellied conure
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #10
I would encourage you to allow more time for this bird to get comfortable with you.

Think about it as if you had adopted a toddler. If the baby had a hard life before, the baby is going to take a while to trust you and want to interact.

Wrench is correct to say that progress can be glacially slow. I would back up and work on getting your cockatoo more comfortable with your presence. The first step I usually take is to see if a bird will take a treat from me. If not, the bird needs to get to know me better.

You can make friends with your bird by being calm and not scary when you feed him and clean his cage. You can read to him, watch tv with him, sing to him, give him a healthy bit of your dinner at dinner time. How can you connect and make friends with this bird?

Let him see you being not scary and doing interesting things. Give treats. Tell him how beautiful and smart and good a bird he is. Tell him everything good that he does. That is where I would start.
Ok I’ll definitely do that. He already takes treats from my hand so that’s a good start. Thanks for the help!
 

HeatherG

Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
3,883
6,844
Ok I’ll definitely do that. He already takes treats from my hand so that’s a good start. Thanks for the help!
If she’s taking treats from your hand she may hop up on your hand or put her head down to “ask” for a scritch. But basically she’s just not quite there yet.

Treats treats treats and being calm and friendly until she wants to climb all over you. I think it’s coming. Soon you will wish you could go to the bathroom alone and your cockatoo will be angry when you take a shower by yourself.
 
Last edited:

Cottonoid

Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Parrot of the Month 🏆
Feb 20, 2022
2,531
8,631
Some birds do just take longer in a new home. My parrot was very scared of me when he first came home 6 months ago. He still won't step up and walks away from me most of the the time. But he will take a treat from my hand. He's not scared of me anymore; he just doesn't want to touch yet. So there's big progress even though it seems small if I compare him to a bird who's super social and trusting. That's just not my guy :)

Keep working at it every day for a few minutes here and there, and you'll get there!
 

wrench13

Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Parrot of the Month 🏆
Nov 22, 2015
9,813
Media
14
Albums
2
8,148
Isle of Long, NY
Parrots
Yellow Shoulder Amazon, Salty
Some further thoughts. Parrots will usually have a specific favorite treat, the one they will 'go out on a limb' (pun intended) for. Lay out a few pieces of each treat you have offered so far and let her pick. That may well be THE treat. Once you know that, it becomes your training tool, and only offer it during training sessions. If your 'too is food motivated, that's great because training will go well with that.
 

LeeC

Supporting Member
Jun 5, 2019
343
Media
3
393
Harrisburg, PA
Parrots
Timneh: Grady;
Senegal: Charlie;
Sun Conure: Peaches (deceased)
Senegal: Georgia
Peach-fronted Conure: Milton (foster)
Brown-throated Conure: Pumpkin (foster)
Senegal: Fletcher
Senegal: Ivy
Also wondering if it is a good idea to bring him outside (with a leash) to get him used to the outside again since he hasn’t been outside in awhile.
Hi, @KiwiDaWeirdo. When you refer to "him", are you referring to the "3 year old medium sulfur cockatoo"? You referred to that parrot as she and her in all the other posts in this thread. I am confused by this post.
 
Last edited:

JohnH

Active member
Dec 23, 2016
168
79
NY
Parrots
Sulphur crested cockatoo
I've had my rescued sulphur crested cockatoo for 5 years. She still will not step up if she is above my shoulders. Her cage is huge which makes it difficult when shes on top of it. I use a stool to boost myself to her height and she climbs aboard. As long as she is at my shoulder height or lower she will step up without hesitation. Try to stand slightly above your bird and reach down to him. It may work.
 

LeeC

Supporting Member
Jun 5, 2019
343
Media
3
393
Harrisburg, PA
Parrots
Timneh: Grady;
Senegal: Charlie;
Sun Conure: Peaches (deceased)
Senegal: Georgia
Peach-fronted Conure: Milton (foster)
Brown-throated Conure: Pumpkin (foster)
Senegal: Fletcher
Senegal: Ivy
I've had my rescued sulphur crested cockatoo for 5 years. She still will not step up if she is above my shoulders. Her cage is huge which makes it difficult when shes on top of it. I use a stool to boost myself to her height and she climbs aboard. As long as she is at my shoulder height or lower she will step up without hesitation. Try to stand slightly above your bird and reach down to him. It may work.
I experienced this with my Timneh when I first got him. (I am his fifth home.) He "picked me" at the rescue/shelter, so that made a lot of things fairly easy from the start, including (regular-height) step-up requests. Very early on, I gave him a large dowel, about six feet long, mounted at my eye-level. He would not step up once he was on it.

The rescue owner told me to step up on a chair. That put us at approximately a normal height difference, and he stepped right up. So, for a while, I had to step up in the hopes of getting him to step up. :] After about a week of that, he would step up without my using a chair. I figured it was just an unusual circumstance that he had to get used to. (That dowel was replaced with an even longer branch that has numerous forks/offs-hooting branches.)

Here is an important note, though: parrots are great at literally stepping upward; but, they are not biomechanically able to step downward, which is why they then use their beaks first, like a third leg. So, if we ensure we place our offered step-up perch (fingers) just a little higher than their feet, it is more appealing for them to actually step "up". (I may have been making this mistake when not using the chair at first. I'll never know.)

Relative heights, ours to theirs, can make a big difference in step-up requests though. If the parrot is on the floor, they are highly likely to step up. In my experience, that is more so for parrots that do not have the strength or skills to fly from the floor. My Senegal, Georgia, has learned to fly from the floor after having her "free roaming" for nearly three years. She's about 50-50 on a floor step-up request. She often just flies off. I don't take it personally; there are three other Senegals here distracting her. :]
 

LeeC

Supporting Member
Jun 5, 2019
343
Media
3
393
Harrisburg, PA
Parrots
Timneh: Grady;
Senegal: Charlie;
Sun Conure: Peaches (deceased)
Senegal: Georgia
Peach-fronted Conure: Milton (foster)
Brown-throated Conure: Pumpkin (foster)
Senegal: Fletcher
Senegal: Ivy
@JohnH, I was also thinking that cage-tops can be another exception for step-ups, because a lot of parrots have some degree of territorial feeling about their cage (I think that is normal and okay.), for some, especially their cage-top. Do you happen to have other cages? Will she step up off of a cage that is not hers?

Public safety warning: Letting a parrot on top another parrot's cage, if the cage is occupied, often results in toes getting bitten or even amputated by the bite!

I had this happen with a carrier, and luckily it was very minor. Learning all the time
 

JohnH

Active member
Dec 23, 2016
168
79
NY
Parrots
Sulphur crested cockatoo
Yes i have other cages and birds. She does the same thing no matter what cage or object she is on. I think she simply prefers the highest point available. It's ok with me.
 

HeatherG

Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
3,883
6,844
Some birds do just take longer in a new home. My parrot was very scared of me when he first came home 6 months ago. He still won't step up and walks away from me most of the the time. But he will take a treat from my hand. He's not scared of me anymore; he just doesn't want to touch yet. So there's big progress even though it seems small if I compare him to a bird who's super social and trusting. That's just not my guy :)

Keep working at it every day for a few minutes here and there, and you'll get there!
Yes i have other cages and birds. She does the same thing no matter what cage or object she is on. I think she simply prefers the highest point available. It's ok with me.
She is safe from predators up there. When more comfortable with you as her flock she will trust you to watch out for her more and likely come down from there.
 

Most Reactions

Top