Hi guys, I need help with something terrible that happened last night. I've had my budgie for a little over 4 months now, and we've been doing well. My budgie doesn't fully trust me, but he does come out of the cage and chill with me every day. Anyways, my cousins come to visit every summer, and this year they really wanted to see my budgie. I'm really close to my cousins and I love them. <3 I warned them to be careful around my budgie, but my younger cousin, who's 7 did something terrible. I was looking through the security cameras in our house and last night, he basically tortured my budgie. I watched through the film and he did all sorts of terrible things to my budgie: grabbed him, squeezed him, hit him, threw things at him, shoved him into tight spaces, held him by his tail and wings, etc. I'm not mad at my cousin, because it was my fault for not taking the best actions. My budgie's not hurt or anything, but now, he doesn't really come to me anymore and he bites aggressively at night. At this point, what steps should I be taking to help my budgie learn to trust me again? Next time, I'll make sure to leave my budgie's cage in a locked room when kids are around.
I'm really sorry this happened to your poor budgie and it makes complete sense that he's behaving this way. He's terrified and with good reason. You need to start from scratch to try to earn his trust again. Sit by his cage and talk to him calmly without trying to handle him. When he feels comfortable with you being there and starts interacting with you, then move onto the next step of slowly getting him used to your hands again. This may take some time but don't try to rush it, as this will do more harm than good.
Thank you so much for the quick reply! I was getting so anxious! I have another question though. Will my budgie ever be able to become as tame as he was before or will he always be skeptical from now on?
That all depends on how traumatised he was by this. Each budgie is different but if he was already quite tame before this happened, then with time and patience, he should be able to get back to where he was. Spend as much time as you can, sitting beside his cage and talking to him (if that freaks him out, back away to a distance that he's comfortable with). Work at his pace and you should be fine.
Blingy has given you good advice, however I WOULD be annoyed with your cousin.
Unless this 7 year old has some significant learning difficulties, this is not on!
I would expect poking fingers through the cage.
If your cousin has seen you holding your bird, then if they are impulsive, have poor self control, and left unsupervised, I could also anticipate possibly opening the cage to let the bird out to fly, even a quick attempt at grabbing and unintentional squeezing to keep hold. But hitting the bird, absolutely not!
If your cousin is still with you, I would take him aside, tell him how disappointed you are and show him the recording*. Has he read/seen, the book/film The BFG? Ask him which kind of giant he would prefer to be like.
*Were your cousins aware of security cameras indoors? Here in the UK, privacy laws would require you to inform them (or their parents).
Best wishes at rebuilding the trust with your bird, hopefully he has a lot of positive experiences to balance this out. Remember that many owners have had to catch their birds to medicate them and have not lost their tameness.
I know it hasn't been very long, but I just wanted to mention this in case you guys have any specific advice. My budgie still comes on to my hand, eats from it, and occasionally lets me pet him. Basically, he looks super natural and tame. The thing is, when I look at him, I can clearly tell by the look in his eyes that he strongly dislikes me now. So I guess he's really not afraid of me, but now he hates me. This is just so different from how I expected him to react, because I thought he would be trying to get as far away from me as possible.
I personally don't think that you can read a bird through their eyes, but body language can communicate his readiness to accept you again. Birds that know who pays attention and has the most contact with them, will definitely know the difference between friend an foe.
I don't believe that hate is involved, and fear he experienced with your cousin, will not be repeated (after you have a sit-down with him or his parents). I'd just spend some extra quiet time with him, and keep up positive reinforcement with special treats. All the birds I have known personally are surprisingly forgiving and the fact that you were not present when this occurred, means any fear response is more related to the presence of your cousin and not you. He doesn't hate you, just being more cautious that you are still you.
Can't help but wonder what was done regarding your cousin's behavior? I know that's not what you asked but I have kids his age and that is an unacceptable way to treat an animal. Did you have a conversation with him or tell his parents? If it's not addressed, his behavior may continue with other animals or even people. Sorry, but I personally find the situation you described very distressing (probably not as distressing as it was for you or your bird) even to imagine so I had to ask about the cousin. I am sorry this happened to your bird.
I would have advised taking the little one to an avian vet for a check up to rule out any injuries. They will act fine as they are a prey species. But being squeezed and hit is not on and could have caused some serious injuries and discomfort.
Also regarding uk law you don't not need to inform anyone entering your property if you have cctv installed. You would need to inform them if you are recording audio if you think you might need to use that audio in court.