My husband works a job where he is gone for two weeks, home for two weeks, gone for two weeks, etc. I have two boys aged 9 & 11 and since I get them off to school in the morning and get them after school it's virtually impossible to have a job - especially since when my husband is home he wants me with him instead of gone to work.
Lately I've been having a lot of trouble with loneliness during the day when my husband is gone and the kids are off to school so I really wanted to get a pet. Due to allergies, we are very limited in our options so after some research we settled on a budgie.
We live in a small city so there are basically only two places that we could go - a big box type pet shop and a small family run pet shop. We checked out the big box pet store first and the only budgie there was a super pretty little yellow budgie. Though she flew to the back of the cage at first, when I went over and started talking to her she flew back to the front and was watching me and occasionally chirping very softly. When I turned away to talk to the employee she started chirping quite insistently. I really liked her cheekiness and I wanted to take her home right away but my husband insisted on checking out the other place first. The small pet store had an incredibly strong smell - so many pets of all varieties stuffed into a tiny store. The budgie cage was the size recommended for a single budgie and there were at least 10 inside. A couple of them were very pretty, but I was worried about disease and I couldn't stop thinking about the yellow bird at the other store.
Anyways, I ended up going back to purchase the little yellow bird and when I got her home I left her in the box while I set up her cage and then let her out of the box into the cage. I had the top and three sides of the cage covered and we all left her strictly alone. I was very proud of how quiet my boys were when they got home even though they were super excited! She stayed on the highest perch without moving until evening when she started looking around and stretching a bit. I covered the cage completely at bedtime and left her for the night.
Next morning when we all got up I slowly uncovered the front half of the cage while saying "Good morning, Kiwi" in a soft voice. I would say a few words to her every time I passed while getting the boys off to school. Once they were gone I went about my day and kept up a running commentary about everything I was doing. Her cage is up on the top of a bookshelf and every now and then I would go over, lean my chin on my arms on the bookshelf beside the cage and just talk to her quietly for a few minutes. After a couple of times of this, she started to stretch her wings and legs, shake herself and fluff up the feathers around her face which I thought meant she was getting more relaxed. She was moving around her cage a lot, exploring things and occasionally hanging upside down. After I had been doing this most of the day she started to come right over to the side of the cage beside my face as I was talking to her.
Now the way her cage is designed the food and water dishes are right at the bottom of the cage with plastic shields above them to keep them clean and she was having a lot of trouble getting to them. She would climb down to the bottom of the bars, but there's a pretty wide clear plastic section before the dishes that seemed to foil her. Every now and then she'd drop to the bottom but then immediately fly back up again. It seemed to me that she was obviously hungry but wasn't comfortable going right down to the floor to eat. So I decided to try putting my hand slowly in the cage to see what she'd do. She nervously watched my hand slowly moving to the inside of the cage but I kept my hand a fair distance away from her and after a minute or so she relaxed and started falling asleep with one foot pulled up into her belly and her face feathers fluffed. I left my hand in the cage another minute or two and then withdrew it slowly. She seemed much less nervous watching my hand leave. I did this another two times at about one hour intervals and she seemed less nervous each time. Finally, after she had made a couple more attempts at the food I put my hand in with some food on it, very close to the end of my fingers and put my hand just close enough to her that she could reach. She watched my hand very alertly, but didn't move away from my hand and after a moment or two examining my fingers she started eating the food! I stayed completely still until she finished eating and tucked up a leg to go to sleep again then I slowly withdrew my hand.
It was shortly after that that I found this forum and realized that I had moved much faster than recommended!
It doesn't seem to have damaged any building trust however as she will call if I'm in another room and if I'm sitting down in the lazyboy in the same room and her cage is on the bookshelf she will climb all over the side of the cage closest to me and call. I'm not claiming expertise by any means but it seems to me that she prefers to be close to me as she seems much more relaxed when I move her cage to the table beside my chair as I watch tv.
She has also now managed to figure out the food and water dishes and will make her way (somewhat clumsily still) to the bottom of the cage to eat. I read all of the taming/bonding info last night and haven't put my hand in her cage at all today except for the few seconds necessary to adjust a perch.
Anyways, that's her story so far - my apologies for writing so much but I'm completely open to any advice or suggestions.
I have a few questions that I haven't been able to find the answer to yet:
1. Is there a recommended number of sleep hours that she should get per night? I've been covering her cage about 10pm and then uncovering at about 7am when we get up in the morning, though it will likely be later than that on the weekend.
2. Her toenails are very long and sharp and to me seem like they should be trimmed but the last thing I want to do is damage a budding trust bond by wrapping her up in a towel and clipping her nails if it isn't necessary. I purchased a cement perch today that is smooth on the top and rough on the bottom in the hopes that it might help to wear down the sharp points a bit
3. With two young boys in a large 3 level house I am wondering if it would be advisable to do a slight clip on her wings just to limit her flight ability at least until she is tame/bonded enough that it wouldn't be a merry chase if she managed to get out of her cage. Again though, I don't want to damage growing trust by manhandling her unnecessarily.
4. I've read all kinds of info about colors and markings and I'm curious what hers would be called - am I correct in thinking that she would be considered "pied"?
5. Last question, I promise!! The pet store employee estimated her age as between 12-17 weeks but then also commented that she is tiny and was considerably smaller than the other budgies in her "group". Is it possible to make a closer estimate of her age by looking at the bars on her head in the pictures?
Sorry again for the novel and if you've read this far then cookies all around! I'll leave you with pictures of my beautiful girl!