Hi, guys! I'm new here, and I'd like to begin with this post... I need some advice about my budgie, Coconut. It's hard to comprehend without his life story, and I will give you a much info about him as possible.
If any of you live on the East Coast, you remember when Hurricane Matthew hit. About two days beforehand, when I got home from school, my mom literally told me, "Well, we have a bird."
Pretty much, my dad was leaving for work and he saw something white on the ground. Thinking it was a piece of paper or tissue, he went to go pick it up and throw it away. As he got closer, he saw that it was a bird. It didn't budg(ie. Hahaha.) He got even closer, and realized it wasn't even a wild bird. Surprise surprise, it was a tiny parakeet. He picked it up with a towel, and it didn't mind. It sat in the towel for a while, before we gave him some parakeet seed we picked up and let him into a temporary cage (it was really small.)
Being the overly thorough nerd and animal person, I did lots of research. Like, lots. I discovered he was an albino budgerigar, and most likely male, and that he couldn't have been more than a few months old.
His beak was weird and crusty, his eyes were looking bad around the edges, his feathers were dirty and matted, and the underneath of his tail was dirty and stained. He didn't chirp or sing.
My mom posted about him all over the internet and EVERYWHERE. We made it our absolute goal to find his home.
Meanwhile, I was growing attached. I hadn't named him yet, because I wanted to think of him as a rescue and not a pet.
I'm pretty sure it was somehow fate that he showed up at our house. He's my bird now. The "Lost Bird" posts we made are still up after eight months or so, and no one came for him. There's no way whoever he belonged to wanted him, and they didn't treat him well.
I'm pretty sure I did a good job on the research. After a few weeks at our house, his beak was shiny, his eyes were bright, and his feathers and tail were clean. He looked like a bird you would get from a pet store, and he acted healthy, so that was a good sign. He began to chirp when we put him in a bigger cage, and later on, began singing like clockwork in the morning, afternoon, and night.
Some things, though, didn't change. His foot is missing one and a half toes, and he doesn't act playful or outgoing like most parakeets. He sits on one of his perches and sings to his mirror all day. He loves that thing.
He'll eat pretty much whatever we give him. Seed, pellets, etc. When he is tame, I will train him to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
But that's the thing. From whenever we found him, I researched how to tame and bond with parakeets. I've been attempting a step by step process that should take a few months, but there is no progress. He is so skittish around humans. My sister and I can touch him without him trying to get away, and he'll eat out of our hands, but that's the limit. I've tried so hard, and I can't tell whether he's scared or stubborn. I heard that if you lightly press on their lower stomach above their feet with your finger as a "perch", they will learn to step up.
He just kinda looks at me, or scoots away.
Is it possible that he has some kind of PTSD for parakeets? We know his past owner didn't exactly treat him well, because he used to cower when we came near him, excluding when we took him inside from our yard. How do you suppose I bond with him? Do you think he will ever get over his shyness, or will trauma affect him forever?
Here are some details...
Like all parakeets, he is very smart. We leave his cage open, and he flies out whenever he wants, and flies back to his cage when he wants. We don't even need to touch him.
We don't clip his wings. He loves flying, and he is improving at it.
Music is the closest method I've gotten to bond with him. He likes my mediocre singing voice, and the same kind of music I like to sing - Broadway (preferably Wicked). When I sang one particular song with my sister. He FLEW to us. He's never gotten that close to us on purpose, and he began chirping and singing along. Beautiful moment.
Will another parakeet be a way to make him more outgoing? I guess it's not taming I want to happen, I just don't want him to be lonely. He thinks his mirror is a real bird. It's heartbreaking. I know the steps about quarantining a parakeet before introducing them to each other and all that.
We are going to get him a new cage soon. We realized the cage he is in is way too small, and he loves flying.
Yes, our story is... Unique... But maybe one of you can help.
Firstly, it's wonderful that you cared for this little guy and did all you could to rehome him.
There are a few things to take into account.
You don't know this little guys background- whether he was from an aviary, or was a solo bird, but giving a solo bird makes them bond to their mirror. They see another bird, think it *is* another bird and want to hang out with it.
They are a social creature and he would like to hang out with the bird that lives in his cage.
So step one, remove the mirror.
You said when he's tamed you want to learn to give him veg but that's a really good healthy part of his diet, so there's no need to wait. start trying with some wet leafy lettuce, like romaine and he'll *love* it.
The taming and bonding section will give you step by step advice os bonding but you should start completely from scratch. Use his body language to help you determine what he is comfortable with.
Start by sitting with him, talking or singing to him and go from there. You can give him a month or two and give him the chance to adjust to a bond with you.
If you decide to get another friend, a boy will be best (my flock of 8 females and 6 males has stronger bonds between males over males and females) but you have to consider that they might not get one and can you house two cages on a permanent basis. That's a worse case scenario, but you need to consider it still.
It's great to have you here with us; you couldn't have come to a better place to learn even more about these beautiful birds!
I'm so glad you were able to rescue Coconut and give him a safe and loving home!
Have you taken him to the avian vet since you've adopted him? That might be good to do just because he spent a lot of time outside and it's worth making sure he's okay, especially since he's missing some toes, etc.
I agree that you should remove his mirror right away. Budgies can't recognise themselves in a reflection and think it's another bird, so he will go crazy trying to be friends with "the other bird" in the mirror. Eventually, he could develop serious social issues as well as aggression from spending so much time in front of the mirror.
Therm has also given great advice concerning taming and bonding. Starting at the beginning is a great idea--don't try to make him "step up" on your finger yet because he doesn't trust you enough to do so. Just interacting with him by singing, sitting by his cage and talking or reading to him, or even just being near him for long periods of time or in the room when you let him out to fly around are all good for expanding your trust with him. After he's comfortable with this, put your hand in the cage without moving it until he seems unfazed, them move it a bit closer, then a bit closer, etc. You should only move on to the next step when he's totally comfortable with your presence. It will take time, especially since Cocount's background was most likely not a great situation, but soon he will learn that you can be trusted.
Additionally, be sure to look through the forum's many Budgie Articles and "stickies" (threads "stuck" to the top of each subform for easy reference) to stay up to date on all the best practices for caring for budgies. If you have any questions after reading through anything, be sure to ask as we'd love to help!
We hope to meet little Coconut soon!
and Princess Mallorn!
Thank you to Deb for her wonderful Faery magic
Thanks to you and your family for rescuing little Coconut and giving him a safe and loving forever home.
It's great you did some research when you got him. However, I agree with Therm and Star, you need to remove any mirrors from Coconut's cage. He's obviously become enamored with his reflection. You'll need to redirect his attention into interaction with you -- starting very slowly and going at his pace.
Please take the time to read through the Site Guidelines, all of the How To Guides, the FAQs, the Budgie Articles and the stickies located at the top of each section of the forum.
Truly, the very BEST advice anyone can offer you is to take the time to read ALL of the stickies throughout the various Talk Budgie forums as well as the Budgie Articles we have posted.
These are great resources for Talk Budgie members and have a wealth of reliable information which will assist you to learn the best practices in caring for your budgies for their optimal health and well-being.