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Go Back   Talk Budgies Forums > Budgie Talk > Taming and Bonding


Taming and Bonding Taming and Bonding is all about helping your budgie learn to TRUST you. This requires time and patience and does not happen overnight.

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Old 07-30-2017, 01:51 AM
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Question Help Training & Bonding with a Traumatized Rescue Budgie

Looking around the forums, I found a June thread from another budgie parent in a similar situation, however the replies to that post didn't fully assist with my own set of problems. My budgie, Pepper, came to me via a relative who had gotten her from a friendís acquaintance who needed to surrender her because they did not want to care for her anymore. She is the second budgie I've had, so I'm not a novice at training and bonding methods. My first feathered friend was with me 13 wonderful years.

I want to expand on Pepperís background, because that explains why Iím having the trouble I am. Doing so, however, would violate all three points in the site rules to not describe animals being mistreated, abused or kept in poor conditions. So, Iím left to just say that her previous home is the reason why she is terrified by most human interaction. Iíve worked patiently with her, and Pepper is now much more comfortable around me than she was in the beginning. She will chirp and sing with me and, since moving into an apartment with a lanai, sheís taken up talking out the window with the wild birds that frequent my feeding station there.

Where Iíve hit a brick wall is two-fold. First, Pepper is afraid of hands. Especially hands holding perch-like objectsópencils, paintbrushes, phone cords, actual perchesóand scissors. Again, the rules bind me to not say why, exactly, this is. This fear has made finger training (no, she didnít receive any training from her previous owners other than training to fear humans) impossible. At least by all methods I have tried.

The closest Iíve come to training success was, when she was in her too-small cage that she came to me with and thus she had no option to flee, she would gingerly eat from very small millet sprays I held. And only when I was not looking at her, with the process taking 20-45 minutes to coax her over. When I moved her into a large flight cage, all she does is go to the opposite side of the cage from where I have my hand in, regardless of what treat I am holding, or even if I'm not holding anything and have my hand in there to try conditioning her to trust it. When I slowly reach in to grab her seed cup and water dispenser, sheíll run away. When I put treats or new toys in her cage, sheíll run away (and spend a week or more being terrified of the new toy). When I have my hands anywhere but behind my back when Iím at her cage talking with her (maybe it makes me look more like I have folded wings like a fellow budgie?), sheíll flinch at any hand or finger movement.

Second, Pepper is afraid of the dark. And this fear has grown ten-fold in the past week for no discernible reason. I cover most of her cage at night to keep out drafts, and she hates it. My first budgie loved having her cage covered up at night and was completely comfortable in the dark. She treated it like being in a very secure fort where she could covertly spy on people out the front where the fabric didn't quite overlap.

On the opposite end of this is Pepper. She sleeps with a nightlight nearby and, until now, has been fine, if grudgingly so, with this arrangement. As of last Sunday, she is absolutely terrified to be left with only the nightlight on. She flies up to hang upside down from the cage top, eyes wide and breathing quickly. She stays put for several minutes, then makes her way to the nearest perch to sit with the same look of terror. Sheís not comfortable again until I turn on more lights and stand there talking to her.

I cannot find any trigger to have caused this new behavior. Nothing has moved around, there are no new toys in her cage, and I havenít deviated from my usual MO of covering her with a sheet but leaving the front of the cage uncovered. She is perfectly fine sleeping with her cage uncovered with low light levels. Even covered, sheís fine in the same low light. But the moment I turn off all the lights but her nightlight, she freaks out.

Iím here seeking advice on how to make Pepper comfortable in the dark and how to make her comfortable with me so I can properly train her. She wants to explore outside her cage, and Iíd love to let her, but at this point, it seems unwise and dangerous. I donít have the capability to take her into a small room to introduce her to flying freely because my two-floor apartment is an entirely open loft layout. The only enclosed space I have is my bathroom halfway between the floors; there is no way I can safely carry the cage to it. Even if I could, the room is so small that the cage would take up all the space!

Hopefully someone here can point me in the right direction on what to do.

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Old 07-30-2017, 06:02 AM
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Kat,

it's wonderful that you've been able to rescue this poor budgie.

I don't have experience with a budgie like this and I've never been concerned myself about finger taming my budgies. I let them do as they want, so I can't offer you any advice that will be helpful in those terms.

What I can say is that in regards to her fear of toys and treats, you could try and leave them on the outside of the cage first. If that still seems to upset her, it might even be worth putting them where she can see them, but where it's not attached to her cage, just near her cage for her to observe.
Many birds have a fear of new items in their cage who don't have a bad past so it's not completely unexpected for this to be happening.

As for the fear of the dark, she may have had a night fright and is currently uncomfortable in the dark. It might have happened during the night. There isn't necessarily something that causes it that can be dealt with.

I had a period of time where my birds were having night frights every night and I would leave them uncovered with a night light on and they eventually settled back into a normal sleep routine.If it takes leaving a lamp on for a while, try that for a while and try and reduce the amount of light. Do you maybe have a lamp with a dimmer switch that you could reduce over a few nights?
Maybe it's the sudden change from light to dark that unsettles her?
Perhaps try and let the room naturally grow dim and see if that helps?

As she's so nervous, have you considered keeping 3 sides of her cage covered at all times? It might help her to feel more secure.
I'd also back off from all training with her.
I wouldn't currently try to finger train her if she's so afraid of hands.
I'd work to let her feel safer in her new home. It sounds like you were making great progress with her and that she's happy with you. It might take a lot longer to get her even slightly comfortable with you.
I would try and tame her the way one would tame a new baby budgie and just work with getting her comfortable with your hands touching the outside of the cage. Then progress to your hands being in the cage, and her not reacting in fear.
Others might have some more experience with this, but I think you're doing a great job so far.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:49 AM
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Thank you (and kara) for rescuing little Pepper and giving her a safe and loving home.

Thank you as well for reading and following our Site Guidelines which was evident in the care you took in making your first post.
That is very much appreciated.

I agree with the advice Therm offered.

I'd try leaving the top and three sides of Pepper's cage covered for a week or so to see if that helps her feel more secure.

Putting any new toys or perches in her line of sight outside the cage for a few days, then moving them onto the outside of the cage for a few days before introducing them into the cage is going to be very helpful.

Move very slowly and calmly anytime you have to rearrange anything in her cage or change out food and water. Talk reassuringly to her at all times.

I also agree with Therm that I wouldn't attempt to finger tame Pepper in any way. I'd work on building her trust by sitting next to the cage and singing, reading or talking to her at least 10-15 minutes at a time three or four times each day.
With the trauma she's been through, I would consider it to be a huge success when she simply comes to the side of the cage where you are sitting to chirp, play the blinking game or interact with you at all on her terms.

It may take a month or so before she's ready for you to hold your hand still in her cage to let her see if she's brave enough to come near it.

You're doing a great job.
Thank you for your kindness and compassion with this needy little girl.
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:58 PM
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Hi there and to the forums!

You've been given extremely good advice by FaeryBee and Therm. I'm so glad that Pepper has such an understanding and caring mum

I agree that the best you can do for now is give her lots of time with regards to taming. Spending lots of time in the same room with her, reading, talking to her, etc. is a great way to start to show her that she can trust you.

Be sure to read through the forum's many Budgie Articles and "stickies" (threads "stuck" to the top of each subform for easy reference) to ensure you're up to date on all the best practices for budgie care!

If you have any questions after reading through everything, be sure to ask as we'd love to help

We look forward to seeing you and Pepper around the forums! Good luck

Cheers!
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:17 PM
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Hi Kat! I also have 2 pretty traumatized boys that I adopted from the humane society. Slow, slow progress for us. One thing that has been cool for us is the blink game. I read another suggestion about it. You probably know from your other budgie. I quietly say "blink" and then blink my eyes for different lengths of time. My budgies seem to really stay calm when I do this, and one will mimic my blinks. I stand outside the cage with my hands behind my back or sometimes with one of my hands on the outside of the cage. Just a quick idea to throw at you! You are wonderful to save your little guy!
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