For the past month or so, I've been getting really worried about my budgie, Zephyr. He's always been a bit reserved and cautious compared with other budgies I've had in my life. He has had a pretty rough time in his life with other birds, which I think might have made him become a bit guarded? Because he's little and shy, he got picked on a lot by the other bird in the cage before I separated them. Since then, he's developed a nippy streak, and his first reaction to anything coming close to him is to lash out at it.
He was hand-raised and knows how to step up. When we first got him, he was very affectionate and social with us. But since he was picked on by the other bird, if I bring my hand close to him to ask him to step up, about half the time he gives me a warning chirp or pecks at me. The rest of the time, he's fine with it.
I'm very worried he's depressed, or too anxious to really enjoy himself anymore. He's been very quiet. The only noises he'll make are those "hey, are you there" calls, not any chattering and warbling. I almost never see him play with his toys, and I'm worried he may not have figured out how to seek out fun on his own. He used really love chewing/foraging with one particular toy, and there were a few days a while ago where he played with one of his bells for a short period of time. But lately he hasn't been doing any of this at all and it really concerns me. He's been preening a lot lately, and I don't know if it's because he's molting (which he is) or if it's out of anxiety and boredom. I'm assuming it's a mix.
On top of that, bringing him out of the cage with me has started to feel like I'm essentially asking him to sit on me quietly for hours, because he doesn't react when I offer him a bell or a chewing toy, even one of the ones from his cage. Or he'll be frightened of it and lash out. Which I don't blame him for, if he doesn't understand why this massive human is dangling a noisy shiny thing in front of his face. He'll seek me out for cuddles, and enjoys sitting on my shoulder while I'm washing dishes. But he'd rather observe me than interact with me, and he's developed a strong discomfort regarding my hands that he never used to have.
If he doesn't want to be a super hands-on bird, that's completely fine; I want him to be happy and comfortable. I guess I'm just worried for his mental well-being. He's the only bird in the house right now, and I'm sure he's lonely. But the other bird who used to live with him was really antagonistic towards him and wasn't even letting him eat. I'm cautious about getting him a friend because I'm scared the same thing will happen all over again. But if I can't be a fun friend for him because he feels nervous around me, I worry that he'll wind up living a very bored, lonely, frustrating life.
I was wondering if anybody has any advice on how to approach this situation, especially ideas on how to make life more enjoyable for a nervous bird. If I were to look into finding him a more compatible companion, what should I watch for that might let me know if their personalities would be suited to each other? In the meantime, is there anything I can do to provide him a bit more stimulation than he seeks out on his own? How best can I help him regain consistent trust for my hands?
Thank you so much for reading. I'm grateful for any advice you may have