Need some serious help!
This is going to be a bit of a long text, I think.
So, about 5 or so months ago, me and my girlfriend bought a budgie.
This was my first budgie, so I didn't know much about them initially. After buying one at the store with a pretty small cage, I started doing research online into proper care, cages, how to tame them, etc.
First of all I should say, I've previously owned and interacted more with dogs and cats. I'm more used to showing dominance and confidence in front of animals, so my first reaction after getting a budgie was more in line with that.
I've later realized that this was a big mistake. These prey animals just don't seem to work along the same concepts. This made me make quite a few mistakes with our bird initially.
But anyway, I started approaching the bird slowly over time, hanging out next to his cage, talking to him, singing, reading, etc. The progress was there, but it was very slow and frustrating in my eyes (remember, I'm used to dogs and cats at this point).
There was some progress though, and before long the budgie started eating millet out of my hand (initially he didn't even understand what it was!). Later on, he stood on my finger and ate millet out of my hand as well! I was super happy at this point, excited about what the future could hold in terms of our budgie being tame, flying around the apartment and interacting with us.
At this point, I started kind of playing with him more. Like I would try to "catch" him in my hand (what i mean here is that I would kind of closer it around him slowly while he would stand in my palm), and he would kind of jump away, getting free of it, but them would pretty willingly step on my finger again, and I would do the same thing. Then at one point I would actually catch him (gently hold him there), take him out of the cage and put him on top of the computer monitor, where he would hang out and walk around a bit. I considered this as playing with him, like we were both having fun, but I later on read from many sources that they don't like being "grabbed" at all.
I'm assuming he didn't either, because ever since that moment it doesn't seem we've been progressing with taming at all. Not only that, we went backwards with progress many times actually. Soon after this even, we actually bought him a much bigger cage, since I've learned that the one he was in way WAY too small.
These two events seemed to have made him go back to what he was like when we first bought him. He was scared, nervous, upon putting my hand into the cage he would fly around and wouldn't step on my finger anymore willingly. I thought this must be because of the new cage, since his environment has changed drastically.
I gave him time, left him alone a bit more, hoping the problem is him needing some time to adjust to the new cage. Since then I started talking to him again, moving the cage closer to my computer workspace (so he's really close to me while I work, where I also sometimes talk to him, put my hand close to the cage, etc.) but he's just... weird.
Ever since we got him (before the "grabbing him" incident), he's always been super quiet and not really doing much. He just stands there all day and doesn't do anything. If I'm not the first person to interact with him he will barely make any noise. We bought him a bunch of different natural perches and toys with the bigger cage, and he didn't touch one toy a single time.. It's been more than 2 months. I'm trying to tame him again, but it's just so hard..
Every time he's home alone for a couple of days when me and my GF are away, it seems like when we come back he's reset himself back to when we first got him. It's gotten so bad that every time I uncover his cage (we cover him with a sheet during the night), he goes absolutely crazy in the cage, flying around like someone is trying to kill him... what the hell?? He didn't used to do this, and I have no idea why he's doing it now.
If I put my hand in the cage nowadays he flies around like crazy too, he BARELY eats millet out of my hand (and I have to wait for him to come close to it for like 20-30 minutes, and my hand is KILLING ME, holding it there for so long). If I try to get him to step up, like I said he will fly around like I'm trying to hurt him, but if I slowly talk nicely to him and wait for him to fly around and relax and put it closer again, eventually he will step up and stand there fine, even whistling back to me if I make this distinct noise I do that he usually responds to.
I'm just so confused.
I tried approaching him super slowly (never pushing it if he's uncomfortable, always backing off) with pretty good results, but it seems like they always completely reset as soon as I'm not there with him every single day working on this (sometimes I just CANT, as I'm not home)
I tried approaching him a bit more directly, insisting even if he gets scared, and almost always he calms down eventually and "gets over it" and will seem fine by it.
It's even more frustrating because we've interacted sooo often already, hanging out on my finger/hand, eating millet out of it, I even took him out of the cage 2-3 times while on my finger (although he flew off it as soon as he was out).
It's just so frustrating and disappointing. I'm spending so much time with him, preparing fresh veggies for him almost every single morning, having him close to me, interacting with him all the time, and I feel like we've made BARELY any progress at all. I can't imagine what it would be like if I weren't working from home and had all this time to interact with him.
I also want to mention that in the last 1-2 weeks or so he started molting. I've read that this makes them more anxious and scared. How true is this? Does this start as soon as you see any pin feathers popping up on his head? Because this would actually explain a lot in terms of his nervousness recently.
Does anyone have any advice on what to do, or what I'm doing wrong?
Hi, and welcome to Talk Budgies.
As you've now learned, interacting with a bird is MUCH different than interacting with dogs and cats. I'm glad you've done some research and highly encourage you to take the time to read all of the stickies at the top of each forum section as well as all the budgie articles posted in the forum.
These are great resources for budgie owners.
Budgies need a regular schedule and consistency.
Having a regular time for bed and regular time for getting up is important.
Taming and Bonding with a bird is not always an easy undertaking and is going to take a great deal of time and patience. You must work at the budgie's pace no matter how frustrating that becomes.
Going "backward" in the process in normal.
How old is the budgie now?
When they are molting, they are not feeling particularly well. The pin feathers itch, they are more tired (it takes lots of energy to grow new feathers) and they can be more anxious, scared, aggressive and/or territorial.
It sounds as though both you and the budgie could use a break from interaction with you trying to handle him.
Put the cage as close to your desk as possible and when you are in the room, sing, read or talk to him while you are working.
You may find that he'll start coming over closer to where you are if he doesn't feel like it is going to encourage you to make more overt overtures.
Once you've done this for a week or so and see how he reacts, then start putting your hand on the outside of the cage when you talk to him.
Basically, you're going back to the beginning with your taming/bonding process. Once he's more comfortable then you can move to putting your hand in the cage OR you could open the cage and give him the option of coming out on his own.
Putting perches on the outside of the cage, a playground on top of the cage (or near the cage if the cage doesn't have a flat top) with a toy and treat can encourage your budgie to explore.
Not all budgies want to be held, handled or interact with humans in the way you obviously wish. I have several. A couple like to come and sit on me and some of the others never want to interact in that manner. I adapt to each one's personality.
Hi, I read that your budgie is home alone for a few days at a time, this is not good for your budgie, budgies are a flock bird.They are social and need company.Silence, or very quiet is a sign of danger to Budgies.He will be very confused.
If you have to go away can you arrange for sombody to come and check on him?
Also leave a radio on for him for comfort, is his cage covered when he is left alone?This is not ideal either,nor being left u ncovered at night.
You have been given great tips in reading the training and bonding stickies please do so.
Look forward to hearing more from you soon.
Does anyone know why he might be so calm all day? Barely making any noise, not playing with anything, etc?
A lot of guides say to not interact with him too much when you first bring him home, or just in general that approaching is best done when he's completely relaxed and they will do this when they jump around and sing a lot etc. Mine doesn't really do that often.
It's just very rare. Is something wrong? He's been like this for like 5 months.
He almost always comes as close as possible to me when his cage is set close to me while I work. Is it normal for him to fly away a bit if I try to get him to step up, but then when I keep trying for 2-4 times, he eventually hops on and stays on my finger? That's what we usually did, but I am taking it back a couple of steps again. I will try going from the start, and slower.
This does feel really frustrating, as I've probably done this about 3-5 times with him already, but I think I get happy about the progress and start pushing it too hard.
"You may find that he'll start coming over closer to where you are if he doesn't feel like it is going to encourage you to make more overt overtures."
Do you mean that if he starts seeing that every time he comes closer I try to increase the interaction he might get discouraged further?
Also, when you say:
"Once you've done this for a week or so and see how he reacts, then start putting your hand on the outside of the cage when you talk to him."
How should he react? How do I know he's comfortable enough for me to start increasing the level of interaction? I know the OBVIOUS signs like making himself look thinner etc, but what about signs that he's obviously relaxed and open to more interaction?
At 8-10 months old, a budgie is going to be becoming more independent - that is normal.
It's hard to give exact instructions for each thing you do, as every budgie is different.
Generally, when a budgie comes close to me on the inside of the cage, when I move my hand toward it on the outside of the cage and the bird moves away or pins its eyes then I stop.
If the budgie stays where it is, then sometimes I'll try the blinking game with it.
Look at the budgie somewhat sideways and then blink very slowly. Usually, the bird will mimic you when it feels relaxed.
Once the bird is relaxed, you can put your hand close to it on the outside of the cage and see if it moves away or comes closer.
Many of these things you just have to try and move forward or back off as is appropriate.
Let the budgie give you cues and don't push it -- take things slow.
Always be relaxed and move calmly and slowly. Talking to the budgie in a calm manner when you interact with it is helpful.
Budgies also like high-pitched baby-talk. ;)
Look at the stickies. It may well be that your budgie might respond well to clicker-training.
I've read the stickies, they helped a lot :)
So I should never ever push it? Sometimes it seems like if I insist the budgie will "get over it" and start being fine with it. Although I sometimes consider him just doing that because it seems like he should just "get it over with" and ultimately he's not really bonding with me.
So I'm assuming this is a very important rule, ALWAYS take it at his own pace?
But then, what about this:
Sometimes he would get scared and fly around when I would try to change his water bottle or when I uncover his cage in the morning. If I go at his pace I would never really open it unless he doesn't get scared, right? Or is that rule mostly for trying to "handle him/interact with him"?
Take things slowly
As much as we are excited and want to share our enthusiasm with our budgie we need to remember, he is a living creature with his own thought patterns and feelings.Yes they do have feelings.
For a budgie that has come into a new home everything is scary, imagine how you feel going to a new place of employment not knowing the layout, the routine e.t.c.this is what he is experiencing.
Some birds take longer than others to become relaxed and happy around you, some are actually shy and not wanting to sit and chill.
Budgies are very good at picking up your frame of mind, your mood.If you are tense, showing anxiety he will know this , also it will have an effect on how he will interact with you.
You can't expect him to learn after three or four goes.
Never attempt to clean cage change water and feed dishes if you are in hurry, if you are rushing these tasks he will become flighty himself.
It won't always be like that ,once he realizes what you are doing, when your hand is placed inside his cage you are not trying to catch him or hurt him.Flight is only his response remember.When you go to uncover his cage in the morning, call out, whistle to let him know you are there, he will learn that means you will be uncovering his cage .Gently reveal his cage to the day, Doing step up training should be frequentm if he does do it reward him with praise, or a treat.If he does not step up do not keep insisting or chase him around the cage.Simply walk away and try again later.
Hope this is of help.
Thanks for the reply, and it does help!
I am already doing most of these things, softly speaking to him when uncovering the cage, letting him know I will do it ~10s before by calling out his name, saying good morning etc.
Is it normal that for a period of time he is okay with something, and then suddenly not anymore? A while ago uncovering the cage was completely fine, but then at some points he started being scared of it.
Moving backwards like this can be normal?
Question, what does it mean if he "pins his eyes"?
If he's hanging with me in the cage and is close to me and being nice and relaxed, and I slowly put my hand to the side of the cage and he starts looking at it a bit somewhat nervously, should I keep it there waiting for him to relax, or put it away and approach some other time/day, until he doesn't react to the hand at all, and then AT THAT point keep it there?
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