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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Cilantro is our family's first pet. I've had budgies before, but my kids have never had any pets until Cilantro. Hence, I made the decision to do most of the initial taming and bonding work with Cilantro. After she got tame enough to be comfortable with hands in her cage, I let my two older kids start working with her; then my youngest shortly after that. We've gotten to the point now that she is comfortable with and enjoys hanging out with any of us. However, it's clear that I am Cilantro's "Favourite Person" - if I am in the room, she always chooses to fly to me over any of the kids; if she knows I'm nearby but she can't get to me, she flock calls for me.

I want her to be just as bonded to my kids as she is to me, so I've temporarily stopped most of my interactions with her. I do all the grunt work (cleaning the cage, preparing her food, etc.) and have the kids do all the fun stuff with her - feeding her, playing with her, training/giving her treats, etc.(My kids are never left unsupervised with Cilantro BTW and I know they are very good with her, and that Cilantro is safe and happy with them).

It seems to be helping - she isn't as frantic to fly to me when I make an appearance, and her flock calling has decreased - but I want to make sure I'm not harming Cilantro in any way by distancing myself from her. I worry that, because she was so young (8 weeks old) when we adopted her, she has "imprinted" on me in some way, and considers me her budgie mom, and that my absence is hurting her, developmentally.
 

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I'm not an expert, but I'm of the opinion that properly socializing a bird (like you're doing), and trying not to have them imprint too hard on a single person is good for their mental health. It means they're able to be happy and fulfilled with anyone, rather than their one special person. I imagine it would also help stop them from pining after and needing to be with their special someone as much as possible, which means less stress for the bird. You're letting her socialize with other people, rather than just shutting her away by herself, so I don't imagine it's hurting her?

My budgie imprinted on me (as I hand-raised her), and it was very unhealthy. I spent 90% of my time at home so we were always together, but if I ever had to go out, she would become agitated and stressed being apart from me, and would constantly pace in the cage or attempt to break out. She's doing much better now that she's older and is more independent, she can happily spend time in the cage now and not care too much whether I'm present or not. She's altogether more fulfilled and content. Though I think this is typical behaviour once they hit budgie puberty, they become more independent in their teen years.
 

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What you are doing with Cilantro right now is perfectly fine. You are not damaging her emotionally or developmentally in any way.
You may still always be her favorite person but she will learn quickly to interact well with all of your children and, over time, she will see the entire family as her "flock".
 

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I agree with FaeryBee, it's good to get her comfortable with everyone in her human "flock"! My girl Mallorn is most closely bonded to me but is comfortable around all the family members, who she sees as her flock now too. It sounds like she's making great progress! Keep it up 💚
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@ChickWas Thank you so much for taking time to share about your experience and for reassuring me that we're doing the right thing. It's also really good to hear that my little girl may eventually grow to be more independent like yours. I'm looking forward to seeing how Cilantro changes as she matures!

@FaeryBee Thanks for confirming that we made the right decision. I get the sense that I will always be her favourite person, despite distancing myself 😄 I'm thankful that, even though she prefers me, she's happy to interact with the rest of the family.

@StarlingWings It's a relief to read that you also agree with FaeryBee and ChickWas. I have been rather impressed with the quick progress Cilantro's made in the two months she's been with us and I think she's already feeling at home with us as her human flock like your Mallorn! I adore your avatar, BTW!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi again! Hope it’s alright I add on to my thread with some more questions! ☺ I’ve been reading up on baby birds and I’m conflicted about how much attention we should give Cilantro. She would love to be with us all day long if she could but sometimes we just can’t safely have her out of the cage (e.g. when we are all cooking in the kitchen or when we need to have the exterior doors open). We’re currently off school and work for the summer so Cilantro is out of her cage between 6-9 hours/day. When we return to school/work in September, her out of cage time will go down to 2-4 hours max on weekdays.

I’ve read that baby birds are clingy because they would naturally be constantly close to their parents and clutch mates at this stage, and that they need this constant contact to feel safe and to learn how to be a budgie.

Now I’m feeling major parront guilt for a) Separating her from her parents and clutch at such a young age b) Not spending as much time with her as she wants c) Not being able to teach her the budgie ways that only a budgie parent could do.

How do I balance Cilantro’s baby needs while also nurturing her independence and ability to keep herself busy and happy?
 

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How old was Cilantro when you got her?

Cilantro has now been with you for two months now she's really no longer a "baby.
Budgies should learn to do all the "budgie things" with their parents and siblings during the first 8 weeks of their life.
After that, then socializing a budgie to be with her human companions on the human's schedule is fine and nothing you should feel guilty about.
When you respond to her every demand and allow her to spend ALL of her time with you because that is what she wants, then she is the one training you.

I'd suggest you start putting her in her cage for a period of time each day. You are going to have to ignore her flock calling during that time.
Extend the time period slowly so she gets used to being alone in the cage.
You can play music or the TV for her when you are not around.
It may even be a good idea to put the cage in a different room temporarily so she doesn't see the family members during her "alone time".
As soon as she stops flock calling, you can move the cage back into the family area.
You can still interact with her while she is in her cage.

Over time, she'll learn to occupy herself in her cage.
She may sit and do nothing or she may play,
You can get a Lix-It bath-tub to affix to the inside of her cage so she can bathe if/when she wants.

2-4 hours a day of out of cage time for human companionship will be fine when you return to work/school.
You will have her cage in a busy area in the house so she can see the activity as you do chores or schoolwork.

What is important is to develop a set routine with Cilantro.
Time to get up, Specific Out-of-Cage PlayTime(s), In the cage Alone Time, and a set Bedtime are all important.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
FaeryBee: We got her at 8 weeks old. Thank you, thank you, thank you for allaying my guilt and helping me understand that we are not harming her or depriving her when we don’t give her all the attention she wants. Ha ha... boy, she really has been “training” us! It will be hard to ignore her calls but we will do it, knowing it will help her become more independent. Great idea to extend the length of time a bit at a time. (y)

When we are out of the house, we turn on the radio for her and she seems to be quite content by herself in the cage. We’ll try turning on the radio for her during her quiet times too, even if we’re home. She hasn’t learned to like baths yet but we’re working on it!

I really appreciate your suggestion to implement more of a schedule for her. I’m a very schedule-oriented gal myself! We’ve already got a set wake up time and bed time. We’ll work in scheduled out-of-cage time and alone-in-cage time too. Would it be alright to have more out-of-cage time during weekends and holidays?
 

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FaeryBee has given amazing advice, but I don't personally think it's fair on the bird to leave her alone in a cage for extended periods by herself, especially if alone time consists of being in an empty room. Budgies are flock animals, so she either needs a companion, or needs to be in a busy part of the home during school hours so she at least gets social enrichment just from seeing and hearing activity.

Tbh, if it were me, I wouldn't sweat all the other stuff. 2-4 hours out of cage time is extremely generous, but it's the downtime in between that I would be concerned about. I don't know if a 2nd budgie is a commitment you want to sign up for, it doesn't add much in terms of effort or workload (when it comes to cleaning the cage, or feeding etc), but there's no guarantee they'll get on, and especially since Cilantro is young, you have no idea if she'll turn into a little mean nugget during her 'teenage' years. I got a 2nd budgie as I wanted to be here to watch them get used to each other, before inevitably starting my working life and being away for large parts of the day. It makes me feel a lot better knowing they've got each other when I'm gone, I would feel pretty bad leaving one budgie all by her lonesome for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week.
 

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To answer your question, yes - giving Clianto more family time during the weekends is perfectly fine and definitely to be expected.

The following may seem somewhat contradictory but bear with me here...

I respect ChickWas' opinion yet disagree with the premise that all budgies must have a companion.
I have had budgies (sometimes solo, and later on, multiples) for many years.
I do need to clarify some things from my previous post however and I thank ChickWas for her post which brought that to my attention.
I've made a few edits to that post and will try to give more clarification in this post.


My feeling is that once your family starts back to school and work, you may make a decision at that point in time that Cilantro may need a same species companion. :)
I, personally, like having two budgies to keep one another company, recognizing the two may bond more closely with one another than with the family members.

For some individuals and families, having multiple birds is not feasible.
You must always recognize that two budgies may not get along and be willing and able to house them separately if necessary)


A solo budgie at Cilantro's age does need to learn to have alone time in her cage.
As soon as she is used to being in her cage without flock calling, then the cage is put in the family area so she can enjoy time with the family while entertaining herself. You can still talk to her and interact with her while she is in the cage.
Cilantro does not have to have a companion right now and bringing one into the mix can cause her to lose a great deal of the bond she is developing with the family.
The family is the budgie's flock. I believe having a budgie solo for about 6 months before bringing in another is a good way to ensure you have a strong bond with the first bird.

Most solo budgies can be quite happy with 2 to 4 hours a day out of the cage with the family.
You are not going to jump into only having her with you out of the cage for only 2-4 hours a day.

Giving her alone time in a separate room so she can get used to being by herself is only temporary
You start off slowly - at first, put her in the room in her cage by herself for an hour.

As soon as she is used to being in the cage by herself, then you move the cage into the room with the family again --
I sincerely apologize for not making that clear in my previous post in this thread.

You work up to having her in the cage for longer periods of time in the same room with the family activity in the period before you head back to work and school. You can still talk to her and interact with her while she is in the cage.


If, after some time (even if it is before the 6 month time period) having in her cage in the family area, it seems that Cilantro is lonely or the family is willing to make the commitment of another budgie, only then should the family consider bringing another budgie into the home.
Every time you introduce a new budgie (or subtract a budgie) from a flock it will change the dynamics.


There are many things to take into consideration before getting another bird.

Do you really want another pet

1. If you decide to get another budgie in the future, please be sure to observe quarantine for the new budgie.
Quarantine means housing the new bird in a different cage in a different room than the current bird (as far away from the room the current bird is in as possible) for a period of 35-45 days.
Budgies mask symptoms when they are ill. Symptoms may not show up for over two weeks.
Often you will not even realize your bird is not well. Many budgie illnesses are airborne which is why you need to quarantine your new bird in a completely different room.

Quarantine your new bird!
Yes - Quarantine IS necessary

It is also a good idea to always take a new budgie in to see an Avian Vet for a "well-birdie" check-up. This allows you to develop a good relationship with the vet and the vet can establish a baseline for your bird in case of any future illnesses or injuries.
If there are no Avian Vets in your area, then finding an Exotic Pet Veterinarian who has experience in dealing with small birds is the next best option.
2. Introducing the new bird to the current bird

Introducing Two Budgies

3. Flock Dynamics
Differences and Dynamics in Flocks
Your Harmonious Flock

4. Where do you plan to get the new bird?
Why you should buy from a Reputable/Ethical Breeder rather than a Big Box Pet Store

5. Vet Expense and Housing
Do you have the time, finances, etc to devote to another bird?
Are you ready, willing and able to house the new budgie separately on a permanent basis if it does not get along with your current bird after quarantine?


Be Prepared for Veterinary Expense


Best wishes -- we all want to keep Cilantro as healthy and happy as possible!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@ChickWas and @FaeryBee - thank you, again, for your support. I'm sorry I wasn't able to reply sooner. No apologies needed at all FaeryBee. I really appreciate all the info you both shared with me.

FaeryBee, we've started to follow your suggestions and it's going really well. She got used to her new schedule very quickly and is already back to being in the family room again. 👍 The flock calling has gone down a lot and she isn't constantly frantic to get out like she was even a week ago. She still isn't playing with her toys much, though, so she doesn't do a whole lot when she's in her cage. 😕 We've been trying all kinds of ideas like showing her how to use her toys, playing with them with her, giving her different kinds, etc. and she hasn't taken to them yet. We'll keep trying...

Getting a second budgie has actually always been our plan 🤗 and I've been busy reading up on how to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. We decided to start with just one bird first, to ensure my kids could manage caring for a pet, and to give them time to develop a strong bond with her. Cilantro has done so well, as have my kids, so now it's just a matter of when we should get her a buddy! I'll start a new thread on that at some point, if I can't find the answers to my questions elsewhere on the forum.
 
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