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Hi! I'm going to pretend to be chipper and cheerful by putting an exclamation point here!

I'm Riley, and I have one parakeet... budgie? Okay... locked in my room. Her name is Nimbus. She's been with me for somewhere around many years, at least five or six. She is happy, noisy, and very change-resistant and people-shy. Name inspired by her purplish-gray feathers, also how she caught my eye back in PetSmart so long ago.

(I think) I've attached a picture of her, hiding in behind one of her favorite toys. She used to live alongside Angel (resembled this) and Chatter (typical aqua cutie, like this), but now she is very alone except for my second-rate human company.

I'm here because I have been a very, very bad owner. I know this for a fact. As for things I've done right, well, Nimbus's cage is big enough that two of me could sit in it with plenty of wiggle room. That is the end of it.

Nimbus is on an all-seed diet and has been for at least as long as I've had her, not daring to eat anything but seed, and won't even eat that outside of her usual feeder. She has never had one single vet visit since I picked her up from PetSmart. She will not leave her cage, regardless of the extent of coaxing, months of patience, or consecutive hours of leaving the door wide open. Her water is changed about once weekly. Neglectful environment, severe check.

The only physical contact she will make is upon being told exactly, with a specific tone of voice, "Nimbus, step up!" and will then quickly scoot onto and immediately back off of the finger presented to her. Should any other contact be attempted, she will scoot away, and if you are persistent or not me, she will start to fly away madly (of course, she still won't leave her cage even to escape a scary new perch or a stranger or a freshly refilled seed tray or any other dubious intrusion regardless of how scared she gets).

She moderately likes her toys and will lightly peck at them from time to time, especially one bell which she likes to tentatively poke to get attention. She's clearly uncomfortable with anything at all that goes on in her cage, she seems pretty happy outside of that. She's especially happy when I get loud -- which is rare -- and sing along to the radio or bob my head at her (I learned that behavior from her. Too endearing. Only problem with that is the next part here). One thing that I have concerns about is I'm pretty certain she thinks I'm her mate. She doesn't register that I am so awful to her and that her boredom and frustration and fear are all a result of my extreme negligence over the years we've been together. Oh, in the basement. I forgot to mention we live in a basement where it's cold year-round and the only natural light has to come through a deep window well.

Back to the mate thing. I'm afraid her hormones are out of whack or something, because she'll do the back-arch tail-up soft-noises wait-patiently thing a couple times a month when my hand's in the cage and I'm asking her to "step up". Also during these events she will not step up. Instead she will do those little quick bump-pecks she does to her toys to my fingernail, and will completely ignore anything that comes out of my mouth. She actually won't let me touch her -- and never has -- except for a rare accidental pet on the chest feathers when she's done stepping up. The contradiction is one of the only indications I can put into words to explain this: I think despite her demeanor, she's really not okay.

I'm really not a good person to take care of a bird. She used to have a flock, with two other parakeets (budgies... sorry) named Angel and Chatter. These other parakeets, "owned" by my two younger sisters and pretty much forgotten about by their owners, were both found at the bottom of the cage May 5 2013. One of unknown causes but most likely related to the neglect, the other of grief from losing the first (who may possibly have been a mate, but I still doubt to this day that Chat could have been male since we bought all three from the same place at about the same time). Later that day and on a few occasions after, I'd find Nimbus on the bottom of the cage, thrashing around like she was trying to die too, and I feel like if I hadn't exclaimed "What are you doing?!" and scared her back onto her perch each time, she wouldn't have had to go through the crap kind of life I give her this long. Nimbus likes it when I'm loud, and I'm not at all. I never gave her any reason to trust me because I didn't want to stress her out. Same reason she has never seen a vet since the pet store. No checkups, nothing, not even an at-home nail trim. I am afraid if I force her out of her cage the stress will actually kill her. I am afraid if I move around the stuff in her cage she will be jittery for a month after, like always. I am afraid if I find someone more loving to take care of her she won't be able to handle the change in environment and will die in vain. I can't get her a friend because I'm scared they wouldn't get along, and that the cage mate would directly or indirectly kill her, or the cage mate would suffer and die like her old friends, or just have to suffer through the same neglect I've been inflicting on Nimbus for these many, many years.

Nimbus is a happy head-bobbing bird with no sun, no company, a terrible environment, and a terrible mom. Now that you see how awful I've been to her -- how completely and utterly negligent, how just-short-of-plain-abusive I am -- and you agree I'm doing it all wrong, please. Please tell me where to start to fix this miserable mess. She's been with me so long and nothing I've tried has done her any good. I don't want to put my bird through this. I'm here to get help for her. I'll be around, stalking the forums for hints. Please tell me if you know anything at all I can do for her.

I'll clarify anything that didn't make sense. If you need more information, let me know. I'll answer honestly. Thanks for thinking of Nimbus.

Member of the Month January 2016
4,995 Posts
Welcome to the forum Riley.

I'm glad you have come to try and give Nimbus a better life.
You have provided us with a lot of information and that's really helpful when trying to give advice. I honestly don't think that you're as terrible an owner as you think you are, but there are a few things you can work on.

So firstly, if you have a huge cage for Nimbus, she's probably able to get a lot good exercise in her cage and that's a reason why she doesn't want to come out. If she' comfortable in her cage that's fine. You don't have to feel bad if she has the choice to come out and chooses to stay in.

Some birds are very nervous about new things. If you buy Nimbus a new perch or toy you should leave it somewhere in her view outside of her cage for a few days. Then attach is somewhere outside her cage- not close to her favourite perch so it's not too close. She may have a look from the safety of her cage at it and become curious.
Then when you put it in her cage, again, keep it away from her favourite perch so it doesn't seem too intrusive and she should be a little less nervous about new items.

As for her all seed diet try her on some romaine lettuce as a starting point. And try it different ways. Shred some up in a food bowl, dripping wet (she might use the wet leaves and have a bath as well), or maybe a whole leaf on the floor of the cage.
Lettuce is cheap and lasts a few days so it's not wasteful and most budgies take to this. Offer it to her daily and leave it in there for an hour or two and then take it out before it starts to wilt.
Some budgies are harder to convert from an all seed diet. Start simple and she may just surprise you.

If Nimbus hasn't been sick then no vet visits isn't a terrible thing. Her claws- if provided with various width perches and no sandpaper covered perches- should take care of themselves. If she only has dowel perches or she does have sandpaper covered perches there's a good chance she might have bumblefoot. If you see her climb the side of the cage just check to see if she has any red spots on her feet. But again, if you have given her a good selection of perches then that may not be a problem at all.
Make sure you know who your nearest avian vet is and have a small travel cage available should you need to take Nimbus.

There's no need for you to make Nimbus step up. Your presence, company, just talking to her should be enough. If she doesn't want to step up you don't have to make her, however, you can look to rewarding her if she steps up. She might enjoy stepping up if she gets a reward for doing so.
Anyone else trying to get her to step up should stop trying unless they are going to be gentle and kind. She could easily hurt herself flying around the cage to get away from someone chasing her.

Budgies love noise. They find silence a sign of danger so keep some music or the TV on for her and she'll chirp more often. If she's sitting alone in silence this is a lot more upsetting for her. Keep something on for her.

She's showing some interest in her toys but not all budgies are into their toys. Has she got something shreddable? She might find that more exciting. Sometimes pet shops sell wooden toys that are too hard for budgies so she might want something chewable but it's too hard for her. Have a look at something like a kabob or other small shreddable budgie toys.

The basement being cold she will be used too. How cold does it get during the coldest months?

Okay, so the negative points.

You MUST change the water more often. Daily changes will keep bacteria out of her water.

As she lives in a basement, you should get a vitamin D supplement to add to her water. Most indoor budgies need this anyway.
Vitamin D

I think with your company and again, it doesn't need to be physical, just your presence in the room, talking to her and some music, she will be happier.
Is the basement anyone's room, or is she just down their all day alone with no human interaction?
I'm wondering if she could be moved into your bedroom?

I'm going to say that since you wrote out this post you want her to be happy. It's just about committing some of your time to her welfare.
I don't think she would die from any of the changes you suggested. She would be frightened, birds are naturally fearful until trust has been earned, but many members here have taken on neglected birds and had success stories.
You would have to make the decision if you think you can provide the kind of care she needs or if you think you'll slip up and not bother to take her to the vets if she got sick, or not bother to change her water, or spend extra time with her then I think you should really look at rehoming her.

56,051 Posts
Hi! :welcome: to Talk Budgies

Therm has offered you excellent advice.

YOU have to make the time and commitment if you want Nimbus to have a better life than you've given her thus far.

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.

Site Guidelines
How-To Guides
FAQs Frequently Asked Questions
Budgie Articles
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When you upload pictures as thumbnail attachments directly from your computer, tablet or phone, the forum automatically defaults to landscape.

To upload full-sized pictures with the proper orientation, please use a photo-sharing service such as Imgur and follow the steps in these instructions:

By the way, all photos entered in any of our forum contests must be a full-size photo and not a thumbnail attachment so it's good to know how to upload them! ;)

If you have any questions after reading through everything, please be sure to ask!

Glad you decided to join us and looking forward to seeing you around the forums.


Exceptional Service Award August 2017
1,096 Posts
Welcome to the forum
Great that you’ve resolved to start afresh with Nimbus. :)

Super Moderator
18,303 Posts
Hi there and :welcome: to the forums!

I'm glad you recognize that Nimbus could be having a much better life and are doing all you can to help her!

You've been given great advice. We look forward to hearing about how Nimbus is doing soon!

Meanwhile, be sure to read through the links posted above, which include the 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. :p

If you have any questions after reading through everything, be sure to ask!

We look forward to seeing you and your little budgie around the forums!

Cheers :wave:

609 Posts
So, as a budgie mamma who is new to having pets and has made several mistakes, I want to encourage you. Even if you can't make all the changes immediately, like getting new perches or toys, just take it one step at a time. Each change you make to help your bird increases her welfare and likely her overall happiness. Celebrate the positive steps, even if they are small, and update us so that we can celebrate with you.

Good luck!

Goldenwing (and Lemon Drop) :lutino linnie:
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