I'm not sure if I'll be able to actually follow through on keeping a journal, but it will make me feel better to document how I went wrong - and what I'm trying to do to fix it. (I also hope that maybe this will help anyone else who wants to know what to avoid..!)
Some background: I had two old parakeets, my husband's, for years until they finally passed away at 10 and 12 years old. It's been a year and we decided to get a new budgie and tame him so he can spend time outside the cage (our older couple never did). We now also have a 3-year old running around, something I have to factor in.
It's been less than a week, and Banana (the blue budgie, because my husband is fond of nonsense), aka Nana, is already even more terrified of me than when I brought him home. Let's see where I went wrong!
02/27: We picked Nana out from the budgies at the local Petland. He looks young, and was the only one who didn't panic when I put my hand near him in the store.
I put the little carrier box inside his cage and he stayed inside for nearly four hours. Then something spooked him and he flew to one of the perches and has stayed there pretty much the whole time.
Nana's cage is next to a cage of two orange-cheeked finches, and he picked the perch closest to the finches.
02/29: I gave Nana a day to settle in, and left him alone except to say hello when passing by his cage, and changing his food in the morning. He was stiff and unmoving. I offered him some millet and he ate it. Mistake number one!
03/01 - 03/02: I offered millet twice a day, at set times. Otherwise I only reached in to change his food and water, and to put some veggies/fruit into his bowl. I also tried to start touch training, offering the tip of a wooden stick and rewarding when he touched the tip. He did this for one day but then stopped so I decided to hold off on that.
When I offered millet, I moved my fingers close to his body, and he eyed them but then continued eating and didn't move.
03/03: HUGE mistake today: I had read that it's a good idea to move a bird into another room for training. I tried this today, but the movement of the cage shook him up, literally.
I went even further and since he wasn't moving from my hands, I got him to step up and just held my finger steady for a moment. As soon as I put him back down he started making clicking sounds at me, and breathing hard. That's when I realized I'd been pushing him too fast, and the signs I thought were trust were really just him being terrified.
Feeling terrible, I decided to take a step back and start from the beginning. That's also when I decided to come onto this forum for support.
03/04: The last few days he's been starting to chirp a little, and even pecked at his toy for the first time. Today I feel like we're starting over. Any time I walk past his cage he starts breathing really hard. I spend ten minutes singing to him from the floor by his cage without looking at him. I may add "Banana storytime" to my routine, sitting by his cage with my kid and just reading for 10 minutes every day.
We'll see where it goes from here. I'm determined not to give up, so I really hope my mistakes didn't set us TOO far back. He's a sweet-tempered bird, not flighty at all, but a little shy. I hope he'll forgive me, and warm up to me soon!
Member of the Year 2016//Exceptional Service Award August 2016//MOTM May 2013
Just like with human parents, we error when learning how to communicate with our little companions. Give Nana time to get the lay of the land. Your bird is still growing and adjusting to its body changes. So now we pop up and say oh by the way you wanna learn to do things our way?? We forget that this is mutual. We are the ones asking to enter into the world budgie knows. Just because we are big does not mean we own the world there is give and take and budgies will set aside our errors as long as we show restraint and give them some space to be and handle growing up. Humans take 20 plus years to grow up budgies take roughly 2years+- Talk about a head spin!!!! Some how the creator makes it happen, but in return they are more fragile and we are big blobs!!
For give yourself and go forward. Nana will respond to your heart. JA
Man, sounds much like my experience with my gerbil a few years back -- I did literally everything wrong and ended up giving him to a friend when she came by after work and he seemed to like her. (heck, that's been like 6 years now hasn't it.... I'm getting old)
At least you figured it out early on and started over. I know I scared the heck outta Topi my first day with him, but several days of more or less leaving him alone, and a week of talking to him/resting my hand at the bottom of his cage went a long way towards calm.
It's definitely reassuring to know that I'm not alone in my errors haha. I read so much about the taming process, and even got surprisingly close with the really old budgies, so I thought I'd be able to handle this. But I realize that bringing a new budgie home is such a different - and unpredictable - experience!
(A gerbil! I miss my hamster, she lived a spoiled, long life. I was ready for a long taming process, but she was content to sit on my hand from day one. Sweetest thing ever..)
Good on you for realising that every bird is different, and so the methods need to reflect that. I would not bother with touch training yet - just keep working on comfortable distances, with the bird being easy in your presence. Hand feeding is great, but the step back from there is to start with having the bird comfortable enough to continue feeding in your presence.
Once you're there, just work on comfortable hand feeding - which can be through bars, starting from having them keep eating a spray of millet that you're touching and progressing to you offering it through the bars, then inside the cage.
Once your bird is anticipating rewards and actively coming to you for them, that's when you start priming your clicker ready for touch training. A bird that comes to you for a reward willingly is more likely to touch anything you offer, so making touch training more likely to happen with a big step that you can jackpot.
Keep going! Remember you can regress in positive reinforcement as much as your bird needs - always end on a high!
Greetings I hope things are going well on your bonding with banana.I'm slowly working on my little sweetie Gracie.I sanged to her today lol she chirped and whistles to me..but hope all goes Well.blessings