I've decided to start a journal just so I can update with my progress, and get feedback.
I bought Tiki and Kobu from a nearby breeder just over a week ago. They are hand fed, and hand tame. But the journey to their new home shook them up, and they are not as comfortable with people as they first appeared. I think being hand fed is speeding up the taming process at least a little.
I'm away at work from 8 am to 6 pm. So I don't have much time to be with them. Throughout the week, I've been leaving the cage door and top open. Sometimes I played budgie sounds on my laptop, and they would really perk up. They even flew out of their cage a few time in search of the budgie sounds. Once they were out, I laid a towel down, sprinkled some seed on it, and let them forage. I think they really enjoyed that, and I also think it really helped them get comfortable being outside the cage. I made sure to take them back to the cage as soon as they seemed to want to go back.
Within the past week I've gotten them comfortable in my presence, comfortable with my hand in the cage, and comfortable with my hand being right next to them. They eagerly eat out of my hand now. Over the past 5 days or so, I managed to get them out of the cage while eating on my hand. Sometimes, whether inside or outside the cage, they would stop eating and start looking to go back on a perch. I immediately complied and took them back to a perch and let them hop off. But I just held my hand there, and they would jump right back on. Every time they want to get off, I let them. Hopefully this will make them trust me. Seeing that they are so comfortable eating on my hand. I decided to introduce the concept of stepping up by placing my left index finger in between the bird and my right hand (which is holding the food).
After a week, Kobu very eagerly jumps on to my hand/finger to enjoy his food. He usually jumps on without a thought. Today he started jumping on within a second in expectation of food (even when I kept the food hidden). So I started saying the "Step Up" command every time Kobu stepped up. I rewareded him every time he stepped up. I had him step up within the cage, and he did it without any issues. Eventually I placed him on top of the cage. At this point, he was more eager to explore than to step up. So I took it back a notch and showed him the food to have him step up. I did this step up routine a few times both inside and outside the cage. He was more compliant within the cage. Eventually he ran out of energy, so I stopped there for the day. I honestly don't think he has any idea what "step up" means, but I'm still very happy with my progress.
I'm having a harder time with Tiki. She has been very prone to biting since day 1. When I hold my finger in front of her, she seems to think of it as a chew toy and bites the living daylight out of it (it's sometimes pretty painful, and I have no choice but to slowly move my finger away). I tried to nudge her chest up while she was enjoying tearing my finger apart, but that didn't work. She just wouldn't step up, and would only bite harder. I realized I was probably going too fast by expecting her to step up while the food was hidden. I think I got ahead because of my success with Kobu. So I dialed it down and held my left index finger in between her and the food in my other hand. Even though she has been sitting on my hand and eating for the past few days, she was suddenly not so eager to get on my finger. Guess I shouldn't be surprised (shouldn't have gone so fast). But eventually, she put one foot on my finger to reach the treat, and then both feet! I managed to do this a couple of times before she too ran out of energy, so I ended it for the day. I didn't get a chance to practice stepping up on top of the cage with Tiki like I did with Kobu, since she wasn't doing it so well inside the cage.
Overall, I'm happy with my progress. Hopefully tomorrow goes just as well. If anyone has any suggestions, especially with Tiki, I'd be happy to hear it!
Sounds like wonderful progress! My budgie was a biter too, I always kept my finger a couple inches from her and show him the food until he jumped to me. I had to let him come to me, or else he would get testy. But sounds like you're adapting to their respective needs, good job!!!
It sounds like you're making great progress so far, I agree!
As for Tiki, it's understandable that she's more wary of your finger but I think you did a great job in recognizing that and approaching her with a new method. My girl can bite once in a while, but I tell her "No" firmly, and move my finger away, then try again, and when she doesn't bite my finger I praise her a lot and reward her behaviour. However, this method works best once the bond/trust has been established, so although you can use that system later on, I believe you're best off continuing with the routine you have started to build with Tiki during this latest bonding session
and Princess Mallorn!
Thank you to Deb for her wonderful Faery magic
I think I made a lot of progress today. Since I last posted, I've been continuing the step up routine with both of them.
Kobu is developing very quickly, far quicker than I expected. I don't even know how to explain how much he changed. Before he was eagerly stepping up, but eager to also step back off. Today he was dying to get onto my finger for his treat! And by the end of the session, he had no interest in stepping off. He's gotten so good at stepping up from the top of the cage, I decided to move forward with his training. While on the cage, I had him step from one finger to another 3-7 times (instead of just once) before rewarding him. And he stepped up without issue - before I even managed to say step up - 95% of the time. I also held my finger about 2 feet away from the cage, and he flew onto it for his treat! I took him to the other end of my room (about six feet away), turned my back to the cage so he couldn't see it, and he still stepped up without issue. I even took him into my bathroom (making sure it was budgie proof, ofcourse), and even then he stepped up without issues! I am amazed at his progress. I still don't think he understands what "step up" means though. So I'm going keep having him step up until he understands the verbal cue.
Tiki made excellent progress too. I started by keeping my finger in between her and a treat, and she stepped on to eat it. After just a few repetitions, she started stepping on without me having to show the treat. When I took her to the top of the cage though, she got distracted. So I took her back in and had her do some more step ups, then took her out again. She'd either start exploring, or want to go back inside. Whatever the case, I took her back in repeated the process. Eventually she started stepping up fairly consistently on top of the cage. In fact, she was eager to step up for her treat. I'd have to show her the treat every once in a while for her to step up, but she was doing it about 80% of the time. I tried to move her a few feet away from the cage, but she flew back. I guess she isn't ready for that yet. I'll keep working with her on the cage.
Some general comments: The change that's come over them is incredible! Kobu's energy has gone through the roof today. Over the past 3 hours, he hasn't sat still for even 30 minutes. It's 9:30 pm. I covered the cage up about 20 minutes ago, and he's still flying around. Right now he's busy kicking seeds out of the food dish. If I go near the cage, he'll get as close to me as he can. If I go to the other side of the cage, he'll follow me over! I just LOVE this lol. This is all while the cage is covered. He's keeping an eye on me through the bottom 1/3 that's not covered. Tiki wasn't scared of my finger at all today, and that's more than enough to make me happy lol. For the first time today, the pair has been coming out of the cage regularly. By the end of the session, I was having a super hard time getting them back in. I'm a very happy budgie owner today.
Day 11 was just as good as day 10. Kobu was great, and I managed to get Tiki to the other side of the room and she was stepping up just fine.
But things haven't been going well since yesterday (day 12). Neither of them were too eager to step up like the day before. Kobu stepped up 7/10 times, and Tiki stepped up 4/10 times.
I think I made a mistake too yesterday. When Tiki was on top of the cage, my finger was really close to her head, and my finger brushed her head while she was preening, and she bit me! I don't know if this broke Tiki's trust, but she hardly steps up on my finger now.
Today was even worse than yesterday. Normally I play with them after I come home around 6. But today was saturday so I dind't have work, I tried working with them around 11 am. I don't know if it's because they got used to a set time, but they wouldn't step up. Not even Kobu! Not even when I held a treat in front of them In fact, Kobu was shying away from my finger for the first 10 minutes. I tried throughout the day, and Kobu eventually stepped up, but not with the enthusiasm he usually has. Normally, he'd run to my finger as soon as I held it up, or wait for me to hold my finger up so he could step on. He'd go crazy if I held up my finger while he was inside the cage (because I was working with Tiki outside the age while he was inside, so he couldn't reach it). But today even when I held my finger up right in front of him he wouldn't step up. Tiki stepped up a couple of times only, and I think that was by chance. Even when I held a treat in front of Tiki, she only stepped up twice during the day, and quickly stepped off. I tried again around 7 pm. Kobu was a little better, but still not as great as usual. He'd only step up half the time, and he too wasn't very eager to stay on.
I'm sure they aren't scared. They don't flinch one bit, or show any other signs of fear when I'm near them (except for 11 am when Kobu was shying away, like I mentioned earlier). They've been far more vocal than usual today. They've been flying out of their cage and playing on the ground all day, I have a fairly hard time putting them back in. I'll admit that both step up readily when they want to go back to their cage, but that's it. After I take them back, they have no more interest in stepping up.
Does anybody have an idea as to what I might be doing wrong? It's almost like they're going backwards in the taming process. It's really bumming me out seeing all the progress we made being undone. I'm home all day tomorrow. Is there anything I should do differently?
I'm sorry that you've had a bit of a setback with them! This happens sometimes. It's not really something you did; they may just want to feel more comfortable with what's going on. I would keep doing what you're doing but don't advance any more than you already have so they reinforce that trust they have in you.
Everybudgie has bad days and good days, so don't worry
and Princess Mallorn!
Thank you to Deb for her wonderful Faery magic