Socializing with your bird, name help, and food question
Posted 15 March 2012 - 05:45 PM
Now my main question - may sound funny to some of you, but I just want to know what's "normal". This is the first hand-fed bird we've owned and the only one that's ever really been tamed enough to hold. I love that I can bring him out of the cage and not worry about loosing a chunk of skin. But. . . what do you do with your bird when you have him/her out. I just had him sit in my lap with a toy last night, but I'm not sure how to get into a social routine of sorts with him. I want him to be like part of our family, but he's also still very skittish. I practically had to pry him off the cage bars to get him to come out last night, so the first thing I did when he was out was offer him a treat and offer a treat when he would step up after each time I commanded (while he was already out of the cage).
Trying to decide what else to do with him and how to play or interact in order to really make him part of the family. How do you usually interact with your bird when you have him/her out?
Last, I have a small question about food. I know the bird shop fed fresh fruits & veggies everyday in addition to the pellets, but he doesn't seem to eat anything I've put out. He actually poops on it each time I leave something in his cage. Any suggestions on how to help him get started eating fruits & veggies here at home?
Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:46 PM
The most I've taught was to turn around, lift foot up, and fly to me, although not trained well enough to always be on cue.
As far as food goes, sometimes it's all about presentation. Do you feed the foods separately or do you mix them? Do you hang the foods? Slice them? Dice them? Put them on a kebab? Personally, I've found that my birds take more interest in a mixture of healthy grains and legumes, a small amount of fruits and a good amount of mixed vegetables (typically some green, 1 orange, and maybe add in some yellow and/or reds). To this, I occasionally add sprouted seeds for further enticement.
Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:17 PM
I practically had to pry him off the cage bars to get him to come out last night,
I wouldn't do this for fear he'd resent you. Let him come to you, it'll take a while for him to get used to his new surroundings.
Monica makes excellent points on training and food
Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:58 PM
Lind, I do worry about having him resent me, but my question is what if he doesn't ever come to me? I specifically bought a hand-fed bird this time because I don't want him to just look pretty - I want him to interact with us. Do you have suggestions to help make that happen? I am torn between pulling him out in hopes it will show him it's ok and enjoyable, and letting him be until he's ready because my fear is he won't ever be ready. How do I find the happy medium? My first thought was to give him treats for stepping up outside the cage in hopes he will eventually do it willingly inside the cage, but if you have other suggestions, I'll definitely give them a try.
I'll keep trying different things with the food. I always put it in a bowl, but I've tried a variety of foods. I'll continue to set try different things, though.
Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:21 PM
Birds aren't like dogs so you can't expect them to instantly warm up. Some do and others don't. What about training him inside the cage? If the cage door will allow it, put one hand down on the perch and use the other hand with a lure. If your conure looks at your hand, reward. If your conure takes a step towards your hand, reward. If he puts a toe on your hand, reward. If he puts a foot on your hand, reward. If he puts both feet on your hand, give him a jack pot reward!
Will he come out on his own? Or would he be willing to come out if he has a perch attached to the cage door and it swings open?
Posted 16 March 2012 - 12:15 AM
My one other concern is that if I get him to step up willingingly or with a treat, will taking him out of the cage while he's on my hand undo the trust he has stepping up? In other words, if I lure him onto my hand with a treat and he's cool with that, then do I take him out of the cage? Will he decide he would rather stay in the cage than possibly be taken out and decide it's not worth the treat? Maybe I'm overthinking this. . . But my back can't handle trying to lean inside the cage for long periods waiting for him to be comfortable to come out. When do I try that?
Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:49 AM
This is known as dominance, aka learned helplessness. It's basically teaching the bird that no matter what they do, they must obey you. They have no choice in the matter, and if you do it enough times, they'll simply give up. Yes, they may comply, but it doesn't teach them anything positive. It may also lead to a bird that "bites for no reason" or one that "bites without warning." Birds will typically tell you when they are going to bite with body language (although there are accidental bites, too!), and by ignoring the bite you are either teaching the bird that biting doesn't bother you, or they aren't biting hard enough. Birds may even start to avoid their owners and/or do "bad" behaviors more frequently.
Sometimes he will step up when I give the command, but not always and the bird shop owner told me to make sure he follows through.
It can work out, but not always.
Positive reinforcement is about teaching the bird that the more good behaviors that they perform, the more that they are rewarded. If not rewarded for bad behaviors, they may learn that the good behaviors will get them more attention. You can also redirect a bad behavior into something positive. With positive reinforcement, you don't want to get bitten because you don't want to put the bird in a position where they feel the need to bite. Rather than taking the bite, you avoid the bite.
Have you tried different perches? Or perhaps moving the perches up inside the cage? You could even put a treat cup next to the perch attached to the door and every once in a while, walk by the cage and drop a treat inside the cup.
However, he spends most of his time clinging to the side of the cage rather than on a perch, which effectively makes it harder to get him to step up or lure him near with a treat at all. He even seems to sleep clung to the side of the cage rather than on a perch, which seems like it would be uncomfortable (especially when I bought him a hanging birdie bed), but I guess to each his own.
My conure was also sleeping while clinging to the side of the cage bars, so I moved a few perches up near the top of the cage, and he's taken to sleeping on those instead. Birds can have some funny ways of sleeping though! When they fall asleep, their feet naturally lock onto whatever they are on so as to avoid falls. I've heard of some birds who sleep upside down, seen some sleeping split legged, 1 foot attached to the cage side, the other attached to the cage top, then the bird flips over! Or some who enjoy sleeping on their stomachs, or even their backs! And some birds have passed out in their food dishes, bottoms up!
That depends on how comfortable he is on coming out. Some of the birds at the local Pet Supermarket are pretty friendly and interactive inside of their cages. You can pet them, and one in particular will even do some acrobats inside of the cage! However, the moment you open their cage door, they do a 180° in behavior, eyes pinning, beak open and *not* wanting to come out. One did become brave enough to come out on his own, but then he wanted nothing to do with hands! I can only imagine how frightened they must be when an employee forcibly removes them from the cage to allow a customer to interact with them. Otherwise, these birds are friendly and enjoy one on one interaction through the cage bars!
My one other concern is that if I get him to step up willingingly or with a treat, will taking him out of the cage while he's on my hand undo the trust he has stepping up? In other words, if I lure him onto my hand with a treat and he's cool with that, then do I take him out of the cage? Will he decide he would rather stay in the cage than possibly be taken out and decide it's not worth the treat? Maybe I'm overthinking this. . .
If he's not willing to come out by being taken out on your hand (he becomes startled as soon as you move your hand, or move it towards the door), then you can either try luring him out or allowing him to come out on his terms.
Here's a couple of videos that may be of interest to you. The first two are about 5 budgies (I know longer keep budgies) that are flighted, all adults and untame! Ages ranged from 2-6 years old, if I recall correctly, and none really tamed before. First video, I started feeding them by hand every morning prior to refreshing their food dishes.
After a couple of weeks of doing this, I was feeding them food by hand right outside of the cage. They would come to the door of the cage, look around, then fly to my hand. A month later, and they are flying to my hand from about 4 feet away!
Kind of did something similar with my cockatiels, although I had no intention of doing so. Every morning, Casey would fly to me for scritches and to try and get in on the fresh food. None of the other tiels were tame or wanted to do anything with me... that is, until Sunshine landed on me and I mistook her for Casey (couldn't see her sitting on my hoody). I only realized it wasn't Casey when Sunshine flew off. After a few weeks, and another repeat of this odd behavior, it finally clicked! I offered Sunshine food by hand, and she happily ate away! From then on, it became a daily ritual of giving Casey scritches and feeding both by hand!
Sunshine in the Morning
Not long after I found Sunshine a new home, Faye, a new tiel decided she wanted the same thing... so I started feeding her by hand as well. She'd eat from my hand even if there was food already available!
After several weeks, Faye even became confident enough to fly to my hand to eat. I found it amazing! I stopped feeding her by hand, then Christmas came around and she was following me around the room, waiting for me to feed her! I found it stunning because although I hadn't kept up my end of the "bargain", she still remembered and still enjoyed that measly interaction with me!
Not So Hesitant Faye
Because of what Sunshine started, I was even able to get my most flightiest cockatiel to fly to my hand. He's skittish and has no trust in humans, so whenever I walk near him, he gets away from me as fast as he can! With feeding by hand, he's become less skittish of me and more accepting. Not as friendly (per-say) as the other tiels, but it was nice to see him gain some confidence.
Cockatiel Feeding - April 24th
Except for Casey, all the tiels I've cared for, and continue to care for, have been in at least 2 homes prior to mine. My point though, is that a little can go a long way! You just have to be consistent and keep using positive reinforcement!
Posted 16 March 2012 - 06:55 PM
The only problem I'm running into now is that once he is on my hand and has finished his treat, he will beginning chewing on my fingers! Not sure if this is just him being a young bird and beaking everything (it hurts though - not solely an exploratory beaking) or if he's still not sure about being on my hand. Since he's still in the cage on my hand, not sure how to distract him from that. . .
But we are getting somewhere now. I think if I am consistent enough, he will warm to us with a little time.
Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:42 PM
Rembrandt "Remi" - 7 year old male white bellied caique :wbc:
Tiki - 1 year old male?? white bellied caique :wbc:
Lily - 1 year old female goffin's cockatoo :i.batan:
Many thanks to Renae for the adorable signature picture!
Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:11 AM
What cage do you have him set up in? When I was working with the budgies, I'd often sit next to the cage and have my hand just inside the cage door so I wouldn't have to lean inside of it. I occasionally even fed the tiels in a similar manner, however I'd most often stand for them! (all the while, my arms were getting tired of being held up! But I loved every moment of it!)
Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:44 AM
He's already coming around, though. Yes, it's bribery at the moment, but he is stepping up now without my coercing him physically (just offering millet) and he doesn't seem to mind being perched on my hand outside the cage as long as I keep the seed coming. One more question if you don't mind? He's quite young - hatched 12/15/11. How much millet is too much? It's not like he's eating an entire spray in a day or anything, but I don't want to give the poor thing a heart attack from eating too much millet even if I am only using it to tempt him to hang out with me. When I sit down on the couch now, he's standing close to the door bobbing his head excitedly at me - it would appear he's begging me to come give him more as he seems to do it only when he notices I sit down in the room. I've probably reinforced that by going to him and offering him a treat for stepping up, but I'm just glad he's interacting with me some! And I can't say I mind the head bobbing - he seems happy then!!
Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:22 AM
Any progress is great! And it sounds like he's starting to associate you with good things! Even if its just bribery right now, you can later phase that out! The important thing is that he learns to enjoy coming to you!
Posted 17 March 2012 - 09:52 PM
Echo is more than willing to step up for us, without us pushing it, as long as it is not onto my fingers. She prefers to step up onto our arms, and better yet if we have long sleeves she can grip on to. I think she feels safer and we don't have a problem doing it that way. It makes her happy, which in turn makes her a more enjoyable bird to be around!
She LOVES to be on my shoulder. No matter what I am doing. Although, I can not do dishes with her on me. She thinks it's bath time and won't stay on my shoulder .
The rest of the Family.....
1 Husband, 4 kids, 2 Labs, 4 cats, 1 fishy, 2 lovebirds ( Fred and Wilma ) Pineapple Green Cheek ( Echo) 2 Green cheeks ( Cricket and Louie) and 2 tree crabs.
Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:30 AM
He is fitting in quite well with the family now. A little millet went a long way to getting him to come to me. He steps up now willingly with no problem and I don't even always have to feed a treat. I'm starting to phase it out a bit. He's still a little nippy at times, but I think it's exploration more than anything else.
Just wanted to thank you all for the great info and encourage others who are just starting out as well!
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