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Anxiety in Birds

Coelle

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Nicole
I was curious about anyone’s experience with anxiety issues in their birds. Nibbler has always been a bit jumpy but I feel like it’s really gotten a lot worse since we moved to the UK, which is understandable since it’s such a big change but I was wondering what you guys do to help your birds with anxiety? I’ve spoken to our vet and she recommended valerian drops, has anyone given this a try?

The thing that prompted this post was that I recently got him some new toys and rearranged his cage hoping to give him some more enrichment but he was terrified of it. He’s come around to it slowly but I feel like when I get him up in the morning now his eyes are wide, like he’s scared and I wonder if he doesn’t feel as comfortable in his cage anymore because I changed it. Has anyone else had this reaction from their birds in regards to redecorating/rearranging their cage? And if so what have you done to help ease their anxiety?
 

Rædwalda

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I wouldn't call it anxiety, but a couple of weeks ago I put a new rope perch in my Canary cage, whereas before she had only had various wooden ones. It took her a day or two just to even land on the rope perch and over a week before she would stay on it and she still wont sleep on it at night. I thought about taking it out but I decided being a little out of her comfort zone might actually do her some good.

Also she used to land on the lampshade every time she left the cage, but it had started to get a bit dirty so I replaced it with a new one, and added some Bamboo canes, and she stopped landing there altogether and has only just started to use it for very short periods at a time.

It seems to be they take time to get used to any change in their cages or surroundings. I've only had her since the end of may, so it's not like she lived for years with that lampshade and that perch, so I can't see she could be THAT attached to these objects, so I'm guessing it's just a case of getting used to change.

Personally I would leave him be and let him settle. Don't make any more changes to the cage and try not to stress him, I'm sure he will settle in and the anxiety will pass.
 

sunnysmom

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I think it's pretty common for birds to be afraid of new things. For my first cockatiel, I would have to put a new toy outside of his cage where he could see it for a few days. Then hang it on the outside of his cage for a few days. Then finally move it into his cage. I couldn't just put in right in. Even my cockatoo Elvis, who is the toy destroyer periodically gets nervous of a new toy if it's a different type than what he's used to. So, I take it out and let him see it outside the cage then eventually put it back in. Birds are "prey" animals so their instincts are to be on alert for "danger". New items can be perceived as something scary. I think you just have to introduce things slowly to them. And I rarely rearrange my birds' cages. I give them new toys, yes. But perches and dishes, I generally keep in the same places.
 

Coelle

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I thought it was good for their mental stimulation to change up their environment? Maybe I’m misunderstanding the concept? Before he would mostly just be cautious of new things and sort of approach them on his own terms where now he seems outright terrified of things. Poor guy; to be fair he has had to go through a lot of changes in the past year (having to do a month long quarantine at my parents house without me there most of the time, moving to the uk, the whole situation with Cleo and now Hermes joining the family. He’s probably thinking ‘what the heck is going on!?!?’
 

sunnysmom

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Changing toys is definitely good for mental stimulation. I have older birds so I don't like to put them through the stress of changing their perches and dishes too much.
 

Rædwalda

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I think it's pretty common for birds to be afraid of new things. For my first cockatiel, I would have to put a new toy outside of his cage where he could see it for a few days. Then hang it on the outside of his cage for a few days. Then finally move it into his cage. I couldn't just put in right in. Even my cockatoo Elvis, who is the toy destroyer periodically gets nervous of a new toy if it's a different type than what he's used to. So, I take it out and let him see it outside the cage then eventually put it back in. Birds are "prey" animals so their instincts are to be on alert for "danger". New items can be perceived as something scary. I think you just have to introduce things slowly to them. And I rarely rearrange my birds' cages. I give them new toys, yes. But perches and dishes, I generally keep in the same places.

That is some really good advice, and so far I was following that, for example I started putting her bath and treat dish on top of the cage so she could get used to them, before placing them in different parts of the room.

I think after our experience with the rope perch I will be a bit more careful about adding new things like that in future. I don't think it was too bad for her, as she's a young and perky Canary with plenty of attitude, but I don't think it was the best way to do it.
 

Lady Jane

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One thing you can do to help a nervous bird is to establish a daily routine so he will know what to expect. FYI valerian is a rather strong herb used for insomnia. Also for anxiety but research on this use is very limited.
 

Coelle

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One thing you can do to help a nervous bird is to establish a daily routine so he will know what to expect. FYI valerian is a rather strong herb used for insomnia. Also for anxiety but research on this use is very limited.
Interesting, I honestly didn’t know much about valerian. I know that it’s usually dosed for humans (our vet did warn to only give a very tiny amount and to send her a picture of the bottle and ingredients so she could sort of direct us) but we haven’t gotten any yet.

Honestly with this past year I could probably use some myself :p.
 

MiniMacaw

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I think changing up the cage depends entirely on the birds personality. I change most of my birds cages a ton. But my one macaw Seamus, almost never. He’s had the same set up for a year now, with the exception of new balsa toys put in only one at a time until completely destroyed, then a replacement in the same area. If I changed his cage around he’d be a complete stressed mess. He’s safe and comfortable in his cage when it’s always the same, so when he comes home from the vets or sunning outside he knows there’s no nasty surprises, like a new perch lol.
 
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