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Cockatiel with social anxiety/ptsd

Vaetor

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I recently got a cockatiel that had lived in a basement with very little social contact for years. He's really shy and will hiss at anything that comes close to him. His cage is right next to my Zebra Finch, I can already tell its doing some good. I'm just a little worried about him and I want to know if I could be helping him more in some way. He screams whenever someone walks out of the room he's in. Otherwise he's super friendly inside his cage and physically he looks perfect.
 

Tiel Feathers

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It sounds like he likes having you around if he gets upset when you leave. That is really good, since you would think he would be scared of people being that he wasn’t socialized at all. Poor little bird, I’m glad you have taken him in. I bet he gets even more comfortable with you as time goes on. Sitting and reading to him and dropping a treat in his dish frequently will help him get used to you even more. Post a picture of him when you get a chance!
 

Vaetor

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A few days ago I got him to let me take him out of his cage. He would attack your finger really gently, and kinda rub his beak on you and squawk at you if you touched his back. He would let me pet the top of his head and it seemed like he really liked it. But today I was holding him on my lap and everything was fine but when I went to put my finger at his feet so he could climb on so that I could put him away and he bit me. Hard. He's never actually bitten me before. Eventually he climbed on my finger but then instantly reached down and bit me. I managed to get him back into him cage but if I put my hand near his cage even, he hisses at me. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. All of the sudden he was really hostile.
 

Fergus Mom

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@Vaetor - First of all, a big :welcome2: to you and your Cockatiel! Can you see the search box here at Avian Avenue? Just type in 'scared Cockatiel' or 'taming cockatiel' to read similar posts and get some ideas to use! I'll bet he will come around quickly once he learns that you are there to love him and take care of him forever! :heart:
 

sunnysmom

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He's beautiful. Thank you for helping him. It seems like you're doing really well with him already. Hands can be scary to tiels, especially hands in the cage. Maybe work out handfeeding him some treats to show him that hands aren't scary.
 

Tiel Feathers

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I think he’s still just leery of your hands. I think @sunnysmom had a good idea about offering treats. I had a tiel who never liked skin, so I had him step up onto my covered arm. One of my tiels, Sunset, only likes to step up onto the back of my hand. Just respect his wishes and watch his body language so you can avoid the bites. Don’t forget to reward all the good behavior and ignore the rest. Maybe try perch or target training. I like to use millet for a reward, and I save it only for training and taming.

As for scratches, only pet his head. All of my tiels are temperamental when it comes to scratches. One minute they love it, the next they don’t, so that’s perfectly normal. :lol:
Sometimes my tiels will literally ask for scratches, and when I oblige, they immediately get mad at me because I’m doing it wrong.:meh:
 

Lady Jane

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It will take time, months to perhaps longer than one year. So be patient with him and let things develop at his pace, not yours.
Anything that is stimulating will make him nervous in the early stages. Try playing the many videos of singing Cockatiels on YouTube once in a while. He may enjoy that.
 

Vaetor

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Everything has been going downhill since the last post. My family says he's screaming when I'm gone but when I'm home he actively tries to attack me. I've been able to take him out by covering my hand with a cloth and he seems so happy when he's out. Like he'll bob his head and sing but if he see's any skin he'll chase it down. He was sitting on my lap today and I had my hand sitting next to me about a foot away. As soon as he noticed it was there he charged at me so I raised my hand so I wouldn't get bit and he flew at my hand and attacked me. I really don't think this is normal. The coloring on his face is changing too. Right above his beak is turning reddish orange like the color of his cheeks making him look (along with the way he's acting) like he's been possessed or something. Is there some kind of disease that this could be? I've read some other posts of the aggression but they all have a cause like a mate or puberty. But they all have another cockatiel in the picture and none of them have the red face. I'm concerned I don't know what to do.
 
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TikiMyn

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Oh no I am so sorry! Has he been checked by a vet? Could you post a pic of how his colors are changing? That would worry me.
 

Vaetor

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1534106533740954917180.jpg
Its just slightly but there's a considerable difference if you look at the other picture.
 

Tiel Feathers

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Is there a red or orange toy he’s been playing with or eating anything red or orange? Getting a vet check is a good idea because illnesses can make birds cranky. Can you post a picture of your cage set up? Is there anything in it he can precieve as a nest? Is everybody in your family respectful of him? Make sure you give him a lot of treats when you walk by his cage or when he is out with you, either from your hands or in his treat cup. A long spray of millet works well for this. You don’t have to let him eat the whole thing, but it might get him used to your hands if you can hold it for him. Have you tried target training while he is in his cage, or perch training?
 

macawpower58

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It could have been fear that had him so mellow at first. Fear of a predator 'you' can make birds freeze or be very calm.

Now that he is a little more settled, you may be seeing the real, untamed bird he is.

Patience, patience and more patience are the key. Don't force him to accept handling, that will make him bite you.
 

blewin

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Some 'tiels just don't seem to like skin. The fact that he doesn't mind your hand when it's covered seems to support this. He probably had a bad hand experience, and now you are going to have to prove that your hand is not evil. I would basically do the millet trick (hand is the giver of millet). For now, you might want to use a perch for stepping up, etc, unless you just want to keep your hand covered for that.

Just out of curiosity, what happens if you wear gloves?

The red beak thing looks like food coloring off a chew toy. Buddy used to look like we dyed her for Easter after chewing on her toys.
 

Monica

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Remove the mirror from the cage.

The Problem with Giving your Bird a Mirror | Feisty Feathers

As suggested, only pet the head. Touching the back could either elicit a mating response *OR* potentially make them feel like they are under attack.


Find his favorite treat (millet is pretty popular!) and feed that to him by hand.
 
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