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Encourage Cockatiel to Explore Outside His Cage??

brebbo

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Hi, How do I encourage my tiel to explore out of his cage? He only wants to come out when I'm near and when I have treats. He eats and then goes right back in his cage. Sometimes he perches on my arm and i step away from his cage but then he freezes and immediately flies back. If I don't have food he just doesn't want to move at all. Sometimes when something spooks him when he's outside he flies away to somewhere high and stays there for hours. I don't have space for a bird tree or large play stands or anything. He isn't super interested in toys even though I've tried to get him to play. Plus he is scared of most things (new perches, toys, basically anything he's never seen before) The store told me he was a few months old but I'm not sure. He doesn't completely trust me yet but will perch on my arm. Any tips on how I could get him to explore the outside world?
 

Fuzzy

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Just entice him out in small, manageable stages. If he's only been used to being inside a cage for who knows how long, the world outside might seem scary. If he'll perch on your arm for a treat, don't walk away from the cage yet - give him the treat, then put him straight back down again. That way you'll build trust. Then gradually you might move your arm a few inches, treat, and put him back again. Eventually you'll be able to take a few steps away from the cage, treat, and back again. Keep an eye on his body language and aim to keep it relaxed at all times. By always returning him to his cage/safety, he will realise you aren't going to do anything scary and that he's in control. If you don't have room for a playstand how about getting a large spring swing/boing and hanging it from the ceiling? I have these all over the house and the birds love them - it gives them something to land on and hang out on when out of their cages. Plus they are high up where birds feel safer:



Re introducing him to toys - start with small easily destroyed toys made of balsa wood perhaps. If he's afraid of colour, start off with plain wood colour and gradually introduce other materials/colours. You might want to make your own tiny toys to begin with and tie them to the sides of the cage where they won't swing around so much. That's what I did for Ollie the Orange-winged Amazon and we gradually worked up to massive toys, but his favourite were always the small ones I made for him and tied to his door. Ollie's on the top of the Boing in the picture.
 

brebbo

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Oooh yess I will try that. Is there anyway to help me desensitize him to swings and boings? I don't think he has ever seen one of those much less land on it. I'm afraid its going to make outside time much scarier if he accidentally crashes into it or something. Hes a very skittish tiel and today he was absolutely terrified of a small paper plate that I was holding that wasn't even close to him. I couldn't even lure him towards it with millet.
 

flyzipper

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Is there anyway to help me desensitize him to swings and boings?
... Hes a very skittish tiel and today he was absolutely terrified of a small paper plate that I was holding that wasn't even close to him.
I'd concentrate on this...
He doesn't completely trust me yet
My guys trust me, and using your paper plate example, I would usually just have to touch the object to my face and they would get the hint that it's not a threat (works for showing them that a food they haven't seen before is actually edible too).

I think it's key (or at least very helpful) that they trust their person in order for that non-verbal communication to work.

Scary person has a scary thing, becomes trusted person has an interesting thing.

For the boing, I would hang something familiar with it that they like, and their natural curiosity will lead them to the boing -- their choice + no force = no fear and increased trust.
The store told me he was a few months old
... and then simply, patience and time.
In a supportive enriching environment, they tend to get more bold and exploratory with age and confidence -- which comes with its own set of challenges :)
 
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brebbo

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gotcha. is there any way to like get my tiel to actually enjoy my presence without being motivated by food too much? I feel like sometimes he sees me coming and thinks "oh there's treats coming" and when there isn't he just becomes unmotivated and doesn't even want to come near me. Longterm I don't want to teach him "follow the food" you know? I sit by his cage all the time and speak to him and he just sleeps lol
 

flyzipper

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is there any way to like get my tiel to actually enjoy my presence
I'd lump that into...
... patience and time.
... and...
their choice + no force = no fear and increased trust
Once they trust us as their flock, their instinct is to be with us, or at least, aware of what we're up to (I find their curiosity is eventually more powerful than food drive).

My birds fly to me when I come in the door (like a dog greeting its family), or fly to me when they want some scritches, or hear me doing something interesting, etc. My morning routine with Oscar, for example, is him helping me open the blinds on our windows and looking out each one. All my guys will sit nearby and preen while I read, as another example. The specific activities will vary, but for everyone who has an established relationship with their birds, they will have all sorts of stores about things their birds like to do with them that don't involve food.

The challenge we run into as we build these relationships is to ensure they've learned to be an independent member of the flock, and not overly bonded with and dependant on us.

I enjoy this perspective and find it to align with my experience with my guys...
 
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FeatheredM

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One thing my budgies went crazy for was a foraging carton. I just take a large egg carton and put treats in there then I gradually put some things or stuff to make finding treats harder.
Remember to be patient and consistent. Some birds take longer to adjust to new homes and people.
 

Fuzzy

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gotcha. is there any way to like get my tiel to actually enjoy my presence without being motivated by food too much? I feel like sometimes he sees me coming and thinks "oh there's treats coming" and when there isn't he just becomes unmotivated and doesn't even want to come near me. Longterm I don't want to teach him "follow the food" you know? I sit by his cage all the time and speak to him and he just sleeps lol
Food/treats are a great reinforcer to use with birds that are not yet “tame”. Food/treats are a primary reinforcer (ie. unlearned). Gradually secondary reinforcers become paired with that primary reinforcer… like your presence, etc. Gradually he’ll begin to look forward to being with you because it is reinforcing in itself and you won’t need to use the treats so much. It all just takes a lot of time and patience.

If he’s ok with you sitting by his cage, great. But if he’s showing sign of stress then back off to a distance that he is comfortable with. Your aim always is to try to keep his body language relaxed. Again, that relaxed state will also get paired with your presence bringing trust and confidence.
 

Pixiebeak

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I'm so impressed with all the knowledgeable members and the advice they have shared with you!

It does take time to earn trust. But you should be proud of how far you have come already! You will just keep building on that. I've bribed my way into many birds hearts. Birds understand food gifts. Nothing wrong with regard good behavior always.

Birds are often raised in plastic tubs without much exposure or enrichment. That will develop with time and their natural curiosity. When I add stuff I just let them find it and explore on their own. I dont come towards them with new objects.

The advice shared above about providing them places to explore is excellent. Attach perches on the outside sides and top of his cage. Add food and water dishes and easy stuff to chew. This expands and enriches their world. Why not take advantage of the wasted vertical space above the cage? I also use long ceiling hook screws and heavy weight fishing line to hang big rope spiral and swings down to just above the cage. Just above their head height when they stand in too of cage. That way they can grab with their beak and climb up. I hide " Easter eggs " for them to find when they explore , tie on a little millet and such.

Praise , praise when he sticks his head out of the cage, when he starts to explore. I've found Birds to be suckers for praise, flattery, and bragging, even if they don't show it at first. I start off with pairing "good birdie " with everything positive for them . Every time they take a treat, eat, drink, preen, start a nap, play I say " good birdie " to link it with a positive feeling. Soon they understand that, and when you ask them to do something praise and treat. Over time ..maybe a few months or a year you might find they are thrilled to do stuff for just a "good birdie " but I still reward with treats here and there. I still hand out food to them nearly every day, even just a pellet or part of their diet as part if maintenance bond. It makes me laugh to see them leave a bowl of pellets to run to me to take one of the exact same pellet by hand.

Spend time whistling and chatting with him.

Good luck, you are going to get there, and your bond will become more rewarding and deep over time.
 
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