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Gaining Charlie’s trust

lpeonyc

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Hi all! I have been trying to gain Charlie’s trust to so we can let him out of his cage more but it’s so hard to get him back in! The other day it took us 10 hours and a lot is stress on both parts. I have had advice from a Facebook group and I just want to get your opinions on it.

It said “understand he won’t get out of his comfort zone (humans are bad) unless made to.
Take him into the smallest room in your house (usually the bathroom). Set it free in the small room and don’t make any noise. When it goes to land on anything but you, gently and quietly shoo it off that thing. When he’s exhausted he will land on you. Be absolutely still and quiet (no baby talk) don’t move, don’t look at him, just be still and quiet. Now he knows here is a safe place to sit. If he starts to preen you know you have a win because now it is relaxing. Basically you are teaching him you are the safe and relaxing spot to sit on. Then it is just time and patience but with the ice broken they quickly come around.”

What do you guys think of this method. I know that it’s being cruel to be kind but it still feel a little bit mean. Thank you!:tieln:
 

sunnysmom

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I would not do that. I think working with him in a small room is okay but I wouldn't do the rest. For a lot of reasons. But, why don't you tell us what you did when you let Charlie out? How did he react and what happened? And how long have you had him?
 

lpeonyc

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I would not do that. I think working with him in a small room is okay but I wouldn't do the rest. For a lot of reasons. But, why don't you tell us what you did when you let Charlie out? How did he react and what happened? And how long have you had him?
yeah that’s what I thought. It sounds very overwhelming for him.

Charlie is hand reared, 7 months old but we’ve had him for 4 months. He is very noisy and he has just learnt to wolf whistle. We haven’t found a fruit or vegetable he likes (which is a pain!) but he loves sunflower seeds and bran flakes.:laugh: At the moment he eats breakfast off of my hand which he’s getting great at and even puts his foot on my hand sometimes. I am also doing clicker training with him. I’ve only done this for the past two weeks and I’m trying to get him to touch the stick when it’s above my hand, but he can’t seem to get past the stage of just following the stick along his perch. So any tips if this would be great too :)

The goal when we let him out last time was for him to find his gym above his cage because he’s never been able to get up there. He’s not very good at landing bless him and the metal is too thick for him to grab onto. So I attached a ladder to the door of his cage (which he likes to sit on when he first come out) to the gym for easy access. But instead of going up this time he decided to go down and then fell onto the guard around his cage, flew up to the curtain rail and sat there all day. He would fly around occasionally but land in a different spot on the rail. I tried everything to get him to go back in... showing him his food in his cage, making a walkway with the curtain to his cage, playing a video of him so he could hear it, moving his cage to the middle of the floor so it wasn’t in the corner, but nothing was working. He didn’t get back in until 10:15pm when I held his food pot up to him, he stood on it, and I slowly lowered him down.
 
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sunnysmom

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I don't have baby bird experience but I think part of what you're up against is he's a baby still and he just has to learn. He's probably not a super great flyer yet, and instinctively birds fly up, not down for safety. So, the little guy might need to work on flying down. And it's always a good thing to teach birds anyway. One of the problems with when a bird escapes outside that people have is they keep flying up, to a higher and higher tree and don't know just to fly down. He also might not know of a safe place to land. That's the other problem I sometimes see with new birds. Once they're out, they don't know where to go. Is the play gym attached to his cage top? If he's never been on it, it might be scary to him. A lot of times a bird will feel safe landing on top of his cage. I would maybe try taking the play gym off for a little bit. Can you put it on a table or somewhere he can see it and introduce him slowly to it? I often have to let my birds see something new for awhile before they will touch it. (Even my cockatoo who is pretty fearless.) And then when you have him out try to show him some places he can go - the cage top or another area. Have you tried millet spray with Charlie? Most tiels love it and it can be a great training reward. And also a good bribery tool. It sounds like you're making good progress with him. You can also try getting him to step up on a perch if he's still leery of hands. I'll tag some others for some more suggestions.

@Tiel Feathers @Monica
 

lpeonyc

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I don't have baby bird experience but I think part of what you're up against is he's a baby still and he just has to learn. He's probably not a super great flyer yet, and instinctively birds fly up, not down for safety. So, the little guy might need to work on flying down. And it's always a good thing to teach birds anyway. One of the problems with when a bird escapes outside that people have is they keep flying up, to a higher and higher tree and don't know just to fly down. He also might not know of a safe place to land. That's the other problem I sometimes see with new birds. Once they're out, they don't know where to go. Is the play gym attached to his cage top? If he's never been on it, it might be scary to him. A lot of times a bird will feel safe landing on top of his cage. I would maybe try taking the play gym off for a little bit. Can you put it on a table or somewhere he can see it and introduce him slowly to it? I often have to let my birds see something new for awhile before they will touch it. (Even my cockatoo who is pretty fearless.) And then when you have him out try to show him some places he can go - the cage top or another area. Have you tried millet spray with Charlie? Most tiels love it and it can be a great training reward. And also a good bribery tool. It sounds like you're making good progress with him. You can also try getting him to step up on a perch if he's still leery of hands. I'll tag some others for some more suggestions.

@Tiel Feathers @Monica
thank you! This is so useful! I would like to get him out more so he can learn to fly better but I don’t know if he might perceive it as negative because it’s stressful when he goes back. I’m not sure how to get over this hurdle.

I could unscrew his gym but it would become very unstable because it only attached in three points. Would you suggest in getting a tabletop perch?

He has had millet a few time but seems to gravitate towards sunflower seeds more. I will try millet with him again though.
 

Tazlima

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What do you guys think of this method. I know that it’s being cruel to be kind but it still feel a little bit mean. Thank you!:tieln:
I think your instincts are spot on. It IS mean, and counterproductive to boot. So you're supposed to terrify the bird over and over again until it's too exhausted to escape, then cuddle it and watch it be relieved that this terrifying creature didn't eat it after all? That's supposed to be kindness?

Honestly, it sounds like a horror movie. Imagine brandishing a knife and chasing a screaming, crying child around a locked room until they're exhausted. Finally, when they can't run or fight any more, you hold the knife to their throat, they're sure they're going to die, and you say "haha, just kidding. I would never hurt you; wanna be my best friend now?"

That's how the bird perceives the situation and just... no.

Look at how wild birds handle potentially scary things, e.g. a person walking nearby. They fly away, perch someplace high up and safe, and they they watch. Does the person chase birds? Feed them? Ignore them? They'll keep their distance and observe until THEY decide the person is safe. Then they may test the waters, coming closer to see if the person reacts to them. Once they finally decide the person is harmless, they'll be perfectly comfortable with your presence, but it has to happen on their timetable, and frightening them in any way will just slow down the process.
 
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Sodapop&Co.

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It said “understand he won’t get out of his comfort zone (humans are bad) unless made to.
Take him into the smallest room in your house (usually the bathroom). Set it free in the small room and don’t make any noise. When it goes to land on anything but you, gently and quietly shoo it off that thing. When he’s exhausted he will land on you. Be absolutely still and quiet (no baby talk) don’t move, don’t look at him, just be still and quiet. Now he knows here is a safe place to sit. If he starts to preen you know you have a win because now it is relaxing. Basically you are teaching him you are the safe and relaxing spot to sit on. Then it is just time and patience but with the ice broken they quickly come around.”
That's a terrible idea. I'm glad you felt the same. Sad that people recommend such methods. What a sentence: "he won't stop thinking humans are bad until you force him to". Feels like a direct contradiction. Funny but that's like exactly the method people use for training horses sometimes - and the effectiveness of that alone is questionable but with a tiny little prey animal like a bird that's just awful.
 

lpeonyc

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That's a terrible idea. I'm glad you felt the same. Sad that people recommend such methods. What a sentence: "he won't stop thinking humans are bad until you force him to". Feels like a direct contradiction. Funny but that's like exactly the method people use for training horses sometimes - and the effectiveness of that alone is questionable but with a tiny little prey animal like a bird that's just awful.
yeah I definitely felt like I needed other peoples opinions on it because Charlie is my first bird and I’d never heard this before but it just seemed so spiteful and extreme. I’m so glad everyone else agrees because I don’t think I could have put him through that
 

Destiny

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I would also say that is not a good method for building trust. It sounds like flooding, a method for overwhelming the bird until they give in and accept a negative stimulus. It is a type of prolonged exposure therapy, used to force the animal (or person) to confront the thing that they fear for a long period of time.

Some people advocate flooding because it can produce fast results. But it is traumatic and can result in the animal developing learned helplessness, rather than true healing of the underlying trauma that caused the fear. This can result in unpredictable problems later on, when the same issues start to appear under new circumstances, because the fear is unresolved. Or the therapy might fail completely and the animal might become sensitized - instead of being less reactive to the negative stimulus, the new trauma causes even greater fear and more extreme avoidance behaviors.

...

Imagine if you have an irrational fear of spiders, so your therapist decides you need to confront your fear head on. He locks you in a dark basement room full of spiders and cobwebs for an unknown length of time. You are terrified and want to escape, but you can't leave. You scream for help, but no one lets you out. You see a big spider, watching you from the corner of the room and you feel paralyzed with fear. Suddenly, something brushes against the back of your neck and you completely lose it.

A few hours later, you are emotionally drained and physically exhausted, unable to scream or thrash around, just laying on the floor, blankly staring at the dusty cobwebs on the ceiling. You don't even react when a fat black spider crawls across the bare skin of your arm.

Are you cured? Maybe. After this experience, I imagine encountering a harmless jumping spider in your kitchen would feel pretty tame. Or maybe seeing that spider will trigger a flashback to this basement room and you will be even more scared. It could go either way, really. And that's the problem with flooding. It can work okay for overcoming mild fears, but if your fear is too strong, direct confrontation is quite traumatic. And new trauma doesn't fix old trauma. It just adds to it. Like another layer of dust on the cobwebs.

...

Long story short, I would recommend patience and gentle handling as the better approach for overcoming fear and building trust.

For your bird, I would try bird-proofing the entire room and clearing your schedule before letting the bird out again. Pick a time in the afternoon or evening when you don't have any other plans or anywhere you need to be for the rest of the day. Then let the bird out and allow him to explore without a lot of direct interaction. Stay in the room to monitor, but let him do what he wants with his freedom. That might mean he spends a few hours up on the curtains and that is fine. Keep yourself entertained with a book or whatever. Maybe play some relaxing music. Keep an eye on the bird, but pretend to "ignore" him rather than just watching constantly so he doesn't feel hunted. It might take several sessions, but he should eventually start to relax and explore other spots in the room. It helps to offer safe landing spots, like a perch on the outside of the cage or a play gym/tree in a nice location. Higher locations will feel safer, so provide some nice landing spots up high ... or expect Charlie to find his own.

To get him back to the cage without problems, there are several different approaches. He might go back on his own when he gets hungry or when it gets dark out. Placing a nightlight by the cage and dimming the room lights might encourage him to return once it get late.

If he is reluctant to return, you can try offering a perch and transporting him there, like you did with the food dish.

For a more hands-off approach, you could gently herd him back to the cage by walking slowly over to his current location and allowing him to relocate to a different spot. Captive birds usually see their cage as a safe haven, so he will likely return there eventually, given the choice.

If all else fails, you might allow him to remain out of cage for the night, assuming the room is completely bird-safe and you don't have other animals or birds that might hurt him.

The goal is for Charlie to be able to be let out and put back easily, but it can take a while to reach that point, especially with an untamed bird. Keep working on building trust and target training. Step-up is a very useful trick for getting birds to go where you want.
 

lpeonyc

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I would also say that is not a good method for building trust. It sounds like flooding, a method for overwhelming the bird until they give in and accept a negative stimulus. It is a type of prolonged exposure therapy, used to force the animal (or person) to confront the thing that they fear for a long period of time.

Some people advocate flooding because it can produce fast results. But it is traumatic and can result in the animal developing learned helplessness, rather than true healing of the underlying trauma that caused the fear. This can result in unpredictable problems later on, when the same issues start to appear under new circumstances, because the fear is unresolved. Or the therapy might fail completely and the animal might become sensitized - instead of being less reactive to the negative stimulus, the new trauma causes even greater fear and more extreme avoidance behaviors.

...

Imagine if you have an irrational fear of spiders, so your therapist decides you need to confront your fear head on. He locks you in a dark basement room full of spiders and cobwebs for an unknown length of time. You are terrified and want to escape, but you can't leave. You scream for help, but no one lets you out. You see a big spider, watching you from the corner of the room and you feel paralyzed with fear. Suddenly, something brushes against the back of your neck and you completely lose it.

A few hours later, you are emotionally drained and physically exhausted, unable to scream or thrash around, just laying on the floor, blankly staring at the dusty cobwebs on the ceiling. You don't even react when a fat black spider crawls across the bare skin of your arm.

Are you cured? Maybe. After this experience, I imagine encountering a harmless jumping spider in your kitchen would feel pretty tame. Or maybe seeing that spider will trigger a flashback to this basement room and you will be even more scared. It could go either way, really. And that's the problem with flooding. It can work okay for overcoming mild fears, but if your fear is too strong, direct confrontation is quite traumatic. And new trauma doesn't fix old trauma. It just adds to it. Like another layer of dust on the cobwebs.

...

Long story short, I would recommend patience and gentle handling as the better approach for overcoming fear and building trust.

For your bird, I would try bird-proofing the entire room and clearing your schedule before letting the bird out again. Pick a time in the afternoon or evening when you don't have any other plans or anywhere you need to be for the rest of the day. Then let the bird out and allow him to explore without a lot of direct interaction. Stay in the room to monitor, but let him do what he wants with his freedom. That might mean he spends a few hours up on the curtains and that is fine. Keep yourself entertained with a book or whatever. Maybe play some relaxing music. Keep an eye on the bird, but pretend to "ignore" him rather than just watching constantly so he doesn't feel hunted. It might take several sessions, but he should eventually start to relax and explore other spots in the room. It helps to offer safe landing spots, like a perch on the outside of the cage or a play gym/tree in a nice location. Higher locations will feel safer, so provide some nice landing spots up high ... or expect Charlie to find his own.

To get him back to the cage without problems, there are several different approaches. He might go back on his own when he gets hungry or when it gets dark out. Placing a nightlight by the cage and dimming the room lights might encourage him to return once it get late.

If he is reluctant to return, you can try offering a perch and transporting him there, like you did with the food dish.

For a more hands-off approach, you could gently herd him back to the cage by walking slowly over to his current location and allowing him to relocate to a different spot. Captive birds usually see their cage as a safe haven, so he will likely return there eventually, given the choice.

If all else fails, you might allow him to remain out of cage for the night, assuming the room is completely bird-safe and you don't have other animals or birds that might hurt him.

The goal is for Charlie to be able to be let out and put back easily, but it can take a while to reach that point, especially with an untamed bird. Keep working on building trust and target training. Step-up is a very useful trick for getting birds to go where you want.
Thank you! This is all ready helpful x we left him alone all day but we were getting worried that he would be out all night plus he hadn’t had any food or water since 12 noon because he wasn’t going back. We also dimmed the lights and had a lamp near his cage so he would be able to see it, to show him that it was night time but that didn’t help either. But knowing that he doesn’t mind sitting on his food pot and being moved was really helpful and now I know for next time :) As he’s still scared of hands and step up seems a long way away which is frustrating because I want him to be able to come and go as he pleases. I am going the route of touch training which I spoke about in another comment but if you have done this training before and have any tips that would be great too:)
 

Destiny

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Charlie might like a t-perch for transports, if he doesn't like hands. This is a simple wood perch with a cross beam for the bird to grab, shaped like the letter T.

Something like this:


Or this:



Or this:


The T-stands are also very handy for weighing your bird.

If you don't have a t-perch or t-stand, a regular straight perch or long stick can also do the trick.
 

lpeonyc

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Tha
Charlie might like a t-perch for transports, if he doesn't like hands. This is a simple wood perch with a cross beam for the bird to grab, shaped like the letter T.

Something like this:


Or this:



Or this:


The T-stands are also very handy for weighing your bird.

If you don't have a t-perch or t-stand, a regular straight perch or long stick can also do the trick.
Thank you! I think Charlie would like that! I’ll definitely look into getting one x
 

sunnysmom

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thank you! This is so useful! I would like to get him out more so he can learn to fly better but I don’t know if he might perceive it as negative because it’s stressful when he goes back. I’m not sure how to get over this hurdle.

I could unscrew his gym but it would become very unstable because it only attached in three points. Would you suggest in getting a tabletop perch?

He has had millet a few time but seems to gravitate towards sunflower seeds more. I will try millet with him again though.
A table top perch may work better. At least for now. You can put the play gym back on the cage later as he gets more used to things/it. I twill get easier in time getting him to go back in. And it sounds like you do it already, but I always let my birds come out of their cage by themselves. I don't force them to come out. If he really likes sunflower seeds then use that as a reward for him going back in his cage. I used to use millet spray as a cage only treat for my birds. Also, praise, praise, praise. When he does something well, really make a big deal out of it. :)
 

fashionfobie

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Also, praise, praise, praise. When he does something well, really make a big deal out of it. :)
:hug8:
Though be careful to not make too big of a deal which could scare him. Just the correct amount of a big deal :D :)
 

lpeonyc

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A table top perch may work better. At least for now. You can put the play gym back on the cage later as he gets more used to things/it. I twill get easier in time getting him to go back in. And it sounds like you do it already, but I always let my birds come out of their cage by themselves. I don't force them to come out. If he really likes sunflower seeds then use that as a reward for him going back in his cage. I used to use millet spray as a cage only treat for my birds. Also, praise, praise, praise. When he does something well, really make a big deal out of it. :)
Thank you so much for your help! Yes I never force Charlie to do anything he doesn’t want. It’s all at his speed :) so do you recommend taking his gym off the top of his cage while I teach him about the table top one so this gives him the option of landing on top of his cage? x
 

Monica

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It said “understand he won’t get out of his comfort zone (humans are bad) unless made to.
I agree with the others... this is really out-dated info... and sadly, hundreds/thousands of people still follow this approach.


We haven’t found a fruit or vegetable he likes
Have you tried sprouted seeds? Carrot tops? Broccoli? Parsley? Wet leafy kale?


I am also doing clicker training with him. I’ve only done this for the past two weeks and I’m trying to get him to touch the stick when it’s above my hand, but he can’t seem to get past the stage of just following the stick along his perch.
Keep working on the target (not touch) training! He doesn't physically need to touch the target in order to be target trained! If he prefers sunflower seeds over millet, then use those! But cut them into half or quarters and don't put them in his main diet. It may be a good idea to feed him a 50/50 mixture of seeds and pellets then with however much fresh foods you can get him to eat in a day.

Where exactly are you doing the training at? Can you possibly get a video of it?



Do you have a small carry cage? If not, get one! If he's "stuck" up high, he might be more willing to jump on top of a small cage you can hold up rather than a stick like object.
 

lpeonyc

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I agree with the others... this is really out-dated info... and sadly, hundreds/thousands of people still follow this approach.




Have you tried sprouted seeds? Carrot tops? Broccoli? Parsley? Wet leafy kale?




Keep working on the target (not touch) training! He doesn't physically need to touch the target in order to be target trained! If he prefers sunflower seeds over millet, then use those! But cut them into half or quarters and don't put them in his main diet. It may be a good idea to feed him a 50/50 mixture of seeds and pellets then with however much fresh foods you can get him to eat in a day.

Where exactly are you doing the training at? Can you possibly get a video of it?



Do you have a small carry cage? If not, get one! If he's "stuck" up high, he might be more willing to jump on top of a small cage you can hold up rather than a stick like object.
we have tried carrots raw and cooked, broccoli, cucumber, green beans, apple, baby corn which he didn’t mind. He’s just very weary of anything except sunflower seeds and bran flakes :laughing2: we have tried putting them in his food pot too but he either eats around them or picks them out :laughing2: I will keep trying with different fruit and veg with him x

Oops sorry I meant target training x I take the sunflower seeds out of his seed mix so he only gets them as a reward as well. I am doing the target training in his cage at the moment because it’s difficult to get him back in his cage when he’s out. I am away for a couple of days (the rest of my family is looking after him as they always do) but I can video when I get back.

We have a small travel cage for him but its too small and we need to get another one but he might prefer standing on that your right x
 

Monica

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Here's some threads I've put together that may help. :)






 

sunnysmom

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Thank you so much for your help! Yes I never force Charlie to do anything he doesn’t want. It’s all at his speed :) so do you recommend taking his gym off the top of his cage while I teach him about the table top one so this gives him the option of landing on top of his cage? x
Yes, that's what I would do.

As for fresh foods, it took me 3 months to get my first tiel to eat any. LOL. And I tried everyday. Sometimes they can be stubborn but he eventually loved them. One thing they often like fresh broccoli tops chopped in tiny pieces and sprinkle it on top of their food. Cut up, they look like little seeds. My tiel also liked big leafy greens- romaine, boston, etc. And you can hand feed them to him as a kind of bonding/taming thing since they're long. Other favs were cooked mashed sweet potato, snap peas and green beans. Tiels typically don't eat fruit. So vegetables are better to focus on. Also, my current tiels love freeze dried vegetables. They took to them instantly.
 

lpeonyc

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Yes, that's what I would do.

As for fresh foods, it took me 3 months to get my first tiel to eat any. LOL. And I tried everyday. Sometimes they can be stubborn but he eventually loved them. One thing they often like fresh broccoli tops chopped in tiny pieces and sprinkle it on top of their food. Cut up, they look like little seeds. My tiel also liked big leafy greens- romaine, boston, etc. And you can hand feed them to him as a kind of bonding/taming thing since they're long. Other favs were cooked mashed sweet potato, snap peas and green beans. Tiels typically don't eat fruit. So vegetables are better to focus on. Also, my current tiels love freeze dried vegetables. They took to them instantly.
thank you these are some great ideas that I haven’t thought of x I didn’t know that they don’t really eat fruits which will definitely save some time lol. I will definitely look for some freeze dried veg for him!
 
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