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Help! New bird owner with two lovebirds

Rigin

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Unexpectedly, my dad came home yesterday with a cage with two lovebirds in it; One green and the other blue. He knew that I've had a fascination with birds and planned to get one of my own eventually, which is what spurred the sudden turn of events.

When I came home from work, I proceeded to bring them up to my room and place the cage high up on my dresser such that my eyes stand an inch or two below theirs because I heard that birds like being higher up. Upon looking closer at their living conditions, I suspect that the previous owner my dad got these birds from did not interact with them much at all. There was a cardboard lining till about halfway up the side of the cage, no toys, and the food and water feeder just chucked in randomly at the bottom of the cage. The bowl that kept the water in it was absolutely disgusting as it was turning green and had all kinds of crap floating around in it.

I went out and bought brand new feeders that attach to the sides of the cage, a couple toys, some millet and one of those cute bird tent things the same day because that seemed like the necessities. Trying to set up the cage proved to be difficult and time consuming because Blue (we'll call the blue one Blue and the green one Green for simplicity sake as I've yet to name them) kept chasing and trying to bite my hand throughout the entire process. Blue eventually managed to get me where I wasn't expecting and drew a bit of blood on a more tender part of my hand (the side of my hand a little below the pinky finger). I haven't removed the makeshift cardboard barrier as I'm not comfortable with taking the birds out of the cage till I get more advice on my current situation. They seem to really enjoy the tent often climbing on top or through it and nibbling at the sides. Blue, being the more dominant one likes to commandeer it for his/herself, but they won't touch the toy I hung up a little off to the side.

I have no idea what the sexes or ages of my birds are or how they were treated in their previous home as well...

More or less, I really don't know what to do to develop a relationship with my birds. Most guides I've looked at online say to start with teaching them step-up outside their cage in a different room, but I'm kind of scared of what Blue will do if I try to put my hand back in the cage again. I don't know if Blue just doesn't trust me or if it's a bigger more territorial problem. I know there is a transition period and it's only day two of me owning them, but I'd still like some kind of advice on whether I'm being too eager or if I just need to keep at it.

Blue and Green both sometimes walk up to me when I go up to their cage to say hi, but both respond differently. I'm worried that Blue is territorial as s/he puffs up their feathers whenever I bring my hand close to the cage and tries to bite me through the bars. I have NOT brought my finger close enough for Blue to bite me because I'm pretty sure the beak reaching is meant to draw blood. Yesterday Green would immediately shy away from the front of the cage whenever I brought my hand up, but today Green is different and seems more curious about my hand as there is no feather puffing when s/he reaches for my finger with his/her beak. I brought a less sensitive part of my finger up to his/her beak just to test the waters with Green and at first it seemed like curiosity nibbles, but later transitioned to a more painful kind of pinching of the first couple layers of my skin. It didn't draw blood, but I don't really know if Green meant to as his/her beak isn't nearly as sharp as Blue's (It seems as if the very tip of Green's beak has chipped off leaving a duller, more rounded point). At first it was a lingering kind of pain, then slowly subsided and is now just a little red with a little bump after only about an hour.

I also don't know if I'm just not used to bird bites in general as the only other pet that I've had is an old lady cat who never bites cause she just doesn't care about anything anymore.

Green is definitely the more vocal one of the two but at this point I don't think you need to know that and am just starting to ramble...Anyways advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

MahaSarah

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I'm glad they are in a more caring home now! I would love to see pictures of them :)

It will take some time, I am thinking the more territorial one is a female. I am unsure of the other one. Are they clipped? If not it can be more difficult to tame them but it is doable.

Let them get use to their surroundings first then go talk to them, feed them treats through the bars of the cage etc. Only feed them the millet from your hand so they can associate your presence and hand with good yummy treats.

Then go on to open their cage door and let them come out on their own, and continue to feed them the millet.

In time I am sure they will be used to you.

Make sure to give them plenty of toys, no plastic toys at all, pellets and fresh vegetables, and some seeds.

Also make sure their cage is big enough for them. 24 x 24 x 24 or 30 x 18 x 18 is a good size for them.

Oh and also beware of any tent thingies, they can induce egg laying and nesting.
 

Mizzely

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The tent thing - make sure to check it often also, as they have strangled birds before after the bird chews them and gets tangled up in the loose string. They have sadly killed many birds or made them lose a foot :(

As for taming - go slow. Right now, do the bare minimums. Feed and water them but just go about your day. Here is a good recent thread with some ideas for you!

Very Scared Indian Ringneck!! | Avian Avenue Parrot Forum
 

Rigin

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I'm glad they are in a more caring home now! I would love to see pictures of them :)

It will take some time, I am thinking the more territorial one is a female. I am unsure of the other one. Are they clipped? If not it can be more difficult to tame them but it is doable.

Let them get use to their surroundings first then go talk to them, feed them treats through the bars of the cage etc. Only feed them the millet from your hand so they can associate your presence and hand with good yummy treats.

Then go on to open their cage door and let them come out on their own, and continue to feed them the millet.

In time I am sure they will be used to you.

Make sure to give them plenty of toys, no plastic toys at all, pellets and fresh vegetables, and some seeds.

Also make sure their cage is big enough for them. 24 x 24 x 24 or 30 x 18 x 18 is a good size for them.

Oh and also beware of any tent thingies, they can induce egg laying and nesting.
I thought that too about the more territorial one! I don't think they're clipped. In fact, I don't even think they've been out of their cage in a long time as the cardboard lining that I spoke of earlier blocks a good 2/3 of the main cage gate...At the moment I am unable to fully remove the cardboard from the cage but I can try and cut away the cardboard blocking the gate. Should I try to do that during the day when my lovebirds are wide awake and risk getting bit, or attempt to do it at night while they're sleepy? But I'm worried I'll end up worsening our relationship that way if they decide that they do NOT like the cardboard cutting and cage rattling noises...

How often do you think I should give them treats? Should I make it sporadic but filled with lots of yummy treats, or just a couple here and there whenever I pass by? How often should I give them fresh vegetables as well?

About the tent thingy - do you think it would be in my best interest to take that out of the cage and use it more for a fun toy they can play with outside their cage from time to time? I wouldn't want to encourage nesting behaviours if it turns out my other one happens to be male. That would be a not so pleasant surprise....

My biggest fear with letting my birds out is that feisty Blue will fight tooth and nail to stay outside her cage and that since I will assume they have not learned the step-up trick or been outside their cage in a while, it will become a pretty big nightmare to deal with. Should I continue with millet feeding through the bars for a couple days before I attempt to open the gate? Also, is there also anything I should keep in mind in order to bird-proof my surroundings?

I would also like to give their cage a good cleaning if and when I get the chance, but I wouldn't want to do it on the very first time they come out of their cages. Should I wait until they're pretty comfortable staying outside their cage before I try?
Thanks for listening to this newbie's worries and questions by the way!
 

Garet

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It really sounds like they are scared of people and you may have a male/female pair. Only one of my boys is really territorial with his cage, and he's a grumpy old man. The rest of my boys will shy away from me and generally aren't as nippy as my girls.

The thing Green did definitely sounded like he was partially preening and partially testing you and like he may not have meant to do as much harm as he did. Yen, Krem, Triss and Goku will preen me like that from time to time, and sometimes it does hurt. One time, Triss accidentally bit my upper lip while kissing my face and left me bleeding pretty bad. I know she didn't mean it. You can tell when something was an accident with lovebirds.

As far as getting them out of the cage, let them chose to come out on their own. You can try offering them millet while holding the other end and giving them enough space to eat without chomping your fingers. It may take a while to build up that trust, but they'll come.

Another tactic I learned is just laying on the bed. Read a book, look at your phone, and let them do what they want to do. You can talk to them, offer them treats, ect, but try not to corral them or force to interact with you. A lot of my birds still don't like stepping up on my hands, but they will fly to me and land on me to say hello and interact with me on their own terms. You can also try clicker training, but I haven't gotten around to trying that method yet.

Also, chinese finger traps, egg cartons, real bird-safe plants, and vegetable-dyed construction paper. My lovebirds adore things they can chew. If they don't want to come out of their cage, you can give them somewhere safe to land just outside of their cage, like a play stand or a tree limb.

Be warned; they will go everywhere and they will get into anything you don't specifically put away, and even then, they may still get into it. It's just what they do.
 

Rigin

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It really sounds like they are scared of people and you may have a male/female pair. Only one of my boys is really territorial with his cage, and he's a grumpy old man. The rest of my boys will shy away from me and generally aren't as nippy as my girls.

The thing Green did definitely sounded like he was partially preening and partially testing you and like he may not have meant to do as much harm as he did. Yen, Krem, Triss and Goku will preen me like that from time to time, and sometimes it does hurt. One time, Triss accidentally bit my upper lip while kissing my face and left me bleeding pretty bad. I know she didn't mean it. You can tell when something was an accident with lovebirds.

As far as getting them out of the cage, let them chose to come out on their own. You can try offering them millet while holding the other end and giving them enough space to eat without chomping your fingers. It may take a while to build up that trust, but they'll come.

Another tactic I learned is just laying on the bed. Read a book, look at your phone, and let them do what they want to do. You can talk to them, offer them treats, ect, but try not to corral them or force to interact with you. A lot of my birds still don't like stepping up on my hands, but they will fly to me and land on me to say hello and interact with me on their own terms. You can also try clicker training, but I haven't gotten around to trying that method yet.

Also, chinese finger traps, egg cartons, real bird-safe plants, and vegetable-dyed construction paper. My lovebirds adore things they can chew. If they don't want to come out of their cage, you can give them somewhere safe to land just outside of their cage, like a play stand or a tree limb.

Be warned; they will go everywhere and they will get into anything you don't specifically put away, and even then, they may still get into it. It's just what they do.
Thanks for the advice! Are male/female pairs harder to take care of than if they were two males or females? In terms of the nesting urges aspect or anything like that?
If Green was trying to preen me, would you think that he/she would be able to open up to me a lot faster than Blue, and hopefully help relieve some of his/her more standoffish attitude with me?

About the toys - the ones that I got for them are the ones that are meant to be chewed up and destroyed, but so far they haven't touched the one I have currently set up. Do you think they'll learn how to use it eventually?
 

Mizzely

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It usually takes my quaker 2-3 weeks to try out a new toy, and he isn't fearful of them
 

MahaSarah

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I thought that too about the more territorial one! I don't think they're clipped. In fact, I don't even think they've been out of their cage in a long time as the cardboard lining that I spoke of earlier blocks a good 2/3 of the main cage gate...At the moment I am unable to fully remove the cardboard from the cage but I can try and cut away the cardboard blocking the gate. Should I try to do that during the day when my lovebirds are wide awake and risk getting bit, or attempt to do it at night while they're sleepy? But I'm worried I'll end up worsening our relationship that way if they decide that they do NOT like the cardboard cutting and cage rattling noises...

I am not really understanding the cardboard box situation, is it in the cage? And what is the purpose of it?

How often do you think I should give them treats? Should I make it sporadic but filled with lots of yummy treats, or just a couple here and there whenever I pass by? How often should I give them fresh vegetables as well?

Vegetables should be given every day as they are very very healthy for them. :) And the treats should be given sparingly but you can give it to them every day, so yeah here and there.

About the tent thingy - do you think it would be in my best interest to take that out of the cage and use it more for a fun toy they can play with outside their cage from time to time? I wouldn't want to encourage nesting behaviours if it turns out my other one happens to be male. That would be a not so pleasant surprise....

What I normally do is I take it out in the morning right when the birds wake up and put it in their cage when its time for bed. My birds are on a routine so they know when they see the little hut then they know its time to be quiet and get ready to sleep.

My biggest fear with letting my birds out is that feisty Blue will fight tooth and nail to stay outside her cage and that since I will assume they have not learned the step-up trick or been outside their cage in a while, it will become a pretty big nightmare to deal with. Should I continue with millet feeding through the bars for a couple days before I attempt to open the gate? Also, is there also anything I should keep in mind in order to bird-proof my surroundings?

Yes you should continue to talk to them, read to them, be around them, feed them millet etc before opening the door. I am not sure about how long you should do this but just gauge how they react to you. if they run towards you and want to be near you, climb around when your near etc then you should take the next step.

I would also like to give their cage a good cleaning if and when I get the chance, but I wouldn't want to do it on the very first time they come out of their cages. Should I wait until they're pretty comfortable staying outside their cage before I try?

Cleaning is a requirement that needs to be done so I do not recommend waiting. I think you should clean it now so any bad bacteria etc that was in their other house can be elimated. Also get a smaller cage and directly transfer them from their main cage to the travel cage while cleaning or if you need to add toys/move things around in there cage meanwhile you gain their trust.

Thanks for listening to this newbie's worries and questions by the way!

Of course! I own and I am a hobby breeder of Lovebirds for about two years now so I know a pretty good amount about them haha. (& I have an Amazon Parrot for about 12 years now so birds are a big part of my life)
 

Rigin

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I thought that too about the more territorial one! I don't think they're clipped. In fact, I don't even think they've been out of their cage in a long time as the cardboard lining that I spoke of earlier blocks a good 2/3 of the main cage gate...At the moment I am unable to fully remove the cardboard from the cage but I can try and cut away the cardboard blocking the gate. Should I try to do that during the day when my lovebirds are wide awake and risk getting bit, or attempt to do it at night while they're sleepy? But I'm worried I'll end up worsening our relationship that way if they decide that they do NOT like the cardboard cutting and cage rattling noises...

I am not really understanding the cardboard box situation, is it in the cage? And what is the purpose of it?

How often do you think I should give them treats? Should I make it sporadic but filled with lots of yummy treats, or just a couple here and there whenever I pass by? How often should I give them fresh vegetables as well?

Vegetables should be given every day as they are very very healthy for them. :) And the treats should be given sparingly but you can give it to them every day, so yeah here and there.

About the tent thingy - do you think it would be in my best interest to take that out of the cage and use it more for a fun toy they can play with outside their cage from time to time? I wouldn't want to encourage nesting behaviours if it turns out my other one happens to be male. That would be a not so pleasant surprise....

What I normally do is I take it out in the morning right when the birds wake up and put it in their cage when its time for bed. My birds are on a routine so they know when they see the little hut then they know its time to be quiet and get ready to sleep.

My biggest fear with letting my birds out is that feisty Blue will fight tooth and nail to stay outside her cage and that since I will assume they have not learned the step-up trick or been outside their cage in a while, it will become a pretty big nightmare to deal with. Should I continue with millet feeding through the bars for a couple days before I attempt to open the gate? Also, is there also anything I should keep in mind in order to bird-proof my surroundings?

Yes you should continue to talk to them, read to them, be around them, feed them millet etc before opening the door. I am not sure about how long you should do this but just gauge how they react to you. if they run towards you and want to be near you, climb around when your near etc then you should take the next step.

I would also like to give their cage a good cleaning if and when I get the chance, but I wouldn't want to do it on the very first time they come out of their cages. Should I wait until they're pretty comfortable staying outside their cage before I try?

Cleaning is a requirement that needs to be done so I do not recommend waiting. I think you should clean it now so any bad bacteria etc that was in their other house can be elimated. Also get a smaller cage and directly transfer them from their main cage to the travel cage while cleaning or if you need to add toys/move things around in there cage meanwhile you gain their trust.

Thanks for listening to this newbie's worries and questions by the way!

Of course! I own and I am a hobby breeder of Lovebirds for about two years now so I know a pretty good amount about them haha. (& I have an Amazon Parrot for about 12 years now so birds are a big part of my life)
Yes it's in the cage and very in the way of everything!! I changed my display picture to one of the few non-blurry ones I managed to get of them and so hopefully from looking at that you'll have a better grasp of what I meant by cardboard lining. I think the cardboard used is from the box the cage originally came from given the pictures on the side. There's actually a pull out tray at the bottom of the cage that I should be able to take out for easy cleaning but the cardboard blocks it completely. I'm actually not sure what the purpose of the cardboard is as that is how I got it, but I have a hunch it was to keep stray seeds and poop inside the cage.

I don't have a travel cage, but I may have an old hamster cage lying about somewhere in my garage if I didn't throw it away. It's not the biggest but do you think it should be good enough for my birds to chill out in until I finish cleaning the cage? And how would I go about transfering them from one cage to the other?
 

MahaSarah

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Aww your birds are so cute :)

& I see what you mean. I would take it out honestly.

Just make sure the bar spacing isn't big so they don't get their little heads stuck. And as long as your pretty quick I think they should be fine lol. & You can put some millet in the little cage and leave both doors open so they can go into the cage by themselves.
 

Garet

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Thanks for the advice! Are male/female pairs harder to take care of than if they were two males or females? In terms of the nesting urges aspect or anything like that?
If Green was trying to preen me, would you think that he/she would be able to open up to me a lot faster than Blue, and hopefully help relieve some of his/her more standoffish attitude with me?

About the toys - the ones that I got for them are the ones that are meant to be chewed up and destroyed, but so far they haven't touched the one I have currently set up. Do you think they'll learn how to use it eventually?
Two female pairs are the hardest, afaik. Females are very territorial, especially when compared to the boys. I know there would be blood if I tried to house Yen and Triss together. The boys are a lot calmer with the other birds and don't really mind when my other birds come and go out of their cages. Sure, there are some I can't house together and I had an issue with two of my boys not getting along temporarily, but it's been a lot calmer these past few days. My cages tend to have two water and two food dishes, just to give the birds an option of where to eat instead of forcing them to crowd around a single dish, and that seems to help a lot.
And I think that could help. Steven is a lot more scared of me than Triss. She's happy to come and land on me and get kisses and scratches. Now that they're a bonded pair, Steven's started coming to me because Triss lands on me. Goku will also come land on me when he sees Krem on me.

And it's normal if it takes time. I know it's weird, but have you tried giving them washed bottle caps and coins? Yen likes to climb into whatever I put them in and toss them out. You could also try putting thin bits of wood ontop of their food or wrap millet in paper and give it to them. You may need to show them that you're wrapping it up so they understand that there is a good thing inside of it. You can also try giving them twigs from herbicide/pesticide free trees that are bird safe. (IE: Lilac and pear).

I'm sure they'll come around to playing eventually. You just gotta keep trying! It took me eight months to find something that Guzma liked to play with.
 

Rigin

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So I don't have any spare cage that can be used to hold my birds. Is there a good temporary type of medium that I can keep them in just for a quick 15-20 minutes while I clean their cage?

My dad suggested putting holes in a plastic bag and dropping them inside but obviously I'm not going to do that LOL.

Can I cut some peepy holes in a cardboard box in different shapes and sizes to make it seem like a toy to play in while I give the cage a quick scrub? And is using GreenWorks spray a safe cleaner for it?
 

Mizzely

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So I don't have any spare cage that can be used to hold my birds. Is there a good temporary type of medium that I can keep them in just for a quick 15-20 minutes while I clean their cage?

My dad suggested putting holes in a plastic bag and dropping them inside but obviously I'm not going to do that LOL.

Can I cut some peepy holes in a cardboard box in different shapes and sizes to make it seem like a toy to play in while I give the cage a quick scrub? And is using GreenWorks spray a safe cleaner for it?


No to the green works! The cardboard box would be fine I think; that's how they send them home from Petco!

For a cleaner, use vinegar diluted 50/50 with water.
 

Garet

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No to the green works! The cardboard box would be fine I think; that's how they send them home from Petco!

For a cleaner, use vinegar diluted 50/50 with water.
Vinegar is very good at cleaning bird cages and poop. A bit of vinegar in hot water really goes a long way.
 

Rigin

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So Blue is starting realize that she can open the side doors of the cage if she chews through the cardboard. I don't know if it's because she wants to get out, or if she just wants to bite me that bad. I'm thinking about just leaving her name as Blue as a reference to Jurassic World cause I'm starting to call her 'my little raptor'...

She'll eat millet and bok choy from my hand but still puff up all aggro style at my fingers if there's nothing tasty in between them. She'll still go for my fingers every once in a while which is still better than day one when she was going for them all the time, so I thought that was some notavle progress. Still haven't let her nibble my finger like I do with Pacha (I've decided to name the green one Pacha) when he's not shy. She won't let Pacha anywhere near the food I hold out and push her way in front of him too.

I tried singing to Blue while holding my finger close to the bars, and while she was a little puffed up, she seemed to chill out a bit. Pacha was even falling asleep off to the side, but a couple minutes later Blue went back to chewing the cardboard and woke him up.

Blue's been chewing the cardboard lining all the time since I got her, but she started chewing this spot by the door with raptor-like intensity that I'm pretty sure she knows what she's doing I'll try uploading a picture to show you guys what I mean. This door is where I hung a feeder for their food, but I've closed the door for now.

By the time I've uploaded this, Blue has already chilled out and is doing her own thing again.

I'd like them to roam about and discover my room, but my little raptor is a problem child.
 

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Barbara jasko

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congrats on your new lovebirds. I had a male lovebird for 19 years and he was my constant shoulder companion. Never left me.

If they like millet, use it as a treat for training them to interact with you. They will see you as a bearer of good things. Give them lots of time. If they haven't been handled it could take awhile. One of my lovebirds favorite toys was those plastic toy "whiffle" balls. He used to chase it around the bottom of the cage, pick it up in his beak and fling it to the side of the cage and start all over. We would get on the floor and I rolled the balls at him, he would chase after them and fling them back at me. He had a great time. He liked toys that make noise and ones that he could pull threads like tug of war.

Lovebirds are very active, curious and fearless. Get as big a cage as you can so they have lots of room to play. Be careful and watch for aggression between them if females.

At the risk of someone telling me this is a bad idea, it helped me when Jade was new, to get him to trust me. I would wrap him in a towel, partly so I didn't get bit and he couldn't wiggle. We would just sit quietly, talked and I preened his head. He loved it. Also they need not to fear towels as this is what is used when getting groomed and vet visits.

I know this is not scientific but I had a friend with 2 females and they loved to shred paper and make nests. My male would only make beak marks around the edges, didn't shred.
 

Rigin

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So a little update on my birds!

I managed to clean their cage yesterday with the help of my friend and took out the happy hut, replacing it with another chew toy I had bought originally. I also placed them on a lower perch to make it easier for me to see them, but they also seem chattier and happier since it's by the window.

Now I have a behavior question about male/female pairs that I hope someone can answer. When just chilling out, female Blue is quite sweet to male Pacha and they like to stick close and preen and feed each other. But whenever doing anything else, Blue ALWAYS has to do it and be there first. Whether it be going to eat at the food trough (it's big enough that they can share no problem, but Blue likes to stand literally on top of it so Pacha has to wait until she's done), water trough, or even playing with the hanging toys (which they're starting to play with a little bit).

They're happy cause they do the beak grinding thing, but I just feel bad for Pacha since he's always getting bullied. Is this just the natural thing that happens?

Also, Blue seems to be perfectly fine with me when my face is close to the cage and talking to her, but she still doesn't like the fingers. I'm still not sure whether it would be safe to leave the cage door open and let them explore just yet. So far it's been 5 days since having them here with me.
 

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Mizzely

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I would give them 2 food bowls to try and alleviate that issue. It is not unusual behavior for one bird to guard resources, esp if they have had a rough life where food was scarce.

Also, the birds need more than just dowel perches. Dowels offer no variation in size or texture, making it so that the bird can get arthritis, inflamed feet, and pressure sores. Scrap the dowels and get some natural wood branches :)

You can open the door and see what happens! Give yourself a large window of time, and make sure they have a way to get back into the cage easily. If you have millet or another treat they like, you can put that in the cage to try and encourage them to go back on their own.

My lovebird customers love my cupcake liner toys and balsa :)
 

nu2birds

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Kurt
Sounds like you are making great progress..........my $.02 is just take all the time you need with them. Just sitting near them and talking or reading softly to them will build trust. It sounds like no one really new how to take care of them where they came from. You are introducing them to a new way of life where you can be trusted and there will be toys and out of cage time and all sorts of new experiences that they will eventually look forward to.
 
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