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How to tame/win a skittish rehomed lovebird

SharFully

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Sharona
My girl was rehomed to me when she was 9 months old and she's still very skittish. It's not the same as when she came here.

Her flight feathers are growing back slowly and I won't clip them again. But she's not tame and I've had her for almost 4 months and it will take longer for sure.

I just don't know how to tame her.

She has a cage on wheels so I try to include her as much as possible.

I guess some advice will be appreciated. :joyful::heart::shy:
 

sunnysmom

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What have you tried so far? With any new bird, I start with just spending time with them. I sit with them for pretty long periods of time. If they initially don't want direct attention, I just sit by them and read. Even reading to them. Once they're okay with that, I sing and talk to them more. Then I work on hand feeding treats. Does your lovie come out cage on her own?
 

SharFully

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What have you tried so far? With any new bird, I start with just spending time with them. I sit with them for pretty long periods of time. If they initially don't want direct attention, I just sit by them and read. Even reading to them. Once they're okay with that, I sing and talk to them more. Then I work on hand feeding treats. Does your lovie come out cage on her own?
Well... Some 'bird expert' told me to have holding sessions, basically force it to be liked, learn them that hands aren't bad. But after 2 of those sessions I quit because she was so afraid. I realize that I might have harmed the process that way.

Her terms now, I clean the cage around her but she doesn't have to interact with me.

I pull her cage with me when watching TV, or at my desk. She wil accept her favorite treat, sunflower seed and also some millet. But if I don't have that she isn't interested or too afraid. She will also accept my hand close when she wants her favorite ball closer to her.

I just don't know where to begin. I might have made the wrong chooses, but I love her dearly and I guess want some affection back. Though I know it might take a while.

She does come out of her cage on her own, when she's feeling bold. But often something happens when she's out or in her cage that wounds her pride and it will take a few days before she becomes bold again.

Her flight feathers are growing back and I've noticed her trying to fly but she can't yet. She only has one flight on each wing. I put a towel on the bottom of her cage because she falls and I can't stop her from trying either.

She fell yesterday and that means she becomes insecure again, meaning she won't come out for a few days.

2 weeks ago she did find the courage to climb from my chest to my shoulders when I was close enough and spending time with her. She even got onto my head.

But it's like making steps forward one day and the same if not more steps back the next.
 

Tazlima

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Sounds like you're doing everything right. (You're absolutely correct that the "holding" sessions do more harm than good. Those techniques CAN sometimes produce a bird that will tolerate handling, but only because they've learned there's no point in fighting so they just give up. It's called "learned helplessness" and it's not a happy state of mind, for birds or humans).

Since she's willing to take treats from you, I highly recommend you try target training. It can be done without touching the bird, removing that source of fear. It opens a line of communication between you and your bird, and gives them control of the process (if they choose not to touch the stick, they don't have to), which goes a long way toward building trust.
 

Leih

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It sounds like you are doing great, you're already paying attention to her body language, and that's a great first step. I was told to try just holding, too, we call it "flooding," but after doing it twice I also realized it was incredibly stressful for both of us and just not the way to go.

Just to give you some reassurance that you're doing great, I'll tell you a little about my lovebird. She was 5 months old when I brought her home and she was very afraid of me. And also clipped. I spent time just talking to her, even reading to her, and I would let her come out if she wanted and she'd go back in when she wanted. It took several months, maybe even closer to a year, but she completely trusts me and loves to hang out with me and let me scritch her face.

Was it you that I gave you a link to an article that helps explain how to work on their fear? Since she will take treats from you and even sit on you (my girl wouldn't do that for many months, so I think you're more ahead than you realize) I would try target training like someone else suggested. They learn how to target very quickly. And from there you can do really basic things, like have her walk across the perch to touch the target. It's all positive reinforcement, and while it may seem like you're not doing much, you're actually working on your relationship with her. It's a way for you to interact without using your hands just yet. Then eventually you can try teaching her to step up by targeting. I had a tough time getting my girl to get over her fear of my hands, but she did! I definitely felt like some days we were taking steps backwards, but overall, it just takes a lot of time and patience.

With birds, you really have to earn their trust, and every bird is different.You can also try holding a treat in between your fingers with your hand closed and see if she'll step even a single foot to get to the treat. Let us know how it's going and any other questions or if you need help with targeting, this is a great community with lots of experienced people who want to help.
 

Leih

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Sounds like you're doing everything right. (You're absolutely correct that the "holding" sessions do more harm than good. Those techniques CAN sometimes produce a bird that will tolerate handling, but only because they've learned there's no point in fighting so they just give up. It's called "learned helplessness" and it's not a happy state of mind, for birds or humans).

Since she's willing to take treats from you, I highly recommend you try target training. It can be done without touching the bird, removing that source of fear. It opens a line of communication between you and your bird, and gives them control of the process (if they choose not to touch the stick, they don't have to), which goes a long way toward building trust.
Yes absolutely! It really is a great tool.
 

fluffypoptarts

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Time and offering opportunities for her to approach and feel safe will eventually bring her closer to you. Most lovebirds are curious and want to interact, so given enough time and trust, they will approach you. This has worked with my skittish and shy birds. Sometimes it can take them a very long time, but I think your girl won’t take as long as my longest one because she’s already approaching you.
 

SharFully

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@Tazlima @Leih

We knows a bit of target training. I use a chop stick and when she touches the point of the stick I would say touch and she would get a bite of millet.

Someone told me that this wouldn't help a bit and to be honest that discouraged me so we stopped.

But I had a lot of wrong advice. And it's so confusing to be honest :sour:
 

Leih

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@Tazlima @Leih

We knows a bit of target training. I use a chop stick and when she touches the point of the stick I would say touch and she would get a bite of millet.

Someone told me that this wouldn't help a bit and to be honest that discouraged me so we stopped.

But I had a lot of wrong advice. And it's so confusing to be honest :sour:
Yeah, I understand. If she seems to enjoy it then it's definitely worth it. Any kind of interaction between you that is positive is worth it. I've encountered people that have very "old fashioned" ideas about birds, flooding being one, clipping being another. It can be overwhelming when you just want to do what's best for your own bird. My lovebird is my first bird (I have four total now) and I learned so much on here, I honestly don't know what I'd have done without the help of people here! When my girl layed her first clutch I was a nervous wreck, but @Zara helped me through it and I'm more knowledgeable for it!
 

SharFully

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@Leih @Tazlima

We did a few minutes target training this morning. And she still knew how to! Though I tried with a clicker in hand and the target stick but she didn't like the clicker and I can't hold one of them properly. So I stayed with saying 'touch'
 

Tazlima

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@Leih @Tazlima

We did a few minutes target training this morning. And she still knew how to! Though I tried with a clicker in hand and the target stick but she didn't like the clicker and I can't hold one of them properly. So I stayed with saying 'touch'
That's wonderful! Training is incredibly valuable for both of you.

Lol, the clicker isn't meant to be the command anyway. It's meant to tell them the exact moment they get something right, so the order goes:

1) "touch"
2) *touches stick* / *you click at the same moment she touches the stick*.
3) *give treat*

If she's afraid of the click, just say "good" or click your tongue instead. There's nothing special or magical about the click sound itself that induces training, and they definitely have pros and cons.

Clickers are useful because:

1) it's an unusual sound (so you don't have to worry about confusing the bird if it hears a similar sound in a non-training context)

2) it's loud enough to be heard at a pretty good distance (but not SUPER far - there's a reason people who work over long distances or with aquatic animals often use whistles instead),

3) it can be used by other people (if a young child and a large man both say "good" it sounds very different, and that can be confusing to the animal),

4) it rarely breaks (if you've ever tried to whistle for your dog and can't because your lips are cracked, or tried to issue a command but you lost your voice... that can be frustrating) and

5) it's very, very brief. (If you say, "goooooood biiiiird, Ms. Fluuuuuffypaaaaants," well... a lot can happen in that time. Maybe she touches
the stick, then poops, then turns around and bites you. How does she know which behavior is the one that got the reward? She may guess wrong and decide that pooping or biting is the way to get treats.

On the other hand, as you've already seen, clickers can be a problem because:

1) Some animals are afraid of the sound

2) You won't always have a clicker around

3) It occupies your hand, which is liable to already be busy with treats or sticks or a leash or whatever.

Personally, I tend to use the clicker when first teaching a new move to get that precision timing, then phase it out for a "good" once they know what I'm asking, but do whatever works best for your situation.
 
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Leih

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That's great! You can try really basic stuff and you can teach tricks if she's interested. My lovebird will turn around and wave for a treat. She waves when she wants something now, not even just when I have the clicker! It's so cute
 
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