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New Budgie Owner - Sharing Story and Seeking Advice

dbouch4009

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Hey Gang,

We've had a budgie for about six weeks. A relative had to get rid of a bird, and my wife grew up with Budgies and Cockatiels, so she offered to take him. They bought him new January 2018, so he's closing in on two years old. I have had practically no experience with birds until this time. My wife told me that she could tell he had been neglected because he was completely antisocial and made little noise or chatter, even before we brought him home. The perches in his cage were cemented in the crust of old droppings, and I had to soak them and scrub them quite vigorously to get it all off.

I work from home as a web developer, so he is with me all day. After six weeks I leave the cage door open and he periodically will fly in and out on his own. He has begun chirping and squawking a lot more! It always warms my heart to hear him. For weeks he barely made a sound unless we opened the windows to let in wild bird sounds, or I put on Budgie videos from Youtube. He sings much more now, though much less than a typical Budgie should be, according to my wife.

We made a rule, after realizing the extent of his neglect, that we would not try to touch him or play with him for the first two weeks. All we did was change his bedding and feed him by hand.

After two weeks we started to coax him out of his cage. Only millet would work. He could only fly for a few seconds at a time, and would inevitably botch his landing somewhere or just kind of slide into the floor and we would have to pick him back up. He's much better at flying now, and he can take a few laps around our living room and / or dining room in one flight. Very much improved! He can land pretty much wherever he wants to, as well. He hasn't made an 'improvised landing' in weeks, even when he wants to explore a new picture frame or light fixture. Warms my heart.

To this day, he is afraid to get to his food dish on the bottom of his cage. He hardly ate for the first few days, but we have since gotten into the habit of him eating about a tablespoon, a little less on most days, of seed mix out of our hand. It's funny because he will run from a hand in his cage, or bite us, and he all but refuses to go to his food dish. However, if you combine the food with the hand, he's much more pliable. It takes time to stand there with him and let him eat from my hand, but I don't mind because it's a few moments of bonding for us.

For fresh food, we have introduced mostly spinach into his diet. He loves peaches, but those are very sweet so we only give him a little chunk now and then. Apples and bananas to a less successful extent, but we keep trying. A few days ago I took to hanging baby spinach from a clip in his cage, and he will eat about half of it, while also playing with it.

He is still quiet, but much more active and social than he was before. I made a few perches from some loose wood I bought at the hardware store, about six feet high, and he will sit on them for hours if he is in the mood. Just sitting on the perch while we do housework or watch TV or something.

We talk to and sing to him constantly. He is not afraid of my face, but he is afraid of hands. In fact, it's very hard to get him to 'step up' when he's in his cage, but if I put my face in the door of the cage, he is likely to fly to the rim of my glasses and hang out for a little while. We postulate that the previous owners, when they did interact with him, it was just to chase him around the cage to grab him, that's why he's scared.

I still get bitten every day. Every single day, but much less frequent now. Usually it's just when I bring my hand with food into his cage, he'll take a chonk on my finger before stepping on. So, I don't think it's done from a place of fear, I think it's just his vibe check.

If he gets on our shoulders, he's hard to remove! He usually prefers to fly away when we put him there, but if he likes it he will stay there until it's time to eat or go to bed.

He seems to be much healthier and happier now. Attached his a picture of him, close-up. When we got him in October, he did not have that reddish color at the corners of his cere, but now he does. What do you guys think that is?? It's been there for maybe a week or so.

Check out my Cosmas the Budgie playlist here on Youtube:

The video above is from about a week ago, when he was chillin on his perch in the living room.

I've been lurking on this forum for weeks, and I figured I had better finally join and pitch in the community!

Thanks,
Damian
 

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Zara

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How wonderful of you to open your home to Cosmos :)

After reading your story, have you considered getting a friend? Budgies thrive with a friend, as you have seen from playing the budgie videos.

Be sure to only feed spinach in moderation as it impedes calcium absorbtion. Other dark leafy green are better. This article tells you which foods are better than others and which to feed in moderation: My Chop "Recipe"

It sounds like you and your wife are doing great with Cosmos.
I´m glad you have joined the forum, you will find everyone very friendly and helpful here :hug9:
 

Monaco

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Ditto what ^ @Zara said.

Very sweet little guy. Without a people bond for his first two years, I bet a friend would be welcomed next addition to his world.
 

sunnysmom

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Sounds like you're doing great with him. I agree with limiting spinach. He may like other leafy greens- romaine, boston, bibb lettuce, etc. The only lettuce that's not really good is ice burg because it doesn't really have any nutritional value. Do you think it's the dish he's afraid of or is he not comfortable eating on the bottom of his cage? I would try switching and see what happens.
 

Fergus Mom

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Very darling little birdie. About the color of his cere - is the little boy turning out to be a girl?
Exactly what I was going to say - I think Cosmas is a little girl! What a doll. This is great that she is warming up to you and your wife and socializing more! :welcome2:
 

dbouch4009

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I guess the cere is a much lighter blue than other Budgies I've seen online. Now that you all mention it.

Thanks for the tip on spinach!

We do have plans to get a bird friend for him (her?). I was hoping to get to a stage of negligible biting before we do that. We call it 'Getting the beak' and I still get the beak every day. Is that an unrealistic goal??
 

fashionfobie

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I agree with @sunnysmom . Try some alternatives with bowls and placement. It is wonderful that your little one finds comfort eating from your hand, but in reality he need access in his cage too. I would experiment with heights and different types of dishes.

:)

It is a beautiful story. I am so happy that you are falling in love with birds. It sounds like you are going to be a perfect and caring bird parront.
 

Fergus Mom

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I meant to say - what you described as a reddish cere, it looks like your little hen is coming into breeding season, but I am surely no expert with that one... I hope someone else will chime in here... .maybe @Ripshod @Lady Jane @Budgiebonkers @PoukieBear ? If your little Cosmas is a boy (which is very doubtful to me), then the cere turning brown could be a sign of illness. But my question is - if this hen (I think) is already 2 years old, would her cere change to brown again since this is unlikely to be her first time coming into season?
 

Lori D Pert

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Ditto what everyone else has said. Maybe try a nice wet piece of kale clipped to the side of the cage and yes bring those feeding dishes up where they don't get droppings on them. I believe you may have a girlie too. Keep up the great work and you can get her a bit more tame before you get another but seeing as how she may have been neglected I do think she well deserves a friend and yes this may be her first time coming into condition
 
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dbouch4009

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How wonderful of you to open your home to Cosmos :)

After reading your story, have you considered getting a friend? Budgies thrive with a friend, as you have seen from playing the budgie videos.

Be sure to only feed spinach in moderation as it impedes calcium absorbtion. Other dark leafy green are better. This article tells you which foods are better than others and which to feed in moderation: My Chop "Recipe"

It sounds like you and your wife are doing great with Cosmos.
I´m glad you have joined the forum, you will find everyone very friendly and helpful here :hug9:
Wow, that is a great article. We always have sweet potatoes lying around the house. They are a staple. Oats, too! We will have to serve them to the bird without brown sugar, though.
 

cassiesdad

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You're doing a wonderful job with Cosmas . :)

Our two budgies are strictly hands off guys, as they have a very tight bond between themselves (both are boys) Their cage is open all day so they can come and go...but they definitely prefer their cage. When they choose to come out (always together) they're a delight...swooping and diving about...they even come in for landings upside down...something I've never seen any of our other birds do.

He may like other leafy greens- romaine, boston, bibb lettuce, etc.
Our budgies love the dark greens....they roll on them before they eat them because we always rinse the leaves well before giving to them. Sweet bell peppers are also enjoyed immensely here by all the birds...;)
 

Ripshod

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Cosmo is a girl, and she's coming into breeding condition. It's nothing to worry about but it's remotely possible she'll lay a few eggs for you. Just consign them to the bin. If she produces more than just a few boost the calcium.
If you decide to get her a friend get a male. Two females are more likely to not get on.
 
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Lady Jane

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Welcome Damian and pretty lady budgie. Her cere is turning brown as pointed out by others. It will pretty much stay brownish in the future now. Since was sadly neglected i suggest a wellness check up by avian vet. Please have the vet do a gram stain of crop. This is because of poor diet history and potential yeast growth.
Perhaps setting up a feeding station for her would work. Top of cage is good. Spinach is a high oxalate green meaning oxalates interfere with calcium absorption. Females need calcium rich foods. Good way to offer veggies is to finely chop a few like kale, carrots and broccoli and served in a shallow dish to allow for foraging. Make sure to sprinkle millet seeds on top. It took my budgies two weeks before they nibbled on them. Yes food will get wasted. Red and orange veggies provide vitamin A which is vital, like calcium. Tiny sized pellets can be mixed with the seeds or fed separately. Hanging fresh washed greens in the cage using a bag clip is fun too. Budgies seem to love broccoli.

Glad you are considering another budgie pal for her. Not all budgie pairs will mate.
 
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Monica

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Ditto, Cosmas is a girl!!! It's the white that gives it away! Males will not have white like that. A male could have a pink cere, though! But not an adult hen! ;)

And all the behavior you describe sounds like any parent raised budgie, honestly... they are generally afraid of hands but may be less afraid of other body parts.


Lack of noise - You have a female!

Antisocial - not necessarily true of neglect, just not tamed (even birds well cared for aren't necessarily tame and friendly)

Food dish - put the dish up higher in the cage. She sounds like she's an insecure bird. Confident birds are more likely to climb down where-as insecure birds are more likely to go up. Height equals safety. Ground foraging can be great fun, but if she's not ready for it, no need to push the issue. :)

Vegetables - agree on spinach... some is fine but definitely try other vegetables! I do feed spinach to my birds, but I also feed other vegetables too, so spinach doesn't make up much of what they get

Bites - if she bites when you go to put food in her cage, use millet to teach her to station away from the food dishes so you can better swap them out - also, try to figure out other reasons why she's biting and learn to avoid them
 

MommyBird

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I can tell what great budgie folks you are! What a lucky girl to land with you!
I would like to suggest a few favorite things of budgies I've had.
I agree about the spinach. I would grow a variety of lettuces for mine and they loved to get a whole wet leaf to destroy.
Raw Broccolini. Broccoli is good, but they go crazy for the larger flower buds of broccolini.
They are not big on fruits generally.
Try sprouting. Do not try to sprout his existing seed mix. It will have additives that make muck, and also may not be in condition to even sprout at all.
I use this mix from Sproutpeople Amber Waves of Grain Sprout Mix
or this from TOPS https://topsparrotfood.com/collections/most-popular-parrot-foods/products/tops-all-in-one-seed-mix or this TOP's Napoleon's Seed Mix
I like to feed the second one dry more as wet flax seeds are annoying.
I also suggest visiting our vendors and getting her some balsa toys to chew. Budgies love balsa!
 

MommyBird

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I forgot to say that in my experience female budgies like to bite a lot! One of several reasons I've usually had males.
You aren't necessarily doing anything wrong, and she's not necessarily fear biting. It's just how it is.
 

Dorcas George

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I'm just catching up and was going to say I think you have a girl but obviously you've been told.Haha! I'm so very happy to hear how well it is going. Great story! Congratulations on your new little friend, and hooray that pretty Cosmo landed with you! :DancingChilli:
 
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