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Owned for some time, won't bond. . .

Amavirra

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9/18/21
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Hello, I'm new. I specifically made an account to get some outsiders information on this specific problem I'm having (or rather my father is having).
I live with my mother and we just got a Quaker whom is already doing his best to bond with me. However at my fathers house, we have a four/five year old Cockatiel that won't really give anyone the chance to bond with her. We may have done her injustice by buying her as a companion to an elder female Cockatiel that passed about two years ago, but we are having trouble getting her to bond now that she is left with a sole budgie companion. Now here is some general info on the circumstances;
-She is NOT unfriendly in the sense that she is not violent.
-She has layed many eggs in the past few months and I know one of her toys is to blame (and possibly the male budgie companion).
-SHe will step up, but fly away almost immediatly.
-SHe does have favourite foods, but is way too scared to take them from your hand.
-We can't get her into bed because she is flighted and won't let you put her in the cage unless SHE does it on her own.
-My dad does have to work very late sometimes, but when he's home, he tries often to bond with her to no avail.

So, she is relatively young, and is not very motivated even by her favourite foods. Now, I know clipping her wings might help, but we DO NOT want to force bonding on her by trapping her like that. SHe recently fell in the toilet during the night about a month and a half ago, and she became very quiet and docile, she even jumped on the floor and crawled over to my dad a few times and sat with him, but she seems to have gotten over it and won't let him hold her once more. I know sometimes he can't be around due to his job, but when he's home, he just wants to hang out with her, but she flies away if you approach her cage. Out of everyone, I'm the one who sees her the least (once every two weeks), and yet one day I held out a saltine cracker to her and held my hand still on the top of her cage, she eventually bit it out of fear, and when she realised it was food, she ate from my hand, which prompted the skittish budgie to come over and eat as well. WHen my dad tries this method, she flies away before he's even held out the cracker.

My dad was very bonded to the elder Cockatiel and when she died, he's been trying to get a bond with this cockatiel, but it's just not working. Any tips or ideas?
The picture is from before the elder cockatiel passed away.
 

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SummerWing

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Shezbug

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Bonding can’t be forced nor does it happen simply because the human decided it’s time to fit some bonding into their schedule now or realised they want it to happen. Bonding is a true relationship built because of full trust and lots of understanding.
I could be wrong but… This bird sounds to me like it is not really interested in a human companion right now or how it’s being offered and maybe that’s got to do with the on and off nature of the time available to this bird- they really love and respond well to routine and they need to be able to rely on their bonded partner. I have a budgie who has no interest at all in bonding with any human but he is reluctantly accepting of me as long as I don’t expect too much interaction from him- he highly distrusts every other human he’s met even though he’s always been well treated, I can guarantee that if the right budgie was presented, interested and available to him he’d bond with it as fast as he could…. he’s a bird bird.

My macaw is bonded to me, thankfully he chose me over the other members of my household (I’m very lucky), he will freely interact with them when he wants to but they better not push themselves on him or he will put them back in their place.

Maybe learn how you can try to encourage the bird to want to hang out with you instead of cornering it and having it lash out with fear at the food you’re offering. @Monica has some really awesome training tips that might be helpful.

I really can’t imagine what damage would happen to you if you tried the taming/bonding techniques you mentioned here with my bird- lol he’d deliberately tear you to bits or break your finger instead of bite at the biscuit for breaching his personal space and comfort.
It kinda sounds like your bird is being forced to interact when it’s clearly showing it doesn’t actually trust you well yet.

Try to think about earning and building up trust before trying to force a bond.
 

Zara

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saltine cracker
I hope it´s not a salted biscuit?
Try using millet spray instead.

If your father wants to have a better relationship with his bird, he will need to invest lots of daily time in the efforts to build that relationship.
You can set up a food bowl inside the cage, then every time you walk past, push a treat through the cage bars so it falls into the cup, and keep walking, don´t stop to watch. You can say something softly as you drop the treat if you like.

Have a read of this, I know the bird is not new, but you can always take things back and start from the beginning.,
 

Amavirra

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Bonding can’t be forced nor does it happen simply because the human decided it’s time to fit some bonding into their schedule now or realised they want it to happen. Bonding is a true relationship built because of full trust and lots of understanding.
I could be wrong but… This bird sounds to me like it is not really interested in a human companion right now or how it’s being offered and maybe that’s got to do with the on and off nature of the time available to this bird- they really love and respond well to routine and they need to be able to rely on their bonded partner. I have a budgie who has no interest at all in bonding with any human but he is reluctantly accepting of me as long as I don’t expect too much interaction from him- he highly distrusts every other human he’s met even though he’s always been well treated, I can guarantee that if the right budgie was presented, interested and available to him he’d bond with it as fast as he could…. he’s a bird bird.

My macaw is bonded to me, thankfully he chose me over the other members of my household (I’m very lucky), he will freely interact with them when he wants to but they better not push themselves on him or he will put them back in their place.

Maybe learn how you can try to encourage the bird to want to hang out with you instead of cornering it and having it lash out with fear at the food you’re offering. @Monica has some really awesome training tips that might be helpful.

I really can’t imagine what damage would happen to you if you tried the taming/bonding techniques you mentioned here with my bird- lol he’d deliberately tear you to bits or break your finger instead of bite at the biscuit for breaching his personal space and comfort.
It kinda sounds like your bird is being forced to interact when it’s clearly showing it doesn’t actually trust you well yet.

Try to think about earning and building up trust before trying to force a bond.
Okay, thank you for your input! I'll be sure to relay the things you've said to my dad.
 

Amavirra

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I hope it´s not a salted biscuit?
Try using millet spray instead.

If your father wants to have a better relationship with his bird, he will need to invest lots of daily time in the efforts to build that relationship.
You can set up a food bowl inside the cage, then every time you walk past, push a treat through the cage bars so it falls into the cup, and keep walking, don´t stop to watch. You can say something softly as you drop the treat if you like.

Have a read of this, I know the bird is not new, but you can always take things back and start from the beginning.,
I figured his wonky work schedule would be a problem in our situation. I'll tell him he needs to have a routine with Paille (the cockatiel) for things to work out. Thank you for your input! She does love spray millet and I'll tell my dad that he should be using it.
 

Monica

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-She is NOT unfriendly in the sense that she is not violent.

This is good! Many people who have birds who are "violent" don't like the idea of setting up the environment for success. Granted, working with her in the same manner could still be beneficial!


-She has layed many eggs in the past few months and I know one of her toys is to blame (and possibly the male budgie companion).


If she's in an egg laying mode, then it may help to figure out what her triggers are to egg laying and remove them.


-SHe will step up, but fly away almost immediatly.

This sounds like she may not want to step up, but does so possibly out of learned helplessness, then chooses to fly off. This might not be the case! Regardless, it would help to teach her to step up, reward with food, then immediately get her to step down and reward again. Over time, as she gets comfortable stepping up and down, you can slowly increase the time spent on you for a reward.

Also, try various methods of step up. Step up to a finger, a hand, a palm or perhaps an arm?


-SHe does have favourite foods, but is way too scared to take them from your hand.

Contrary to popular belief, she DOES NOT need to take food directly from you! :) This is the beauty with training! You work WITH the bird! She wont take food from you directly? Fine! Set it down! Or offer it via a spoon or a cup!

Millet can be a great training reward for cockatiels as you can hold one end and they can take a bite off the other end!


-We can't get her into bed because she is flighted and won't let you put her in the cage unless SHE does it on her own.

Does she find millet rewarding enough to go back into her cage? Lowering the lights some and showing her that she has a reward waiting in her cage for her may help get her back in!

Actually, to make this method more effective, don't take her out of the cage! See if you can instead teach her to target through the cage bars and reward with her favorite treat! Once she is able to target to any location through the cage bars, then open up the door and train through the door as well as around the outside of the cage. Eventually, you can work to training her away from the cage. Teach her to fly to specific places within the home as well as flying BACK to her cage, for a reward!


-My dad does have to work very late sometimes, but when he's home, he tries often to bond with her to no avail.

His approach may need to change somewhat to figure out what works with her.


So, she is relatively young, and is not very motivated even by her favourite foods. Now, I know clipping her wings might help, but we DO NOT want to force bonding on her by trapping her like that.

This is fantastic! If you don't need to clip, please don't! Some owners find that their birds behave *ONLY* when clipped, but resort to "wild" behavior once flighted again. I DO NOT recommend this approach!

Also.... in regards to motivation, it can help to work with her for a few minutes *BEFORE* she eats. It may help to remove her food at night, do a short training session first thing in the morning (3-5 minutes is all it needs to be!) and then replenish her food for the day! Repeat the next day!


SHe recently fell in the toilet during the night about a month and a half ago, and she became very quiet and docile, she even jumped on the floor and crawled over to my dad a few times and sat with him, but she seems to have gotten over it and won't let him hold her once more. I know sometimes he can't be around due to his job, but when he's home, he just wants to hang out with her, but she flies away if you approach her cage. Out of everyone, I'm the one who sees her the least (once every two weeks), and yet one day I held out a saltine cracker to her and held my hand still on the top of her cage, she eventually bit it out of fear, and when she realised it was food, she ate from my hand, which prompted the skittish budgie to come over and eat as well. WHen my dad tries this method, she flies away before he's even held out the cracker.

Millet may work better - in fact, it's fine to hold the millet with her inside the cage and allow her to come up that way... or just dropping some millet into the cage any time someone walks by the cage. Just a really small sprig of it.


I figured his wonky work schedule would be a problem in our situation. I'll tell him he needs to have a routine with Paille (the cockatiel) for things to work out. Thank you for your input! She does love spray millet and I'll tell my dad that he should be using it.


A routine isn't necessary, per-say. But it can certainly help in training! If he only has 30 minutes to work with her per day, it's better if he does 5 minute training sessions throughout the day, 6 times total, rather than one long boring 30 minute sessions. Basically, keep things short and sweet! If it's dropping a piece of millet into the cage any time he walks by, that's fine, too!
 

Amavirra

Moving in
Joined
9/18/21
Messages
5
-She is NOT unfriendly in the sense that she is not violent.

This is good! Many people who have birds who are "violent" don't like the idea of setting up the environment for success. Granted, working with her in the same manner could still be beneficial!


-She has layed many eggs in the past few months and I know one of her toys is to blame (and possibly the male budgie companion).

If she's in an egg laying mode, then it may help to figure out what her triggers are to egg laying and remove them.


-SHe will step up, but fly away almost immediatly.

This sounds like she may not want to step up, but does so possibly out of learned helplessness, then chooses to fly off. This might not be the case! Regardless, it would help to teach her to step up, reward with food, then immediately get her to step down and reward again. Over time, as she gets comfortable stepping up and down, you can slowly increase the time spent on you for a reward.

Also, try various methods of step up. Step up to a finger, a hand, a palm or perhaps an arm?


-SHe does have favourite foods, but is way too scared to take them from your hand.

Contrary to popular belief, she DOES NOT need to take food directly from you! :) This is the beauty with training! You work WITH the bird! She wont take food from you directly? Fine! Set it down! Or offer it via a spoon or a cup!

Millet can be a great training reward for cockatiels as you can hold one end and they can take a bite off the other end!


-We can't get her into bed because she is flighted and won't let you put her in the cage unless SHE does it on her own.

Does she find millet rewarding enough to go back into her cage? Lowering the lights some and showing her that she has a reward waiting in her cage for her may help get her back in!

Actually, to make this method more effective, don't take her out of the cage! See if you can instead teach her to target through the cage bars and reward with her favorite treat! Once she is able to target to any location through the cage bars, then open up the door and train through the door as well as around the outside of the cage. Eventually, you can work to training her away from the cage. Teach her to fly to specific places within the home as well as flying BACK to her cage, for a reward!


-My dad does have to work very late sometimes, but when he's home, he tries often to bond with her to no avail.

His approach may need to change somewhat to figure out what works with her.


So, she is relatively young, and is not very motivated even by her favourite foods. Now, I know clipping her wings might help, but we DO NOT want to force bonding on her by trapping her like that.

This is fantastic! If you don't need to clip, please don't! Some owners find that their birds behave *ONLY* when clipped, but resort to "wild" behavior once flighted again. I DO NOT recommend this approach!

Also.... in regards to motivation, it can help to work with her for a few minutes *BEFORE* she eats. It may help to remove her food at night, do a short training session first thing in the morning (3-5 minutes is all it needs to be!) and then replenish her food for the day! Repeat the next day!


SHe recently fell in the toilet during the night about a month and a half ago, and she became very quiet and docile, she even jumped on the floor and crawled over to my dad a few times and sat with him, but she seems to have gotten over it and won't let him hold her once more. I know sometimes he can't be around due to his job, but when he's home, he just wants to hang out with her, but she flies away if you approach her cage. Out of everyone, I'm the one who sees her the least (once every two weeks), and yet one day I held out a saltine cracker to her and held my hand still on the top of her cage, she eventually bit it out of fear, and when she realised it was food, she ate from my hand, which prompted the skittish budgie to come over and eat as well. WHen my dad tries this method, she flies away before he's even held out the cracker.

Millet may work better - in fact, it's fine to hold the millet with her inside the cage and allow her to come up that way... or just dropping some millet into the cage any time someone walks by the cage. Just a really small sprig of it.


I figured his wonky work schedule would be a problem in our situation. I'll tell him he needs to have a routine with Paille (the cockatiel) for things to work out. Thank you for your input! She does love spray millet and I'll tell my dad that he should be using it.

A routine isn't necessary, per-say. But it can certainly help in training! If he only has 30 minutes to work with her per day, it's better if he does 5 minute training sessions throughout the day, 6 times total, rather than one long boring 30 minute sessions. Basically, keep things short and sweet! If it's dropping a piece of millet into the cage any time he walks by, that's fine, too!
Thank you so much, this is probably the most helpful comment.
 
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