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Taming Gabriel

Catti

Moving in
Joined
7/3/21
Messages
11
Hello! I wasn’t sure if I should put this in Behavior Byway or here in Cockatiel Corner, but I wanted to make a thread to keep track of Gabriel’s progress as I try to tame him and give him a better life. I'd also be grateful for advice and opinions. Gabriel is my very first bird and though I have done a lot of research before adopting him it doesn't make up for lack of experience.

A month ago I adopted Gabriel from my grandmother. She told me she had him for at least ten years and took him from a previous owner. I'm unable to get any details on his past besides that. He was kept alone in a big cage with nothing but food and water bowls and a single dowel perch, and he was never socialized. He was kept in the corner of a spare room with a couple of chihuahuas that are constantly barking. Getting food and water, and the newspaper bedding changed are the only human interaction he gets. He is unable to fly (I only ever see him open his wings to stretch) and has to climb around his cage to get anywhere. I’ve been adding more perches to try and make his getting around easier. He’s terrified of hands and cagebound, and I’ve had to use a towel to remove him from the cage for the big move.

I've added toys, perches, and mineral blocks to the cage after taking him in. He ignores the toys but he loves the new perches and I often see him chewing on the mineral blocks. He’s been on an all-seed diet and will only eat the millet and sunflower seeds within the seed mix. So far I have been unable to get him to take to any other food and as he doesn’t trust me none of the tricks, such as eating in front of him, are working. It took him a while to understand that millet spray is edible, but now he loves it and I'm using that for training. I am also trying to sprout some millet seeds in hopes of getting him to eat somewhat healthier and one day get him to actually eat vegetables. Whenever I leave the room for a period of time, such as for work, I have videos of cockatiels playing on my computer. The apartment complex I live in only allows one bird unfortunately.

For the first week I left him alone. Besides changing his food and water I hardly interacted with him to let him get adjusted to his new environment.

The second week I’ve been sitting beside his cage (it’s right at the foot of my bed) so we’re close together. I talk, sing, and whistle to him and play my Nintendo Switch, and let him get used to my presence.

The third week, a few times every day, I put my hand in the cage and offer a spray of millet. The spray provides distance between Gabriel and I. I put it at the opposite end of the perch he sits at so he has to come to me to get the millet. After the first day of doing this he began to run to the spot of the perch I offer the millet and stare at me, so I’ve been doing the millet training whenever he does this. I figured if he’s inviting me to the cage I should reward him for it.

This week I’ve been putting the millet in my hand and resting my hand on the perch so he has to come very close to me to get to the millet. He’s eaten seeds right out of my hand and even touched his head to my hand a few times. He takes a few quick nips at my hand itself, but there is no aggression and the nips do not hurt.

Today as of the making of this thread, he was bobbing up and down when I grabbed a bag of millet spray, and he eagerly ran to my hand to start eating. He is still nervous as his eating pattern is to eat a few mouthfuls of seed then retreat, or nip at my hand and retreat, then return to my hand and repeat. He will sometimes stop within two-three inches of my hand and groom himself or take a catnap. He still sometimes hisses at me when I come near the cage or touch it, but he does it far less than when I first brought him home. He makes little quiet noises of protest when I interact with his cage or pull my hand (and the millet) away during training. I do get the impression that he wants interaction, but it’s still too scary for him.

I know there is a possibility that he will never be fully hand-tame, but I am surprised and happy with his progress so far. At least ten years of little interaction to eating out of my hand within a month’s time of training is amazing to me. I really want to get him to a vet as he’s only been on an all-seed diet and his talons are in great need of trimming, but I’m afraid of further traumatizing him.
 

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sunnysmom

Ripping up the road
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Michelle
It sounds like things are going well!
 

Catti

Moving in
Joined
7/3/21
Messages
11
Gabriel is still nervous about my hands. He does eat the millet out of them, even touching his beak and head to my hand as he does so, but he still repeats the pattern of eating, retreating, then coming back to eat more millet. Right now my plan is to keep offering my hand and hope that eventually, with his constant contact with my hand while eating, he'll become desensitized.

In some good news, I clipped some spinach to the cage and he took some nibbles. This is the first time I've seen him willingly eat a vegetable even if it is just a few nibbles.

The past few nights he's been sleeping in his food bowl. I do not know why he does this and what I should do about it. I've had to change his food in the evening after I get home from work because I do not want to shoo him off in the mornings and possibly undo all the progress I've made with him.
 

Skum

Walking the driveway
Joined
7/11/19
Messages
267
Real Name
Bruce Bergeson
Hello! I wasn’t sure if I should put this in Behavior Byway or here in Cockatiel Corner, but I wanted to make a thread to keep track of Gabriel’s progress as I try to tame him and give him a better life. I'd also be grateful for advice and opinions. Gabriel is my very first bird and though I have done a lot of research before adopting him it doesn't make up for lack of experience.

A month ago I adopted Gabriel from my grandmother. She told me she had him for at least ten years and took him from a previous owner. I'm unable to get any details on his past besides that. He was kept alone in a big cage with nothing but food and water bowls and a single dowel perch, and he was never socialized. He was kept in the corner of a spare room with a couple of chihuahuas that are constantly barking. Getting food and water, and the newspaper bedding changed are the only human interaction he gets. He is unable to fly (I only ever see him open his wings to stretch) and has to climb around his cage to get anywhere. I’ve been adding more perches to try and make his getting around easier. He’s terrified of hands and cagebound, and I’ve had to use a towel to remove him from the cage for the big move.

I've added toys, perches, and mineral blocks to the cage after taking him in. He ignores the toys but he loves the new perches and I often see him chewing on the mineral blocks. He’s been on an all-seed diet and will only eat the millet and sunflower seeds within the seed mix. So far I have been unable to get him to take to any other food and as he doesn’t trust me none of the tricks, such as eating in front of him, are working. It took him a while to understand that millet spray is edible, but now he loves it and I'm using that for training. I am also trying to sprout some millet seeds in hopes of getting him to eat somewhat healthier and one day get him to actually eat vegetables. Whenever I leave the room for a period of time, such as for work, I have videos of cockatiels playing on my computer. The apartment complex I live in only allows one bird unfortunately.

For the first week I left him alone. Besides changing his food and water I hardly interacted with him to let him get adjusted to his new environment.

The second week I’ve been sitting beside his cage (it’s right at the foot of my bed) so we’re close together. I talk, sing, and whistle to him and play my Nintendo Switch, and let him get used to my presence.

The third week, a few times every day, I put my hand in the cage and offer a spray of millet. The spray provides distance between Gabriel and I. I put it at the opposite end of the perch he sits at so he has to come to me to get the millet. After the first day of doing this he began to run to the spot of the perch I offer the millet and stare at me, so I’ve been doing the millet training whenever he does this. I figured if he’s inviting me to the cage I should reward him for it.

This week I’ve been putting the millet in my hand and resting my hand on the perch so he has to come very close to me to get to the millet. He’s eaten seeds right out of my hand and even touched his head to my hand a few times. He takes a few quick nips at my hand itself, but there is no aggression and the nips do not hurt.

Today as of the making of this thread, he was bobbing up and down when I grabbed a bag of millet spray, and he eagerly ran to my hand to start eating. He is still nervous as his eating pattern is to eat a few mouthfuls of seed then retreat, or nip at my hand and retreat, then return to my hand and repeat. He will sometimes stop within two-three inches of my hand and groom himself or take a catnap. He still sometimes hisses at me when I come near the cage or touch it, but he does it far less than when I first brought him home. He makes little quiet noises of protest when I interact with his cage or pull my hand (and the millet) away during training. I do get the impression that he wants interaction, but it’s still too scary for him.

I know there is a possibility that he will never be fully hand-tame, but I am surprised and happy with his progress so far. At least ten years of little interaction to eating out of my hand within a month’s time of training is amazing to me. I really want to get him to a vet as he’s only been on an all-seed diet and his talons are in great need of trimming, but I’m afraid of further traumatizing him.
He's lucky to have met you, you're doing an excellent job.
 

Catti

Moving in
Joined
7/3/21
Messages
11
Thank you for the comments. It is reassuring to know I'm doing things right.

Gabriel has taken a liking to his leafy greens which is awesome! He still nests in his food bowl at night and when I come near him he'll attack the bars and hiss at me. Possible hormonal behavior?
 

Skum

Walking the driveway
Joined
7/11/19
Messages
267
Real Name
Bruce Bergeson
Thank you for the comments. It is reassuring to know I'm doing things right.

Gabriel has taken a liking to his leafy greens which is awesome! He still nests in his food bowl at night and when I come near him he'll attack the bars and hiss at me. Possible hormonal behavior?
He still only half trusts you. My former tiel who was very tame and affectionate hissed every time I cleaned his cage or changed his food, I think it's protecting the best. My hen isn't bothered
 

Catti

Moving in
Joined
7/3/21
Messages
11
Good to know. I was wondering if it was hormones because sleeping in his food bowl at night is a recent behavior, and his aggression (attacking the bars) only happens when I come near him while he's sitting in the bowl.
 
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