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taming older cockatiel??

lesliekiki

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Hi Everyone, A cockatiel started coming to my feeder about couple months ago. After a couple weeks I put a cage out with millet and he walked right in. N I had no luck finding his owners so I took him to a avian vet. The vet said he was probably a breeder bird or aviary bird because he was so wild and afraid. He said I probably won't be able to tame him and I should get him a friend. We decided not to clip his wings so as not to traumatize him any further. I feel he has now really settled in and whistles and talks... Now he will take treats through the bars from everyone living here. I can put my hand in his cage and feed him a short sprig of millet. He's calm and I do that about 3 times a day. He will run over and grab a seed from my open hand and back away (inside his cage). He doesn't hiss or lunge. My big question is, do you think I have any chance of taming him??? Should I get his wings clipped and if so when? I thought maybe I should wait till I get him to step on my finger in the cage but that could take a while(if ever)? He hasn't been out of the cage:(! (Sorry- but I'm afraid he could get spooked and hurt himself flying into something) I also read on the internet somewhere that I shouldn't train him inside the cage. I now have lots of time on my hands so I can work with him. If you think it's pointless as the vet said I will just get him a friend. But I'd really like him to be able to come out of the cage and enjoy himself. I really want him to be happy. I could sure use some advise. Thank you so much!!! Lesliekiki
 

Tiel Feathers

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I think you can train him if you are patient enough. Give it several months before you decide on getting him a friend. If you have a lot of time on your hands right now to interact with him, you can become his friend. Just take it slow, sit and talk with him, offer him treats, etc. it sounds like you are on the right track. Also, you can definitely train him while he is in his cage. He might feel safe in there for now, eventually he might come out for you.
 

lesliekiki

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Thank you so much for the encouragement and advice! I am so crazy about the poor little guy and want to do the right thing so that he'll be happy (and not cage bound or lonely...). I've been reading and trying to catch up but I have so many questions. Is this a site to do so? Thanks again!!
 

iamwhoiam

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It sounds as if you are already making progress with him. I don't think it's pointless to work with him. Just be very patient and calm. BTW, welcome to AA and thank you for taking him in.
 

Robyn

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I have an almost 18 year old male. I have had him since April and have made minimal progress with him. He has however stopped actually biting and drawing blood when I go to feed him, now he does open mouth bites which are far less painful. I would not clip your birds wings as the goal in taming is to build trust in order to that your bird needs to feel safe. What will make him feel safe is knowing he can escape if he feels he is in danger. If your bird is talking chances are your bird was at one point somebody's pet as it takes a while for them to learn new words. More time than somebody would spend on "just a breeder" or avairy bird. He is probably so wild because he's a bird and they don't trust people easily especially new people. Also the more time you spend with him the more you guys will bond. I have found Carolina is more willing to tolerate me when he sees Riley (my 1.5 year old male who I had first) who is a velcro bird letting me pet/scritch/play with him Carolina is inching closer and closer to us especially when I am having a problem with Riley not stepping off of me and on to a perch.
 

sunnysmom

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It sounds like you're making good progress. I personally am not a fan of clipping wings for training purposes. Is there a safe room where you can let him come out and work with him?
 

lesliekiki

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Thank you all so much for answering! Last night I read pretty much all the threads on cockatiel corner. I must say you are a very nice supportive group of people!!! I feel hopeful! I'm very appreciative of your time!

So question: He's molting right now. And needs a bath! He won't use a dish in his cage. I've tried spraying water up in the air and let it fall on him. He doesn't like it. I've also have rolled his cage outside and used a lite mist (while washing the cage at same time -it needed it!). He never opens his wings. He just goes to the other side of the cage and I stop. Do you think I should lay off doing that during the taming period? Any suggestions? Especially while molting. How often do they need a bath? Whats this stuff they sell at the pet stores? Any good, or is water better?

I won't ask all the questions I have about wing clipping and/ or letting him fly out down the road... I'm thinking I should just start out getting him to eat out of my hand and then step up inside the cage first. Do you agree? Or will he have been cage bound for too long?

THANK YOU!!!!!!!
 

Monica

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My big question is, do you think I have any chance of taming him???
I don't see why not! :) Sounds like you've already been working on gaining his trust!


Should I get his wings clipped and if so when?
As mentioned, clipping his wings is "anti-trust". Clipping can be considered a form of flooding while training, and if you train a bird improperly, then when the bird has their wings again, they become "untamed". If you tame them properly, they'll remain tame, regardless of clipped or flights. In 2007, I worked with a family of tiels that had previously been given to me. The male (father) was the most skittish cockatiel and very untrustworthy of humans. I never clipped him, but it started with his daughter (after she watched me feeding 5 adult, flighted, untamed budgies). All I was doing was feeding them by hand first thing in the morning before giving them food for the day. I did this every day.

Although the male is not tame (that was not my goal), he is no longer the skittish bird he once was, and is one of the first tiels, if not the very first, to come flying to my hand for food, when offered, even if I haven't fed them by hand for *months*! My lesser skittish tiels that aren't tame/friendly are more unsure of it if I haven't worked with them for a while.

I also read on the internet somewhere that I shouldn't train him inside the cage.
Please be honest with me.... what do you consider you've been doing all this time with him?!?!?!? LOL Sounds to me like training him inside the cage has been working well! ;)

Any bathing suggestions?
Here's some different bathing techniques you can try.... :) (although most tiels seem to prefer a mist/sprayer type bath or a large dish of water, maybe with vacuum running? Or try finding a video of tiels bathing?)

  • Try luke-warm water
  • Try cold water
  • Try ice-cold water
  • Try a spray bottle
  • Try a plant mister
  • Try in the sink with the water running or just some water in the bottom
  • Try in the sink with the sprayer
  • Try in the tub with some water in the bottom
  • Try a casserole dish or similar with some water
  • Try the dish with ice
  • Try the dish with foot toys
  • Try the dish with some small rocks or pebbles
  • Try the dish with some leafy greens like endive or other types of lettuces that may create a "natural" bowl
  • Try the dish with a vacuum cleaner running
  • Try in the shower with you - watching you having a blast getting wet!
  • Try dancing the bird into the shower with the water already going
  • Try spritzing yourself, and have fun doing it! Then spritz the bird
  • Try outside in an empty cage large enough to spread wings during a nice rain shower
  • Try outside in an empty cage using the hose with a mist/shower attachment
  • Try playing videos of other birds bathing

How often do they need a bath?
Technically, they don't "need" a bath, but it is healthy for their skin, feathers and mental health. Bathes can be given as frequently as daily to a few times a month. If birds really enjoy it, daily is ok! If they don't, try not to force them to bath, but do try different ways of trying to get them to bathe. The last thing you want to do is to make the bathing experience a bad experience.

Whats this stuff they sell at the pet stores? Any good, or is water better?
Stay away from it. Water is best. :)

I'm thinking I should just start out getting him to eat out of my hand and then step up inside the cage first. Do you agree? Or will he have been cage bound for too long?
I'd say this would be a great start! Although you might want to consider making your hand an extension of a perch, or perhaps an extension of the cage itself.... i.e. have your hand at the end of a perch, on top of the cage, right next to the cage but level with the top, or level with the bottom of the door. Reward him for looking at you, reward him for moving towards you, reward him for touching you with a toe, reward him for putting a foot on you and if he puts both feet on you, JACKPOT REWARD!!!! :D




To see more of what I did with my tiels, check out this thread. :)

"Self-Tamed" Cockatiels | Avian Avenue Parrot Forum
 

lesliekiki

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Wow! Great advice! I'm glad I found this site before I had his wings clipped!!! Thank you all so much for taking so much time!!! You have been a huge help and relief to me (and Kiki!) I will be well keep you posted!!! Thanks, Leslie
 

lesliekiki

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and Monica you really gave me a lot to work with. special thank y
 

Monica

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It's an amazing experience when a bird just decides one day that you are trust worthy and willingly comes to you. :) No need to force them to do a behavior, but learn instead that you're an ok person.
 

lesliekiki

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Hi Everyone, I mentioned above I found an older untamed male cockatiel. He can also fly like the wind! Anyway as I mentioned I am able to hold a sprig of millet inside his cage and he'll eat it. Sometimes he will GRAB a sunflower seed from my open hand (if it"s sitting on the tip of my finger) and then backs away. He's very relaxed and doesn't back away when I offer a sunflower pinched between my finger. (Thats how I started giving him treats between the bars outside his cage.) So whats the next step? Wish i could send you a video so you can judge but haven't figured that out yet! He still seems hand shy. and I don't see how to get him to step up. (he's never bitten me but he'll give me that little head bop with his beak open- and i know he's done and I slowly take my hand away).

By the way the first floor of house is not safe for him to fly around. Do you think I should have his wings clipped:(? I keep thinking if I cut his wings then I can at least leave his door open with an outside perch. And maybe he would come out and flutter over to the table where we eat our meals on his own...

By the way my Dad suffered a massive stroke and is disabled and can't talk. I can't tell you how much joy this little guy has brought to our house!!!

Thanks!!!! Happy New Year!!! Sorry Im long winded! L
 

sunnysmom

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It sounds like you're doing well with him. Patience, patience, patience, is key with an older tiel. :) Not to pry- but why is the first floor unsafe. Is there anyway to bird proof it? Have you tried getting him to step up on a perch rather than your hand? And it's amazing how much joy these little guys bring isn't it? I never had a bird before our tiel Sunny and now I don't know how we got along without one. :)
 

lesliekiki

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I moved into my parents house and there is just too much stuff around. (I can't dismantle my Dad's house at his age...) The only room for him to fly around in is upstairs and I can't carry that " flight cage" up and down the stairs. He's better based downstairs where he has lots of company and interaction. it's a hard call. Guess I just have to be patient and hope he learns to step up. That looks a long way off I'll tell you.
I'll try the perch thing tomorrow. Thank you for the advice!!!
PS does your tiel have a favorite perch that he spends most of his time on. I swear if I didn't have his water food & veggie at different locations and levels he'd never leave his favorite perch. He's a perch potato! :)
 

Sylvi_

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I second with the carrier once you gain his trust. And, for Mimi, she loves her rope and natural perches. Her all time favorite though is a huge, 50something inch rope perch in her cage. She'd live on it, I swear. :D
 

lesliekiki

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I went back and read everybody's posts here again. I won't have his wings clipped. Thank you for the thoughtful input! I guess I practically asked the same thing twice- sorry! I am very patient with him but my heart is itching for him to come out cause I think he's not moving enough. I"d LOVE the carrier idea and hope someday I will be able to do that with him everyday for some fly playtime and exercise. I took him to the vet once in a carrier and it was pretty traumatic for both of us!!! So I'll just have to wait and gain his trust and keep rereading your posts as a reminder!

By the way, Kiki has been sneezing now and then. Can this be from his own dust. I believe he's molting. Or do I need to take him to the vet? He looks healthy, seems to be eating well, still yapping. I also noticed he kinda has a greenish stain around where he goes. I never noticed it before. FYI- he hates bathing!
THANKS AGAIN
 

Tiel Feathers

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If the sneezing is just every once in a while, it's completely normal. If it's frequent and if he has any discharge from his nares it could be an infection.

The poop stain by his vent could be from accidentally smearing himself against some poop that was on a perch or something, but if he is dirty by his vent from pooping, then he needs to see a vet.

Too bad he won't take a bath yet, because then he could get the stain off, and you could tell if it happens again. Bathing would also keep the dust down, and it helps keep the respiratory system healthy.
 

Robyn

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I'd take him to the vet when Riley was sneezing he didn't have any discharge but still had a bacterial infection
 
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