• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

What to do if I'm not a "bird person"?

B

birbanon

Guest
So I made this as a sort of throw away account to ask this question. I'm somewhat scared of asking this, but I feel like I need to ask it... Sorry it's long, but I figured context would be good.

I have a cockatiel. I've had him for about a year. He was young when I got him, and he was not from a breeder. Previously, I've only ever owned cats, no birds. But I've always wanted a bird; I think they're cute and would make wonderful companions. And I did do reading on them before I got one. What kind of food to give them, what kind of cage, how much attention they need, etc. So I knew that if I didn't get a hand raised one, I would need a lot of time and patience raising one. I figured I could do it, and I really wanted to try. So I got one. My bird is healthy, so you don't need to worry about that. He doesn't show any signs of plucking, and he has plenty of toys to keep him busy. He eats fruits and veggies. However, I have concerns...

The first few months I got him I think went well. He used to step up onto my finger, but now he doesn't. Now he scurries away from me whenever I get close to the cage. He hisses at my finger. He doesn't want to sit on my shoulder. He does, however, often come willingly to my hand when I offer him food. He comes out of his cage and hangs around it, but freaks out if he has to be away from it. If I had to take a guess of what makes him not like me, it would these things:

1) I'm not very consistent with when I interact with him. I read somewhere that birds do better with consistency. I don't know if that means that I need to interact with him during the same time during the day everyday, or if it's something else. But sometimes I interact with him in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings, and maybe an hour all at once or for a few times sprinkled throughout the day. I have a work schedule that's all over the place, so it's difficult to set aside the same time of day every day for him.

2) I'm finding that I get frustrated easily. There are days when I am more patient than others. When I am able to, I will sit by his cage and offer my finger to try to get him to step up. He moves away from me, and I calmly keep my finger there and wait to see if he will come back. Other days, I get frustrated and give up. And I think that maybe he knows that I'm frustrated. My frustration doesn't manifest in any sort of aggression towards the bird, I promise. What I do is step away and leave him alone, figuring that he wants to be left alone. And it's hard to try and interact with him when I have convinced myself that he doesn't want anything to do with me. He trembles when I am near him, and I feel awful about it. I think I expect results too quickly, and I have been too pushy with trying to get him to be friendly with me.

I'm scared that I just might not be a bird person. I'm used to cats where you can leave them alone and they will be fine and still love you. When they want interaction, they will come to you. I think I can "read" cats better. With my bird being a year old, I figure he's about adult age now. I don't know if that means that I can't fix my behavior from now on and have him change how he feels about me. I hope that I can change our relationship, but maybe I can't because he has a permanent way he will see me for the rest of his life. I have seen people say that "birds are like children, you can't just get rid of them when you get frustrated, so you need to change" (which I would be inclined to agree with) but I have seen others say "if you can't properly take care of a bird 100% better just do what's best for the bird and give it away to someone who can take care of it". I want what's best for my bird... I really do. Again, I want to keep working with him, if I can.
 

Eloy

Joyriding the Neighborhood
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Avenue Spotlight Award
Shutterbugs' Best
Joined
11/29/12
Messages
15,349
Location
Sweden
Real Name
J.T
Have you consider getting a second one?
If so at same age. If the new bird is tame it will help.
 

cassiesdad

Ripping up the road
Weather Authority
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
3/21/11
Messages
28,521
Location
Erie PA
Real Name
Bob Weisman
I want what's best for my bird... I really do. Again, I want to keep working with him, if I can.
That statement shows something to me....deep down, you do want to keep working with him.
I read somewhere that birds do better with consistency.
This is very true. :) Most birds will thrive on a consistent routine....that doesn't mean that you have to do the same thing every single day for all their lives...us humans have variable schedules. With seven birds and two humans here, we have to have a working routine just so everyone (including us) doesn't lose their mind....sometimes , due to things beyond our control, the schedule isn't followed...or it has to be changed.

You do want to be as consistent as possible with time spent with your tiel,naturally....after all you are his main flock mate. :)

There's going to be "good" and "bad" days with any bird...and yes, those feathered creatures can and will prove frustrating to us. Strive to work through the frustration...accept that things happen...then let those feelings go. Accept the challenge to have the next interaction with your bird go better.

Tiels are solid citizens in the bird world...most of the time they can be even tempered and calm...and they can live with us humans quite well...they seem to accept the fact that us humans are a little crazy at times and adapt to our shortcomings with good nature....
 

Monaco

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
9/15/19
Messages
1,277
Location
Oklahoma
Real Name
Kelly Hill
It's okay to be a cat person with a bird. I don't think of myself as a bird person, but I am getting there. The real game changers influencing how I think about it have been articles by Pamela Clark and others. Knowing that philosophy I've been cultivating for years with my livestock, pets, and even my plants is not only shared, but has been expounded by people with a lot of experience has steeled my resolve to move forward.

Here I am...extremely intelligent parrot who yells at me when I don't get it right. Making progress, and working on issues as thoughtfully as I can. It sounds like you are doing a lot of thinking too. With enough thought and practice, I think you will suddenly find yourself being referred to as a bird person by someone else...even then, you can still be a cat person. I'm a dog person, still and always, they opened the door to the rest of the world for me, and I am forever grateful for that.

Take one issue at a time, and see what happens!


Sincerely,
A dog person.
 

Monaco

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
9/15/19
Messages
1,277
Location
Oklahoma
Real Name
Kelly Hill
Ps.

Please never change your forum name. It's priceless!
 

TikkiTembo

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
5/13/19
Messages
1,352
Real Name
Chelsea
My husband isn't a bird person. He enjoys the good parts of them, and walks away when there's work to be done or a grumpy bird. I respect his boundaries and feelings. They're not for everyone, but it is rewarding when you put work in and see results. Nothing comes quickly. One day at a time. :)
 

Fuzzy

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
10/30/10
Messages
3,523
Location
Jersey, Channel Islands
Real Name
Roz
He does, however, often come willingly to my hand when I offer him food.
Look at that! :dance4: That's what you need to work with! :D Keep pairing your presence with food and reinforcing his step up with treats. That way he will begin to look forward to interacting with you! You = good things!! Keep his very favourite treats for something big like the step up. Then put him straight back down again so that he is in control. Control is another important reinforcer. You can begin to move him away from his cage in teeny tiny steps. Something like this:

Step up. TREAT! Step down.
Step up. Hold it for 2 seconds. TREAT! Step down.
Step up. Hold it for 3 seconds. TREAT! Step down.
Step up. Move hand with him on one inch and back again. TREAT! Step down.
Step up. Move hand with him on two inches and back again. TREAT! Step down.

Gradually you will be able to take him further away from his cage in these tiny manageable steps. He won't think of flying because he is in control all the way. Watch his body language and only go as fast as he is comfortable with. You are looking for his relaxed body language for each step. You might rush through the steps, or you may have to break them down even smaller.

Practice for maybe 20 or 30 seconds here and there throughout the day. Don't sit there for hours trying to make him step up - you'll get frustrated and he will get fearful, plus you will be ruining the step up cue (it won't mean anything to him).

Try some target training too using treats as reinforcement! You and he will learn a whole new way to communicate. You can teach a bird to target through the bars of a cage or whilst he's on top of the cage... anywhere he is comfortable. This is one of the best videos I've seen. You'll both be having a lot of fun in no time!

 

AutumnRain

Jogging around the block
Joined
3/2/17
Messages
914
Real Name
Kelsey
You are not alone in getting frustrated with your bird. We all do. The other day, I left the room and my tiel literally screamed for over an hour. She doesn't normally do that, but bringing a dog into the home has changed things up. They are kept separate, for safety, but she knows he's here. I can tell there has been some jealousy when I leave the room and she can't come too, but knows he's out there. Unfortunately, the seemingly non-stop screaming was on a night where I was not feeling well at all. My dog was also barking a lot. They really are like children, and it can be hard sometimes. That said, if you hang in there, they are so rewarding. We all get frustrated with them sometimes. Take a walk if you have to when that happens, and remind yourself that they can't help the behavior. :)

I think part of what may be contributing to your bird being so fearful, is having your finger near him. To you, it may seem like a non-threatening gesture, but he may not view it that way. That's why the above advice that others have given is so important.
Target training and food are excellent reinforcement. I think utilizing those will help significantly. I know it's hard to take it slow when that's what you've been doing, but that seems to be the speed your bird needs right now.
 

Lincee

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
8/13/15
Messages
1,528
Location
Arnhem, Netherlands
Real Name
Jan
Birbanon, i think if you wheren’t a bird person, you would put your tiel on graigslist and be done with it. And who’s to say what a “bird person” really is?

You took the time to come here, make an account and post your question even though you think you might get bad reactions, thats more then most birdowners woul do!! Dont be so hard on yourself.

recently i gave my parrots away to a bird sanctuary, because it really was the best for them. There’s nothing wrong with that. Whats wrong is taking a bird for your own pleasure, and then dumping it without even trying to solve whatever issues you have!

As for your tiel, i think hes sensing your frustrations, and boy do we all understand yours :)

hit the reset button! Leave the bird alone for a while and let hi come out of his own acord. In the wild birds can fly away from scary situations, in our homes not so. Imagine how you would feel if some giant hand came reaching for you and you didnt know if its friendly or not :)

and as suggested maybe get a second bird. Even if times force you to have les time for them then at least you can rest assured that they have eachother! And there’s something wonderful about parrot interaction that you just cant see from a single bird, trust me ive been there :)

Stay here, become a regular and enjoy all the good this forum can offer you :) I no longer have any parrots, but i certainly enjoy this forum as much as when i did! There’s support and love here from likeminded people, and we all care and advise you when you need :heart:
 

Monica

Cruising the avenue
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
5/18/10
Messages
10,018
Location
Hell, NV
Real Name
Monica
With an 18 1/2 year old cockatiel whom I've had since she was 5 months old.... a 1 year old is a baby in comparison! ;)

Doesn't matter though if the bird is 6 months old, 6 years old, or 16 years old - they can *ALL* learn new behaviors! :D
 

Leih

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
10/1/18
Messages
2,182
Location
Ohio
Real Name
Leih Pearson
I have always been a cat person but have always wanted other animals, too. In 2017 I took the plunge and brought home a lovebird, and quickly added two linnies and a conure. So I'm still fairly new to birds, too. I agree 100% with everyone else who's said that you're more of a bird person than you are giving yourself credit for. I have a crazy schedule myself, but we still have a pretty set routine even on crazy days. They seem to adapt to there being days I can't spend a lot of time with them, but I make sure to make up for it on other days. I always recommend target training. It has been so good for my birds. Not only is it fun to see them catch on to a trick (and fast, birds are smart!) but also you get to interact with them a little differently and reinforce positive things and ignore the other stuff, ie less frustrating for you. I don't have a tiel, but I think I may have heard that they do just shake sometimes? It sounds like you're doing great, just maybe look at your relationship with your bird a little differently. And definitely stick around here, lots of really awesome people with tons of experience and very willing to help. It's an amazing community. ;)

PS-I'm now a cat lady/bird lady and my friends think I'm super weird with the birds haha
 

cassiesdad

Ripping up the road
Weather Authority
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
3/21/11
Messages
28,521
Location
Erie PA
Real Name
Bob Weisman
PS-I'm now a cat lady/bird lady and my friends think I'm super weird with the birds haha
I can just think of what my family and friends think of me...:rolleyes:

I've always been indifferent towards cats...I truly don't like them or dislike them...and I think that feeling is reflected back to me when I visit the zoo...the big cats turn their back to me...and the Canadian Lynx will stare at me and hiss...;)

At my brother's house, the cat will search me out and sit on me the entire time I'm visiting...I think she's getting back at me on behalf of the whole feline world...:)
 

Davi

Rollerblading along the road
Vendor
Avenue Concierge
Joined
12/12/17
Messages
1,384
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Real Name
Davi
So much wonderful and helpful advice given here. I too think that you can definitely turn things around. Birds (as with most pets, too) can definitely sense our frustration. Mine definitely do. So to the extent that you're able, try to take a deep breath and simply give him space. Birds move at their own pace, which is often very different from ours. They do love routine, but above all, they value their independence. I think one activity that could be really helpful is if you were able to spend some time with him while you're working (whether you go to him or you bring his cage closer to you). Birds LOVE just knowing you're there, even if you're not directly interacting. If this is not possible for whatever reason, then maybe start by just doing something near his cage that doesn't involve necessarily interacting with him. For example, give him some healthy treats and then just sit down to read a book or something like that. He just wants to know that you're there for him no matter what. Also, and forgive me if this is not the case, I'm wondering if you might still have cats in the house and perhaps your cockatiel is associating you with them.

At any rate, as many others pointed out, I think you've shown a lot of love and care for your cockatiel already and I really hope you'll be able to turn things around. :heart:
 

Leih

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
10/1/18
Messages
2,182
Location
Ohio
Real Name
Leih Pearson
I can just think of what my family and friends think of me...:rolleyes:

I've always been indifferent towards cats...I truly don't like them or dislike them...and I think that feeling is reflected back to me when I visit the zoo...the big cats turn their back to me...and the Canadian Lynx will stare at me and hiss...;)

At my brother's house, the cat will search me out and sit on me the entire time I'm visiting...I think she's getting back at me on behalf of the whole feline world...:)
That's how I've always felt about dogs. I don't dislike them but I don't think I would ever want one. That makes me a total weirdo since it seems like everyone loves dogs and more people dislike cats. I've definitely heard of cats that will seek out the person that likes them the least them just to be antagonistic. :roflmao: They're sassy like that!
 

cassiesdad

Ripping up the road
Weather Authority
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
3/21/11
Messages
28,521
Location
Erie PA
Real Name
Bob Weisman
I've definitely heard of cats that will seek out the person that likes them the least them just to be antagonistic. :roflmao: They're sassy like that!
I think that's Miss Kitty's (her name) plan...It's part of her "I own everything here...and now that you're here...I own you" belief system... ;)

She is a very pretty cat...all black with green eyes...

I'm not telling HER that, though...;)
 

Tara81

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
11/27/16
Messages
1,078
Real Name
Tara
How old is your cockatiel? The older they are the more stubborn they become (the longer it may take to tame them). If you are frustrated with trying to make friends , you can always put the cage close to where you are and go about your daily activities. (Watching tv? Put the cage next to the couch and lean towards the cage. )

The best advice I can give is to make a plan where you attempt to change his or her diet to a more healthy one. Once they eat fresh foods , you can use millet branches in a short training session once a day. They will be more enticed to eat seeds if they have been eatting sprouts/vegetables for 2 hours without any seed. If your bird does not eat any fresh foods, you will have to slowly transition first. mix sprouts / vegetable small chop with some dry seeds for a couple of weeks, so the bird becomes familiar with the new food. Then the third week, try putting only 25% seeds with 50% sprouts and 25% vegetables in the dish for 1 hour. Afterwards, add more seed. During this hour, see if the bird attempts to eat any of the vegetables / sprouts. If he does, thats when you can try having sprouts / vegestables for 1 hour on its own. If the bird eats it , then u can leave it for 2 hours. If they refuse, add the seed back after 1 hour.

You will need to be consistant with changing their diet. Once they do eat more healthy , thats when you wait 2 hours then do a training session with your bird using millet spray. They will become more brave when they aren't eating just seed all day.
 
Top