The various misadventures of my birds: budgies Oliver, Horatio, and Violet, Spencer the green cheek conure, and Beatrix the cockatiel. With pictures.
Hi! I just got a baby parakeet, & it's been a long time since I've had to train one. Any tips for getting him to play, eat on his own, & being comfortable sitting on my finger? He was a little ball of energy at the pet shop & it was love at first sight. He seems a little skittish right now & he's very quiet. BTW! Phineas is adorable, & seeing him definitely had an impact on me buying a new friend. :)
Aww, congratulations on your new baby! :D Here’s a link to some information I gave about taming budgies in response to a similar question I received recently that I think will be helpful! Depending on how young your new budgie is, he may tame up pretty easily—in general, the younger the bird, the more trusting they are, just because they simply haven’t learned to be afraid yet. Phineas, for example, really seems to just expect every creature he meets to take care of him—he has no fear of anything and will happily wander anywhere without a second thought! (This is not to say, though, that older birds can’t be tamed; it’s just a little more time-intensive because a lot of times with older birds, you have to prove to them that they can trust you before you can start building a relationship with them. Horatio was like this, since he was older when we got him and had never been handled by humans before, but now he steps up and eats millet from my hand and flirts with my fingernails like the best of them. :D )
It’s normal for him to be skittish—he’s in a totally new place and he needs to get his bearings. I would give him a couple days to get used to his surroundings before you start trying to work with him, as it’s not unusual for a brand-new bird to spend the first few days alternating between being on “high alert” for possible dangers and napping (Phineas slept A LOT the first couple days we had him). You can minimize his stress by having his cage up against a wall or in a corner, at least temporarily—if there are walls on a couple sides of him, he’ll feel safer, because that way he’ll at least have a couple of directions from which he knows potential predators can’t sneak up on him. (If you can’t put him against a wall or in a corner, you can use a light-colored sheet to cover part of the cage, but leave at least one side fully open so he can see out.)
This is also a good time to start acquainting him with millet! Some pet stores will put millet in their budgie bins all the time, but I’ve found that most baby budgies don’t really know what millet is. Since most budgies who try millet love it, millet is a GREAT training reward later on, so this is a good time to see if your budgie will develop a taste for millet. You can leave a stalk in the cage and see if he tries it, or you can pull some of the individual “balls” of millet off the stalk and drop them in your bird’s food dish.
As he starts to understand he’s not in danger in his new surroundings, he’ll start to come out of his shell and start playing and singing/chirping more (although in my experience, very young budgies don’t tend to sing—they just do one chirp until they reach a few months of age, from what I’ve seen). In the meantime, he’s likely eating and drinking on his own, just maybe not when you’re in the room. Check the bottom of the cage for seed hulls or pellet bits to confirm that he’s eating. (If you’re seeing poop, then he’s eating.) If you see no evidence that he’s eating, he may have regressed, and you’ll need to take him to an avian vet or experienced hand-feeder to see about re-weaning him. This will probably not be the case, however! He’ll probably eat just fine on his own (although it’s worth pointing out that a new bird may not eat for a day or so until he adjusts to his surroundings). :)
I’m glad Phineas inspired you to get a new friend! :D Thank you—he really is a cute, easygoing little guy. Good luck with your new baby and please don’t hesitate to ask questions! :D
HE IS SO CUTE. He’s quite a talented little mimic, too, it sounds like! :D I love it when budgies flirt with random objects.
I’m sure an inflated tea cozy bird making spray bottle noises is quite a sight on the morning!
It is RIDICULOUS. She’s like the physical manifestion of my state of mind when I hear my alarm clock go off, lol. This morning I actually had to coax her onto my finger to get her out of her sleep cage, because she hopped off her perch and retreated to the back of the cage where I guess she thought I couldn’t reach her. Then she had to sit on my shoulder for fifteen minutes before she was coherent enough to eat breakfast. Poor Beanut.
That’s what I got from Rembrandt this morning, getting up earlier than usual. OTOH, I had a brief visit to Sandro later and got a serenade in greeting.
I think some birds must be more morning-oriented, like some people! Spencer is always happy to get up at any hour, and so are Horatio and Oliver (Violet usually requires a little time to sit in the Slinky and wake up before she’ll do anything in the mornings), but Beatrix is REALLY not pleased with being gotten up before around 9 am, it seems.
my birds are so used to waking up at 6 when i do, they’ll start doing calling chirps if i’m late or have a day off and sleep in
Beatrix will do that if I sleep in too late. Spencer and the budgies are usually totally happy to get up whenever I’m up—in fact, as soon as Spencer hears me up in the morning, I start hearing little “hey, shpoop”s from under his cage cover. :D
The problem is that this semester I got stuck teaching an 8 am lab section, which means to make it on time I have to get up at 5 am, and that is NOT when I usually get up, and Beatrix gets VERY cranky when awakened that early (not that I totally blame her).