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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello friends,
This is a new board for me though we've had cockatiels and budgies for many years. I see a nice group of people here with good advice. I hope you can offer us some suggestions.

On September 1 our daughter found a cockatiel under a truck in her office parking lot. Attempts were made to find the owner, to no avail. She had him checked out by an avian vet who pronounced him healthy, though thin and weak, having bruises on his belly and wings, and missing a number of crown feathers. He guessed "Dexter' had been attacked by wild birds.

Due to her circumstances she was unable to provide a home for Dexter and gave him to us, with our support, about a week later. When he came to us he ate only seeds. Nothing else. He had no idea what toys were. He would sit on a small perch all day, looking very frightened. He would burst into chirps every so often, but that was it.

After a few weeks I took him to our own avian vet for a check-up, wanting to make sure that his behavior wasn't due to illness that had developed since the first vet visit. She also pronounced him healthy; he was a good weight and understood the "step-up" command. Apparently once, long ago, someone had cared.

I am writing this on February 4. We were able to convert him to pellets some weeks after he arrived, but other than that, not much has changed. He will do step-up in the cage when I ask him to; I keep it short. He will eat nothing other than the pellets. He ignores the few simple toys I've put in the cage. He is vocal when the mood hits him. He is hyper-alert, always on guard.

He lives in my son's room, which he shares with a very mellow male English budgie. My son sometimes puts him into Dexter's cage. While the budgie shows friendship, Dexter hisses.

There was a great deal of screaming and excitement coming from Dexter's cage the other day. My son could see no reason for it and we are guessing that Dexter spotted a bird of prey outside, quite high up. That might explain some things...

My guess is that he lived for many years (vet guesses him to be about 7, but of course can't tell for sure) in a small cage, in a dark room without any human interaction, got out and got attacked.

At any rate, we would love to make this little fellow a happier member of cockatiel society. Any thoughts on helping him to come around?

Thanks for any thoughts and it's good to be here!

Helaine
 

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Welcome and we're glad to have you here! Can't wait to see some pictures of Dexter as well.

It's good to hear you took Dexter in, now he can have a chance at a happy life :) Do you take him around the house with you and try to include him in daily activities? That might help him warm up to ya'll a little more. Maybe you should put him into the living room or whichever room is occupied the most by you and your family.

When I have millet spray I give it to Cindy for a treat when she's being good. When your bird steps up and doesn't bite/hiss reward him with a treat.

He might be hissing at the budgie because in his previous home he may have been an only bird for a long time. When I introduced Cindy to another cockatiel she was already 6 and wanted nothing to do with him. The other cockatiel was young and wanted to play but Cindy just wanted to get away from him. After a while Cindy warmed up to him and they became friends.

By the way I'm not a cockatiel expert lol. I've just had 4 in my life since age 15, but there's a lot of people on here who can help you a lot more than I can. Good luck!

Oh and I leave the shades open for Cindy to look out the balcony and she sees bird's a lot outside, she gets excited sometimes too, but she's never been attacked. I think she just likes to call to the other birds.
 

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Food bribery can be very useful. Most cockatiels LOVE millet spray, and I assume that Dexter is still willing to eat seeds if given the chance. So encourage him to eat millet spray from your hand, which will teach him that good things happen when he's with you. If he's not ready to eat from your hand, drop a small clump of millet in his food bowl when you approach the cage and make sure he sees you do it. He'll soon start looking forward to your approach.

Don't worry about this wrecking his diet. An all-pellet diet isn't recommended anyway, and many people feel that tiels need some seed in their diet because they're seed eaters in the wild. Keep offering him greens too and maybe he'll eventually start eating them.

He probably has a flock bond with the budgie but just doesn't want to get too close to him. That's very common, and both birds will benefit from each other's company as long as they aren't in fighting range.

Small birds are instinctively afraid of hawks. My tiels have never had a wild bird encounter but they freak out every time they see a hawk outside.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your suggestions and kind words...especially the comments you both made about millet. After our step-up this morning I did offer Dexter a small sprig of millet and after some false starts he began eating it! This is a HUGE step for us. In the past I have tried approaching him with food (though not millet) and was met with extreme fear, so hopefully we are turning a corner here.

As for moving his cage to where the action it, that is difficult here. We're in a townhouse; he's on the top floor where it's warmest and his cage is too heavy to lug up and down. Unlike our other birds it wouldn't be practical to change him over to a travel cage and take him all over the house with me. He would be absolutely hysterical at this point. He is rarely alone, anyway. Our son is frequently working in the room and I make it a point to go in and out during the day when he's away.

So, thank you both again. We feel that a big step has been taken on Dexter's part!

Helaine
 

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I'm so glad Dexter is in a safe home now and loved again.

Are you on guinealynx.com, your name is familiar to me? If so I'm Fourboys4now over there. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Nope, Britt, I am on a golden retriever board but under a different name. :) My daughter, who led me to this board, is upset with my handle, but hey, that's life. We moved down here from Northern California a couple of years ago and I enjoy having fun with some of the Southern California "isms"!.

Helaine
 
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