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Discussion Starter #1
Oli was 3 months old (according to the breeder) when I got him, and I've had him for about 2 months. He is very tame with me and spends most of the day out of his cage and always flys to me to sit on my knee, shoulder, or head. He steps up without issues and loves attention.

I was just wondering if head scritches were something that come naturally, or something that is "taught". He's never bowed his head to me, and if I attempt to put my hand anywhere near his head or body he opens his beak in preparation to bite.
I really want to show my affection by petting him, but I dont want to force anything on him. Will he eventually WANT to be petted one day, or is it something I need to teach him to allow?

On another note: I have a post about sexing Oli (as I believe he may actually be female, if anybody could take a look at that, that would be great!)

Thanks in advance!
 

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He may or may not. You can certainly keep trying and he may find it really enjoyable, but not all birds like scratches. Neither of my tiels are very fond of them. Oddly, Beaker only likes scratches when he's toweled, like at the vet (but I don't recommend doing that!) and Jaid loved scratches when he was a baby, now, he just wants to wrestle
 

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When I first started with Joey, I would distract him with kissy noises or by talking to him. At first, I could only touch the top of his head for a second or two, then I could move my finger a time or two, then longer, but always only the top of his head. One day he turned his head to the side and offered his cheek, then the back of his neck.

I've known a lot of tiels who don't want scritches though. Keep trying, slowly, gently, and take your cues from Oli. If he shows signs he wants you to stop trying, do so, and try again a few hours later or maybe the next day.
 

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Ah thats great guys, thanks for your advice! I have noticed that he allows me to do it when he's being showered (which he appears to hate), so i'm worried that he is only letting me simply because he is terrified.

I will continue to try one step at a time slowly :)
 

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With my female cockatiel Cookie, she first allowed me to pet her head with a millet spray lol. I guess she enjoyed the feeling but didn't really trust my fingers yet. Slowly, with time and patience, she allowed me to do it little by little with my finger, and now she can't get enough of it! If it were only up to her, I could scratch her all day.
 

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Mindwipe and redshift used to like head rubs, but as they've grown older, they've become peculiar in their wants. Mindwipe, too, is very cranky if she even perceives me wanting to touch her head :p
 

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I think it's individual. I knew a brother and sister once. He loved scritches and she didn't.
 

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When she was getting comfortable with us we started taking opportunities when she wasn't fully paying attention to swipe a finger deliberately and lightly down Kigiri's cheek patch or back of head and then completely back off if she turned her beak to us. It's more tolerated if she was already grooming. We didn't touch her frequently enough to irritate her but here and there maybe not even more than once in a day sometimes. Just to say we are interested in being friendly. More frequently we'd bring our hand up even with her head, fist mostly closed, partially bent index finger sticking out a little, and just wait a few inches away before putting it back down. It just all came together one day. I brushed Kigiri's cheek patch once and then a couple mins later brought my hand up and held it in the wait position and she just dropped her head. By the next day she could not get enough scratches. Although, she says I don't rub the feathers on the back of her head and neck right so she has to take a foot and fix them afterward. She doesn't seem to care and will drop her head until her beak is pressed into my computer keyboard or laptop touchpad so I have to rub her face/head before I can convince her to return control of my computer.
 

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Zoe bullies me into giving her head rubs. But she also gets mad if I do it wrong lol. I think it depends on the individual bird, too. I've had birds that hate their heads touched and birds that adore head rubs/scritches. My very first cockatiel Joey (whom I got when I was like 13) took a long time to accept head scritches. Once he learned that it was awesome, he was forever bowing his head to me waiting for scritches.

Keep working at it, he will eventually realize that it feels good and he'll want you to do it. Be careful what you wish for though, cause you may end up with a brat like Zoe who demands it at every opportunity :p
 
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