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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, Talk Cockatiel members!

I need advice on how to deal with a sixteen-year-old, healthy, male cockatiel who wants to spend all day in the medicine cabinet. I want my bird, Conrad, to feel happy and fulfilled. If Conrad likes the medicine cabinet, I want to let him spend time there. But he refuses to eat, drink, or poop while in the medicine cabinet. And he refuses to come out of the medicine cabinet voluntarily--even if I try to entice him by showing him a mirror or singing to him (his usual favorites). After letting Conrad spend several hours in the medicine cabinet, I always feel that I ought to take him out so that he can eat, drink and poop. When I take him out of the medicine cabinet, however, he screams and bites me ferociously. I feel guilty. Once I get him out, he emits distress cries. I feel even worse. Then, he poops a GIGANTIC day's worth of poop, and runs to his cage's food and water dishes to scarf down a day's worth of food and water.

What should I do? Should I continue to force Conrad out of the medicine cabinet after several hours there, even though he seems so upset by me doing this? Should I just assume that if Conrad really gets too hungry and thirsty or really has to poop too badly--like maybe after 24 hours--he will indeed fulfill his bodily functions on his own? (I have provided him with access to food, water, and an exit when in the medicine cabinet, but he almost never utilizes any of these three options). Do you have a tip for how to coax a bird out of a cabinet more voluntarily? Should I just refuse to allow him to go into the medicine cabinet to begin with? (He lunges toward the medicine cabinet if I bring him anywhere near the bathroom--and if I try to leave him alone in the house without first delivering him to the medicine cabinet, he screams.)

On a deeper level, I want to know: Why does Conrad love the medicine cabinet? Does he see it as a nest? Does he want to have his own children and am I depriving him of that joy by not allowing him to raise a family? Should I adopt a baby cockatiel for him to raise? Would he even know how to raise a baby?

Also, will this whole thing pass? Will he go back to acting normal and forget all about the medicine cabinet once it gets cold again? (He began this in the spring.)

Thank you so much, everyone! :) I await your responses.

Sincerely,
Conrad's Keeper
 

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Huh, I've never heard of that! He won't even eat, drink. or poop? I'd say try giving him treats while he's in there. It doesn't really seem healthy, though, so if it doesn't change, I'd say just remove the cabinet. Is it a definite male? My female is trying to find little closet/cabinet spaces at this time of the year too. Hope something changes!
 

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To BlueDragon109

Thank you for your response, BlueDragon109! I really appreciate it.

Well, he looks like a male (distinct markings), sings like a male, and, this is gross, but he used to seem to pleasure himself by rubbing on a perch. So I assume he is a male. But I don't know for sure because no one has ever sexed him.

He acts like the medicine cabinet is a sanctuary in which he cannot eat, drink, or go to the bathroom. Even his favorite foods become irrelevant when he's there.

So it sounds like you're saying maybe I need to stop letting him go there?
 

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He's treating the medicine cabinet like a nest and sounds really super hormonal. I would recommend the long night treatment to reduce his hormones. And I wouldn't let him near the medicine cabinet anymore.

See here for more info: http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=32330
 

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He definitely thinks the cabinet is his nest box. As I write, Murray is 'nesting' in the bottom of her cage!

I hope you have success reducing his behaviour with hormone control. You might find it does not stop his fascination with the cabinet completely forever, but it can take away that obsession.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you, Charlotte, Roxy Culver, and Blue Dragon!

Blue Dragon: First, I could be wrong about his (her?) sex. But, second, I read somewhere online that even male cockatiels like to nest. Is that right? Perhaps he just wants to be a father? It is kind of cute to think about that.

All: One question I have is: Do birds get pleasure and fulfillment out of nesting? Will he be missing out on a natural and enjoyable part of life if I keep him away from the nest box and alter his hormones with long-night treatment? I feel a little guilty taking away something he seems to happy about. (Even though it is interfering with his physical needs.)

Thank you all! I love having you to ask questions to.
 

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Well, from what you described, it would be VERY strange is it was a female, and as far as the pleasure out of nesting... Well, my male cockatiel is for some reason not very fatherly, and still a bit confused about eggs. My father PARAKEET on the other hand was obsessed with making sure the female and chicks had food, but never really hung out in the nest. I suppose it could happen, the lust of a nest.
 

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Re your question to BlueDragon: It all depends on the individual, but cockatiels typically share the brooding of eggs and chicks in the nest, so a male cockatiel has an instinct to nest too. Perhaps it's more unusual in the males because they don't actually lay the eggs and therefore don't tend to seek out the nest site first...?

The second question is something I struggle with quite a bit. On the one hand, I don't want my bird to be an obsessive nester to the detriment of her own health...on the other, I'm uncomfortable about reprimanding her for her natural behaviours. It just feels mean and like we are trying to de-nature our birds. I don't have the answers, but I think there's a balance to be struck. I think you can definitely work on distracting your tiel with other behaviours as well as implementing a simulated 'winter' with less daylight hours like it says on the hormone thread. He does sound a little bit obsessed, and any fulfilment he gets out of it at this point is surely counterbalanced by the frustration he must also be feeling.

Just thoughts!
 

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Well, from what you described, it would be VERY strange is it was a female, and as far as the pleasure out of nesting... Well, my male cockatiel is for some reason not very fatherly, and still a bit confused about eggs. My father PARAKEET on the other hand was obsessed with making sure the female and chicks had food, but never really hung out in the nest. I suppose it could happen, the lust of a nest.
Male tiels are all about the nest. They are the ones that prepare it for the hens and they take part in sitting duty. Unlike other bird species, male tiels share responsibility and are actually more maternal then females. So definitely not abnormal for him to be nesting.

All: One question I have is: Do birds get pleasure and fulfillment out of nesting? Will he be missing out on a natural and enjoyable part of life if I keep him away from the nest box and alter his hormones with long-night treatment? I feel a little guilty taking away something he seems to happy about. (Even though it is interfering with his physical needs.)
No. He's only doing it because he thinks he's supposed to be doing it. Masturbating gives them pleasure and you may catch him doing that from time to time even on hormone control, but nesting is not something he needs to do or is missing out on and really isn't very healthy for him since there are no chicks.
 
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