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Discussion Starter #1
I'm an animal lover of all types and my daughter has two cats. The cats are harnessed and put in the yard on leads much like dogs. They meow at the door when they want out and meow at the end of their leads when they want in.

So the other day I put one out and a mob of butcherbirds were squawking and lining up on the fence. I thought maybe they were protecting a juvenile or nest from the cat until I saw movement in the corner of the yard behind the gas bottles. When I went to investigate lo' and behold a tiny cockatiel that had been attacked by the butcherbirds was cowering in a small niche under the fence.

My auntie whom I grew up living with used to have cockatiels so I assumed it was a pet (they are native to Australia but rarely seen in my area) and proffered my hand which it hissed at firstly but after calmly speaking to it and insisting it come to me it climbed up to my shoulder and I walked into the house with it.

My wife loves birds and her family had a large aviary with different parrots when she was a child, so the bird is in good hands. I should probably feel guilty about not attempting to find his rightful owner but if I hadn't found him he would be butcherbird poo by now and that represents neglect in his care. So that's my justification and I'm sticking to it.

A week on and the injury on Lucky's face has healed marvelously (it's the red mark between beak and eye in the picture) and he has become a delightful member of the household, but he has some bad habits I'd like to break him of and I have a million questions.

Firstly, he eats from the corner of my mouth. This is good in that it helped me to train him to eat from my hand but now that he eats from my hand I need to stop him from eating from my mouth and I don't know how. :)

Secondly, he has no interest in millet spray. You think I'm joking but I've even put a seed pod in the corner of my mouth and he just walked around to my other shoulder to see what was in the other corner. If I break the seeds from the pod on the table he'll happily eat the seed and once the pods are gone he'll break up and eat the core of the stalk but he will not break open the pods himself and I don't know how to get him to take the hint.

I joined here just to look for ideas from owners as you would be the best source of information and everything I have found says to use a treat like millet spray to train the bird but nothing about how to actually introduce him to the millet spray.

Thank you kindly.
 

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Honestly I really think you need to at least attempt to find his previous owners. He seems like a very tame bird which indicates that he is someone's pet, and he is more than likely an accidental escapee. It's fantastic that you found him and rescued him from the butcherbirds, but that doesn't mean he was neglected at all. This could be a childs companion. Being a good owner also means helping to reunite lost pets with their rightful owners.

I love birds too, but if I found a tame cockatiel on the ground, you bet I would try to find its owners because I know how devastating it is to lose a bird to an accidental escape and not ever see it again. I also know how grateful I would be if someone put up flyers or posted in facebook groups about the bird and I was able to be reunited.

Eating from your mouth is dangerous for him. Our saliva contains bacteria that is harmful to birds, so that needs to stop. The easiest way to stop this is to keep him away from you when you eat. You may need to cage him while you eat if that's what it takes.

He doesn't NEED to like millet. One of mine isn't interested in it, which is all the better for the others. They all have their individual likes and dislikes. Try different kinds of fruit as treats. Find what he really likes, and omit it from his diet to keep it as a training treat.

Edit: Also, has he seen a vet yet? After an ordeal like that with wild birds, it's important that he gets a vet checkup to rule out infections or diseases.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I appreciate your attempt to poke holes in my justification. I'm sure Lucky's previous owner would also appreciate your assistance. The fact is you accept the risk of loss whenever you invite a pet into your home, be it cat, dog, fish or bird, and the fault of the bird ending up in my yard and on the butcherbird menu isn't mine, it falls to the previous owner. I have purchased cage, cuttlebone, food, grit, perches and toys and I still accept the same risk to my investment. The difference is if he ends up in somebody else's yard defending himself from butcherbirds the responsibility now falls to me. If he had a breeder's band that would identify his owner we wouldn't even be having this conversation, but he doesn't, so I have claimed him.

Thank you for the information about saliva bacteria. I hadn't even considered that. The point was to seek methods for training him to stop eating from the corner of my mouth so that I wouldn't need to confine him to his cage every time I wanted to snack on some popcorn, but maybe my goals are a bit extravagant at this stage.

I'm happy to learn that there is another bird out there that dismisses millet spray. This is actually encouraging.

I will be contacting an avian vet come Monday to schedule an appointment under your advisement as well. Thank you again.
 

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Given his mutation, he is not wild. Please do the right thing and at least try to find his owner. Accidents happen, and I'm sure you would appreciate your bird being returned to you if you were in their position.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Begging your forgiveness, I still don't understand why it should be my priority to return an animal to its irresponsible owner but it seems that perhaps I made a mistake starting this thread as the bias is in and I seem to be in the wrong for wanting to claim him.

I will make attempts to find reports of a lost bird and on Monday will make some inquiries with the vet but I will not advertise his existence. Provided the owner has advertised his loss there's a chance they may be reunited, despite any affinity it has for me, having rescued it from a traumatic life-and-death struggle.

Pardon my appeal to your emotion, it is unwarranted.
 

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Thank you, Kataclismic, for planning on trying to return the bird to its owner. :)
Should someone be actively trying to find their beloved pet and you make that happen because of your efforts you will have done more good than you can imagine. Someone may very well be grieving over the loss of that beloved tiel, their family member, and you might just be the person who enables a family to be reunited and made whole again!
 

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The thing with birds is, accidental escapes are so easy and once a bird is out an open door or window, they tend to get overwhelmed and just go. They get more frightened and panicky the further and higher they get, and even the most tame bird can easily get disorientated and lost within minutes. They aren't like dogs and cats that can find their way back home relatively easily.

Escapes like this are usually never intentional and not because of an irresponsible owner. I have lost a couple of birds to an open door in my life and it is devastating. I've spent uncountable hours out searching to no avail and it's a really horrible experience. I keep my birds clipped during busy times at my house now in an effort to prevent this from happening again, but unfortunately with birds, it's ALWAYS a possibility no matter how loving and responsible an owner is.

You might not find the owner (and it's OK to secretly hope you don't.. I'm like this with every stray dog/cat I find lolol), but you can at least say that you tried and can offer him a safe new home. By what you've posted so far, he is in really good hands and again, great job on rescuing him from the butcherbirds! (they really live up to their name, huh)

For any unwanted behaviours in my cockatiels, I find that redirection works the best. I can tell my birds "no" till the cows come home, but unless there's a better alternative they usually won't listen (birds are great like that). Try different foods with him until you find something he really likes and then use that as a distraction when you are eating. If he tries to nibble food from your mouth, show him his own treat and lure him down to a more acceptable spot and let him have it. My girl Zoe actually used to try to steal food from my mouth, and redirection worked super well to end that. Now when she sees me eating, she just helps herself to what's in my hand instead of my mouth lol.
 

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Accidents are not necessarily an indication of irresponsibility. We're only human and we're not perfect, unfortunately.
 

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One type of accidental loss that, sadly, is rather common, can occur because the owner tried to be highly responsible and in fact loves their bird very much. It could happen to any of us: You are bringing your bird in for what you very well know might be a very costly vet visit (and you are ok with paying for whatever tests or treatment are necessary because your birdie is part of your family) but on the way the carrier comes apart and the bird flies away. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The butcherbirds would have delighted in finding a lone cockatiel. They are accustomed to eating thick-skinned animals (snakes and lizards mostly) and get their name by the way they skewer their prey on thorns to methodically tear at the skin. Their beaks are sharp for poking out eyes and that's probably where his injury comes from. Luckily they missed or he moved in time.

I have a bit of a lead from a neighbor who says he knows someone in the area that owns a bird fitting my description. He'll find out if it is missing and report back to me.

I struggle with the concept of responsibility in this sense. Lucky has full use of his wings and while I would hate to clip them I wonder if that isn't what a responsible bird owner does so that he can't put himself in such a position again.

Obviously if a flyer (the paper kind) turns up with a picture of him on it (or not) advertising a lost bird I will contact them and return it. Other than talking to vets as I have planned and now my neighbor, I don't know what else I can be expected to do. I'll keep you posted.
 

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I struggle with the concept of responsibility in this sense. Lucky has full use of his wings and while I would hate to clip them I wonder if that isn't what a responsible bird owner does so that he can't put himself in such a position again.
That depends on your own calculation of the risk. IMO the benefits of leaving them flighted heavily outweigh the risks. They were designed to fly - their entire being revolves around it. Clipped birds are prone to obesity, heart disease, anxiety, increased aggression, boredom behaviors like screaming and plucking, injuries from falling, and so on.

While clipping might keep them grounded in case of an accidental escape, it doesn't take much to get 90 grams of hollow bones and feathers off the ground. A light breeze can easily carry a clipped bird away. I feel it really just gives you a false sense of security, and is not worth the negative long term consequences. There is no joy quite like watching my boys zip and zoom around the room, flying through the narrow hallway and around corners to follow me into the bathroom. :p
 

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Yeah, mine are clipped during busy times at my house where the risk of a bird soaring out an open door is quite high, but during the quiet times I keep them fully flighted so that they can do what they were designed to do. It helps keep them in shape and keeps their coordination and landing skills sharp, too, so there's less risk of them flying into something or crash landing.
 

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I wouldn't clip unless you don't find the owner and end up keeping the bird - then you could consider it.

Among other hazards, unclipped birds tend to take hard flops to the floor and in a home that has uncarpeted floors it is easy for the bird's keel bone (the bone that runs lengthwise down the center of the chest of the bird) to split the skin wide open. There are other injuries that they are more susceptible to when clipped. Having them unclipped has risks too so it's a balance.

For now I'd leave the wings as is because if it goes back to its owner soon and they decide to let the clipped feathers grow back then there will be an injury or bleed-out risk until all the feathers grow back. (As feathers grow in the bird may fly erratically and lack flight control, also feathers growing in (blood feathers) that do not have other long feathers next to them for support and protection are vulnerable and subject to breakage. If a blood feather breaks the bird can bleed to death.)

(Check the forum archives for 'to clip or not to clip' discussions - the posts in this thread on the subject are good too.)
 

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Beauty was a Lutino who had a broken wing so was never able to fly. He pulled out most of the feathers around the centre of his body back and front. He had the run of the house though and would climb the stairs when he was younger, pulling himself up with his beak. In his later years he did have a nasty habit of chucking himself off the garden table and walking back inside if he didn't want to be with us. Most times we stopped him but occasionally he managed to beat us to the edge. As it shows in my signature, he lived to 23 so he didn't do too bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you everyone for your wonderful contributions.

My neighbor has reported no birds missing but his friend will happily take the bird if I don't want it. Little does he know.

I've been around the neighborhood and met a woman on the next block that has pet birds but she's not missing one and doesn't know anybody that is. I told her that I was about ready to claim it and she thought that was fair.

To be quite honest I don't think my wife would allow me to clip the bird's wings even if I was adamant about doing it, and I don't want to do it. I appreciate your feedback on this topic as although I'm perfectly aware of the documented health problems associated with the inability to fly, your opinions are worth more in spades.

I've put off contacting the vet due to the contacts I've already made this week and Lucky seems remarkably fit given his ordeal. My wife insists that if he isn't displaying any problems then a vet visit is a waste but I'll still inquire about any reports of a lost individual and the cost of a routine check-up. Maybe I can get a discount as a new client. :)

After three days of crumbling a bit of seed out of the millet spray into an area Lucky can eat them from (while he watched) and leaving the spray nearby he has finally taken the hint that he gets more seed by picking at the spray. Success! It seems he's just very timid. I would assume that his previous owner presented him a lot of plastic toys because he seems to locate plastic things to bite into but wood and natural threads make him nervous. So it will be another learning process to wean him from his plastic addiction and accept the things I've given him I think.
 

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Just keep in mind that by default birds are excellent at hiding illness (it's a survival mechanism), and if they start displaying symptoms, it's usually too late by then. It's up to you of course, but I would definitely recommend a general wellness checkup after an ordeal like that with wild birds.

I feel you on the plastic addiction. When I got my rainbow lorikeet, he would SCREAM at anything I put in his cage that wasn't plastic and bright in colour (as those cheap plastic toys generally are). It took some time and perseverance but I eventually got him to accept wood toys and natural branches. I got him to overcome it just by leaving them in his cage. I rotated his perches and toys once a week, and every week I would replace one of his plastic things with a wood thing or branch. By the time all the plastic was rotated out, he was over it and we haven't had a problem since.
 
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