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Discussion Starter #1
My bird, Grayson, is scared of everything. I burp the world is ending, I wear a dress instead of pants the world is ending, someone laughs on the other side of the house the world is ending. I have had cockatiels before about 14 years ago. The two I had before were never this scared.

I love Grayson, he is very sweet and tame but has a hair trigger startle reflex. He is currently 8 months old and been here for 5 months and still will not calm down. Is this just his personality, do I need to be training him more or is this just a stage in his development? It would be nice to have a bird that isn't scared 60% of the day. I have already managed to stop him from fear biting, and I have corrected his over enthusiastic preening that was leaving red marks all over my neck and chest. Now I need to know if there is anything that can be done about the fear issue.
 

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I can't help but think some tiels are more skittish than others. My Joey is also afraid of everything. Gnats send him into a flapping, squawking tizzy. If we wall through the living room with a flyswatter or Swiffer duster, he hits the deck in a panic. Miniature humans calmly playing quietly on the other side of the room make him a nervous wreck, etc. He completely flips out if I wrap presents (yet the chaos of putting up and decorating the tree is fine).

Other tiels I have been around have been much calmer. Mom's little guy, Moe, seems to thrive on chaos. He loves my great nephew, who loves to stand beside his cage and chatter with him. They will chatter to each other for long periods of time.

I suppose they are a lot like humans in that they have differences in personalities.
 

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I don't know a lot about tiels yet, so feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt, but with past prey animals I've had as pets I've found that sheltering them from things that may scare them makes it worse. Right now I have a rabbit living at my parents' house that I'm afraid to move across the state with me, despite being young, because of how sheltered she is.

Likewise, even non-prey animals can be influenced by how their humans react to specific events. I knew a dog who was terrified of tile floors because it slipped on some water in a petsmart once (a wet floor sign was up, but still) and it's owner started shrieking and wailing as the dog was trying to get its grip. It refuses to go on a tile floor now.

I say continue what you're doing, don't increase it, don't decrease it. If your tiel starts panicking, move slowly and speak in a quiet calming voice. Birds can read our energy and will spaz if we're spazzing, haha. Otherwise I agree with TamaMoo, sometimes you've just got a scaredy bird on your hands and it's not something you can train out of him
 

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Some are just like that. I had a boy Alfie and a girl Darla who both came from the same breeder and grew up in the same conditions with the same handling and over all experiences at the same time and he was nervous as anything all the time whilst she was positively boisterous in comparison. It could have been from a past experience that your boy is so unnerved but it can be genetic as much as anything else.
Don't shelter him too much but if he's honestly terrified then I would ease back a bit. My girls were scared of birdy nail scissors a few weeks ago, so I eased them into it. I put the scissors on the table in front of their cage for 3 days then I started handling the scissors in front of them and replacing them on the table for 2 days, then I moved them closer and closer and ended up hanging the scissors on the outside of the cage on the side they don't frequent much until they weren't worried about it anymore, then I moved it closer and closer to their food over a week until they were happily eating with the scissors 2mm away from their faces. Now they'll even give the scissors a nibble out of the cage. You could try this kind of thing with quiet little coughs at a distance and so on, he will probably always be skittish but you can try to desensitise him to really common things like coughing or life's going to be a struggle.
 

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I have learned to introduce things slowly, sitting them where he can see them, but they are far enough away he doesn't have to worry about them suddenly attacking. Then I will move them a little closer, and later a little closer. Things like flyswatters, the Swiffer duster, new perches, etc, I will talk to him in my calmly excited voice, asking if he likes it, what he thinks of it, telling him mommy likes it, and it is fun and won't hurt us. It isn't a foolproof plan, but it does help with some things. Otherwise, we just accept that Joey, Grayson and other little ones like them are just not all that brave, but sometimes their little fears can be so endearing, because they want comfort and reassurance from us.

The tree was already up when he moved in with us the Christmas before last, so I fully expected it to be an all day ordeal to get him comfortable with boxes and all the movement of the tree. He ended up being so nosy, all was fine from the moment I carried the first box in.
 

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Exposure is really the only thing that'll help him. Not to say you need to scare the crap out of him until he gets used to it - but take it slow and let his body language direct how you progress.

I find reassuring my tiels that an object is safe works very well. I touch it and look at it and exclaim how nice it is, acting very interested in it, and that usually gets them curious enough to come check it out. You're the flock leader - you need to show them that something is safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It noises and strange people that set him off not objects tbh. I don't shelter him at all but he doesn't get to go out and socialize either. Due to circumstances that is one issue I cannot change since I am the sole caretaker for a special needs preteen that is technology dependent, non-ambulatory, sensory issues, vision impaired and has developmental delays so I don't even get to go out to socialize. Especially since right now his home health care is understaffed and poorly credentialed meaning I don't dare leave them alone with him. I am also still waiting on the insurance to pay for lifting equipment because right now I am doing all the lifting manually and it is taking a toll on my back.

ETA: I didn't realize there was no like button on this forum so I wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to reply.
 

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For the 'strange people' thing, just get EVERYONE you know to come over every now and then (so that it's different people on different days) and just have them be near him/his cage for a while, chat to them about their day/life/whatever and then they can go.

I used to have a very neurotic cockatiel that would FREAK THE F OUT if anyone new came into the house, and that's what I did to combat that. It took a couple of weeks, but she finally got used to other people and it never bothered her after that. It works especially well if your bird is tame and your 'strange' guests can offer some millet or the odd sunflower seed. Food is love.

I can't help you with the noises one though, i'm sorry. I really do hope you are able to settle him down at least a little though! Best of luck to you and your baby.
 

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In my experience, younger birds are always a lot more skittish and prone to flap-fests, as we call them in our household. Males also seem to be more excitable and highly strung. My first female Cade was always pretty hyper and scared of everything until about 3 years old and then she settled down. Same thing happened with my male Ira and my partner's male Koda. They are both 6. I think being around Cade helped Ira because she was already so chill with everything by the time I got him.

My teen male Lint is SUPER laid back as was our teen female. The two 1 year old males we have are scared of everything. We put a night light next to the cage with the babies to help prevent night frights.

I think a lot of it too has to do with how we ourselves handle situations. Our birds don't freak out if we don't. If you follow this motto and help your bird be exposed to strange sounds on a regular basis, eventually he will grow out of it. You can try leaving a radio on during the day or the TV while you are around to babysit and see if you notice any difference. Birds don't like silence because it often means a predator is near, which makes new noises much more stressful. They need background noise to help them feel comfortable.

Hope this helps you!
 

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neurotic cockatiel

As others have said, sometimes gradual exposure might help, but some birds are just "scary." I can't think of anything in particular Bennie is afraid of, but my previous 'tiel Meshach was scared of sneezes. I had her for nearly 13 years and every time I sneezed, even if I tried to stifle it, she'd fly off in a panic! Bennie is cautious of new or unfamiliar things, but as Jaguar said, sometimes he will accept it if I show him it's okay.
 

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Mine was pretty skittish too but he's calmed down a lot. He often looks at me first when something startles him so I think if you show calm, he'll start to settle down.

He didn't like new people at all, but now he loves to go check out visitors. Probably cuz I bore him to death. :)

He still takes off in a panic sometimes, but its usually with good reason now, like a very loud crash or if a bird flies close to the window.
 

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I find reassuring my tiels that an object is safe works very well. I touch it and look at it and exclaim how nice it is, acting very interested in it, and that usually gets them curious enough to come check it out.
Yes, they follow your lead. I have a tiel who was scared of everything, and now only of nearly everything. He is less scared, and quite interested in, stuff that is mine, because he sees me using them all the time. He doesn't care for his toys, but he likes to investigate the poop shovel. He even managed to flip it over when he was in it and wasn't scared even though he took a tumble. He just looked at me like "what did you do?" He is startled by sudden movement or noise, except for when we watch Netflix. He stares patient at the screen and cheer and sing whenever there is action or animals. (He watches from a perch high up on the outside of his cage, from behind me, and when I turn to look at him, he is almost upside down from his perch, stretching as close to the screen he can get without falling. When he notices I see him, which can take a while because he is so into the movie, he will pretend to do nothing. It's so funny.)
 
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