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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,

(I apologize in advance, because this might get long). :blush:

I've had my 18 year old Cockatiel, C.J. (Ceej for short) since he was less than a year old. I was in college when I got him, and believe it or not he came from Woolworths! I chose him because when I stepped up to the cage the Cockatiels were in, all of the other birds cowered away from me, but he cruised right up to me and looked me in the eye, almost like he was challenging me to take him home. :) I always joked that he chose me, and not the other way around.

The first few years I had him, he was almost always out of his cage. I lived with three roommates who loved him as much as I did, and although he never was a really cuddly bird, he was quite content on someone's shoulder and was hand tame.

Several years later I moved cross-country, and I think the move really stressed him out. We were in the car for 6 straight days, and in hotels every night (we snuck him in!).

By the time I got settled out here in AZ, he was no longer very interested in coming out of his cage. It became one of those things where I kept thinking he'd get better with time, but it never did. Almost 15 years have gone by and he's very set in his ways.

If I get right up to his cage and make kissy noises, he will "kiss" me through the bars and make kissy sounds back to me. If you stand at his cage and talk to him, he loves it, and will whistle and chatter and show off to you, no stress reactions at all. But he doesn't like hands coming toward him.

He tolerates me reaching into his cage to change his food and water (I could do this from outside the cage but all these years I've purposely reached in to do it so he stays at least a little familiar with my hands, and that they do good things (yummy food!) and don't hurt him. If my hand drifts too close to him, he'll hiss and grumble and peck at me with a closed beak, but he has never bitten me.

I feel like he has many years left with us, and I long to take advantage of it and have the relationship I once did with him. However, at his age I don't want to unnecessarily stress him, either.

Any suggestions on how to re-tame a once-tame bird?

He hasn't had his little wingers clipped in many years, and I'd love to clip him so that I can feel safe if he's out of the cage (even if he just climbs out on his own and hangs out on the top of his cage I would feel like it's a huge accomplishment for us). I'm afraid, though, that the process of catching him to clip his wings would freak him out and break whatever trust we do have.

I'm so conflicted...part of me wants to try to re-tame him because I know he really used to enjoy human contact...but part of me also wonders if I'm being selfish and I should just let him be after all this time.

What do all you wise people think I should do? :confused:

-SB
 

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I don't see any reason you can't work with him. :D Does he take treats from your hands, even if it's through the cage bars to start with? That's where i would start, because that would be positive association with your hands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A bit of an update - C.J. and I made some progress this morning. I've been leaving my arm in his cage for a while every time I feed him (see? arms are nice!). He still gives me the hairy eyeball and a couple of hisses and halfhearted lunges (although he has *never* bitten me). But this morning, he actually hopped onto my arm! I think it was an accident...then once he figured out he was on my arm and not his perch, he looked at me with this "wow" expression on his face. It was too cute. Then he hopped off and all was well, but I think it was a big step in the right direction. :)

-SB
 

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Progress is going good by the sounds of it, keep it up cause you'll be surprised what loving care can do. ;)
 
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