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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I am new to this site and need some advice regarding our 8 month old cockatiel that we've had for about 2 and a half months. He is our second cockatiel. The first is a year old, and we've had him since he was a baby. They are not yet friends, and we know they might never be.

The problem is that about a week ago, our new cockatiel, Goose, suddenly regressed in behavior. By that I mean that he runs from my hand whenever it goes anywhere near him. He doesn't want to step up anymore on the rare times I am able to get near him. He flies off my finger and screams. Then he will run around on the ground scared that I am going to get him. If I try to get him, he will shriek. A bird place told me to always follow through if I start to get him because if I back off, it will let him think he's "won", and I need to be the dominant one. When I finally grab him (it's a full body grab when he's running on the ground like that), he screams and bites me HARD. I know this is because he is scared to death and this is his natural response. Trust me, if I could let him wander around and calm down, knowing he'd eventually let me get him to step up, I would, but this hasn't worked, and sometimes it happens before I need to leave for work and don't have the luxury of spending 30 mins coaxing him over to me.

I have no idea why he is suddenly so fearful and aggressive. I make sure the boys get 10-12 hours of sleep a night. I know about hormones, but none of the things I read indicate fearful behavior like this that comes on suddenly during a hormonal period.

The only thing we did differently the night before we started seeing this shift is putting their cages close together at night and covering them with one cover rather than covering them each separately. We were told that eventually they might become buddies if they start sleeping on the perches near each other (while they're each in their own separate cage, I mean). Maybe he didn't sleep well with this new arrangement, which might make him cranky, but, again...why would he suddenly be terrified of us? He doesn't even want to go near our other 'tiel like he used to. He used to act like a pesky little brother, following the older one, wanting to play with whatever he's playing with, eating what he's eating, etc.

Can anyone help me figure out what might be causing this or how to proceed? Maybe the bird store he came from didn't handle him like they said they did or, worse, maybe he was mistreated. I can't figure it out. He liked us and now he's terrified.

I'm sorry this is so long. If I didn't include these details, I'm sure someone would be asking for more info like this.

I'd so appreciate any help.

Thanks much!:wf cinnamon::grey tiel:
 

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Welcome to the group from Milo and I. I don't know what the answers are, but I am having a bit of the same problem with Milo. Maybe someone will give us both some answers.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Regressive Behavior

Thank you, Milo and Paula! I am so happy to have found this site.
I'm sorry to hear you are having similar issues. What is your situation with Milo? Single 'tiel or do you have another?

I'm still learning a lot, but I'd be happy to help you if I can. I am planning on taking Silly (my one year old 'tiel that I have no problems with) and Goose (the one that has regressed) to a bird place this weekend. There is a woman there that is AMAZING with birds, and she said she'd be happy to help me with these issues. Perhaps I can throw in some questions you might have, too, and get some answers for us both!
Emily, Silly, and Goose
 

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I noticed your question about the bird lady and how to tame tiels in a different thread, but I thought it'd be more apropriate to answer in this one instead of taking over someone elses thread. My background is I adopted a now 16 year old tiel last year. I am in much the same situation as you are, in regards of having a scared tiel. He is improving, but really slowly. He wasn't tame or handled when I got him, so I guess he's too old to become trusty now. I still love him to bits though.

It sounds like the main issue is that you force your tiels too much. You write that the bird lady told you to be dominant. It sounds like you have a skittish bird and beeing dominant will only cause more regression. Eventually you could end up with an apathic introvert or an agressive biting machine. Tiels are careful by nature, so it doesn't need to be someone mistreating him causing it. It could just be not beeing handled or that you are a new person in his life or he's just like that and need lots of time and love.

But do not grab your tiel! True, with dogs you need to be a firm leader, but you need to prepare to follow more than lead with your bird. For instance you don't punish bad behavior, you ignore it. I've had a lot of different pets and with birds it feels more like befriending and making a mutual agreement, than taming and training. You get to know his boundaries, not the other way 'round.

I also feel (I do not know if this is true) that tiels have more mood swings and can be totally different from one day to the next. Today I got a huge surprise when my scared-to-death-by-hands-and-everything-new-tiel decided that it was superexciting to climb up and sit near my hands when I installed a colorful cotton perch he had never seen before. That's great and I rewarded him for this with lots of millet. Tomorrow he'll probably hiss at my hands again, but I can't force him to be near them tomorrow just because he didn't mind them today. It's sometimes tempting to force him to understand that I am not going to kill him and he could just trust me, but there is no way of doing that.

My point is: don't force your tiels to do anything. Don't pick them up if they don't want to and don't force them to sleep next to each other. Tiels are intelligent birds and choose friends themselves, you can't make them bond. Let them come to you and encourage that behaviour by bribing them with food and whatever else they might enjoy.

Good luck with your tiel. It sounds like you care a great deal and that's awesome. The people on this forum are all friendly and helpful and have a lot of experience so you'll get a lot of great advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you so much for your input, Crow! What you are saying feels right to me. I just didn't see how grabbing my little guy could possibly make him a better bird, not to mention that it was heart breaking to see him scream and run from me.

I appreciate your comments about them behaving differently every day. I will simply enjoy the days that he wants to be near me, and on the other days when I am getting an open beak or a hiss, I'll talk sweetly to him, not push it, and patiently wait for his next loving day for me. :)
 
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