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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All,

I recently adopted 2 tiels from a local avian rescue. I brought them home on Sunday morning and let them settle in all day long. Later on that evening I offed them some millet through the bars of the cage and both of them eagerly came running for it. They were completely fine with my hand being there holding the millet while they pecked away at it through the bars. I continued this throughout the day on Monday and they were very receptive. So I figured id try opening the cage door to see if they would eat from my hand while it was inside of their cage. Low and behold they came running. However while my hand is in the cage i CANNOT move even the slightest bit or they get skittish and nervous. One of them will just shy away a bit and then come right back for more millet while the other will open his beak wide and lunges at my fingers (and got me few times). Last night I decided to open the doors on their cage to let them have some flight time and to see if they would be calmer outside of the cage. It was kind of hit and miss. They both took the millet from me but would not go near my hand. They would sit as far away as they possibly could while still being able to reach the millet. the nippy one was still just as nippy, but did eat a lot of millet from me and generally didnt seem to mind my presence. the other seemed more content and at ease outside of the cage. after some time i got him to let me bring my empty hand between him and the millet but he wouldnt step up. When i tried to lightly push against his chest to get him to step up, he kind of shyed away and got real nervous like he did in the cage but came back shortly after. I feel like he is willing to step up onto my finger for some millet but hes not sure of my finger. The real trouble came when it was time for them to go back into their cage. They didnt want anything to do with my hands and they started schreching and flying all over the room trying to avoid me. Eventually i coaxed them onto a perch but had to rush them to the cage because they saw my hand at the end of that perch and you could tell they were about to take off again. Ive only had them for a few days (today is # 4) and i feel like ive made a lot of progress with them seeing as how they werent handled much at the rescue. I mean they got attention but because they had about 25 cockatiels there, they were never really taken out of the cage in god knows how long. I feel like they enjoyed being out of the cage and nibbling from the millet i was offering, but i feel like i ruined the little bit of trust i had started to build with them when i had to put them in the cage, i mean that was stressful for me, i can only imagine how they felt. Do you think I'm going to fast for them? Should i keep them in the cage until they get more comfortable eating from and steping up onto my hands? Any ideas? I want to let them out but i dont want to traumatize them when its time to go back in....
 

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it just takes time. time. then more time. lol only one of my tiels will willingly step up as of now. the others either shy away or bite. they just have to get used to you being around them. sit next to their cage (with millet if you want) and read a book. i prefer to play my guitar. (cuz im not a good public speaker. even to birds lol) you'll be able to tell when they are at ease. once they are you can try to get them to eat from your hand again. i wouldnt try having them step up untill they are comfortable and relaxed while doing this as well.

just give it a go. :) and be patient. you are like 200x their size ;D
 

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Definitely time is your friend here. You've had only 4 days and it sounds like they are settling in. Eating from your hand, even through the cage bars is wonderful. Just be patient. Slow and steady, both movement wise and introducing new things to them. If you can put their cage nearest to where you sit most often, I think that will help them see you as someone they can trust, too. And congratulations!
 

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Ugh, I feel your pain when it comes to back in the cage time!

A good trick which has proved very successful with our new girl, Nyra, is to let her out first thing in the morning when we know she hasn't eaten yet. She'll have her exercise and play around, but before long will get hungry and go to where she knows she can find food - her cage.
The only real drawback is that there's no guaranteed timescale on it, you might end up waiting a couple of hours.

For long term training, the key is to make going back in the cage a happy time for the 'tiels. No easy task when they're nervous around hands, I know. With Nyra we save millet only for when she goes back in. Before long she built up the association and will sometimes head right for her cage door when the millet is shown. Might help to have a perch or dish just inside the door where you can put the millet to tempt them in, especially since they are nervous around hands.


As for getting them used to hands, the biggest key is patience. It's so much better to let them come and investigate when they get curious rather than you approaching them. Pop your hand in the entrance of the cage with some seed or similar, and just leave it there as still as you can for several minutes. Do this three or four times a day, and try and do it at about the same time each day, 'tiels like routine! You should notice them becoming more comfortable.


In the case of the nipper, is it biting down hard (and breaking the skin) or is it more a display of rapid lunges? If he's biting down hard he's feeling very threatened and you should probably back off, it's kind of a last desperate resort to them.
If it's just the lunging you're on slightly safer ground, it can be a good idea to just ignore it and keep your hand still. When he realises it's not getting him anywhere he'll probably stop.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the great advise guys! tonight, I slowed down and didnt introduce my empty hand at all and didnt let them out of the cage. When i got hoe from work, i started by feeding them some millet through the bars of the cage. then i opened the door and and started feeding it to them while inside the cage. Cosmo (the nipper) was still lunging at me now and then but was okay for the most part. He did get me once or twice, not hard enough to break the skin but hard enough to hurt pretty good. when he actually bit me hard, i would back off for a bit and focus on Penelope. She was really good and almost stepped into my hand to get at her millet. she wasnt quite confident enough but she didnt walk away like she had been doing. I think were making some progress. and some is enough for me right now. lol I think i was expecting too much out of them too soon. Well see how it goes one day at a time.
 
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