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Baby Parrotlet Overcoming Her Fear of Humans

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Old 11-20-2020, 07:47 PM   #1
Tofu
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Baby Parrotlet Overcoming Her Fear of Humans

One of the things I spent a lot of time looking for was how to get a skittish/fearful bird not to fear the presence of people. I wasnt expecting anything great from Tofu right off the bat but she was deathly afraid of just being around people even when I would change her water she'd go up to the top and hang upside down.



Most training and bonding resources I came across just immediately began with offer food to teach step up and I really needed to know what to do before that so I just kind of wanted to share what we are doing and what is working in case anyone else needs it.


  1. So obviously when she came home we just went about our business for about a week and a half but it became very clear I needed to be able to get close to her without completely terrorizing her when she needed medical care. It seems she was expecting me to grab her and I have a feeling this is how she was treated prior because when I did have to pick her up very gently of course she would settle once held, the vet and techs even commented on it. But she was very afraid of my hands. Food was not enough of a motivator to overcome the fear which was not of course what I want me bird to be feeling.
  2. Last week we just started getting used to me coming close to the cage. I would take a chair and sit in front of her cage and just read to her for about 15 minutes max. I didnt face the cage straight on but faced sideways so she was seeing my profile. As tolerated, every time we would read I would move my chair closer until she was right next to the cage door and she would not run away or move from her favorite spot. Eventually, she allowed me to open the door and continue reading in the same manner and not showing body language of fear.
  3. Again, Ive been trying to read her body language and if she is showing behavior of stress or fear I back off. This week we were able to begin Operation Let Mom Put Her Hand In The Cage (because if she wont come out I have to be able to get my hand in the cage to clean without causing my bird stress).
  4. I first tried just holding seed between my pointer and thumb- no go- even just holding my hand outside of the cage in this way was not working. Then I tried holding seed in the palm of my hand- same reaction. At this point I figured I needed to change something so I tried to work out- what is she responsive to? Only one thing came to mind: the food dish. If I take it into the kitchen to wash it she cheeps loudly until I bring it back, also hearing the seeds shake around in the bowl was exciting.
  5. This brought a couple things to mind- the seed I was using was from a bag kept in a different location from where she gets what is most exciting for her. I was also thinking about my hand position- If she was afraid of being grabbed palm up probably wasnt the most submissive position on my part.
  6. I started doing it differently. I made sure she could see I was taking seed from her seed bowl. I then held my hand palm down and placed the seed on the back of my fingers. I made sure she could see my other hand was not in question by either putting my palm on the wall or on my chest. IMMIDIATE DIFFERENCE.
  7. I would move my hand slowly towards her and then stop and say, "Step Up," I would hold my hand there for about thirty seconds and then move it forward slightly. If she started to shuffle away or show body language of fear I would move my hand back out until she was no longer afraid. We would continue the process as tolerated. Each training session only lasted about five minutes at a time and then we would stop and about an hour or two later later we'd try again.
She is doing such a good job! She now lets me not only get close to the cage without running away or showing signs of fear but also I can get my hand with the seed to rest next to her on the perch without her running away or being scared. She still wont get close to my hand herself but she is curious about it now and will look at my hand and at the seed, its only a matter of time before she will investigate.



I think this process is working for us so far she is improving and not showing fear but now some interest, but if anyone has a similar experience I'm always learning!
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Old 11-20-2020, 11:08 PM   #2
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I am impressed by both of you! You both have made a big step together - that is wonderful! You must be very proud of your little girl. It sounds like the beginning of a beautiful relationship to me!

Once Tofu gets really comfortable with your hands, you can start sharing your food with her and she will realize that you are a flock. It is a really good way to bond with your bird. Every day I have one meal with my bird.
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Old 11-20-2020, 11:32 PM   #3
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Way to go! You have made heaps of progress, for sure. You certainly have the patience, which is the key I guess?

I know it's not recommended to put your hand over the top of the bird. However, I *want* to be able to do that, in an emergency - for example say my sisters dog comes inside and I need to protect Squirtle straight away, so he doesn't fly off and put himself in harms way. If my parrotlet is hanging out with me, that is a potential (incredibly unlikely, but still could happen).

My bird does trust me, I think. He falls asleep on me and with scritches, he will close both eyes. Anyhow, I started doing this when it's dark - I get him to step onto my finger. Then quietly hum or whisper to him and gently put my hand over him. He's fine with it now, even in daylight .... but I do continue it each day, to make sure he's still okay with it. And he is.

I'm fortunate in that he came already tame, with no fear of people. What you've managed, with a bird terrified of people is just amazing!
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Old 11-21-2020, 03:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnimalKaperz View Post
Way to go! You have made heaps of progress, for sure. You certainly have the patience, which is the key I guess?

I know it's not recommended to put your hand over the top of the bird. However, I *want* to be able to do that, in an emergency - for example say my sisters dog comes inside and I need to protect Squirtle straight away, so he doesn't fly off and put himself in harms way. If my parrotlet is hanging out with me, that is a potential (incredibly unlikely, but still could happen).

My bird does trust me, I think. He falls asleep on me and with scritches, he will close both eyes. Anyhow, I started doing this when it's dark - I get him to step onto my finger. Then quietly hum or whisper to him and gently put my hand over him. He's fine with it now, even in daylight .... but I do continue it each day, to make sure he's still okay with it. And he is.

I'm fortunate in that he came already tame, with no fear of people. What you've managed, with a bird terrified of people is just amazing!
I feel like every specie is different, and so is the bird as in personality matters. Parrotlets who trust you seem fine with being picked up from above, at least two of mine were (are) ... Lilly actually likes when you put your hand around her and stick your fingers under her feet, she loves a little hand cave, however my Bourkes would have an absolute fit if i did that. LOL....
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Old 11-21-2020, 03:22 AM   #5
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Great job Tofu!
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnimalKaperz View Post
Way to go! You have made heaps of progress, for sure. You certainly have the patience, which is the key I guess?

I know it's not recommended to put your hand over the top of the bird. However, I *want* to be able to do that, in an emergency - for example say my sisters dog comes inside and I need to protect Squirtle straight away, so he doesn't fly off and put himself in harms way. If my parrotlet is hanging out with me, that is a potential (incredibly unlikely, but still could happen).

My bird does trust me, I think. He falls asleep on me and with scritches, he will close both eyes. Anyhow, I started doing this when it's dark - I get him to step onto my finger. Then quietly hum or whisper to him and gently put my hand over him. He's fine with it now, even in daylight .... but I do continue it each day, to make sure he's still okay with it. And he is.

I'm fortunate in that he came already tame, with no fear of people. What you've managed, with a bird terrified of people is just amazing!

I have never thought about trying to work with her in the dark?! Is it just because its a calmer environment? And I mean its obviously working as hes responding so well!
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mrs.JP3 View Post
I feel like every specie is different, and so is the bird as in personality matters. Parrotlets who trust you seem fine with being picked up from above, at least two of mine were (are) ... Lilly actually likes when you put your hand around her and stick your fingers under her feet, she loves a little hand cave, however my Bourkes would have an absolute fit if i did that. LOL....



I had a budgie as a younger teenager (with mom's supervision and help) and he would let me cover him and roll him over and all sorts of things! I was researching for years before getting her because I wanted an animal that was intelligent with their own personality and I knew parrotlets were little sass-masters but my goodness they're all like their own little human babies!
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Anya View Post
I am impressed by both of you! You both have made a big step together - that is wonderful! You must be very proud of your little girl. It sounds like the beginning of a beautiful relationship to me!

Once Tofu gets really comfortable with your hands, you can start sharing your food with her and she will realize that you are a flock. It is a really good way to bond with your bird. Every day I have one meal with my bird.



Oh I cannot wait! I'm allergic to gluten, milk, and eggs so just naturally I eat a lot of the same things she does- actually most of her food is leftovers from what I make for myself. My fiance got her a set of mini bowls that look like our dishes and she has her own tiny version of our place mats at our table when shes ready for family dinner.
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