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Go Back   Talk Parrotlets Forums > Parrotlets > Bonding and Training

Bonding and Training Want to train your parrotlet? Just want to bond with your parrotlet? Ask all your questions and suggestions here.

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Help with bonding!

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Old 11-16-2020, 10:43 AM   #1
sophief100
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Help with bonding!

Hi everyone. First time bird owner here.
I've had my parrotlet 4 months now and he's still not much closer to trusting me.
When I got him he was supposedly semi-tame. I'll make a numbered list here of issues I am having.
1.He does take sunflower seeds and millet from my hand when he feels like it.
2. He steps up when he feels like it but only if I have a seed for him. Then he'll hop right down. Yes I'm using clicker training.
3. He is very afraid of hands. Before I had to move back in with my mother he had just started to sit on my hand for extended periods. Now he won't at all.
4. He barely leaves his cage anymore.
5. He won't take a bath. I have tried various types of baths and spray bottles but he insists on trying to bathe in his bottle. He won't go near others.

I feel like because he is now in my bedroom (mum has a lot of cats) he is frightened whenever I open the door to come into the room. He always looks terrified.
I'm spending lots of time with him as I lost my job so I got nothing better to do.
I'm at a loss here. If anyone can help with any issues I'm having I would be very grateful.

Thank you
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Old 11-16-2020, 03:10 PM   #2
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Sorry to read about your problems. #1issue is having cats in the house is a problem. Birds sense danger, even in actuality they are perfectly safe.
He needs a lot of time and patience to calm down. The best thing is to move out of the house to eliminate the cat issue!! No matter, he needs an adjustment period no matter what.
I don't have a better answer for you.
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Old 11-16-2020, 03:56 PM   #3
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Many parrotlets rarely bathe and some choose to use their water bowl. Offering a shallow bowl of water is another good option. I prefer to not force my bird to bathe with a spray bottle and allow them to choose when it interests them. They do not have sweat glands, so they will not smell in the same way that humans do unless they potentially have an infection.

Your bird has had a number of changes in a short period of time, since he is only 4 months old. First he settled in with you from the breeder into a new place and now another change into the bedroom in your Mum's house. I would definitely continue to work with him and use food treats as motivation. Have you tried playing Youtube videos for him from your computer, tablet, or phone? It might be a different way to get your bird interested in you. You can also try reading or singing to your bird.
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Old 11-16-2020, 07:50 PM   #4
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He might be interested in unusual things, like crinkling plastic. Keep trying, and make sure that you never approach the bird from above like you are going to grab him. That is how a hawk would attack, and your parrotlet will be afraid of your hand.

I've never had cats, but I can see how that might make him afraid. His environment might also be the problem in other ways - the color of the walls, the drapes, a view of the window, are all things that might be making him frightened. What you can do is make sure to make him feel as safe as possible. Partially cover the cage, move things that might be scary away (lamps? pictures? it can be anything!), and work at your singing and reading to him. Also, make sure he gets his 12 uninterrupted hours of sleep at night, so covering at night is really helpful. Since he is food motivated at least sometimes, use that to expand his world. Tumi, my parrotlet, sees my bed as a fun place to run around on (when we are both awake of course).
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Old 11-16-2020, 08:24 PM   #5
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I think it would help to step back and prioritize here. Top priority is keeping him safe. I adore cats, but the fact is they are predators and dangerous to birds, especially small birds like our parrotlets. I would have a hard rule of no cats in the room with him ever, in his cage or not.

Second priority would be making him feel safe in this new environment. I would bet that this is why he's not leaving his cage much--he feels safe in it and unsafe out of it, so why would he want to leave? Be patient with him as he adjusts. Give him plenty of opportunity to come out of the cage, and make the idea of coming out seem as enticing as you can--have toys and treats available outside the cage, but also an alternate source of food and water so he doesn't feel like the things he depends on are only available in the cage.

Third is developing your relationship with him. I think it will help you if you frame it that way in your mind--not get him to obey or train him, but build a relationship with him. You list the fact that he will take treats from your hand as an issue--that's actually promising! You can build trust by spending time with him and interacting with him without being demanding. It can be hard for a first time bird owner to do this because their body language is quite different from mammals, but pay attention and respect what he's telling you! Keep doing your best to show him that you and your hands are not something to be afraid of, but don't force him--all that will teach him is that body language doesn't work and he should just bite. It's ok that he's hopping right off your hand right now--every time he does that, it's reinforcing the idea that the hands are safe, that they bring good treats, that they won't grab him or hurt him. Patience is key. I know it's frustrating, but you'll get there.

Forth would be the other issues, like bathing. Don't try to spray him, while some birds enjoy this it's likely to scare him right now. Just make sure he has opportunities to bathe, and let him decide for himself. It may be he's waiting until he's alone to bathe. If it's something that you can do right now, I would switch from a water bottle to a dish, not because of bathing but because bottles are actually quite difficult to get properly clean and so tend to harbor bacteria, and also they can get jammed up which can make it difficult or impossible for the bird to get water, and it's not always obvious if that's happened. Dishes are safer.

Overall I totally get why you're frustrated--it can be really hard to feel like you're stalled or even going backwards, but birds work on their own schedule. A move can be unsettling for a fully tamed bird, let alone one who's still adjusting to a new owner. Hang in there!
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Old 11-16-2020, 09:00 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone. All advice is what I thought really.
And no cats are allowed in my room or even upstairs. Period. I would never allow that!
I'll keep trying ��
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Old 11-16-2020, 11:23 PM   #7
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Hi~~~
You are given great advice! It took years for our members to learn about all the difficulties there were to having a p'lett in the family.


The cat issue is a Huge problem. He knows that you have cats. Cats are the sneakiest animals alive and they will find a way to get your bird. We have heard this story before, about " MY cats are not allowed in the room at all! ". I hope you will be careful, because you will leave the door open or your mom will come in and leave the door open while you are away. It will happen.


What got me was that you said your bird was " frightened when I open the door to come into the room. He always looks terrified! "


He is still a youngster. Right now, he may be getting ready to go through his terrible twos ( from ages 4 months to 7 months), so he may get worse at his bad behavior for a while.


Since you are home, you have the opportune time to start a good bond with...What is his name?... Do you have a lap top or a computer in your room? Or some kind of monitor for your bird to look at?


Sit at a desk or table or on your bed and go to You Tube and enter the words..." Koolaid, the Parrotlet ". This green parrotlet is amazing! He talks human all the time and he plays . Make sure your bird can see him up close and turn up the volume. Play the variety of Koolaid videos on You Tube. There is something about that bird! Both my Bogie and Ricochet loved him!


Make sure your cage is not below you. Put it up as high as you can and still open the cage door to get him out. If you tower over your bird, he will act scared.


Sit and talk with him. A lot! Have the cage door open when you talk to him. If you offer your hand to step up, make sure your hand comes from below the bird and go real slow up to his chest. Each day, go closer.



He may be scared to death from your clicker. I had birds I couldn't use a clicker around. So, I quit using a clicker for ever and I had no problems.


Keep us posted. We can help, little by little.


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Old 11-16-2020, 11:44 PM   #8
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Eating with him is the strongest, quickest way to start and maintain a bond.
I have had Jules for 7 years now. Rio has been with us a bit over a month. Both are bonded to us. We feed them regularly from our hands, I hold a bowl of seed / pellets in my hands and let them get their fill several times a day. Usually first thing in morning and again before bed. My wife gets lunch duty with fresh veggies, sprouts, fruit or a bit off our lunch plates. Them siting on our hands during feeding gets them past hand fear. Jules was the big hand fear bird being a rescue. Rio came from a good breeder and fears almost nothing, especially our hands. Our current trick is to get him to be a pocket parrotlet and sit in my shirt pocket.
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Old 11-17-2020, 09:53 AM   #9
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Thank you everyone. I'll keep at it.
I know the cat's are an issue. They're not allowed upstairs at all. The door to the stairs is always closed and everyone in the house knows to keep my door closed. Although I am aware there is a risk. Bit worried though as my ex had rabbits and they were friends with him so I hope he doesn't think the cat's are his friends too!
His cage is high up 🙂

Also I'm playing kool-aid now. He seems to be responding but am unsure! I won't give up just yet

Thanks all

Oh and his name is Buddy (derived from Biddy when I couldn't think of a name
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Old 11-17-2020, 10:16 AM   #10
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Thanks for sharing the photo of Buddy - he is a cutie!
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