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Hey everybody! I got my pacific parrotlet from an e-commerce aviary in FL. He was very scared when he first arrived, which I expected. However, I got him in August 2020 and now it is March 2021 and he is still terrified of hands. We don't put our hands in his cage except to change his food and water, and he will let us talk to him with our faces very close to the cage but our hands will make him scurry. Toward the beginning, he would step up for a treat occasionally and he even flew to me once or twice. Sometimes he has flown from his cage and I had to go pick him up off of the floor, and he will let me pick him up. Other than that he won't let me touch him. I can tell he's pretty familiar with me because whenever I leave the room he starts peeping and tweeting really loudly. I just don't know how to hand-train him. My last parrotlet, Archie, was really friendly and affectionate from the beginning so this is a pretty weird change for me. I just want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to bond with him. He seems to like being in his cage a lot, so I think he is comfortable in his environment, but it's concerning that, even with his cage open for hours during the day, he doesn't want to leave the proximity of his cage. He comes out to snack and play on swing set, perches on top of the cage, and flies in circles around the room sometimes. We have read some of the other posts on the forum about hand-shy p'lets but after close to 9 months now, we're wondering if something could have gone wrong or we're missing something.
 

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Hello and welcome to the forum! The problem with hands is a common thing with birds. Each of them learns to live with them at their own pace. Patience is what is needed for the ones that take longer to adjust. If you were able to get him step up at one time and he has flown to you on occasion, and he flock calls you, it sounds to me that he wants to bond with you. Those are good signs and tells me that there is hope that your little guy is going to come around with time.:) Have you tried feeding him a sprig of millet while he is in the cage so he can get used to your hands in a good way? The thing is to convince him that your hands are good, and he has no reason to fear them. You should never grab him, or corner him and be sure to watch his comfort level whenever you have your hands near him. As soon as he inches away or looks stressed, you need to stop what you are doing. Maybe instead of trying to get him to step up on your finger, you should first try to get him to step up on a perch and offer him a treat or a millet sprig to convince him to come out of the cage. This must be done at his own pace. If he jumps off the perch and does not want to go out the cage, he is not ready yet, so stop what you are doing. Try again later. Remember Rome was not built in a day! ;) You could put a perch on the outside of his cage, by the front door, with some toys nearby to make it appear less scary. If you get him out of the cage, maybe placing him by the front door the first time will help to acclimate him to being outside his cage. If he looks comfortable, then you can try to walk him a short distance – Maybe placing him on a playstation. Every time he steps on the perch you can gradually start moving your hand closer and closer to him. Again, whenever your hands are near him, be sure to watch his comfort level. Do not make him do something that he is not ready to do. If you get too impatient it will backfire and he will go back to mistrusting you again. Everything on his end has to be done voluntarily, not forced.
 

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Thank you so much! He definitely takes treats from my hand, he loves his millet :) We ended up putting his travel cage about 3 feet from his home cage, we put some millet on top and he has started flying back and forth between those. I've noticed if I put my finger up by his cage and look in the other direction he'll come up and nibble on it 😂 And I've been sitting next to his cage on the couch and he has flown over next to my head a couple of times! I think we're seeing some improvement. Your reply was super helpful I really appreciate it! And it made me feel much better about my little p'let :)

46483
 

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Do you know how old he was when he came to you?
I don't know if this helps at all, but sounds like you're doing a good job and every bird is very different. One of my birds Tobie was super skittish as long as we had him. He came from a pet store and he was about 10 months old when I brought him home, I knew that because of his age and the time he had been caged there isolated he would be really hard to socialize. He never really did come around to the point of wanting to sit on us or hang out with us, but he would step up even if only to let me transport him quickly to another location. He was super clumsy flyer but he enjoyed doing circles around the living room as well. I used to call him perch potato because he was just super happy to sit in one place most of the day and sing his little songs. He never really did play with toys much but when he did I got a lot of joy out of seeing him do it. Anyway all that to say he definitely was not the most sociable of all our birds and especially not like our other parrotlets but in his own little way he was absolutely precious and I miss him dearly. So your little boy may not seem to match what you read about other parrotlets but don't let that fool you into thinking you're doing something wrong or that he's not happy. as long as he is content and you love him for who he is that is what really matters. And who knows, one day he might really surprise you. that also has happened before seen loss of stories like that here.
 

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Goose was about 7-8 weeks when we got him so he was pretty young. He has actually fallen asleep tucked away under my hair a few times too so I think it’s hands that really freak him out. My birdie sounds a lot like your Tobie, definitely a perch potato 😂 thanks again for your advice, I feel much better about my little p’let now :)
 

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Some birds just don't like hands. Most parrotlets are okay with them but it definitely wouldn't be the first time. Try an open palm, your arm or even just offering your shoulder instead if you aren't doing that already. Just letting him know you're all right with the fact he doesn't like hands will probably go a long way. These guys are really smart.
 

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My Huey would not step up on a finger. He would only step up on an open palm. If I opened the cage he came right out. We could then have him step up on our palm.
 

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Another thing that some birds are picky about is nail polish. My cockatiel flat refused to have anything to do with my hands if I was wearing nail polish, and Tumi isn't a big fan of colors on my nails either. If he is willing to deal with the palm of the hand and not the back, perhaps nail polish or rings is the issue?
 
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