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I have had my girl for a month she was 3 months when I purchased her. I have had birds on and off for years. Cockatiel, Quaker, eclectiis, and a few years ago raised a sparrow that by the way wouldn’t leave my side until she was fully grown; so, I feel like I know how birds are.
Sunni is my first Parrotlet and I’ll be honest, very disappointed. The breeder claims “hand fed” but this girl doesn’t like hands. I can get her to take millet from me if I put it next to her beak but if she sees my finger, she runs away. I literally have to talk sweetly and calmly chase her in her cage to get her. She beaks me but it doesn’t hurt. When I hold her she only wants to hide in my hair and if I finally get her to sit on my finger she either tries to fly or acts like she wants to fledge. We conduct this song and dance everyday. I hold her in my hair and speak softly to her 15 to 20 minutes a day the rest of the time I speak softly to her outside her cage.
At this point I wish I just would have gotten another Quaker or cockatiel. Any tips on how to interact with her?
 

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Hi and welcome!
Parrotlets can be challenging to form the initial bond with. All parrots are prey animals, but parrotlets being SO TINY mean that they perceive threats that might be ignored by larger birds. They also go straight to biting instead of warning, since the entire world is a dangerous place for them.
It can be frustrating getting to know a new bird for sure. I remember getting Tumi, and I was so frustrated because I had had my last bird (a cockatiel) for 17 years so I forgot how long it took for me to get to know her and vice versa.
See if you can find something to entice her - perhaps she likes nuts? Treats can be very helpful in teaching her to step up. It sounds like she needs to be taught to step up from scratch. She also might like unusual things like crinkling plastic, tissues, running water, or pill bottles. Parrotlets are known to have weird loves. I trained Tumi when he was younger with crinkling plastic, and now he demands tissues at all times.
Quick check - nail polish or rings? Some birds HATE anything on fingers, so if you have nail polish that could be perceived as a dangerous thing to her. Tumi will not step on my hand if I have a bandaid on, no matter the color, because it might be "dangerous" according to him.
 

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Hi there and welcome to you and Sunni! I am so sorry to hear you have had a disappointing start to your Parrotlet experience. They are feisty little birds but one of the most enriching little creatures I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know.

Unfortunately, this reference some breeders use to “hand fed” can be very misleading. It doesn’t necessarily mean hand-tamed, which definitely seems to be your experience. She probably was not handled in those first few months which can make the hand taming process more challenging. Not by any means impossible, just more challenging.

As a start, it is critical to remember that these tiny birds are wild birds despite being born into a human environment. As Dana said, they are prey in the wild and you are a rather enormous predator. One month together is s very short time for these little birds so don’t despair. The fact that she is on your body hiding in your hair is excellent progress and you shouldn’t overlook that. Many of our members over the years took much longer to get their little birds to even land on their bodies. Remember, you are asking a little prey animal to land on a large predator - one that bares its teeth to show affection. If you really try to see it from her perspective, it will help you immensely, both with how you approach her and with patience. You have had some special experiences - especially with that sparrow who is a wild bird actually living in the wild - but try not to expect that of her but instead, bring those experiences forward to help her get there.

With that in mind, I would suggest that you avoid chasing her around her cage to catch her. They are extremely territorial about their cages and it is definitely their “safe space”. They don’t take intrusions well, so acclimatizing them to having your hands in there is key. Keep your hand low and flat so it doesn’t look like a gaping mouth on a snake coming at her. Hold your index finger out around where the top of her legs join her body and gently press it into her chest saying “step up”. This action often triggers them to move forward. You can also hold some really tasty treat in your hand like sunflower seeds or millet to encourage her to step on to your hands.

I love that you spend lots of time sitting with her talking to her. That is excellent for the bonding process! If you are able to eat around her as well and share some of your food, it can also help. Eating is a very social behaviour for birds.

I know it may surprise you, but I do think you are making excellent progress. It can be challenging with parrotlets in particular because of their nippiness. She is still such a wee baby too, she just doesn’t naturally know how to interact with you. Slow, steady patience from you with conscious recognition of what the world looks like from a tiny wild bird’s perspective will help you a lot with your own frustration. We are here to help too. Keep us posted on your progress and keep asking questions. I look forward to hearing more about your journey with Sunni!
 

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Yes, “hand fed" is often misunderstood to being the same as "hand tamed.". They are not the same. Hand fed is when a baby bird is taken from the parents and hand fed by the breeder – meaning they are not parent raised. This does not necessarily mean that they are hand tamed. Your bird is an example of that. Some may be tamer than babies that have been parent raised, but a hand tamed bird depends on the extra time the breeder has spent handling and raising the baby. My bird was hand tamed by my breeder, he put in the extra time with Pugsley, but while removing a leg band the day I got him, his foot was injured. Unfortunately, Pugsley became very mistrustful of hands from the scary and painful experience. I had to retrain him all over again. It has taken me months - I have had him for five months. It is just recently that I have been able to give him scritches. Some birds can even take longer to train depending on the bird’s personality. These birds require patience, understanding and time. I know that these birds can be challenging, but you have only had him for a month. That is not very long. Try not to be so impatient. The time you invest in training him is nothing compared to the years you will have with a bird that loves and trusts you. Remember birds do not like to be dominated. They like being given choices. Chasing him around the cage is not the best scenario – it would be better to let him come out of the cage on his own. Hang some toys and millet on the outside of his cage to encourage him come out. We need to do things on their time – not ours. It brings the best and easiest results. You don’t get stressed and your bird does not get stressed. Try to not get frustrated. Our little guys being super intelligent and sensitive to our emotions will sense something is wrong and will not want to work with you. Another thing to try is millet training him in his cage. That has been successful for a lot of people. This also requires patience. Just trust your bird. They are flock animals - he does want to bond with you. You just have to prove you are worth his trust. We have all had to go through this - it is just comes with the territory! But they are so worth it! :)
 
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