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New Baby Parrotlet

638 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Anya
Hello! I go by Sammy, and I have a new Parrotlet named Cotton. He has been with us for two-three weeks. I do not know how to train him to be on your hand, or not bite when you pick him up. I have read about the gentle beak thing, and I will happily use that. But I still have questions:
How do you punish them for being mean?
How do you get them used to you?

I usually hold him in a rag, to my chest, and I speak gently while petting him. If he is calm enough, I let him climb onto my shoulder and snuggle into my hair. I...Just need some help, you know? I'm sorry if it's an obvious answer. I have budgies in a separate cage away from the baby, and I taught two of them to step up by making them sit on my finger for the first day they came home. They now allow me to pick them up, and carry them. Of course, I do bond and feed them millet. But my worries of course is with Cotton. I want to train him. I read that saying a stern "no" when they bite is how you train them to not do so. But then I also read that you should just put them back in the cage and leave them alone, and then I also read that you should continue to hold them even when they bite. I do not know what to do. Please help.. Thank you in advance!
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Hi Sammy and welcome to the forum!
Parrots are unique animals, and parrotlets are unique even among the parrots, so you have come to the right place to get advice. You are still in the getting to know you stage. You can think about this as building a relationship, where the first step is establishing trust. Most birds do not accept petting without that bond of trust being built, so that is something that you should wait on until it is requested. Petting should be limited to the head and neck when Cotton does ask for it, to prevent hormonal changes.
Parrots are a lot like toddlers, where reacting to something turns it into a game that they keep doing. It is REALLY hard, but you don't want to react to bites. Gentle beak works for many parrotlets, and putting him back into the cage for a time-out is good for both of you! If he is being bitey, put him away.
It is best to work on teaching him to step up on command. Remember that Cotton doesn't know that you aren't a parrotlet-eating monster, so you want to avoid making any moves that would be scary for a small bird, like coming at him from above or grabbing him. Unless it is life-or-death, you really don't want to grab or force him too much, as you are working on building up your trust with him. Unlike puppies and kittens, young birds naturally trust noone and it is a slow process to build a relationship. It is worth it in the end, though! If you take your time and are patient (and survive parrotlet puberty, which can be rough), that are fiercely loyal and amazing feathery friends.
Speaking to him is a great start, and that is something you can do even with him still in his cage. Beware of the hair snuggling - Tumi LOVED that as a young bird, and one day he climbed up under my braid and I had to have a roommate help remove him! He wasn't trapped, he just wouldn't come out! :D Just hang out with him and offer him opportunities for you to get to know him and him to get to know you. Trust is slow to build, but amazing. And remember that punishment isn't really a concept for parrots - instead, redirection of negative behavior or a time-out will get you the results that you are looking for.
And we would LOVE to see pictures of Cotton! :)
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Sammy, welcome to the forum. We can help you. Cotton is a baby, I presume? I have raised budgies for over 50 years ans I will tell you this, parrotlets are nothing like a budgie. It is very wise that you do not pick up Cotton and never put a rag around a parrotlet unless it is an emergency or you have to give medicines. P'letts have a born instinct to be wary of hands grabbing them. They do not like human hands. Once you are bonded with Cotton, he will only tolerate your hands.

You really do not punish p'letts for being mean. They are dwarf parrots and parrots bite, but once you get bonded, they settle down quite a bit.

If your p'lett bites you too hard, tell him in a soft voice, " Gentle beak, Cotton, Gentle beak! " If he continues to be aggressive you can say, " No no, Cotton. No no! " and then put him in his cage for time out. The reason I use " No no! " is because it trains them to understand that you do not like something they are doing .
There will be other suggestions from other members on the different things you can do or not do. Each bird is different.

Be careful having Cotton around budgies. He will eventually fight them. P'letts are single birds and do very well being by them selves.
P'letts take a different diet than budgies, too. P'letts need fresh veggies and a good seed mix or pellet mix. Have a spray of millet in your cage for Cotton.

Since you have picked up Cotton, have you gently placed him on your fingers? What did he do then?

Do you cover Cotton 11-12 hours a night?

I have to go, now, but other members will help you.

David and Vicki;):rolleyes:
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I just want to clear up something that David Miller said. Pellets are not necessary for parrotlets, and have been linked to kidney and liver issues in small bird species (including parakeets as well). They are a processed food made up of ground up seeds along with fillers like corn, soy, wheat, and synthetic vitamins (chemicals). For those who do choose to feed pellets, it should make up a very small percentage of their diet. Tops is the only brand of pellets recommended as they are produced differently than others.

Parrotlets are seed eating birds and need quality seed as part of a diverse diet along with vegetables. Seeds contain plenty of important vitamins and minerals, as well as fats that your bird needs to maintain their skin and feather health.
Thank you so much! I keep the budgies and Cotton separate. Every day I open the cage for both parties, but they stay away from each other's cages. The budgies stay on theirs, and Cotton stays in his. When I put Cotton on my fingers gently, he tends to just stare at me and sit there, or if he is having none of it, he flies off. If he is too close to my hair, he hops into it. I don't take him out a lot. Thank you a lot! The person I got him from said that how she bonds to her parrotlets was by wrapping them in a towel and petting their beak and head gently. I really love my birds, so I wanted to make sure. Thank you a lot. And I have millet, I usually put a few pieces in each cage- I had cut them to small pieces to make it easier to train the budgies. Thank you so much. I really appreciated it. I'll try to get a picture one day. Cotton is hard to take a picture of, as he is a pastel blue. Or well, a really soft blue, which is why his name is Cotton. :) Thank you all so much!
I cover them all around 6 at night, and uncover them at 6 in the morning.
I also have specialized food for Cotton. It's made by his original breeder and has all he needs. Of course, I do want to have him feed on fresh fruits and veggies. I have to wait though, as it's so close to Christmas we don't have any money. I buy all their food in bulk, so they're ok and save with food. :)
You should never punish your bird. Birds will not trust you if you enforce dominance over them. We should never force our birds to do something that they are not ready to do.

I would only use the cage for some time-out as a last resort because you do not want your bird seeing their cage as a place of punishment and something negative. Your bird needs to think of their home as a positive place, a sanctuary for them to feel happy, safe and secure. Sometimes the best thing to do is not react at all. Instead of putting them in their cage, try turning away and ignore them for five or ten minutes, then go back to them, and act like nothing happened. By this time, they should have calmed down. Praise them and give them a treat. This teaches them with bad behavior, they get no attention from you and when they are good, they will get a treat, praise or physical attention. Positive reinforcement training works so well because the bird gets something out of it. That is a great motivation for a bird. Praise them every time they do something good. Everything your bird does has a reason behind it, even though we may not understand what that reason is. That is why punishing them is the wrong thing to do. You may not understand their behavior at times, but when you “punish” them, they do not understand yours either. For all we know, they may not even understand why we are putting them in their cage for time out. They may think we just do not want to spend any more time with them, instead of the real reason. So, never punish your bird. Always use positive reinforcement training. :)
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