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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm a previous owner of a parakeet who's decided to step up into the world of parrots. I got my young parrotlet, Griffin, three days ago, and already have a few questions. Apologies for sounding like a total noob. 馃槀

  1. I understand all parrotlets are individuals, but how long does it typically take for them to begin trusting you, and what can I do to help facilitate that? Right now, I spend hours in the same room as him and talk softly and sweetly to him, but he mostly hides in the back of the cage, poor thing. My hands are terrifying to him so I've been trying to keep them out of his cage, but of course that's not always possible. I read a post here about millet training and have tried that, but he just moves away from my hand/the millet.
  2. Griffin doesn't seem interested in fruits or veggies--I've given him some daily (berries, banana, grapes, broccoli, carrots, etc) but he doesn't touch it and only eats seed, especially millet. Is that normal for young birds? Is there anything I can do to encourage fruit and veg?
  3. He does this weird thing where he seems to suddenly get all excited and starts flying back and forth in his cage, staring at me intently. I've taken this as a sign he wants to come out of the cage. Am I reading this wrong?
  4. Relatedly, is it too soon to open the cage door for him when I'm around? I've been doing this, and yesterday he flew out into the room but still wanted to be away from me while out. He also seemed, um, not great at flying--bumped around a bit and ended up on the floor a couple times. I'm a little concerned I may be jumping the gun on letting him out, but I also fear him getting too used to being in the cage and never wanting to come out, you know?

Appreciate any additional general advice anyone may have related to trust and bonding--that seems to be our big hurdle. Thanks in advance for your guidance!
 

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Welcome Traceyg and Griffin.
Love the name griffin. Have not seen that one but it fits well for a parrotlet.
We are sucker for all detail parrotlet related and for pics, feel free to share as much as you want.
Can you tell us a bit about Griffin. How old is he? Color? Where you get him? etc.
As you say parrotlets are individuals so they each have their own path forward. Luckily in most cases you end up with a great bond / relationship / pet.
Your parakeet experience will help you a lot but as you are discovering parrotlets are a bit different critter in terms of temperament.
Others will be by to give a bit advice that we / they have discovered. Hopefully it will be useful.

1. I disagree about keep keeping hands out of the cage. My original two were cage bound, people hostile, hand fearful rescues. A little empathy and understanding will get you there. You have to understand that from their perspective parrotlets are prey creatures that most things on the planet want to eat or casually hurt and they know it in their instincts. Humans are huge predators by their point of view. Your Griffin has now been taken from the his parents, his nest mates, his flock mates the only security he has ever known and now has been left alone with an unknown predator many times his size. He is alone which is a bad thing for a flock bird. So know you have to show him and convince him that you are not going to go all predator on him. The good side of this is that he is a flock animal that wants to be loved and in a flock just as you want him to love you and have him in your family. With my guys I figured out that what was needed was familiarity with people and hands that were not entirely negative. Part of that you are doing by being around and talking to him. You do not even need to be engaging with him just let him chill and watch and think. The second part I suggest is hands in cage a lot. Move stuff around. Clean the cage. I would swap in food and water a lot. Move toys around, etc. Just do not grab in the cage. The cage is his home and his safety but he needs to be shown that hands, especially yours are just part of his new world. That they mostly just exist, many times bring good food like stuff and are not giant parrotlet capturing devices.

2. Eating fruits and veggies is a usual problem. Especially when young. Parrotlets are a bit like kids in this. At this point I would be trying everything to find out his favorite treat. For my Jules it was walnuts and hot pepper seeds, for my Bo it was sunflower seeds. We are still working Rio but he seems big on hemp seeds but he is about a year old and things always change. Once you have a treat you have a little leverage on training and maybe tricking / enticing them to eat different foods. Also presentation is a thing with parrotlets. Jules did not like carrots but if we shaved them she loved the shavings. Some will not eat broccoli whole but loved it diced. Once you get your bond in place you will find that eating is a flock activity. So sometimes you can trick them into eating what you are eating. Actually that may be a thing for you to do now. Just eat while sitting around their cage. Many times my guys will start eating when I am eating around them. Some sort of flock dynamic there.

3. Sounds like you are getting this right. First Parrotlets are mercurial creatures. They swing from mood to mood with alarming speed. The starring stuff is him trying to puzzle you out. Eventually he will come to a decision if he can trust you and if you are flock. Once he has done that things should move faster.

4. If he is a very young bird or been in his cage a bunch then his flying will be bad. The only way for it to get better is to let him fly. But control it. Make sure he only has access to a closed safe room while you are there. Make sure to bird proof it as much as possible. Cover windows with drapes or blinds, no place that he can fall behind and get lost or hurt. Flying is good for their mental and physical health. Is he clipped? Many breeders and pet shops clip their birds. It makes flying difficult depending on the clip style and how long ago he was clipped.

Others will be along to help shortly. Meanwhile we have about 20 years worth of parrotlet question on the board. Feel free to look them over or ask any more questions.
 

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Welcome to the forum! Just the fact that you took time to write us means that you really care about Griffin and want to learn about the parrotlet. Ozzie is dead on with the advice. And, there is a lot we can tell you about the bird you have.

We do need as much information as you can give us about your bird. Since we do not know the age of Griffin, we can't give full advice about how to handle him. P'letts are a complex bird, but end up as great companions. So, tell us as much as you can about Griffin. Like, what type and brand of food you feed him....how old is he?...send us a picture so we can make sure he is a male!...how large is his cage?...Do you cover him for 11-12 hours every night?...do you have any other pets in the home? ( like a cat? Snake? Dog? Turtle?)...where do you have his cage set up?...where did you get Griffin from? ...how did you get him? was he shipped?....etc, etc....

I noticed that you tried millet training with him and it didn't work. It was only for 3 days .... I must tell you that raising a parrotlet means that you must have one thing for sure and this is patience, repetition, patience, persistent, understanding that he is a baby, patience!!! Notice that I wrote patience 3 times? You have to be patient! If you train him and he isn't catching on, then you have to be patient some more! One thing about a parrotlet and this is once they learn something, they never forget it! In fact, once they learn something, they are clever enough to try and use it against you!! haha! They are wonderful creatures that will bond with you.

When I tried to get my p'letts to eat fresh veggies, which they must have, I had to offer it to them for weeks before they decided to eat some. I found out that to be successful with them in getting them to eat fresh veggies, you must try to offer it to them in different ways, like..chopped...sliced...whole...or cut into small pieces...put into chop...etc. Bell peppers can be opened up and let the seed pods be exposed. Griffin will eat the seeds once he figures it out! Any kind of peppers.... Hard boiled egg chopped up.

One of the key things to do is take advantage of this forum and the many other forums we have in this site. Ask us questions! Don't be afraid to look like an amateur! We all were amateurs! This forum has helped me out countless times!

David and Vicki
 

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Agree with what's being said.

Some people use the "feed veggies in the morning trick" to get their bird to eat veggies, it's not been something I've had to do but apparently it can be effective. Try feeding veggies and sitting with him and eating at the same time. My bird automatically starts to eat when he realizes the flock is eating too. And totally agree with David on the trying different things - cooked vs uncooked, mashed vs unmashed vs. chopped vs. grated. Try mashing some sweet potatoes and throwing some chia or hemp seeds in there, I bet he'll dig through it for the seeds and get a good taste of the potato too.

And he will be bad at flying, but he will improve as he get older. Parrotlets are very good fliers.

How long have you had him? Even though we met with Monty when he was a wee baby and not weaned multiple times prior to him coming home, it still took at least 2 months before we had any noticeable behaviour changes/trust building. Patience is obviously key! You seem to be on the right track, but I would agree with Ozzie on the hands in the cage. You can literally just put them in on the other side of the cage and not do anything if you want, just hold them there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to you all for your thoughtful responses! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your insights. Here some additional background and answers to questions you asked:

My husband and I love animals, and have three dogs and two cats currently, in addition to Griffin. I work from home (as of this summer), and have a separate office that is off-limits to the cats and dogs. This is where Griffin and his cage are. I spend at least 8 hours each day with him in the office, and he can be out of his cage most if not all of that time.

Food: I'm feeding him a mix of pellets and seed, Nutriberries, millet, nuts, and the fruit/veg I mentioned earlier that he hasn't been eating (yet!). I've attached pictures so you can see him and his cage. The cage isn't as large as I'd like, but since he'll be out for a good portion of the day that doesn't seem to be a huge issue. I hope to upgrade him to a bigger cage in time. Thus far, I've been covering up his cage and turning the lights out around 8pm, and opening it up in the morning around 8am. Is that enough sleep time, or should I extend that? I got him through The Finch Farm (online), and he was shipped to me (it took less than 48 hours). He arrived on Wednesday of last week and seems in good health. I plan to take him to the vet in the coming weeks, once he's a little more settled.

Since being here, I've noticed changes every day that seem positive. The first two days he was very quiet and hid in the back of the cage, but every day he's been getting more and more vocal, until yesterday when he was twittering and chirping happily all day long. He still doesn't like my hand coming too near him, but seems to tolerate it in the cage now better than he did the first couple of days. He's also not just hiding in a corner, but sitting out in the middle of the cage, hopping around and eating. He also comes out of the cage every day and his flying seems to be improving slowly every day, though he's still likely to bump and bonk around a bit. He seems fascinated by me, and will sit quietly and just observe me sometimes. I really want to play with him and pet and cuddle him, but don't want to scare him, so I'm trying to hang back and wait until he shows interest in being close to me. Is that the way to go, or should I be more aggressive?

Many thanks again for everyone's guidance and suggestions!

Cabinetry Drinkware Wood Rectangle Drawer

White Rectangle Fixture Mesh Pet supply

Photograph Vertebrate Organism Pet supply Mesh
 

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Hi! Your on the right track! The cage, for instance, is way too small, but at least he gets to be out with you. When you do, think wider, not taller. You did say you will get a larger cage and this is good.I do suggest that you reduce the amount of things in the cage and change/move the items around, from time to time. He is a beautiful bird! You will develop a strong and lasting love for him! deeper than you could ever imagine!

Hey! I just thought of something...get a medium bowl of unsalted and unseasoned pop corn and let him jump in it! My birds all have loved pop corn. I usually bought Orville Reddenbacker's plain popcorn. When done feeding him, then put it in a bag and into the fridge ( not freezer). You may have to put him next to the bowl and then you eat some of it. Let him see you eat it.

Dave
 

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Hi! Your on the right track! The cage, for instance, is way too small, but at least he gets to be out with you. When you do, think wider, not taller. You did say you will get a larger cage and this is good.I do suggest that you reduce the amount of things in the cage and change/move the items around, from time to time. He is a beautiful bird! You will develop a strong and lasting love for him! deeper than you could ever imagine!

Hey! I just thought of something...get a medium bowl of unsalted and unseasoned pop corn and let him jump in it! My birds all have loved pop corn. I usually bought Orville Reddenbacker's plain popcorn. When done feeding him, then put it in a bag and into the fridge ( not freezer). You may have to put him next to the bowl and then you eat some of it. Let him see you eat it.

Dave
Good idea - parrotlets love popcorn!

I'm surprised the seed catcher isn't chewed up yet, monty would be all over that immediately. Just keep an eye out for chewing on things like the catcher or the huts he has in his cage and look out for loose threads:) He looks happy and acrobatic!

Are you sure he is a boy? Might just be the angle of the picture but the rump and wing edge seems very light. If he's got dark blue under the wings and on the rump then he's a boy.. - just curious 馃グ
 

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The pics do make him look like a female bird.
 

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Hello Traceyg!
I'm a novice parrotlet owner too, so I can share some of the things that helped me on my way.
I have two parrotlets, and they both are not easy to bond with, I have progress but it's going slowly.
What helped me with the fear of hands - I started to move hand inside the cage very slowly. I started with putting my palm inside, then wait until birds were no longer afraid. The next day, I would put it a bit further inside, a bit more the next day, and so on - until I got my hand close enough to the p'lets without them being scared, so I could offer them millet. I started with a longer perch of millet, then making it shorter and shorter so my hand would get closer and closer to them. At some point, I ended up with my hand close enough to offer them sunflower seed. Now they take treats from my hand eagerly and not afraid of it (unless I move towards them too quickly). After I was able to give them treats - that's the time I was able to train them (because how can I train them if I can't reward them?)
I use flock-talk youtube channel as a tutorial videos, check them out, they are very useful and the parrotlet owner there is very respectful towards the birds, what I actually like very much. Start with target training video, that's the basics of training Target Training, also check out her informational videos, they are great.

As for the veggies, it's still a challenge for me too (making p'lets eat veggies is a very common problem), but I used the advice given to me here, at this forum, to leave a floret of broccoli in the cage, it looks a bit like millet and they will get curious and might try it. Now my p'lets adore broccoli and eat it every day. Actually if one had to choose only one veggie - the broccoli would be the best choice as it's full of nutrients and vitamins, so I'm much less worried about them eating veggies now.

I'm not sure about your p'let looking like a girl, there's smth looking like violet feathers in between her wings. Boys has violet feathers there, so check it yourself when he/she is preening.
Bird Azure Organism Finger Violet
 

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Hello Traceyg!
I'm a novice parrotlet owner too, so I can share some of the things that helped me on my way.
I have two parrotlets, and they both are not easy to bond with, I have progress but it's going slowly.
What helped me with the fear of hands - I started to move hand inside the cage very slowly. I started with putting my palm inside, then wait until birds were no longer afraid. The next day, I would put it a bit further inside, a bit more the next day, and so on - until I got my hand close enough to the p'lets without them being scared, so I could offer them millet. I started with a longer perch of millet, then making it shorter and shorter so my hand would get closer and closer to them. At some point, I ended up with my hand close enough to offer them sunflower seed. Now they take treats from my hand eagerly and not afraid of it (unless I move towards them too quickly). After I was able to give them treats - that's the time I was able to train them (because how can I train them if I can't reward them?)
I use flock-talk youtube channel as a tutorial videos, check them out, they are very useful and the parrotlet owner there is very respectful towards the birds, what I actually like very much. Start with target training video, that's the basics of training Target Training, also check out her informational videos, they are great.

As for the veggies, it's still a challenge for me too (making p'lets eat veggies is a very common problem), but I used the advice given to me here, at this forum, to leave a floret of broccoli in the cage, it looks a bit like millet and they will get curious and might try it. Now my p'lets adore broccoli and eat it every day. Actually if one had to choose only one veggie - the broccoli would be the best choice as it's full of nutrients and vitamins, so I'm much less worried about them eating veggies now.

I'm not sure about your p'let looking like a girl, there's smth looking like violet feathers in between her wings. Boys has violet feathers there, so check it yourself when he/she is preening.
View attachment 46911
Mostly you are correct but some areas have blue blood lines that have the brilliant cobalt on the back of both female and male. My Jules was like that. The true determining factor for the blue lines at the moment is cobalt blue underwings. You can usually tell while in flight when the wings are spread and you are looking upward to the bird.
 
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