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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!

I am (almost) a brand new parrotlet owner! After doing a ton of research, I finally took the dive about two months ago. Things with Heather are great, she really is a joy to have :)

She has a strange aversion to hands, however. After attempting to look into how to solve this, most of what I found was training the bird to step up, but she does this.

She tends to only come out of her cage on her own terms, and will bite if I try to bring her out too persistently. Once she is out, she will run away from my hand if I move too fast, but will always step up after a few seconds to a minute at the most. She loves to hang out on my shoulder, but will not be held for very long.

Another strange thing is that she seems to enjoy being scratched -- but only with my cheek, she refuses to let me do so with my hand.

So, does anyone have any advice on how to remedy this? I have spent some time "millet training" her, but with little to no progress. Maybe I am just being impatient? Mostly, I just enjoy petting her and would love to be able to do so with my hand :)

Any advice is appreciated, and I definitely appreciate the great wealth of helpful information on this site!
 

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From the p'let perspective, hands are fast moving and scary. I had a cockatiel afraid of hands, and the way we conquered it was through time and patience. I think it was a solid year before she trusted my finger for scritches. First I'd look to see if there is anything scary about the actual hand. Nail polish or bandaids are terrifying to most p'lets. Then I'd work on how you approach Heather. Any fast movement is scary, and also moving in from above. Even having your hand curved upward can be reminiscent of a hawk coming from above and induce the panic involved. It takes a lot of time and patience - I scritched my cockatiel's neck with my nose for a year, but while the bond takes longer to build than with more brazen birds, it is even stronger for the patience. The love of shoulder time is normal for many birds, and p'let are notoriously stubborn (Tumi knows what step up means, even repeats the words to me, but....). I would work slow and steady with Heather and learn to think like a bird, modeling your behavior away from anything that can be hawk-like. Good luck! it takes a while, but it is worth it!
 

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I don't have my p'let yet but from my research it's a natural instinct for p'lets to be cage territorial and fearful of hands, esp if you've forced them to come out on a hand. I would try just leaving the door open and letting her come out on her own. Hand shyness is common also, but from what I've read with time it can get better. I'd try not offering her my finger but my wrist or something like that. Just a suggestion. I get my p'let this month but have trained and shown dogs for many years.

I would think I would try not taking her out of her cage on my terms but reaching in several times a day just to offer a treat and that's it. Good luck
 

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I agree that only putting your hands in the cage for maintenance will help. Once she realizes your hands aren't going after her she will likely come around. It's hard for us humans to sit on our hands and not show affection by touching. However to a parrotlet they see them as predators. She is already better as she does step up. Be patient and don't rush her, she'll come around.
 

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All I can say is patience. I've had Oliver for a year this May 11th and still cannot touch him with my hands although now he will venture onto my hands. He steps up unto my arm but will not step up to my hands. I also can pet him using my nose or cheek. He is totally bonded to me just not my hands but I can see improvement all the time. So patience.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for all the replies! Your advice is as I suggested, and I'm definitely willing to work with her.

I suppose I just got impatient because I saw a 8 week old parrotlet with no fear :p
 

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I was kind of funny with Squid when it came to that. I got him young. Whenever I had him out, if anyone came into the room, I would immediately hand him to them. He got so used to be passed around and being set on different places (tables, lamps, chairs, the floor) that he just kind of instinctively puts up his little foot if I pass him off. This was also great, because now he loves EVERYONE and mumbles bird talk at them, wing flips and blows kisses :*
 

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My p'let gets scritches but HATES being pet (go figure) - what I'm doing though is giving her scritches and slowly slowly go to her back (before she finds out and nips me).

I'd say find a comfortable spot on you (or around you) for Heather and then slowly, slowly approach her. Have you tried the gentle beak? That was my first step to being able to touch Koko - which was touching her beak then slowly touching her nose and whatever is close to her beak and expanding.
 

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I'd second what everyone else has shared, but wish to add that, truly, the movements of our hands can be startling to p'lets. My little girl has no problem with hands at all, and even likes being scooped up with one or both hands, but at times, if I accidentally make a sudden, unexpected move with my hand, and her focus is elsewhere, she will get startled and flinch, or at times take flight, and circle, and then return to me. So even when they are okay with hands, there really is something about hands with these little ones, or so I've noticed, and it is different than other parrots I've worked with.

Good luck! :)
 

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My p'let gets scritches but HATES being pet (go figure) - what I'm doing though is giving her scritches and slowly slowly go to her back (before she finds out and nips me).

I'd say find a comfortable spot on you (or around you) for Heather and then slowly, slowly approach her. Have you tried the gentle beak? That was my first step to being able to touch Koko - which was touching her beak then slowly touching her nose and whatever is close to her beak and expanding.
It is my understanding that you are not supposed to touch a bird on it's body. It's considered mating behavior. That is my understanding anyway.
 

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It is my understanding that you are not supposed to touch a bird on it's body. It's considered mating behavior. That is my understanding anyway.
That is my understanding as well, especially for female birds. A bit can be okay, but it might stimulate hormones and we know what those do...
 

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Yeah, if Heather is in a comfortable position like her cage or in the collar of my shirt, she is definitely less flighty and more willing to let me touch her.

I'm really glad you threw that bit in about hormones, I did not know that! Scritches it is, which she will let me do very occasionally. You can tell she enjoys it, but she always nips after a second or two :p
 

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When I got Jules (and Bo) they were rescues with fear of both people and especially hands. (Their previous owner used to catch them in a net) To get over the fear of hands we played what we call the “nut game”. Basically I took Jules favorite treat (walnut) and would position it close to my hands. She would then come get a nibble of the nut and I would reposition the nut or sometimes she would balk and I would have to move it to a place that she was more comfortable with. The key was to have her push her comfort level a little at a time. Eventually I got so I was holding the nut, hiding it between and behind fingers, in the palm of my hands and under my hands. She has now lost all fear of my hands and fingers and will go so far climbing around my hands and looking under them for a nut and will give me a playful little nip to let me know that she is playing the nut game and I need to show up with the nut. Anyway this is what worked with us, maybe something similar may work for you guys. :)
 

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It is my understanding that you are not supposed to touch a bird on it's body. It's considered mating behavior. That is my understanding anyway.
I didn't know that :eek:
Are parakeets and love birds the same?!?! I used to pet them all the time, now I feel like an ignorant :confused:
Thanks for the heads up though - I had no clue.. Oh well.. scritches is plenty of fun with
 
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