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New Lovebird... HELP

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

New Lovebird... HELP

Postby Chasehonsinger » Wed Feb 10, 2021 5:49 pm

So i just got my first pet bird 3 days ago from a guy on Craigslist who said he just needed to downsize his flock. He said he kept about 20 parrots in an aviary together and he hadn’t interacted with the lovebird i got since it was born in November. He(not sure of the sex but i named him Kiyoshi) is fully flighted and I’ve been trying to feed him chop in the morning and throughout the day in small quantities and pellets at night but the only thing he’s TRULY interested in is millet. He is also very anxious about humans and doesn’t trust the slightest jerky movement near him or even in the same room as him. I’m keeping him in my room as it has the most action in the house, no one is ever in the living room so i thought it would help acclimate him better. I keep hearing all this stuff online about how it’s a really bad idea to let your bird “settle in” to its cage bc it can become cage bound and even more scared but i don’t think it’s safe for the bird at this point to try to get it out of the cage... again. I let him out the first full day with him and he was doing fine at first but then ran out of millet and started flying around my room until he finally landed on a perch i wired with millet. I guess my question is how do i bond with and take a bird that has never been handled and is extremely anxious. I have hope because I’ve got him to step up for millet but I’m scared I’m feeding him WAY too much weed and not enough fresh food:/ also i definitely understand that it will be a serious process to get this bird to trust me but I’m at a complete loss right now even though i thought i was prepared. I don’t know what I’m doing. Please help!!
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 1
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Lovebird
Flight: Yes

Re: New Lovebird... HELP

Postby Pajarita » Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:58 am

hi, Chase and lovie, welcome to the forum. First of all, a few clarifications. Lovbebirds are aviary birds so the fact that the breeder kept them all together in an aviary cage is not the wrong thing to do because even if he separated the pairs, handfed the babies (your baby is parent-raised and not hand-fed) and interacted with the babies, it would not have changed anything much because, again, lovies are aviary parrots and not companion parrots.

Now, you should not have allowed the bird to come out of its cage so soon. It needs time to get used to its new home and human and it can do that much better from a cage than flying about all scared and confused. When one has a new bird, one needs to keep it in its cage for a week or two, depending on the circumstances and species of the bird. In this time, you not only allow it to get used to things safely but also take this time to switch him to a good diet which you cannot do if the bird is flying around all willy-nilly. So, put the cage in a quiet place (bedrooms and kitchens are pretty much the worse places for a bird because you can't really control the conditions accurately UNLESS you follow the same solar schedule as the bird and can live with high humidity -which NOBODY on this green earth will do every single day of the life of the bird). So, choose a good place for its cage which needs to be large enough so it can fly in it (aviary bird, remember?), placed high enough that the roosting perch is at your eye level when you are standing up, near a source of natural light (which should be always open from before dawn to after dusk) and against a wall or with some sort of 'blind' on the back (like a large piece of material you can drape on the back of the cage to make a 'solid wall'). Perches should never be dowels but natural branches of safe (non-toxic) wood.

Thee schedule should be as follows: uncover cage, open blinds at first light in the sky (this happens at 6 am this time of the year), clean cage and give it breakfast (gloop and raw produce) and spend as many hours as you can in the same room talking, whistling, singing for the bird but do NOT stare or look directly at him (only predators do that), observe him/her out of the corner of your eye to see what he does. And, every now and then, give him a treat (a little piece of a millet spray or a sunflower seed). He won't take it out of your fingers at the beginning so just put it there where he can reach it and walk away. In time, you will see that the bird is relaxed in your presence (body is not tense, bird eats/preens/bathes without hesitation, etc) and, eventually, you will see that it is looking forward to your presence (the bird will move to the side of the cage where you are, will hang on to the bars closest to you, will take treats from your fingers, etc.). This is the time when you can allow the bird to come out to fly. I recommend this is done in the afternoon/evening, about two hours before his dinner (which will be his protein food like seeds, nuts or, if you have your heart set on them, pellets -if the bird eats them because lovies are partial granivores and do not do well with pellets, actually) because it will be eager for his dinner and this will make it much, much easier for him to learn to go back into its cage on its own.
At the beginning, it will take a long time for him to go back in if he even does it but, in time, he will learn and do it on its own when you command it (I tell my birds to 'Go home!' and they know this means they have to go back into their cages). Birds that are kept at a strict solar schedule (which needs to be done in order to keep them from becoming overly hormonal and to maintain a healthy endocrine and immune system), fed the right diet and given plenty of out-of-cage time have no problem going back into their cages.

Now, once the bird is settled in its new diet and solar schedule and used to your presence, you can start training it to step up and down from your hand but it will be, at least, 3 months or so before you can even start with this so I won't be going into how this is done right now.

A word of caution: lovebirds are NOT companion parrots so this bird is not really going to bond with you. It's not what you do or don't do or anything to do with the bird itself, it is what they evolved to be and breeding it in captivity does not change this because it's a trait encoded into their genes. Aviary birds can learn to trust and even like and appreciate you but they cannot develop the bond that hand-fed companion parrots have with their humans so they are never really happy when alone with a human. They are a different kind of pet... one that you can enjoy and love but which will not interact with you the same way a companion parrot would. They are more hands-off than hands-on. And keeping them as a lone pet means a chronically stressful and very lonely life for them - something most people do not realize because they think that a parrot is a parrot and that they can all be companion pets - which is not true. There is a reason why aviary parrot species are cheap and companion parrot species are expensive and one of them is that they do not bond with people (which is what people want out of parrots), the other being that it's very easy to breed them (precisely because they are aviary species and have no doubts in their minds as to what species they are and who they belong with, which companions parrots get all mixed up). So I would strongly urge you to consider getting another one (I love birds and would want all of them to be, at the very least, content in their life in captivity) BUT make sure you know the genders because you can have two males and one male/one female pairs but two females do not really work out well because they tend to fight with each other.
Norwegian Blue
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17914
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

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