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New budgie owner; great bird, but some frustrations

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

New budgie owner; great bird, but some frustrations

Postby zebugman » Wed Mar 01, 2017 6:35 pm

Hey all! I recently (two and a half weeks ago) got my first bird ever! She (I think it's a she at least) is a very young (< 4 months, hasn't had first molt), super energetic fully-flighted bird I got from a family pet store. I named it Toodles.

So here's the scoop.

She's SUPER energetic and doesn't afraid of anything. Really, from day 1, she didn't mind my hand in the cage, and now every day when I come home from work, she's all over the walls of the cage waiting for me to open it up. I do, and without hesitation, she's on my arm, my shoulder, my head, the dining table, the bookshelf, exploring anything and everything, getting her exercise. She doesn't listen when I tell her to "step up," but it doesn't seem like that matters since any time I hold out my finger to her she'll immediately jump to it anyway and proceed to walk all over me, and I'll carry her around the house and eventually over to the training stand.

My problem is two-fold, and the first problem makes the second even harder.

1. I have no idea what she wants for treats. None. She ignores millet, carrots, lettuce (used to eat it, now doesn't care about it), broccoli, bell peppers so far. If she's hungry she'll go for it, but there's definitely no "OMGTREAT" factor going on. Any help/ideas? This directly leads into...

2. I can't get her to sit still in one place to even start training her. At first, she'd just ignore me because she had a full tummy. Then, I started trying to take the food away before I went to the gym, hoping that when I came back and showered (about an hour or so later) that she'd be hungry and take treats. But nope, instead, she goes on a hunt for the food, and nothing but the food. I'll put her on the training stand and she'll fly right back to the cage, just chirping away as she circles it over and over, walks out, and walks around the outside trying to find the mysteriously missing food bowl.

I obviously can't train her to do anything while she's distracted trying to find the food and not amazingly enticed by typical treats, so I'm about at wit's end trying to figure out how to even begin doing basic training like target training. She's so in love with her everyday food that it seems to be the only thing I COULD use as a treat, but it's a little hard to use itty bitty pellets and seeds as treats because she'll just spill them everywhere and hop off her perch and munch on them on the table.

Any tips?
zebugman
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Budgie
Flight: Yes

Re: New budgie owner; great bird, but some frustrations

Postby liz » Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:15 am

Welcome to the forum.

Thank GOD you got a social parrot. Don't use this to think she is ready for training. She is like a one year old child. She is capable of getting around and investigating but is too young to potty train or teach to use a spoon. She is just too young to consitrate. Be content to love her and be loved by her. She sounds like she is so much fun. Children don't really have the ability to start training until two. There are exceptions to this rule though. At 18 months my son potty trained himself because he did not want to wear diapers like his baby sister. Another exception is the baby Cockatiel in my flock. He is the only baby and does not want to stay in the nest alone. He has a few feathers on his wings and tail but is really too young to join the flock. He does not want to be alone in the nest so he is out most of the day just walking around and checking things out. (It really looks odd to have a practically naked baby be so active.)

Continue to say "step up" even though she does not need it so she will learn to associate words to actions. Also start saying things like you would a child to learn to speak. Stay calm even when you are telling her what she should not do. The word "no" will teach her that she cannot have or play with something. My Rainbow is 32 years old an has control of his speech. When he needs to he can get his point across. He was 15 when I got him and already had control of the English language. "Help" is one of his words and use it when he needed help. I can even ask her if she needs "help". Just teach her like she is a child. Myrtle has words but only a few that she uses to explain herself.

As she gets older she will start playing with things for more than a few seconds. When she is able to play like a two year old child like pulling the pedals off a flower. You could try foraging stuff like putting food in a crumpled piece of paper for her to find her way to it.

Do not withhold food. She needs to know that her human will always be there to give her anything she needs and sometimes wants. Remember in school how hard it was to keep your mind on the subject at 11:00 when lunch was another hour away.

Your bird might not need treats and will be happy with praise. Mine are.

While this young start her on the diet she needs to be eating. There is information everywhere on this sight but basically it is fruit and veggies with gloop for breakfast and nibbling during the day. Use seed for supper and take it away when she goes to sleep. For parrots seed is like a healthy big desert for supper like a banana split that has a couple of food groups in it.

Well I just lost two paragraphs off this post. To shorten what I said I will just say to talk to your parrot like you would a child and using the same words in the same situations.
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liz
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6522
Location: Hernando FL
Number of Birds Owned: 13
Types of Birds Owned: DYH Amazon Rainbow
BF Amazon Myrtle
Cockatiels: Shadow Tammy Tommy Maggie Lacy Flutter Phoenix Jackie Andy Gimpy Louise
Flight: Yes

Re: New budgie owner; great bird, but some frustrations

Postby zebugman » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:18 am

Okay, great! Just to confirm though, it IS a good thing that she's explorative?

I have a few novice questions, then. Will she eat herself fat if she always has food available except for bedtime? And what kinds of informal training can happen at younger ages while they're still young and distracted? By no means do I want to push her, but I didn't know if there were any handling techniques I should be getting her used to or other habits.
zebugman
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Budgie
Flight: Yes

Re: New budgie owner; great bird, but some frustrations

Postby Pajarita » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:24 pm

Welcome to the forum! Now, let's see... Liz is right, she is not even a juvenile yet so training her is not going to bring any real results (she gets distracted too easily). Not that training a budgie is anything that I would recommend, mind you! I think that the small aviary species don't really benefit at all from people training them. They are way too flighty and, as they don't really bond to humans and you cannot restrict food -more about this below- training them, although not impossible, means way more hours, work and effort than any person with a normal lifestyle has.

Budgies are an aviary species (not companion like amazons, grays, senegals, macaws, etc) so, even when they are handfed (very few breeders bother with this because it doesn't bring the same result as with companion species and it's much, much more work with little ones), they never really bond to a human once they reach the age of sexual activity. This makes the training 200 times harder than with a companion species.

You can't fast them - their metabolism is way too fast for it and depriving them of food is really harmful to them (no bird should ever be fasted -avian vets don't even do it for surgery or blood work). You can identify something that can be used as a treat or reward (a safflower seed, a small piece of a millet spray, a tiny piece of a good quality whole grain bread?) but for this to work, you can't free-feed seeds so you need to give her something like gloop (look in the diet section) and leafy greens (budgies LOVE leafy greens - they even 'bathe' on them) in the morning and the seeds only for dinner. This, added to a strict solar schedule, will ensure she doesn't become a chronic layer (you have to be extra careful with the little ones because they are super duper opportunistic breeders!).

Now, as an animal lover, I need to let you know that budgies don't do well on their own. There is no way you can keep them happy when they are by themselves. They are intensely flock oriented and the only way their life is truly fulfilled is when they have, at the very least, a mate of their own. This is not my personal opinion, it's the way nature evolved them. For them, 24/7/365 company is not a luxury or an option, it's an emotional and even physical need.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 11860
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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