4. Don’t treat your parakeet like a dog
Dogs are different from every other pet on earth because they have gone through a rigorous selection method that resulted in a super tame species. Cats are the second most common pet in the world, and even they retain some of their wild independence. This means that you cannot treat a bird the way you treat a dog.
There are many different pet parrots species that will allow its owner to pet it. Parakeets are not like these other birds. Since they are very small, it is uncomfortable for them to be petted or head scratched like a cockatoo or macaw. Some tame baby parakeets will solicit head scratches from its owner, but they consistently grow out of this behavior as they get older.
If your parakeet is very tame, and trusts you, it may let you pet it gently on the belly or chest with one finger even as it becomes an adult. However, pressing on the chest or belly is a common trigger to “step up”. It may be uncomfortable for your bird to feel like it is going to lose its grip on the perch, especially since some parakeets do have weak grips.
It is best to restrain yourself from petting your bird, and focus on playing in other ways, like playing ball or doing tricks. Every animal, including humans love to work for their rewards. By doing fun activities with your bird, they will feel intellectually and emotionally fulfilled.
This is what a budgie that enjoys head scratches looks like:
5. Don’t drown your bird
Everyone loves the idea of their bird splashing about in a fountain or bath. But parakeets are originally from a dry land, and they do not commonly see a lot of water. in the wild, these birds will only take “baths” by rubbing up against dew or wet vegetation.
Baby parakeets often drown in the wild during the wet season after falling in a puddle. Therefore, many baby birds will have a healthy fear of standing bodies of water. These birds do not need a spray baths like birds from the rainforest, and sprayers that spray a fine mist present a choking hazard to your bird. When the mist is too fine, the water droplets can be inhaled into their lungs and make them sick.
Parakeets are not like dogs who have a “doggy” smell, and you do not need to bathe them. These birds will clean and preen themselves daily and keep everything clean. However, some rare birds may enjoy showers with big droplets, and most parakeets will call out when they hear the sound of water falling.
Since parakeets have a hard time finding water in the wild to drink, they have an ancestral instinct telling them to broadcast the location of water by making a special call. You may notice that this call sounds different than their other chirps.
Here is a budgie that has learned to love showers, notice that the owner is offering a shower and not a mist:
6. Respect the fluff
When two birds are arguing, one bird will eventually retreat. If the other bird pursues or is otherwise making a nuisance of himself, the harassed bird will make predictable signals to initiate a cease fire. One of the strongest signals that is overlooked by new parakeet owners is “the fluff”.
This is the same fluffing/shaking motion birds make when they’ve finished bathing or preening. They fluff their feathers up until their body is round, and shake vigorously to straighten all their feathers out. If the attacking bird accepts this peace offer, he then fluffs in return and blinks his eyes.
When you first get your bird out of the box and into the cage, it will send very obvious distress signals like flapping, running and shrieking. Later, as it gets settled in, it will decide that you are no longer such a big, scary threat. But like all animals, when you make a parakeet uncomfortable it will be reflected in its body language.
If you ever look at your parakeet and notice a nervous look in its eyes, you’re not imagining it! And when your bird gives you the fluff, you know for sure it is feeling a bit scared. So respect the fluff, and either take it slower or come back another time.
This is part 2 of a three part series on beginner parakeet care and taming. Continue to part 3.
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