Imagine if a 10 ft tiger grabbed you from your house, and placed you in a prison cell. You can’t communicate with the tiger and he comes by every day to stare at you. Sometimes he opens the cell door and runs around aggressively in your cell. Or even worse, he grabs you and shakes you around for no reason!
This is exactly how your bird feels!
Many new owners have good intentions towards their pet, but don’t know how to go about communicating their niceness to their bird. Lots of beginners’ sites will tell you, be gentle, speak in a friendly voice, etc. This general advice will work for someone who with many years of experience in birds. But it doesn’t help a beginner one bit!
Everyone wants a fun, tame bird like they see on youtube videos. Follow these top 10 secrets that will make your bird the kind of outgoing buddy you’ve always wanted!
Top 10 Things You Must do With Your New Parakeet
Note that what is known in the USA as a parakeet is actually a budgerigar or budgie. Parakeet is a term used to describe a whole class of small long-tailed parrots! In this article, parakeets will also be called budgies.
1. Make some noise
Many new owners get the advice that they should let their bird “settle in” for a few days. They assume they should let the bird settle in the way you would let a human settle in: tiptoe around and make as little noise as possible. But parakeets naturally live in big flocks where there is always another bird chirping or playing.
The lack of noise scares them into thinking that there are predators nearby, and this makes it harder for your budgie to adjust to its new home. Leave the radio on all the time except when it’s time for bed, continue with your daily activities, and make some noise! Budgerigars like almost any music and if you’re lucky, they will learn to talk and mimic their favorite songs.
Check out this cutie singing my little sunshine:
2. Move slow… but not too slow!
Small, fragile birds like budgerigars have many natural enemies in the wild. To avoid making them nervous, you should try your best not to move like a predator. Budgie predators come in two flavors: those that move fast, and those that move slow…then strike! Large birds are an example of a fast moving predator, their tactics commonly include dive-bombing and striking attacks. Snakes are an example of slow moving predators, these animals will focus closely on its prey and then strike at a blinding speed.
Another example of slow-then-fast predator is a pet shop worker’s hand. Many pet shops will catch your bird by cornering it slowly and then grabbing quickly. These kinds of experiences will erode your budgie’s trust before you’ve had a chance to earn it.
A good way to tackle this problem is to move your hands slowly in the cage when you change the food dishes, and never speed up! Don’t make any threatening gestures like moving your hands towards your parakeet when they are not ready!
Even tame budgerigars will run at an approaching hand if they aren’t expecting it. This cautious behavior is in their DNA and cannot be trained out of them.
3. Look away to look friendly
New budgies do not like extended eye contact with humans. When you stare at your bird, your may unconsciously dilate your pupils. This kind of stare is very common in predators, and as we talked about before, parakeets are often nervous as a safety precaution. You can use natural bird body language to make your pet feel more at ease.
When a bird is confronting another bird, they will use a technique called eye pinning. Birds are unlike humans in that they can control the dilation of their pupils. A contracted pupil means dislike and a dilated pupil means your bird is very interested. Parakeets can use eye flashing or eye pinning to communicate happiness, nervousness, aggression or any other emotion to other parakeets.
You can use this to your advantage by sending signals with your own eyes. When you notice your bird getting nervous (shuffling, looking away, trying to escape), look away from your bird. When you do look directly at your parakeet, try blinking at a fast pace, and blink every two seconds.
If you observe your bird, this is how they blink normally! Do not blink slowly with a direct stare. The direct stare/slow blink is a signal cats use to be friendly to other cats. While the point of this fast blink exercise is to look less like a predator.
See this blinking action on a budgie here:
This is part 1 of a three part series on beginner parakeet care and taming. Continue to part 2.
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