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Very wild budgie pair #429604 01/18/15 03:25 PM
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Laurel962 Offline OP
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I have a slightly unusual situation. I am not unfamiliar with parakeets, having had them as a child and until my 20s (the Woolworth's type). I got them reasonably tamed, to sit on a finger and to say a few words. But for the last 22 years, I have only had a yellow Nape Amazon Parrot.

About 10 days ago, on vacation in Florida, my 90 year old stepmother begged us to take the last of her parakeets. Her son had given her 4 birds, and built a terribly unsuitable outdoor aviary for them -- impossible to reach the birds or clean properly. Because it was so big, they simply flew away to the far parts of the cage. By the time we came into the picture, two of the birds had been EATEN BY A SNAKE (!!!) because the cage was simply chicken wire stapled into wood.

More out of compassion than common sense (LOL), I agreed to take the birds back home to Ohio with us. I bought a nice cage, and then spent most of my last vacation day (!!!) desperately trying to round the birds up. They are 100% unsocialized.

We brought them home; they appear to be young healthy birds (a male and a female) and bonded to each other. But I've never had to deal with birds THIS wild. They have lived for a little over a year outdoors in this aviary, with almost no human interaction.

When I approach them, they flew wildly all over, terrified. They seem happy enough by themselves in the cage. It's a nice size cage, clean, lots of toys.

But all the training videos and things I have read, talk about putting your hand in the cage, asking them to "step up" -- these birds won't let me get anywhere near them. They flew around so wildly I am afraid they will hurt themselves. It was a NIGHTMARE trying to catch them in the first place.

I've hand trained parakeets before, but I don't even know where to begin with birds who are this terrified of EVERYTHING and so unsocialized to humans.

Any suggestions? I hate to think of them living out their lives as little more than decorative birds in a cage.

Re: Very wild budgie pair [Re: Laurel962] #429643 01/25/15 07:41 PM
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Leanie Offline
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Yikes, you poor thing! First I'd say give them a good week or more to get acclimated. Slowly introduce yourself and their surroundings. Put them near a window for outside stimulation. Turn on a radio with nice music or even talk radio. It'll take a bit, but just show them you won't hurt them with a soft voice. I sometimes makes mouth moves and noises for them to watch, even making saliva bubbles (sorry, it sounds gross, but they seem mesmerized by it).
I wouldn't worry or even really try to get them on your finger. Since there are two birds, they don't need or really want much human contact. If one dies you'll really have to then interact much more, to replace the constant companion it once had. Just give them lots of variety of food and toys. They'll get more used to you over time. I think it's harder if they are opposite sexes. You might want to get two connecting cages and separate them if one starts to bug the other with constant mating during her monthly cycle.
Maybe there is a avian sanctuary in your area where they could live. That would probably be the best answer. Call your local avian vet and see if they know of one.

Re: Very wild budgie pair [Re: Laurel962] #429645 01/25/15 10:17 PM
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Laurel962 Offline OP
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Hi, Leanie: Thank you for responding. I got the birds on January 9th, and today is the 25th, so I've had them roughly 2 weeks.

I have done more or less what you suggest here. The cage is in the living room, so they see people coming and going. They don't seem terrified unless you put your hand INSIDE the cage or try to touch them. They seem very content in the cage. (Yes, they have LOTS of toys, perches, ladders, etc.)

They are not too near a window, because of the cold (this is Ohio and it's freezing!). Otherwise, they probably get a reasonable amount of stimulation from my talking to them. There is always a radio on, for our Yellow Nape Amazon -- he enjoys music.

Haha, don't know about saliva bubbles -- I've never tried that! I do talk to them softly.

I realize as a bonded male/female pair, they are entertaining themselves and I am not worried they are lonely. I guess I'd like them to be pets, in the way other parakeets have been in our home -- friendly little clowns, who will sit on your finger and let your rub their head! and talk. Maybe that is not realistic here.

I'd love to be able to hand tame them, but I have no idea how to approach them. (They are pretty young, maybe 14 months old. If one does die, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.)

I have several bird cages besides this one, including a small "travel cage", so if the male appears to be bothering the female, then I will separate them.

I am not aware of any avian sanctuaries around here, though I'll try to research it. I am not trying to get rid of them necessarily -- I could always rehome them on craigslist or even surrender them to the local Animal Protective League -- but I'd love for them to be PETS and not just "wild birds in a cage".

Can you think of any books or videos that might address this particular issue (taming wild birds)?

(Note: I do have a vet who will do stuff like trim my parrots beak or nails, and could probably handle medical issues, but I don't know if he has much idea about parakeets. Parakeets kind of rank with vets about like goldfish or a hamster -- a small cheap pocket pet, that people won't spend a lot of money on -- unlike a $1200 parrot. I have not found the vet to be a very useful source of info, in fact I often have to TELL HIM things about my bird.)

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