Ask Lafeber

Question:

September 1, 2020

Bird hates to be touched


We’ve had our pet parakeet for 3 years now. The first 2 years he was able to come out his cage after school. I have owned several different parakeets over my lifetime. I wanted to spend time with the bird so I grabbed him and he got extremely infuriated. He is very jittery and does not let anyone touch him. He has to nuzzle us and loves to look at himself in the mirror. During quarantine he learned to fly to my glasses but then all of a sudden in the past few weeks he has refused to fly to me. He is finger trained so he lets me get him out the cage and he will sit and talk with me while he is near his cage but he does not like to be far from it. He seems to get mad at me if I don’t take his cage outside or if we are out of the room too long. So I know he loves us just not sure why we can’t touch or kiss him. I often joke and say he is on the spectrum because of this. Can that happen with birds? Do you have any suggestions?


Answer:

Hi Daa’iyah,

The main issue here is that you grabbed him and he doesn’t trust you anymore. Birds are prey animals and grabbing one is what a predator would do, so they do panic and lose their trust when they are grabbed. In general, parakeets don’t like to be touched. Some will let you scratch their head, and this is the most you should do anyway. When you pet a bird on the body, it can trigger hormones. Also, when a bird is allowed to fly free, they are in charge and they often will not remain very tame. He gets to decide when he wants to come to you and he can fly away when he wants to. Clipping his wings can help to settle him down, and the feathers will grow back. Whether you trim him or not, do not grab him again or keep trying to touch him. If you are patient with him, he should learn to trust you again and he might want to have his head petted. His behavior is completely normal for a parakeet that is allowed to fly free. Every bird has a unique personality so you can’t compare him to birds you have had in the past. Take time to learn what he likes and never try to force anything on him or you will lose any progress you have made. Here are a couple of links to our behavior and training information:

Teaching Your Bird

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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