Ask Lafeber

Question:

October 10, 2022

Fear


We have had our cockateil for 2 1/2 years. He was 3 mos old when we got him. He was hand raised by a breeder. He is still fearful of us. He is afraid when we put our hand to him to let him hop on. He is fearful when we open his cage to feed/water him. He hates to be touched. He will sit on us as long as we don’t mess with him. Will this ever change? We do get him out of his flight cage an hour per day.


Answer:

Hi Crystal,

Every bird has their own personality, although this isn’t what one expects from a hand fed bird, especially if it is a male. The females are more likely to act this way. I do have to wonder if the bird was truly hand fed. It sounds like he was either parent raised, or if he was hand fed, he was in an aviary with a lot of other cockatiel and wasn’t handled or socialized. Hand feeding alone doesn’t make a bird trust people. They need to be handled as well as being hand fed. Anything is possible, but most likely this is how he is going to be. I’m not saying give up. I would recommend that you read our pages on behavior as well as taming and training. It might shed some light on something that you are inadvertently doing that causes him not to fully trust you. Always keep in mind that they are a prey animal, so if you reach for him from behind or try to pet him from behind, he feels like you are a predator trying to grab him. Also, if you are hesitant about handling him, it can make him fearful because it causes him not to trust you. Hopefully our behavior and training information will help you out.

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Teaching Your Bird

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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