Thursday 3 March 2016

5. Budgie bonding and taming - The first few days

It is incredibly tempting to stick your hand straight in the cage when you get your new friend home. I'm not going to say don't do this, each bird is different and some might be OK with being approached immediately, BUT do at least give them a couple of hours to settle in. Watch how they behave and judge what you want to do next, is he reacting to sudden movements? If you walk past is he backing away into the corner? It can be very stressful for birds to be taken away from where they grew up and put into a strange cage in a strange room with strange people ogling them through the bars. Everything is new to them, and if they are a bird who has not been handled before, you could end up spooking them causing an injury.

Reggie's first day at home

When Reggie arrived home I knew that I should let him settle in and give him a few days to observe his new home. I was excited and impatient so after 10 minutes of standing and looking at him I put my hand in the cage and got him on my finger. I do blame the neighbours though for egging me on a little! I had read everything online that I could find about what to do when you get your bird home......and I completely ignored it! Luckily for me Reggie responded well and he even ate some millet from my hand. I knew this was not the advised course of action but I also knew that Reggie was already hand tame so I just jumped right in.
Enjoying some millet after a few days

Guilt got the better of me and I left him alone to settle in - this didn't mean I ignored him tho, I would sit by his cage and chat to him. I wish I could say that I left him alone for a few days and set a good example, but the photo on the left is day two! In my defense, my boyfriend and I were out of the flat from 9am - 6pm with Doug returning for an hour at lunch, so he did have a lot of time to sit and ponder his new situation. 
I hadn't seen him eat from his seed bowl so I put a seed stick into his cage and he tucked right into that! Don't be worried if in the first few days you have a very quiet bird who shows no sign of life other than the odd scratch. Continue to change their water and seed daily and do this at a set time. He might end up flapping about but you need to do this for him to live so really the bird just has to get over it. Move slowly but with purpose and talk to him whilst you do it. 
Remember, they are scared and have no idea what is going on, especially when they are on their own! Reggie was very quiet his first week, he would make very little noise and would just sit and stare out - I was sure he was so depressed with his new life. Baby budgies in the wild are told to sit still and shut up to avoid being noticed so I knew this was normal behaviour and he was just doing what his mum would have told him to do out in the bush. 

I did finally catch him eating from his bowl after a few days, he was probably eating when I was at work but it was such a relief to see that he knew where his food was.  

I didn't let Reggie out of his cage for the first 5 days. He stayed inside and I did all my taming inside his cage through a little door. I got pressure bruises from sitting quietly and patiently with my hand just inside his cage for ages! I also bought him some new toys and I got him a ladder and a real wood perch and whilst I installed them he remained calm and curious.

With Buster I could tell straight away that he was a different character to Reggie. He was more active, he played with his toys, he found his food and seed bowl very quickly. This was a little surprising really as he was just short of being 6 weeks old, so very young for a budgie to go to a new home. Because of how differently he was acting I was confident that I could work with Buster quicker than I did with Reggie and so I got him on my hand straight away and he ate some seed quite happily. 

From day 1 he would step up on to my hand and then poof himself up and fall asleep. He just seemed to have so much more confidence. So much confidence he shot past my hand and got out of his cage, flew around for a while and then landed down the side of a cupboard requiring emergency rescuing. Whoops! 

I got a little worried when he first moved in as his poo's were quite gloopy and I found some hanging off his ladder like slime. I thought this was stress and my breeder confirmed that if everything else seemed OK this was very likely just a stress reaction to the move. His poo's went back to normal very quickly. Dodgy poo's are a sign of illness but in the early days don't be surprised if you see slightly runny ones. Do keep an eye on your budgie as stress can cause hiding illnesses to present themselves, but keep in mind that this is normal and not necessarily something to worry about.

After a week Buster became a bit scared to leave his cage but I think he was content inside his cage as he was playing with his toys and grooming himself. I don't think he liked our spare room (he was in quarantine) so I had to try to lure him out but he always went straight back in. To be honest, Buster had a pretty miserable first few weeks with us as he was alone in the spare room and so he never socialized in the main part of the house. He could also hear Reggie and they would often shout to each other which was sad to here - but quarantine was important so we had to continue with this arrangement. I am happy to say that after his 30 day quarantine period he got his confidence back and leaving his cage was no longer an issue. 

I feel like I need to write this at the end of each post......I am not an expert, this is post is just documenting what I did and what I have learnt from budgie people! So as you please but make your choices with an informed head and it should all work out well.

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