Friday 6 May 2016

13. Getting a second/new budgie - Introductions!

Please only introduce the new bird to the original birds/birds once you have quarantined it! I promise this is the last time I will write this, but I really cannot stress how important it is to place your new family member in quarantine first, it could save your birds lives. You can read all about it on my previous post - Getting a second/new budgie - QUARANTINE!! 

So your bird has proved itself to be fit and healthy and now its time to get the introductions started ....Eek!! Exciting times ahead! As you have taken the time to quarantine your bird, they will be in their own cage which is what you need to successfully introduce your birds in a safe way. From my personal experience I can tell you that things are going to get more chaotic and a lot louder! Oh and more poo. Hopefully this will all be justified though when you see how happy your birds are together. 

How to safely introduce your birds:

You cannot just pop your two birds in the same cage and hope for the best. Well you can, but I wouldn't advise it. Budgies can be aggressive little birds with big personalities and you really don't want a fight to break out. It is a slow process where you must monitor and watch your birds reactions and judge when you can move to the next stage. This is for their safety, but also for your ease. If they can be introduced slowly and calmly they will be less stressed and more cooperative with each other resulting in a more harmonious pairing. I keep wanting to write happy wife happy life, but I cant think of a budgie equivalent, you know what I mean though! 

Lets begin!

1. Place both the cages side by side (not too close as they 
might nip each others toes!) and allow them to see each other and have a chat. If you read about this elsewhere it will advise you to leave them like this for a couple of days.

I put them together and look what happened (photo on the right). Instantly they flung themselves to the sides of their cages and made eyes at each other. Reggie was very curious about what was going on. I guess he knew there was another bird in the house as they had shouted to each other, but I'm sure he was a little confused as he had been a lone bird for 5 months. Little Buster was super excited, he jumped about and flapped his wings in anticipation doing this little flying hover thing like a humming bird. It was actually so cute to watch but it terrified me as I was sure this was the beginning of the end with Reggie and I (it wasn't, keep reading!)

2. Once you have left them to get to know each other through the cages you can let them meet in a mutual environment away from the cages. You need to do this on mutual ground as they can be territorial about their cages; you want to avoid any hostility and keep everything fun and interesting for them. Watch their behavior very closely, and be ready to step in should an issue arise. There will probably be some bickering but try not to confuse excitement with fighting. Consider the age of the birds you are introducing, Reggie was still a baby meeting a baby, but an old bird meeting a little excited baby might act very differently. Females meeting males can be quite hostile so just be on your guard. 

So here's my small confession, I didn't quite follow the above steps. When the boys met through the cages I could tell instantly that Reggie and Buster would be OK meeting each other. Reggie is the sweetest little darling and Buster was mad with excitement to meet him properly. I could definitely have gotten my judgement wrong, but I knew my boys and I could just tell they were going to be alright. I think it was only 1-2 hours that I actually left them in their cages side by side, but I didn't go straight to letting them out together, I added a precautionary step just in case I had read their body language wrong. I got Reggie out on to my finger and I took him to Busters cage to see him. One reason for doing it like this was also to make sure that I was a part of this meeting (My hand is a representation of me and it was in the thick of the action). You can see in the picture that there was a lot of interest and Reggie had his happy puffy big head on <3

I then did the same but this time I put Reggie in his cage and I got Buster out on my finger and let him meet Reggie through the bars. T
he photo on the right is not from that time but I believe it looked something like that! They would put their beaks together through the cage and touch, I guess these were budgie handshakes? They hopped off my finger a few times but I would get them back so that there was less chance of toe biting through the bars. They didn't actually bite, they were very well behaved.

I put them back in their own cages whilst I was sat watching TV with them behind me and I just thought, oh bugger it, i'm doing it - I'm going to let them meet! I'm not promoting that you do it like this, haha, but i'm also not saying you can't. I was honestly trying to follow the rules and wait a few days and had there been any sign of negativity or fright I would absolutely have waited before letting them out. Excitement got the better of me and as I said before, I knew my boys. I didn't know Buster too well by then but he was really showing to me that he was eager to get out and meet Reggie. Reggie I had no doubts about, he has always been so gentle and brave so I was convinced that he would be nothing but humble and welcoming to Buster. 

A moment of pure cuteness the
first night they met
Thankfully, I was correct with my assumptions. I got Reggie out and popped him on the play gym on the coffee table and then I went and got Buster. They flapped about a little, and Reggie busted out his finest vocabulary for Buster (Reggie the Budgie, whose a good boy, I even think he had started to say Buster by then) which appeared to confuse Buster so much.
There was a little bit of bickering and so I separated them into their cages for half an hour and then we tried again. I don't remember specifics but I think this sequence happened a few times and just to be safe I would put them away for the rest of the evening. It was purely excitement that was winding them up. Buster is a brave little soul and he was not afraid to try and assert his dominance over Reggie straight away.  

The day they met.
I think my heart melted/broke when I saw Reggie groom Buster on the first evening. It was the cutest moment and I loved watching their relationship unfold but I still had a horrible feeling I had doomed our relationship. They don't actually groom each other much even now, only last week (early May 2016) did I see Buster groom Reggie for the first time, so its interesting that this happened almost immediately upon meeting. The photo on the right was also the night they met, waaa too much!! 

Over the next few days they got to know each other more and more and I developed mild post budgie depression. I know I keep harping on about it, but I genuinely thought oh bugger, I've lost my boy now to this evil little thing called Buster. Buster was proving himself to be a very assertive little boy and it actually made me a little upset to see Reggie bossed about like that. If Buster made the slightest little snap at Reggie he would concede and move away immediately and I'd be there saying 'Hey Reggie, that's your favorite toy, don't let him have it!' Then 5 minutes later Reggie would be whispering sweet nothings to Buster and showing him all the love. What! He nicked your broccoli! Clearly I had a lot to learn about budgie society.

I kept them separate in their own cages next to each other for about a month and then I upgraded to a new bigger cage that had a divider. I wasn't being mean, I was being very cautious for many reasons:

Buster on Reggie's bed
  1. They were still having little spats and Buster was pulling Reggie's tail a lot. There was also some toe biting. I cant control that at night time when I am in bed.
  2. Buster was pinching Reggie's bed whenever he went in his cage and I was being an over protective Mum and I wanted my baby to have his bed at night.
  3. When they came out to play with each other, my boyfriend or I was always there to be a part of it. I wanted to ensure they knew that family play time was just that, family, all 4 of us. I was very conscious of the fact that budgies prefer budgies.
  4. I was still deciding how to house them lol.  
Ferplast Canto bird cage from Zooplus

I eventually went with the Ferplast Canto bird cage which had a removable divider. This cage is a great size when the divider is out and it is more than adequate for each birdy to have his own half during the day when we are at work. It's a very strong sturdy cage with great little twizly bird seed holders, it feels like you are serving them up their food every morning! There are 4 doors, 2 at the front and 2 at the side and an individual tray under each half. I miss the door Reggie's old cage had, it was a big swing open door, but everything else about this cage is fantastic.  
The boys are at the top on their ladders

I decorated each half with the toys from either birds cage and away we went. I didn't have to worry about them fighting or not getting to the food, I could just put down the divider and they had everything they needed and their new best mate right next door. When they sleep they are either side of the divider on their own little ladders, they talk to each other and touch beaks. 

Sleeping either side of the divider

It's now 4 months later and the divider is still used at night time. We take the divider out during the day and they have the run of the whole cage together, but I still like to separate them at night time. For a while I did feel this was absolutely necessary for Reggie's happiness, perhaps I am putting human emotions on to the birds, but I was sure he looked upset when he got pushed off his bed. They are very independent birds when out at play time so I don't worry that I am depriving them of each other over night. I'm sure in the next few months I will stop putting the divider in at all, they squabble a little bit but they are now good firm friends, and Buster seems to have learnt that the ladder on the left is his and the one on the right is Reggie's - or that's what he shows me anyway!

The boys get along great and my relationship has grown and grown with both of them and I do believe that is partly because we have taken it slowly. My worry that Reggie would fall madly in love with Buster and neglect me has also helped to make sure everyone remains friends - sometimes paranoia can help! It's easy to get carried away and hope that everyone will get along straight away but sometimes that is just not reality. Take your time with the introductions and don't rush them to be best friends. Watch how they react and act accordingly. Reggie had been alone for 5 months but he still seemed to remember how to budgie, but if you have a bird whose been alone for 2 years he might need to learn how to be a bird again. If all they have done is talk and annoy a toy they might get a shock when a new bird fights back! 

September 2016 Update; Reggie and Buster have been sharing their house for months now with no hassle at all. They have their mini squabbles but that's it. The cage is still fantastic and we can make the most of all the room now that the divider doesn't have to slot down the middle. Would still highly recommend the Ferplast Canto cage. Reggie is still my baby boy and he loves his mum. Buster and I are still amicable lol. 

Good luck! :)