My new parakeet, Randall, does not love me.

So, my husband thought I needed a parakeet. Which I did! And now have one named Randall Patrick McMurphy. He’s blue and yellow.

But I don’t think he loves me. I read some care tips about getting him unafraid…putting my hand in his cage slowly, waiting until he doesn’t flutter around, then trying to get him to perch on my finger.

So, I offered him crackers (slightly stale) which he did not eat. Then I gave him a grape, which he ignored. He’s not fluttering around anymore when I put my hand in there, but he is sort of hopping nervously.

When is he going to love me! I want to let him out so he can fly around a bit, but I know I can’t do that until I can get him to perch on my finger. Should I bribe him with more toys? Treats? What?

He sounds cuckoo. Better give him a lobotomy.

Unless Randall is a hand-raised birdie, getting him to love you is going to take time. I’ve had numerous parakeets, and the only ones that responded immediately with affection and trust were the ones which had been hand-fed by the breeder from an early age. Birds that are unaccustomed to lots of human touch may take months to tame.

There was a thread some time ago on this very subject. Myself, I have learned to live with my two antisocial parakeets. They’re basically just decorative at this point.

You need to put yourself in Randall’s position. Here’s this NEW, HUMONGOUS (orders of magnitude larger in size and weight) creature jabbing their fingers at you. Of course, you’d be running away in terror.

The first thing you need to do is convince Randall that you are not a threat. The best ways to do this:

  • Don’t even attempt to get him on your hand/finger at first. Just sit by the cage and talk to him (in soothing tones). Let him know that being around you is not threatening.
  • After maybe a week or so of this, then start to work with having him on your hand/finger. To do this CLIP HIS WINGS (or have them clipped by a vet or petshop).
  • Having done this, you can now chase him down, and gently approach and put your finger into his stomach. Parrots prefer to step “up” onto something, rather than down to something.
    If he hops off, chase him down and get him on your hand again. If he still seems too frightened, back off and spend more time just “near” him.
  • Once he is comfortable sitting on your hand, sharing food is a good way to get further “connected”. In the wild, parrots are very social, and sharing food is a normal part of their day. Again, it is not just giving him food, but also showing that you are offering what you’re eating.

My mother used to have parakeets (preferred name: Budgie’s), and my experience is that once they realize you are not out to hurt them (instead, the opposite), not only will they becoming quite loving, but they will start to see how much they can get away with ! They can have quite a personality, and will be very entertaining once they reach this point.

Hey, thanks for the advice you guys! I AM talking and singing quietly to him and putting my hand just INSIDE his cage without trying to poke or prod him. He’s starting to simmer down when I’m closer, so I think I can get him trained. I certainly have time.

Clipping wings sounds really mean though! Do I have to do that?

He definitely likes millet. Can I give him other treats?

I don’t suggest clipping his wings unless you’ve done it before. Take him to a vet or someone who has experience with wing-clipping. It’s a difficult thing to do, especially when the bird is scared and struggling and trying to bite - you’re not sure about what to do, how to hold him, where to cut, how many feathers to cut, *which * feathers to cut…there’s more to it than you think.

Millet is great; birds seem to adore it. The occasional cheerio is also a favourite. The best thing is to constantly offer him fresh fruits and veggies. He’ll get used to having them around and before long he’ll be munching on that grape like there’s no tomorrow. It’s easy to offer him a bit of tomato from your sandwich, or some corn with your dinner, or some strawberries from your cereal. Having birds around helps you eat better because you want to share your treats with him!
Avoid avocado - it’s deadly to birds! Stay away from sugary stuff like granola, absolutely no butter or chocolate, and limit the salty chips.
A good message board is They have a large archive and always answer new bird owner’s questions with patience and lots of details!

I googled ‘wing clipping’ and got some sites that may help you, should you decide to try wing-clipping solo. I still suggest you find someone with experience to show you, at least for the first time.

Also until he’s used to you, don’t stare at him-- give little short sideways glances. Act shy. To a bird, the animals that stare are the ones that are going to eat you.
Be patient. Give him time.

Try some well washed leafy green lettuce. I’ve yet to find a budgie or cockatiel who didn’t love it…even the most picky eaters.

I think Randall misses his old friend Hopkirk


Thanks for linking that - just to bring things right up to date - my budgie is really very tame now - he will fly from his cage to my hand or shoulder and will stay with me for hours - he also talks and sings a lot now.
I didn’t clip his wings and I never managed to bribe him with food - he inituially didn’t trust me enough to calm down sufficiently in order to take it - what worked in my case was to keep on talking to him and putting my hand close, with the final breakthrough happening when I picked up a toy he had become very attached to and let him come to me.

So stick with it, CeilingWhacks - it takes lots and lots of determination, but you stand a fair chance of success if you keep on trying. They’re smart birds - so it’s a battle of wits - pull up a chair and talk to him softly (on and off) for half an hour or so - if you see him start to cock his head from side to side, or close his eyes for a few seconds at a time, that can be an indication that he’s starting to take an interest in you and to trust you.

Also, if you’re going to be letting the bird out of his cage, get obsessive about closing windows and doors - you really can’t ever be too diligent or paranoid about this - it takes only one act of carelessness and the bird could be gone forever.

I think he’s just angry because you spelled his name wrong. Parakeets are spelling nazis! Problem solved. :stuck_out_tongue:

About the food thing –

Birds are paranoid (in my house we call it “parrotnoid”). And why shouldn’t they be? In the wild cockatiels and budgies are basically snackfood for other critters. I’d be nervous, too.

Which is one reason, when you hand some birds a tidbit, they look at you as if to say “you poisoned that, right?”

Sometimes, they’re a lot more comfortable see you eat the stuff, too. So, for example, if you have a plate of rice in front of you, place a bit of it in front of the bird, then start eating. This seems to alleviate some birdly anxiety, and also there’s that whole “let’s do things as a flock” meme they have. Likewise, if you’re about to chow down on Cheerios or the like, give the bird one out of the same bowl you’re about to eat out of. Sharing food is an important social thing for parrots. (But don’t give him a bit you’ve actually taken a bite out of, or vice versa. You don’t want to spread germs between the two of you.)

At lot of setting a new bird at ease is just being in the same vicinity without actually focusing attention on the bird. With new birds I’ll have them in the kitchen while I’m working there, next to me when I’m reading or watching TV… it lets them get accustomed to the rhythyms of the household. Once they get used to a routine they’ll be a lot more comfortable.

A few birds will be highly social from the very beginning. Most - even if hand-raised - take a few weeks to really settle into a new home. Be patient, the rewards are worth it.

They are designed to hate you.

I have a cockatiel and she completely hates me. She sticks her beak in my ear and bites my eyebrows. She chirps LOUDLY every time anything happens at my house. She dive bombs me and chases me around the room. She growls at me when I say “Bye! Epp!” In the morning, and insists upon taking up the exact part of the sofa that I want to sit on. She stops me from reading the paper and eats all my peanut butter. When I want to use my computer - you guessed it, she’s there right on my keyboard.

She berates me all the time and uses me for cuddles when she’s down. She uses her soft yellow feathery wiles to captivate me and then BITE ME!

And would I give her up?

Not in a million years.

Persevere. If he’s young, you may be able to calm him down enough to cudde.

I’ve never had this problem, but then my eyebrows finish at my temples - perhaps you should shave off the extra bit that extends all the way down into your ears.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had budgies, but I remember that they love to get their tiny feathered chins and heads rubbed and scratched, very gently of course. Watch a flock of them, and there will always be a few paired off to exchange head nibbles. Grooming is not just hygiene for them, it’s social behavior as well. I remember how our birds would puff out their feathers and close their eyes in contentment when we scratched them.

I had budgies years ago, and the secret is not to rush things and give them time to be comfortable in your presence. When they do come around, BAM, it seems like they instantly come to trust you and become very affectionate.

Also, a caveat. Avoid using non-stick cookware. Heated Teflon can give off dangerous fumes that can kill a bird in moments. Try to avoid having the bird in the kitchen when you are actually cooking. This applies to birds of sll sizes, but especially to the smaller ones.

That’s good advice on the Teflon. Additionally, pet birds are quite prone to respiratory problems from exposure other household things such as aerosol air fresheners, furniture polishes, deodorants, etc, and from fumes in general such as smoke from overheated cooking oil.