I have a pet cockatiel. His name is Kenneth, and he does not enjoy people. I got him from a friend who didn’t have anyone to take care of him anymore. I love him, but he is a wild bird. He needs room to fly and exercise and have more enrichment. Luckily, as a vet student, I’ve learned a lot about what I can do to help him while he waits for his flight cage to be built (yay!).
Birds are not always the most social creatures when it comes to their humans. This can be frustrating for owners who were looking for something to cuddle or talk to or be close to. Beyond that, excessive social behavior or cuddling can lead to significant health issues for birds, especially those who are reproductively active. With Kenneth, luckily, I don’t have to worry about those kinds of behavior problems, but I do have to worry about something else. I worry that he gets bored. He is afraid of my hand and does not want to be handled, so it is difficult to enrich him in the way I had hoped when I first got him.
Training can be a great way to give a bird confidence and the ability to be handled or even just taken out of the cage without stress. I’ve certainly tried this with Kenneth and I think it’s made him a happier bird to have something else to do! It is also important for you to be able to move your bird to another cage in order to take them to the vet for regular checkups, which is another trainable activity. I also have lots of toys, foraging toys, a “wobbly” ladder for him to climb on and get his exercise in since he doesn’t have a place to fly right now, and toys with bells and mirrors that he likes to chime along to and with when he sings. It can be hard to make sure your bird is happy and healthy in their environment, and don’t forget that veterinarians are a great resource to help you achieve that goal!