When Birds Prefer The New Bird To Their Humans…

Posted by Bird Tricks on

Q:  " I have a seven year old male cockatiel, Cubby, that I have always had a close bond with. We were best friends until six months ago when I got another cockatiel (male) to keep him company.  Now he wants is to spend all of his time with his new best friend, and he doesn’t seem to like me any more."

Mallory, H., New London, CT

A:  I had a similar experience with my cockatiels. Tinky came into our lives as a reward to my daughter for bringing up her grades in school. He was such a joy to have around, and was so well socialized to everyone in the family that we would sometimes argue over who got play with him. We eventually decided to get another, not intending so much for him to be company for Tinky, as there was no short supply of that for this dear bird, but it would give us another cockatiel to love and dote upon. As it was, Tinky had a daily itinerary that divided his out of cage time among the different family members.

When we brought DeeDee home, (also a male, but our young daughter was assigned to naming him and couldn’t be talked out of this one), he was kept in a separate cage but in the same room as Tinky (this was some time before quarantine was recognized as a necessity it avian husbandry). The two immediately took to each other and spent much time clinging to the cage sides and calling to each other. Eventually, they were housed together.

Not too long after the two birds were sharing a cage, we began to notice some changes in Tinky in terms of his willingness to interact with the family. DeeDee was impatient with our attempts to bring him around to being a family bird. This was a disheartening period for us. 

After all, our intentions were to have two birds to love and share life with and now it seemed we had none.  Somehow, we needed to keep Tinky interactive, and persuade DeeDee to be interactive, while still allowing them each others company. We discussed a strategy, and settled on one.  Back to the itinerary.

What we did was not complicated, but it was effective. We decided, for the time being, to put the birds back into separate cages but this time keeping them in separate rooms. We divided up their out of cage time amongst the family members, as before, but this time the schedule gave Tinky time with each of us, the same allotment for DeeDee, and time for the two birds together with each of us.

The alone time spent with Tinky helped to re-establish and maintain our bonds with him. The time spent with DeeDee was helpful in trust building with this new family member. They had their special time together, in our presence, which gave DeeDee the opportunity to watch Tinky interact with his human family. This served to show DeeDee that humans are safe and trusted by Tinky, and that we can be tons of fun. Sometimes we come bearing delicious treats.

Once we felt confident that we had completed our mission, the two birds were once again caged together. Tinky has remained loyal to his humans, bur while DeeDee bonded to a degree with our daughter, he did not with my husband or myself.  He is friendly but still aloof , definitely preferring Tinky’s company over ours. This is fine with me.  He is polite and cooperative when the situation calls for such behavior, so I try not to have hurt feelings over his choice for companionship.

We were mistaken in our thinking that a second cockatiel would mirror the behavior of our first. And we were unprepared as to how adding a second bird to the home might change the sense of loyalty in the Tinky’s heart. With a little gentle guidance from the human flock members, it all turned out well in the end.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.


Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →


26 comments

  • I have a female cockatiel…Sophie. I would guess her being about 9 months old. We had her for about a month and a half..and we were able to hand train her fairly quickly. She would let anyone hold her, she would ask to come out of her cage. She would start flapping her wings and chirp and get near the door…until we took her out.

    Anyhow, we bought a male cockatiel, and he was terribly frightened of us when we tried getting close to him. We thought that putting him in with her would calm him down. He actually bit my husband and I hard!! He wouldn’t let us go…Once he was caged with Sophie, he just sat on the corner of the cage…Within a couple hours, he was up on the rods..and began to eat.

    It’s been a 1.5 weeks, and he’s getting used to us..little by little. Sadly, our Sophie doesn’t really ask to come out anymore. We take her out and she will come, but within 5 minutes, she will get on the cage, wanting to get back in with Gunter. She never bit us hard, it was always a little peck, but his bite hurts bad; and once he latches on, he doesn’t want to let go.

    She whistles alot more and is learning new tunes…He still hisses and stares at us when we try getting hear him. He lets her groom him, and they will scratch each other…she remains unaggressive towards us.

    I don’t want him to influence her good behavior, and possibly make her the way he is. But I don’t know if he will ever pick up on her trust towards us.

    What should I do???

    please email me if you have any suggestions…jeepfly1@gmail.com

    Nadia on
  • Wow

    vedang on
  • I now have 2 Macaws. My first one Chico I had since he was 4 months old and at the time I had the opportunity to get another one he was 8. My second one Olivia was 4 years old at the time. I was extremely concerned how they would interact with each other. Unfortunately just 2 weeks before I was getting Olivia, Chico broke his wing. Then I was left with what to do. I then decided because Chico was in an extremely vulnerable state that it would be best to have Olivia separate from him so that she wouldn’t feel that she was the dominate bird in our household and to avoid Chico being picked on at this time. It worked out beautifully. Not only did I have the time to bond with Olivia but Chico also had time to be comfortable with another bird in the house. They talked back and forth until he healed. I did have them isolated until he healed. Once he healed I left her bedroom door open so that they both could come and go as they pleased. Then one magical day Chico moved into her bedroom and her cage rather than his own and they’ve been the best of friends since. They both enjoy interacting with me and both know that I love them each separately. One time though cause I hold Chico like a baby and Olivia got very protective and did bite me … so having said that it is best with this type of bird to interact with them separately as tough as that may be. I so love them both. I hope you find this helfpul!

    Rhonda on
  • ihave a n african grey he don;t like any one but me…..he gets real aggresive with every one else….i don\t know what would happen if i got another bird

    Daisy on
  • Hi Gayle,
    Two different species can coexist nicely if they are of the same size, but this isn’t always the case. Even two of the same species can decide they dislike each other. To answer your questions: there can be changes in your first bird. If your new bird comes with habits or tendencies, they can definitely rub off on Zeke. The new addition might bring about no changes. You just never know until you have had the two together for a while. A lot of how it turns out depends on your handling of the situation and how well you do in introducing the new bird to Zeke. Here’s a post on the subject: http://www.birdtricks.com/blog/adding-another-bird-to-the-flock/.
    Patty

    Patty on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.