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How I Gained My Lovebird's Trust

Sakina loves birds and has had pet parrots and budgies. Now she has two lovebirds, one of which is a peach-faced male she hand-raised.

This is my lovebird Juju. Isn't she sweet?

This is my lovebird Juju. Isn't she sweet?

Getting a New Bird Home

I have two lovebirds named Mumu (male) and Juju (female). Mumu lost his mate Lulu on July 22nd, 2019. Despite all my efforts, I couldn't get him to be happy. I thought that since he is hand-raised, he'd eventually be okay without a mate, but I was wrong.

So, I decided to bring home Mumu's current mate, Juju. I brought her home on July 24th, 2019, when she was six-months-old.

This picture was taken on 24th July 2019, the day my lovebird Juju had first come home. You can see that she looks nervous and alert.

This picture was taken on 24th July 2019, the day my lovebird Juju had first come home. You can see that she looks nervous and alert.

What to Expect When You Bring a New Bird Home

When you first bring your bird home, anticipate how she will likely behave:

  • Her appearance will be alert and nervous, not fluffy or relaxed
  • She may not eat food for a day.
  • She might get startled at the smallest of sounds.
  • She might get nervous around other birds or pets.
This was Mumu's first mate, Lulu. The cage is kept on top of a shelf, so my birds can notice everything that happens around them.

This was Mumu's first mate, Lulu. The cage is kept on top of a shelf, so my birds can notice everything that happens around them.

Where Should I Keep a New Bird?

Location and proximity are important early on. Keep track of where your bird is in the room and how close you are to her.

  • It's always better to place the cage at a slightly higher position. It is easy for the new bird to observe his/her surroundings. Birds generally prefer to perch in higher positions.
  • If you have the new bird home as your first pet, don't get too excited and stand close to the cage. Observe the bird from afar and vice-versa.

It is really easy to bring home a new bird, but it takes care and patience to ensure they feel comfortable. These steps are very important as they are the foundation of building trust and a bond with the bird.

I had followed these steps when I had gotten both Lulu (almost 5 years ago) and Juju (1.75 years ago) home. Both of these sweet females trusted me after a year of my efforts of bonding with them.

If your new bird is the second pet, keep his/her cage next to your first bird's cage. This will help in familiarizing them with each other without any unnecessary issues (fights or screaming).

If you have two birds, keep them in separate cages beside each other. This will help them become familiar without unnecessary fights or stress.

If you have two birds, keep them in separate cages beside each other. This will help them become familiar without unnecessary fights or stress.

1. Taking the New Bird Out of the Cage

The first major issue when your new bird is home is the question of whether and when to take her out of the cage. Here is how you should proceed:

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  • Keep the bird in the cage for at least a week before taking her out. Make sure the wings are clipped to an extent that she doesn't get hurt when in unfamiliar places of the house.
  • Do not touch the bird or try to grasp her in your hands to take her out. Just let the cage rest on the ground with the open end pointing towards you (as shown in the video below). If the bird wishes to come out and explore, she will do so. If not, let the bird take her time.
  • Make sure all dark places are unreachable to the bird (for example, under a shelf or a bed). The bird is already new to your house; dark places will be a cause of terror.
  • If you wish to keep the bird back in the cage, gently put the cage (the bars part) above her and she will get on a perch. Then, you can attach it with the bottom part. Do not touch/hold the bird.

2. Keep Your Voice Soft

Birds can be very sensitive to noise, so be sure to note the following:

  • Birds prefer listening to soft sounds. Keep your voice low whenever you speak to the bird. She will come to recognize your voice and associate it with positive feelings.
  • Soft voices may help the bird feel at ease with time. She won't feel intimidated by your presence then.
  • Never yell at your bird if the bonding process takes time or the bird seems moody. Yelling will hurt the bird's feelings and make a dent in your efforts to bond and gain trust.

3. Do Not Touch the Bird

Respecting a new bird's boundaries and feelings is really important.

  • Do not try to touch the bird or stroke the head. I know it's very tempting to pat your new bird's head or give her a nice scratch but refrain from doing so.
  • If you touch them without their consent, they will not feel safe or won't like to trust you.
  • What you can do is just observe the bird from a distance and keep decreasing the distance as the weeks go by. Let the bird wander around you or near you and you keep minding your own business.
  • If the bird touches you or comes close to you, do not do anything. Let the bird do what she wants. With time, the bird will realize that you don't mean any harm and it's okay to come close to you.

Do's and Don'ts When Handling a New Bird

Do'sDon'ts

Give space to your new bird.

Make loud noises.

Let the bird remain in the cage for at least a week before taking him/her out.

Yell at the bird.

If you have two birds, keep them in separate cages.

Keep the bird alone in another room.

Speak softly.

Touch or hold the bird.

Offer food, toys, support and love.

Neglect (not giving enough attention or ignoring the bird)

4. Introduce Your Palm to the Bird

This step should be really subtle. If you already have a bird, it's easier to let the new bird realize that your palm is a safe place. If you don't already have a bird:

  • You can always offer seeds, green leaves like spinach, lettuce or celery, corn, breadcrumbs and even eggshells! My birds love to eat breadcrumbs and eggshells as they are crispy. Observe what your bird likes to eat and place that food item on your palm.
  • Even if the bird doesn't respond or take anything from your palm, do not feel discouraged. Keep doing this bit from your side.
  • Remember that this step won't be successful in a day or two. It takes a couple of months, so it's important to remain patient.

Possible Reactions

  • The bird will ignore it.
  • He/she will be intimidated by it and keep a distance.
  • With time, he/she will try to nibble your fingers and bite your palm (both my cases). If the nibbling is gentle, let the bird test your skin and realize that your palm is safe. If the nibbling turns into biting, firmly say no and take it away.
  • He/she might get the food item and avoid touching your palm/fingers.
  • He/she might step up on your palm by observing your pet bird (if any).
  • Sometimes, he/she might get scared even after being comfortable with your hand. If this happens, leave the bird alone.

5. Bond With Your Bird

Gaining trust and bonding with your bird go hand in hand. Birds love attention and understand vibes (at least I feel so). They understand that we are angry, happy, loving or sad with their behavior. Bonding is important and can be done in many ways:

  • Praise
  • Singing
  • Speaking softly
  • Offering their favorite food occasionally
  • Offering green leaves (lovebirds like them—mine go crazy!)
  • Keeping their cages and surroundings clean (birds might not like dirt and though they can't tell you, they will notice it)
  • Playing some songs or music
  • Giving them baths or water to dip in
  • Encourage them to play with small toys kept on your palm. Notice their likes/dislikes. Observation is the key. Both my female lovebirds Lulu and Juju loved shredding, the former, newspapers and the latter, ropes.
  • Buy swings, hanging ropes or good quality toys to keep them engaged.
  • If they are comfortable with your palm, help them to reach places. (Both my store-bought lovebirds were females, so I helped them reach higher perches by elevating them on my palm. However, they got heavy whenever they were pregnant and couldn't fly that easily.)

From a New Bird to a Loving Pet

It's so simple to get a bird home, but to make him/her a pet takes patience, observation, kindness, caring and most importantly, love.

Birds are intelligent creatures; they understand vibes and emotions, even the little ones like lovebirds. It is an incredible feeling when a bird trusts you. I have been blessed to receive affection from my lovebirds: Mumu, Juju, and also Lulu, who is no longer with me.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Sakina Nasir

Comments

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on March 24, 2021:

Hi Brenda! How are you doing?

Thank you so much for the kind words. I really appreciate your feedback.

Regards,

Sakina

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 24, 2021:

Your birds Mumu & Juju are Beautiful!

Your article is great.

I know nothing about birds, but you definitely seem too.

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on March 24, 2021:

Hi Louise! How are you doing?

Thank you for your kind words and time. I really appreciate it. :) I love my birds a lot too, they're just like babies.

Regards,

Sakina

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on March 24, 2021:

Omg, they are such lovely birds. I really enjoyed watching the videos too. I can see them 2 birds have lots of trust in you and love you very much. That's so lovely. :)

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