Having Rescued Two Older Abused Cockatiels, What Do I Do Now?

Having Rescued Two Older Abused Cockatiels, What Do I Do Now?

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

Diane P. is unsure on how to handle 2 abused cockatiels.

Questions: I adopted two old, abused, ignored cockatiels, mated. After six months, while hands are still instruments of the devil, they will eat millet I hold, and they both wait for me to open the cage door so we can have our morning time plus their praise and obvious notice of them as mattering.

The female needs medicine. She is the least trusting of the two although she loves to hold conversations with me, she uses her one cockatiel sound, me doing the rest.

She now speaks in a loud voice instead of the whisper she used for the first months.

Catching her twice a day to give her medicine (also without choking her since I am clueless) will set us back considerably.

Why you can’t choke a bird

Any suggestions on how to do this? I also have a vision problem which will make catching her much more difficult.

I had to take King to the vet when it appeared he had a significant issue and it took weeks before he would acknowledge me again.

We still aren’t back to the relationship we were developing prior to catching him and going to the vet.

Also, what are the odds of two old birds who clearly have been mistreated and ignored ever allowing me to hand tame them, which would make life much easier for us all?

Presently, I have to reassure them when they hear dogs, sirens, footsteps, any strange (to them) sound on TV or outside.

They are totally untrusting except for the inroads I’ve made. Part of me says they are major changes, another part says I’ve done little although they clearly feel much safer than they did before arriving here and do trust me even if Snow still feels safer with cage bars between us and King hasn’t fully forgiven the unexpected vet visit.

Thank you.

Dear Diane

Thank you for taking in the two birds and giving them a better life. Unfortunately, the damage has long been done regarding the distrust they have for humans before you came along.

We have one rescue cockatiel, Barney, who came from a hoarder home and also lived a very poor life.

Why Rescuing a Bird Can Be So Hard Barney’s Story

He came to us in a filthy 16″ wide cage and now has a nicer bigger cage with lots of good food, us and other birds to be around.  He also came to us with a whispered call until he felt confident that he could be louder and increase the volume.

He says the same things over and over. “Wolf whistle, pretty bird, wolf whistle, baby bird”. 

However, after 2 years we are still not able to hold him much, forget petting him. He is generally a crabby boy, preferring to sit in the window most of the day. When his wings are fully in (unclipped), he likes to make us chase him when we are trying to get him back in his cage (if we have to go out, or at bedtime), so he usually has to be clipped a bit to stop the extensive loops.

Barney the cockatiel perched on headboard looking out the window

Barney spends his days on our headboard looking at all the traffic on Route 2 in Lowell
(paper spread on sheets beforehand)

We can usually corral him better then, until his wings molt back out and we have to resume the chase.

Of course, having to grab his little butt and clip him only makes him dislike us even more so it is a vicious cycle. But he is safe with us and can live comfortably in a nice warm home, with good food and he is not alone.

You are likely to never get them to change their ways and like you. So go ahead and do what you have to do to get their medication in them. Throw a dish towel over the bird, grab its little butt and do the deed. Medicating to the side of their mouth is best at not choking them with it.

You may also like to clip their wings to give them the chance to try and deal with your presence. Over time they may accept you nearer to them and perhaps even pick them up.

We have noticed that cockatiels can fly well, even if clipped unless it is a short clip. (Our error this last time when we clipped Barney) So if you decide to clip them, do it short the first time as catching them again to clip off another inch only will add to the stress for you both.

It’s great that you are doing the best for them.

Stay well


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