I can’t help but feel like an incompetent bird owner

It seems like everyone and their mother has had a cute, friendly parakeet at one point in their lives. I give other people advice on taming their own small birds and yet here I am with a nasty little bugger of a budgie. I’ve had Fester for more than a year now, I’m sure, and she’s not tame at all. She’s territorial of her cage and is very weary of coming out on her own even for a food reward on the outside. In theory, I know how to gain a bird’s trust, but I just can’t seem to understand Fester.

I bought Fester from Petco, which was not originally my plan when I decided to get a bird, but while picking up a new cage and supplies, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Fester. She’s a yellowface, and I had never seen one before, so I was impulsive and bought her on the spot instead of waiting to find hand-raised budgies. I knew that buying her from Petco meant that I would have to go through the taming process, but everything I read online told me that budgies are some of the easiest birds to tame. 

A few months after I brought her home, I thought I we were really getting somewhere. After a while of working with her, she learned to quickly step onto my hand for a millet treat inside of the cage. I gradually removed the millet from the equation, and this is the point where something may have gone wrong. Every time she steps onto my finger and finds no food, she goes berserk and bites at my fingers; and not in a curious investigative sort of way at all. I know the differences between the ‘testing the perch’ and ‘cleaning the beak’ and ‘actually biting’ bites. I always did my best to ignore the bites, as I figured if she saw no response from me, she would eventually stop on her own.. but this was to no avail. Sometime after that point I started working with her less and less, and although I never meant to “give up” on her, it turns out I did.

Now, she’s probably even more territorial of her cage, not even letting me fix a toy without giving me a few nips, and I’m almost embarrassed of this. Budgies are supposed to be so easily trained, and I can’t even manage that. How to I ever expect to handle bigger birds on my own in the future if I can’t even tame a parakeet?

I tried again today to work with her for a few minutes, just to see how she would react after all this time. I held up a nutri-berry treat to the bars of the cage, and she had no problem snacking away on it, so I moved my hand inside of the cage, offering her the treat. Hesitantly, she took a few nibbles, walked away, came back, and so on. I held my hand up to the specific perch where I used to work with her on stepping up, and she must have retained what she learned all those months ago because she decided to step onto my hand to nibble at the nutri-berry. Unfortunately, things still have not changed, as instead of standing on my finger and biting the food, she decided to stand on the food and bite my fingers. Unsure of how to correct this, I simply keep myself as composed as possible, and she steps off after a while. Eventually, she became disinterested, I suppose, and didn’t come back for any more nibbles of the treat, so I took my hand and the treat out of the cage and called it a day.

So I really just wanted to vent about my feelings of being an incompetent bird owner and advice-giver, because it really bothers me. I just want a bird that will come out of the cage and play on a playstand and just be happy around me, but I still don’t have that, at least not from Fester. Kiwi is tame, but very nervous, so he’s not quite as adventurous and playful as other birds… at all. Not to mention he was tame when I adopted him, so that wasn’t of my doing either.

Does anyone have any insight on my relationship with Fester? I know I’m usually the one giving people advice, but I could really use some. Have I done something wrong? Is there anything I could do now to remedy this? I would really love nothing more than to turn this situation around.



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