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S. August Abbott, CAS
S. August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7362
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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i Just bought a parakeet and its moving side to side and jumping

Customer Question

i Just bought a parakeet and its moving side to side and jumping around what that means?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
How long has the bird been with you ?

-- Is he by himself or do you have other birds? How big is his cage?

-- Does he do this constantly or just when he sees or hears someone?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
i bought it this pass sunday and yes hes by himself the cage is more than big enough for 1 bird and no he does this from time to time but he actually stopped and is kind of brave and friendly.
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
-- Congratulations on your new addition and it's good to hear that he's settled down a bit.

When it comes to budgies (parakeets) being able to flit around inside the cage is important to them, even if their wings are trimmed, which is highly recommended if they are going to come out of the cage.

-- For this reason it's recommended that a cage be at least 3' tall and 2' wide/deep

-- Wing trimming should allow the bird to gently glide to the nearest surface, but not attain any real height or distance. This prevents lost birds that happen when a door is opened by mistake or a window screen gets chewed through. There's nothing worse than hearing from a family who have lost their precious little guy after one innocent mistake.

-- When it comes to long term health, starting him out right away on a good pellet food diet will avoid a lot of problems over a lifetime. Fresh fruits and veggies along with healthy grains count too.

You can see plenty of ideas and even recipes that can be shared by humans with their birds 4AnimalCare

Good luck and have fun!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

when is it a good time to try to play with him?

And what the first thing i shud attempt to do to gain his trust?

Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.

Your bird should be more receptive to interaction and learning in the morning; at mid-afternoon (between 1 - 3 p.m.) and then just before bedtime.


You might want to establish a separate nighttime cage. Bird mental health (and thus, overall health) relies strongly on regulated day and night hours.


When they’re in their nighttime cage, covered on all sides with just about ¼ of the front open so they can see out and feel secure, go up and start whispering. Nice, reassuring comments. When the bird stretches their wing, stretch your arm. Only a few minutes at a time and then backing away, letting them get a good night’s sleep in a darkened, quiet room makes a huge difference.


In the morning, at the same time every day (no matter what), slowly pull the cover away while talking nicely, in a soft voice and telling them what you’re going to do. Slowly opening the door and reaching in with a smooth motion, flat hand (or closed and tucked under fist) a firm “step up” instruction – no matter what, don’t hesitate or withdraw, take your companion out.

After feeding breakfast in the day cage (I like offering whole grain oatmeal with cut up fruits of the season) - a couple hours to enjoy their chewy toys and the view outside.

Come afternoon it’s time to come out and be with the human flock. With portable perches and spiral rope perches hung securely from the ceiling - these will be the bird’s goals, but they should interact with you first.


Most parrots will need no less than 2 hours out of cage every day; many will get an average of 4 hours and ours always get 7 hours.


Cooing, chortling, even a sort of purring noise can be expected when your bird is relaxed and next to you. Requesting head ‘scritches’ by lowering their head and enjoying gentle petting with a finger at the back of their head is a show of trust and further bonding.


When it comes to discipline for a bird, well, there’s no such thing. Beware of people who suggest hitting, swatting or yelling. These are extremely counterproductive - they only encourage aggressiveness and problem screaming behavior.



http://www.4AnimalCare.org/birds for more about behavior modification and pics too!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thanks makes alot of sense. Thats alot of work though, i just really want him to get comfortable to come out the cage and come to me play and easily put him back in.

whats the easiest or fastest way to train him to go on your finger?

Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
-- I know it seems like a lot of work, but it's really not. Honest! It's just a lot to read Wink

The reason it's best to do it this way is because birds are prey animals. If we make even one mistake and frighten them - it can take months, or sometimes years to fix it.

You see, in the wild - they have to learn fast and remember for a long time since there are rarely second chances.

So if you force him to do something - the only thing he'll remember is that you were aggressive and made him do what he didn't want to do. He won't remember that it ended up being a pleasant experience as much as he'll remember it was unpleasant to begin with.

You are very wise to want him to be comfortable about coming out and stepping up onto your finger. The key word being 'comfortable'. You love him a lot already and that clearly tells me you'll probably have a good 12 or more years ahead of you with him.

When you look at it that way, taking a week or two to get him to bond with you and step up because he wants to doesn't sound like it's too long after all, right?

--- If you follow the steps outlined, chances are he'll be happy to come out and step up by this time next week, or sooner!

The toughest case I've ever had only took 8 days. You can do this!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
now i noticed another thing he stays on the thing that comes with the cage to hold the food he stays there all day and i had other parakeets he seems to eat alot more than the others i find that kinda strange and he stares all day and when someone makes a sudden moves he flaps all over the cage like hes crazy lol whats happening? this is new to me.
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
Is this area higher than the other areas in the cage?

When someone comes into the room does the bird have any warning or does the person suddenly appear like from around a corner or through a door?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
well he does that when its dark so im assuming he couldnt see so he went wild, but i really dont understand why eats eating so much and hangs around the food all day
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
Yes - that makes perfect sense. This is why a sleep cage is highly suggested. Birds can become very skittish and even develop health problems if they don't get at the very least 10-12 hours straight of quiet and dark or subdued light every night.

-- That means if you typically start your day at 8 a.m., the bird should go to bed around 7 or 8 p.m. at night.

-- You can sleep cage set ups here Click

If you can't do a sleep cage, cover his current cage with a clean, doubled-over sheet or non-see through blanket, leaving about 1/2 of the front door uncovered for better air circulation and so he can still see out and feel reassured that he's safe.

Keep the lights turned down and lower the noise level around the bird, as if you had a favorite relative sleeping over - you'd make sure no one woke him, right?

Lack of good sleep can make a bird prone to all sorts of illnesses and conditions that can end up being very expensive to get treated.

And since he's still so young, he needs his sleep even more. Like a child does.

When it comes to eating, well, this is what birds do all day, every day. They fly around and forage for foods. Since they aren't doing a lot of flying and traveling in captivity, we need to feed them the right foods, otherwise they can develop liver disease, cancer and tumors. This is why pellets are fed by just about all quality breeders and keepers.

I own a rescue and rehab org - no matter what kind of bird comes in and no matter how old they are or how long they've been eating what's called "birdy junk food" (seeds) the very first thing I do is get them switched to pellets and fresh foods.

That's discussed and outlined here


As long as you're doing the steps we talked about back in the beginning, he should relax soon enough and stop hanging out in one spot.

--- Being in one spot indicates a bird that is still a bit frightened and insecure. You're doing it all the right way though so this shouldn't last too long. You'll see, one day he'll just decide to hop up and come out with you. It could happen overnight! So don't stop.

----- You can follow up with me any time. Even if you click 'accept' - you can re open this any time and reach me without any further charge. I'll be glad to keep working with you and this little bird

S. August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7362
Experience: Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
S. August Abbott, CAS and 2 other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank you so i shouldnt always feed it regular bird seeds?

And theres always noise in here so it might take alil while longer for him to relax i have little brothers who makes noise and play alot so the bird keeps watching them is that a big problem?

Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
The diet should be mostly pellets, then plenty of fresh foods and only about 15% of the overall intake being a good quality seed without sunflower. Sunflower is really bad for pet birds, but most seed mixes have lots of them because they're cheap and easy filler.

You can give him a 1/2 teaspoon of jarred, human baby foods in the dark orange colors like sweet potatoes, yams, squash, carrots; fruits of any kind (except avocado. Never avocado)



Also try some pabulum or baby rice cereal and a few licks of natural (no artificial anything) yogurt.




Make an oatmeal using 2 tablespoons of all natural oats + 4 tablespoons of plain, hot tap water. Let it stand for about 5 or 10 minutes until the water is mostly absorbed. You can add ½ teaspoon of no sugar added, all natural applesauce, either regular or jarred baby food type, which often makes the oatmeal more acceptable for picky eaters.



Chop up some fresh or dried fruits to add. With dried fruits try to find ‘no sulfites’ on the packaging.




------ You can soak the pellets briefly in apple or grape juice (preferably the all natural type) to encourage his eating them, but since he's so young he should try them on his own and as they are.


If you ever soak pellets or mix them with anything like baby food or other fresh foods, be sure to remove them and clean the bowls after an hour or two at most. Otherwise there's the possibility of bacteria growing and making him sick.

It's not so hard really, it's the same way you'd treat a human child.


Remember, don't hit 'accept' again on this, that way you won't be charged further.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks alot but would my brothers making noise and running around effect how long it would normally take for him to get comfortable?
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
It might.

You have to remember that this little guy went from his mom and dad to a pet store and then is suddenly in yet another strange place - it's scary right? How would you feel if someone came and took you away from everything you know and are comfortable with?

Then, just as you adjust to the new place (ie: the pet store), someone else comes along and moves you again. Only this time there's a lot of loud noises, you can't sleep like you really, really want to - and everyone expects you to be all warm and fuzzy toward them.

That's about the last thing you want to be isn't it?

These little birds aren't really "bird brains" - they are highly intelligent. The parrot species is considered right up there with monkeys, dolphins and elephants when it comes to intelligence and that's pretty high.

It's just that we don't understand their language and they don't understand ours, so to us they can seem pretty dumb, and to them, we don't have a lot going on either.

--- That's why the guideline is important. It helps your little one learn you and what you want or expect, while it gives you time to learn him. You'll learn his body language and bond together - a bond that will last for well over a decade as long as you continue loving him and taking good care like you are.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
thanks. is it ok 4 him to be playful at one point and then go back to being quiet and staying at one spot again because thats exactly what he did.
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
It sure is. Perfectly normal. He plays, gets tired, rests and starts again.

Sort of like us!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
are you sure everything is fine because he really really is eating alot more often than i have ever seen a bird eat
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
-- Birds will eat when their feeling nervous or anxious too. Just like we humans do.

But - it really is time to have a vet check up and establish him as a patient with someone you can trust to be there in case of emergency.

Believe me, the time to go looking for a bird vet isn't at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night or holiday.

Until then you can remove his food for parts of the day. Feed him first thing in the morning, but after an hour or two, remove it. Then feed him again in early afternoon (noon to 2 pm) for another hour and remove. Finally, feed at around 4 p.m. until dark (bedtime) and remove again.

--- If he's eating a lot of pellets, it's fine for him, let him have them.

In fact, putting the small, preferably "Harrison's" pellets made for parakeets in his cage with him in-between the other feedings is the best way to go


---- Remember, don't press 'accept' again on this --------

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
ok i dont know if this is good but my father had parakeets back when he was in panama and he told me the fastest way he use to train his bird was by taking the food out the cage and letting it stay hungry for a day or two and he would put the food in his hand and put it in the cage and he said since the bird is hungry it would come to him and eat out his hand and thats how he would train all his birds
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
Many years ago when people didn't know nearly as much as they do these days, "training" techniques were less than ideal.

In some cases it would actually kill the bird Frown

Withholding food like this might cost the bird his life or cause irreversible and very expensive to treat liver disease.

In fact, did you know that the lifespans of birds back in the 60's and 70's was half or less than it is today?

We don't want to teach our birds to fear us or that we are cruel and make them hungry, even if it does end with our feeding them.

We want our birds to bond to us and to do things because they want to make us happy.

One bird that was in my rescue org not too long ago had gone without food for periods of time so much that he would hide food in his feathers. He'd tuck pieces of pellets, fruit, vegetables, whatever he was fed would go up under his wings and into the feathers on his back. He smelled bad all the time because the food would rot and he had infections all the time from the irritation.

This poor bird was never right again. He spent the rest of his life scared that he'd run out of food.

On the other hand, the birds that are permanent guests at the rescue are given all they want of good, healthy foods and even sips of fresh fruit juice like apple, grape and carrot. They are such happy birds that trust us so much they'll at least try to do what we want, like talk, whistle, sing, shake hands, dance, even play hide and seek.

--- Also, way back when birds first became popular we had no idea they were as intelligent as they are. It turns out that just because we don't speak the same language, we thought they were dumb animals.

I expect they thought the same thing about us.

Research has shown they are right up with monkeys, dolphins and elephants when it comes to intelligence - so they really know what's going on - all we have to do is be patient.

We have to let them learn our language, while we learn theirs. Their language is mostly in actions and body language.

I'm not kidding, if you put the guideline in place that has been outlined earlier you'll find he's going to cooperate a lot sooner than making him miserable will do.

Think about it - wouldn't you respond better to being loved than being unsure of what's coming next?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
i understand i opened the cage door and surprisingly he came out but its hard getting him back in any suggestions
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.

All you should have to do is leave the door open, have food and water inside and he'll go back in on his own when he wants to.

Next time he comes out try to keep him with you - like on your arm or shoulder. Having his wings trimmed (not clipped ) helps make it easier to have him on and with you.

A wing trim should allow the bird to gently, gracefully glide to the floor or nearest surface and not flop or crash to the ground.


You're doing a very good job by the way. Keep it up!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
well he was scared when i took him out he flapped all over when people moved he ran under the couch i had to trap him to gt him back and basicly grab him
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.

It was a good try anyway. Next time do it when it's just the two of you. Too much activity can be frightening to a little guy like this


--- Be careful about grabbing. Birds can quickly suffocate when we hold them too tightly, especially around the chest.

If he's acting 'off' at all, staying at the bottom of his cage or open mouth breathing then don't delay getting him seen by his vet.


--- We make sure our birds are seen once or even twice a year for check ups. Just like having children, it's important to follow through on doctor's visits.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
when we put him back in the cage he kept trying to get out he actually started lifting the door lol i was shocked but now hes all over the cage makin noise is that a good thing?
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
It sure does seem like he's relaxed enough to be himself doesn't it?

-- Clip a closepin on the door so he can't lift and escape.

Don't forget to see the link 4AnimalCare for more about food options, behavior, cage set ups and pretty much all the basics and some fun things with your little buddy. I think you're well on your way to a very good lifetime! Just remember, positive reinforcement gets positive results.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
well started eatn out my hand this morning and when i got home from work he did it again i wonder if hes getting comfortable and i want to know if its a good thing if he stays wit his feathers always puffed up it makes him look sick and i think hes real tired because he falls asleep in my hand and as soon as i finish hand feeding him he went on the stick and went right to sleep
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
-- How do his droppings look? Are they still normal?

-- Is the temp in the home at 72 or higher?

-- I'd be more comfortable knowing he had a vet. Just a 'well bird visit'. Where I am a first time patient exam is only $45. The peace of mind is incredible and having someone to call in case of emergency is a lot better than having to look for someone when time is of the essence.

He sounds adorable though. You've already bonded to him haven't you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
he seems fine just eats alot plus my apartment is always kinda cool so he must be alil cool so his feathers stay puffed up but he is adorable my girl loves hime we call him sweet lol and i am attached to him i want to train him to stay on my finger or even to fly to my shoulder when his wings grow back
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
-- It's best to keep his wings trimmed all his life. This doesn't mean he won't be able to "fly" - he just won't be able to get lift or distance. That means he won't be one of hundreds of wayward and sadly lost birds that happen every year when a door or window opens unexpectedly.

-- You can put a full spectrum light up near his cage for additional heat and health. A double bonus!



There is more information about using fluorescent lighting, UV and UV-B here:


www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=15&cat=1794&articleid=3361




It’s important to avoid the lighting with magnetic ballast and choose electronic ballast for less flickering and better UV-A, UV-B balance.



With magnetic ballast fluorescents a bird can see the rapid flickering that we can’t and it can stress them out much more than the benefit of the ultraviolet provided. Of course electronic ballast fluorescents are usually more expensive, but considering the savings in overall vet bills – very worth it.



The information about ballast should be on the packaging.



At least 1-2 hours of full spectrum lighting is suggested with up to 12 hours acceptable when the best quality bulbs are used.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.
my bird died i donnoe why or what happened but i bought a new one hes a even younger male it was hard to tell what it was because he was so young i hope i have better luck wit this guy
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
Oh no, I'm so sorry! I know how easy it is to bond to them even in a short time.

At least you have all sorts of information about how to care for him. Please be sure to establish a vet for this one early on. Just like our children, our pets need regular check ups and someone to call if they get sick.

-- It helps to remind ourselves that this is a very intelligent animal, capable of a bond that is as close to "love" as any human feels. In nature they not only mate for a lifetime, but mourn the loss of their mate if they lose her.

-- Studies in the last couple of decades have repeatedly shown they are self-aware. They know that they "are".

Only apes, dolphins and elephants - along with humans of course - are believed to be that evolved.

-- And we know that the value of a life is priceless, no matter what --

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX both of you a long, happy and healthy life. I have a feeling you'll get it too Smile





Customer: replied 4 years ago.
this time hes not dying i know alt starting off he will b fine but sice he was so young it was hard to tell his sex
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
i love thislittle guy he is really really active and fun he plays alot and aint really scared i trimmed his wings i open the door he comes out and he tries to fly but i was on the couch and he flew to me but couldnt quite make it lol he still alil scared but he doesnt go crazy when i go near him he tries to move i guess cause he still alittle scared but he really loves makin noise hes noisey i love it hes really hyper so i know hes gonna be real playful
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
This is the BEST news ever! Make sure he doesn't flop to the ground after he tries to fly though ok? His landings should be gentle ones.

-- Other than that - GREAT job and keep it up. No one deserves it more than you after what you've been through.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
now he lets me stick my hand in the cage and rub his belly i think he likes that whats another spot thats soothing to touch him at? and when he makes noise i make a noise that sounds similar and he goes louder and i go louder and we keep doing it i think he likes knowing that im paying attention to him
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
The top of his head and back of his neck. He should bow his head and maybe make a little sound as you gently 'scritch' his feathers here. Like a little tiny scratching or occasional light tug at the feathers in these areas to mimic how another bird would help him groom.

When he's had enough he'll either move away or will turn and nip at your finger. It's not out of aggression or anger and you shouldn't discourage it - it's birdy language for "ok, thanks, let's do something else now"

Sometimes he'll just want a little nap after interacting like this or to ride around on your shoulder or even top of your head.


---- Keep in mind that he'll need to poop every 20 minutes or so (it's different for each bird so note your particular bird's schedule) - you'll also get to know what he does just before pooping.

When it's about to happen, hold him over a trash can or newspaper - or paper towel and give the verbal command that you'll always use for this. I just say "poop!", but I've heard others use phrases like "bombs away!" or "incoming", even one lady who would announce "you've got mail" - it was hilarious.

Once he poops to your command make an exhuberant display of praise. Do this every time - even when he's not with you but you happen to catch him pooping while he's in his cage or anywhere else. In short order he'll be as house trained a bird can get.

This doesn't mean he won't have accidents, but if you keep up on it and take time out here and there to be sure he poops, you can keep him on you with far less chance of surprises on the back of your shirt or furniture

Enjoy !

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
ok thanks i dont remember you answering whats the easiest way to train him to go on your finger?
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 4 years ago.
Toward the top: 02/24/2010 @ 9:06 p.m. - the 2nd "answer"

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  • S. August Abbott, CAS

    Certified Avian Specialist

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    Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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