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 Post subject: What to do about Pearl
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:14 am 
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Pearl is very challenging, and always has been. Who knew a tiny little budgie could cause so much trouble? When we got her, we really just wanted a companion for Bluebell. She turned out to be a crazy, hyper, wild bird. She flies at the other birds and scares the heck out of them. Poor Ducky is still constantly being sought after. She tries to mate with Kermit, who has gotten so fed up with her that he lunges after Pearl as she screeches in denial. Bluebell won’t even go anywhere near that beast. I can understand why she prefers to stay in her cage. Pearl persistently annoys Kermit, even when he pushes her away multiple times. When I try to give attention to Ducky, Pearl immediately pounces and chases Ducky away from me as poor Ducky flies for her life.

Apart from terrorizing the other birds, Pearl is a nightmare to get back in the cage. I’ve had to go as far as turning off the lights and throwing a sheet over her. Getting her back in the cage depends on whether she’s hungry and willing enough to be lured in with food. I always put seeds in her food bowl to reward her when she goes in. If she’s not cooperating, I end up having to chase her all over the room, which can damage any trust. She is not bonded to me and flies away from my hands. The only way I can get her to step up is by bribing her with seeds or millet. And she was hand raised, which is very rare with budgies.

I realize that Pearl is lonely. She wants a friend, but she’s much too hyper for Bluebell to ever consider putting up with her. My birds simply don’t make suitable companions for her. Also, the reason she hates going back in the cage is because she wants to be out with the other birds. Pearl knows that she will be alone when locked up. She constantly lands on top of Kermit’s cage, which is dangerous because he could go after her toes. I’m not willing to get another budgie to satisfy Pearl’s needs. I already made that mistake when I got her as a friend for Bluebell.

My main problem is that Pearl is making my other birds’ quality of life worse, and I am unable to interact with them while Pearl is out of the cage. She’ll just want to get involved and scare them away. And it’s such a hassle to put her in the cage that I end up having less time to spend with my birds that love me. Sometimes all I want to do is cuddle with Ducky and be quiet for a moment. So here are my options:
- Seperate out of cage time. I don’t like this option because it means dividing my time between Pearl and the other birds. I don’t want to continue taking time away from my birds who are bonded to me. But then again, Pearl is making the time they do have with me not quality time.
- Keep Pearl in the cage. I don’t think this is fair to Pearl because all she wants to do is socialize with another bird.
-Clip Pearl’s wings. I am not a fan of clipping, but I may need to do it with Pearl to calm down her attitude. If I clip her, she’ll stop flying at the other birds and scaring them away. She’ll allow me to interact with them freely, and she’ll be a lot easier to put back in the cage. But I don’t think it would be fair to keep her clipped. She loves flying, and it’s a way for her to let out all that energy.
- Rehome Pearl. I do think she would be happier in an aviary with a flock of other budgies. She would get to fly free and her social needs would be satisfied. I would not, however, rehome her to someone who would keep her in a cage alone. I know she would suffer terribly as an only bird.

Any advice would be appreciated. Please help me as I don’t know what to do with this bird!! She has made my life so much more difficult, and taken away from my other birds. I always told myself that she would “settle down” but clearly she has not. I am going out of town for 10 days and I have no idea what the caretaker will do with her. I am thinking of clipping her right now, but it breaks my heart to do that to a bird.


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 Post subject: Re: What to do about Pearl
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:22 pm 
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When making a decision on "to clip or not to clip", you have to look at the effect that the decision has on the quality of the bird's life. In this case, clipping is likely to make her quality of life better. She will be able to get out of the cage more and interact more with the other birds, and you will be able to work with her more easily and maybe get her better socialized.

You don't have to clip her so much that she can't fly at all, just do it enough that it slows her down substantially. She'll have to work harder to fly, which means that she'll burn off more energy when she does fly. You can clip her in stages to find out how many feathers you need to take to get the level of flight power that you want. Start out by taking fewer feathers than you think you need to, see how well she can fly, take another feather on each side if you think you need to then see how well she can fly, and continue doing this until it seems right. Since she's good at leading you on a chase and will probably still be able to fly pretty well after the preliminary clip, it would be helpful to do this at night in a fairly small room. Birds tend to calm down in the dark and usually need at least a few seconds to be ready to go again when the lights come on. So you can turn out the lights for a few minutes after she's landed in a safe place, then turn them back on and try to nab her before she takes off again.

Humans can see in the dark better than birds can so if there's enough light for you to see where she is, you might be able to catch her without turning the light on. But it's best to let her calm down for a few minutes first, so she doesn't try to fly away from you in the dark.

Have you tried using hormone control techniques on her? That might eliminate the mating attempts and other hormone-related behavior. The "long nights" treatment works pretty well on most cockatiels, and I'd expect it to work well on budgies too. There's information on it here: http://www.littlefeatheredbuddies.com/i ... mones.html



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 Post subject: Re: What to do about Pearl
PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:20 am 
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Ah, yes, I think she’s very hormonal and searching for a mate. Now it makes sense why she chases the other birds around. I do cover her cage for 12 hours each night, I usually put her to bed at 10 pm and wake her up at 10 am. I will try putting her to bed earlier so she gets 14 hours of darkness.

As to the clipping, I’ll probably end up doing it when I come back from my trip. And I won’t clip her so much that she can’t fly. I’m guessing I’ll trim about 5 primaries on each wing? She’s a very good flier and has never been clipped before. Kermit was lightly clipped when I got him, I think he had about 5 flight feathers trimmed per wing and he could still fly across the room and even gain some height when he flew. Kermit is such a good flier now, zooming everywhere, he’s so precise in the air - I don’t think the clip should have any long term effects on Pearl’s flight. I’ve heard about birds being clipped before they learn to fly and as a result, they never learn how.


Last edited by FlyBirdiesFly on Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What to do about Pearl
PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:44 am 
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She already knows how to fly, so she'll fly just as well in the future if you let her wing feathers grow back in. The problem with clipping babies when they're too young to fly is that there's a certain developmental stage where they're supposed to start learning to fly, just like there's a certain developmental stage where human babies are supposed to start learning to walk. If they can't do it at the right time, it's much harder for them to do it later on because their brain has moved past that stage of readiness.

The most important thing with the long nights treatment is that it has to be dark enough inside the cage to seem like night. If you put a light cover on the cage in a brightly lit room it can actually make things worse, because it's nice and cozy and dim inside. Just like a nest.

You need a nice dark room (a closet will work as long as there's enough air flow to breathe, or a room without windows), or a cover that's too thick to let much light in. You can test the effectiveness of the cover by draping it over your own head and looking toward a bright light. A lot of covers let a lot more light through than you'd expect. It doesn't have to be completely pitch black inside, you just need enough darkness to seem like night.



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