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Go Back   Talk Budgies Forums > Off Topic > Lighthearted and Upbeat Chit Chat Only > Other Birds


Other Birds Do you own other birds? Or are you thinking about exploring other species? Chat here.
Thread Description:Any suggestions or references welcome!

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  #1  
Old 02-15-2017, 09:56 PM
lbeckman (Leah)
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Default Blind Cockatiel Foster

I'm picking up two foster cockatiels tomorrow, both female, and one is blind. This is the pair that was found outside in a cage a few months ago. Neither is hand-tame, though I'm told the sighted one is ready. The expectation is that they would come to me when I had fewer budgie fosters, so I searched online before for information and didn't find much.

If anybody has had any experience with blind birds I would love to hear about it. I'm (obviously) going to let them settle in the first week or so before I do anything other than chitchat with them. I also want to observe the one who is blind and see how much of the cage she uses. I'll try to figure out where to put treat cups so that she'll be likely to get her fair share and see if I can start getting her used to the idea of that. I think clicker training will be particularly critical with her, though helpful with both of them. As I see how she uses the cage, I'll try to figure out if any more modifications to the cage would be helpful. Other people have been doing the same thing, of course, so it may already be optimized for her.

I'll post pictures of them soon!
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:17 PM
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That is very good of you to take in a blind bird. Do post more about how it is going.
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Old 02-16-2017, 06:44 PM
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Leah, how wonderful that you're fostering these tiels! They couldn't have found a better foster parent

The only thing I would say is consistency is key for blind birds, ensuring that nothing ever changes place in their cage will help them feel comfortable
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Old 02-16-2017, 06:49 PM
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I wish I had some great suggestions for you, Leah, but I have no experience with this condition so I can't help.

I'll be sending lots of positive energy. I know you will handle this challenge just as well as all the others you've accepted.

We'll be looking forward to pictures once the two are all settled in.

Best wishes
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:31 PM
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Smile Blind

Hi, What a blessing that you are willing to help these little ones.
We currently have a 5year old yellow face violet male budgie, We call him Apollo. He became blind over time and we think it was started after he bumped his head on a cabinet while in flight. He functions well with the flock and we rotate members of our flock in to his special needs cage for visits for a couple of months and then bring a new pair in. Teddy our special needs hen is with him all of the time and we see them preening each other but they are not so bonded that they do not interact with the other birds. We have a policy to raise young budgies with other budgies up to a year old with hand picked mature males to teach our babies how to be grown up budgies. We also encourage bonding experiences. There are several mature budgies that have grown up with Apollo and they happen to be related to each other from 2 different clutches. Apollo and our yellow face sky dilute, Sunny Sky have a very strong bond and are best buds. I am not sure how much sky comprehends Apollo's eye issues but they still sit together and call for each other when we have one or both out to have people bonding time. We encourage Apollo to hold to our fingers or a dowel/perch that we use as a retrieval stick that all of our birds are taught to come to when they get in an area that is difficult to reach. So simple and yet it is one of the best activities we have had them learn. It is really important now that Apollo is blind. He comes to our finger when ever he feels our finger brush his chest or the back of his legs. We call this "step up" or "step back" when we teach the command. This is associated with being safe and many times our birds will wait for us to bring the stick to them.

With a blind budgie something may cause the bird to panic and fly up like a flock that flies up when in possible danger from noise or action calls the whole flock to action. This is hard for a blind bird to comprehend and so it will fly high and or side ways with no visual signals of what is in the way of its flight path. We have to be very alert with Apollo and watch for signals that he as preparing to fly. Apollo gets antsy and looks around over his shoulders trying to see where to go. Good landings are soft on a chair or into the screen curtains we have over doorways as a precaution to block areas we feel are not safe for budgies to fly. Like kitchen or near an open exterior door. Apollo has had several panic attacks when he lands and is disoriented. This scares me a lot, because it is just short of a seizure response. I immediately hold him safely on my chest with a millet spray. He stays cuddled in my hand until he decides he feels safe enough to climb on one of my fingers and start eating millet. This our signal "I'm OK mom". Most of the time I catch the prep to fly and either cover his wings or encourage him to practice "wingies " like our chicks do by flying in place on a finger or perch until they are ready to fly. First flight. is a celebration like a birthday for us as we watch a youngster on its first flight. I feel the wonder of it all, like That little chick. As I calm down with my brave Apollo, boy, I try to think of the wonder of flight and give thanks that Apollo Has experienced the joy of first flight.

We also Take several members of the flock for training in our round picnic table mosquito net. it hangs over our queen sized bed and safely restricts our chicks or special needs birds. Apollo loves to climb to the top of the net and hang upside down in the very center of the top. We encourage the birds to fly by turning the net like a merry-go-round. We continue until they fly down to a portable perch toy on the bed for a rest. We just throw a clean sheet over the bed spread. and wash as needed.The net gets sprayed and brushed off with the out door hose and sprayed with vinegar.

We check Apollos weight regularly and he stays at a healthy 51 gms. We keep the cage furnishings in the same place and he gets around fine climbing the wires. Our special needs cage has close ladder like wires on the opposite ends and the wider pattern on front and back. He is able to navigate the entire cage and uses the swings and plays with toys. He sleeps more than the other normal sighted budgies but both my husband I have him out daily with and without Sky who flies freely and trained him self to fly to his home perch when he was a young budgie who was acting like a homing pigeon. We make sure Apollo gets plenty of activity. He dances on my fingers and sings along with the flock and the music on the DVD that plays all day for them.

I think it will be important for a blind bird to have soothing consistent sound to augment the safety sounds that a flock makes. We also cover sides, top and back with a light blanket to reduce mess and as a safety support so the budgies do not have to worry about predators above and behind. It is good the 'blind 'tiel will have a companion and help in the adjustment period I would make the cage as big as a normal flight cage for 2 /'tiels. English budgies are not as large as 'tiels but they are similar in many ways. Others should be able to provide guidance in helping your little girl adjust. You may find that she will bond with you very well . Apollo and I have become closer as his blindness progressed. Blessings, Jo Ann

Check with Anne Marie -Wiki leaks, for clicker training suggestions. Watch her Budgie Wiki do his clicker training on her video. It is pretty amazing.
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Old 02-18-2017, 10:59 AM
lbeckman (Leah)
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Jo Ann, thank you for lengthy response! This is going to be all the more difficult since she wasn't tame before losing her eyesight. I also have no idea what her flying it like. It's going to be a major challenge after she is more comfortable to get her enough (even some) exercise. Just getting her hand tame and comfortable with people is going to be a major challenge.

They seem like very sweet birds. I just had a cup of coffee with them and Pearl (sighted) did lots of nice wing stretches for me. Sundance chatted with me a bit and they both did some very industrious preening. I complimented them on how nice they looked afterwards. Sundance seems quite open to interactions, but nobody has been able to get her past her startle reaction. They've tried to get her to take millet, but she doesn't seem to know it's there until you touch her beak with it and you can imagine what she thinks of that.

Sundance definitely takes her cues from Pearl, as one would expect. If Pearl does that kind of endearing cockatiel hiss, Sundance follows suit--she may not be sure what she's hissing at, but she wants to do her part to ward off danger. Thus, winning Pearl's trust first makes sense. This week is obviously just chitchatting and figuring out where to put treat cups etc. I'm been watching how Pearl navigates the cage and have ideas about where to put things for her to find them...though I should probably hold off on that...I don't want to freak her out.

This seems like a daunting task, but they are doing very well for their second day here and I will try to focus on that!
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Old 02-18-2017, 12:30 PM
lbeckman (Leah)
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And I increased my street cred with them by bringing cockatiel Poppy down to say hi.
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Old 02-18-2017, 01:14 PM
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Leah, with regards to millet, I wonder if it's better to have a spray by her feet so she can feel it there?
It might not startle her so much. Or perhaps if Pearl was given some beside her, she would hear the sound of it and search for it being close to her?

The only other thing I can suggest is contacting Karen from The Natural Bird company ans asking her if she's had any dealings with a bird with no sight. She's very helpful lady and they custom make items for birds with disabilities. I'm sure if she has had any dealings with a blind bird, she would share any tips she has.
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Old 02-18-2017, 01:59 PM
lbeckman (Leah)
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Excellent suggestions. I have to ask their former foster parront how she gave them millet. Even though she hadn't succeeded in getting Sundance to take it from her, she said they do know what it is.

At the moment, even touching her feet startles her (I shouldn't have tried, but had to just once....) and Pearl won't take it from me either, but that's not surprising at this point. They haven't hissed at me even once today, so progress is being made.
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:59 AM
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I made the first very minor changes to their cage. I added a second food dish--really for Pearl, because I had seen minor competition between them for food. There were three ladders in the cage and I had only seen either of them-Sundance-use one of them, so I took the other two out. They were cluttering the cage and needed to be washed in any case. The one Sundance uses a lot also needs to be washed...hope she doesn't mind a short-term substitute.

There's an ideal place to put a hanging shredder toy, in-between two perches that they use a lot. The one I would like to put there is pretty large. On reflection, I think I'll start with a budgie size one so that I don't freak out Sundance.

Pearl took millet from the former foster parront, so I'll just patiently wait for her to take if from me as well. (Really, patience isn't always my strong suit... have had to learn it.)
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