Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Posted Jun 23, 2012
Parakeets do love to chitchat, especially when they're young, but won't be able to mimic any words until they're more mature. At night, this could be a significant problem, but is one that is very easily fixed. Placing a sheet over the cage at night will silence the bird and put them at ease to get some rest. This is also a great way to calm them down if they are especially flustered (like when there are visitors in the house).
This is not a good pet for anyone who likes to smoke. Because birds have much smaller lungs and are much more sensitive in general, cigarette smoking or any other airborne pollutants will be extremely damaging to birds. I've seen parakeets pull out their tail feathers and throw themselves into the sides of their cage in response to the pain of being exposed to cigarette smoke.
Parakeets are fairly intelligent and curious, though, like any other new pet, will be shy when you first bring them home. Allow the cage to be the bird's sanctuary and make sure there are plenty of interesting things to explore. For the first few weeks of the parakeet being home, be cautious about respecting his or her space inside. The cage should have a removable tray at the bottom to clean poop out without having to reach inside of it. Feed, gravel (if not mixing it in with the feed), and water containers should either be placed close to the door of the cage or should be accessible from the outside to minimize how much you will need to reach in.
In order to digest their seeds, birds need a steady supply of gravel to help their stomachs grind up the seeds. Gravel is sold in pet stores specifically for bird consumption and can either be mixed in with seed or sprinkled on the floor of the cage. I recommend mixing it with the seed while the parakeet is adjusting to his or her new home and then just adding a sprinkle of gravel on the floor of the cage once your parakeet is comfortable with you.
Place the bird cage in a low traffic area of the house. Don't place it near the front door as it will be very stressful for your parakeet. Parakeets are social animals, and so, you should either consider getting a second one or placing the cage somewhere that you will be enjoying quieter activities (such as a home office or a reading room). If getting two birds, ensure that they had already been sharing a cage before you place them together. If they don't know each other before making it to your home, they may become aggressive with each other.
Once your parakeet seems much less shy and is happily ringing bells and throwing toys inside of the cage, gauge your parakeet's level of comfort by first reaching inside of the cage with a stick roughly the thickness of your pinky finger (or a bit thinner). Reach in very slowly and ensure that it's within your bird's line of vision so as not to surprise it. If your parakeet shifts away, then you will need to take things a little slower. Speak in a soft voice to them and keep noise levels at a reasonable level so as to not spook the bird.
Many parakeets enjoy the sound of music, so try playing classical music or something with a soft beat to see what your parakeet might enjoy. If you strike the right tune, your bird may even treat you to a little dance. You should also see what fruits your parakeet has a taste for. Try cutting up mango, carrots, lettuce, sprouts, zucchini, papaya, apples, watermelon, and peanuts and giving them to your parakeet. Do this new food at a time and no more than two new things a week to avoid upsetting your new parakeet's stomach. New foods should be introduced after the first week since the stress of a new environment combined with too many different new foods can upset their systems. Do not hand feed the parakeet until you've been able to train them. Instead, offer the treat in their food dish or place the new food on a popsicle stick and offer it to your parakeet that way. Otherwise, you will scare the bird and it will bite you. Parakeets also have a nasty habit of not letting go once they chomp down, so avoid getting your fingers near them for the first several weeks.
Training parakeets needs to start out very slowly. The first step, once your parakeet is comfortable with you being around the cage is to get the parakeet comfortable with you placing a stick in front of it. When it steps onto the stick, do not move for a minute or so and then offer your parakeet its favorite treat. This will allow your bird to associate you with yummy food and will make training easier. From there, step 2 is to get the parakeet to step on the stick then move the stick a small distance away from its original perch. Step 3, do the same, but this time, move your parakeet out of its cage. Progress very slowly, treating each time, until eventually, you will be able to use your finger. Once you are able to reach inside, get the parakeet to step onto your finger, and then move it outside of the cage, you will begin to be able to teach it other tricks. Don't rush this very first part of the training as it is very important for establishing trust between you and your new pet.
Parakeets can be very interesting pets for those who are dedicated to training them. Even children will find them to be very fun if they are the type who can stay focused on making sure the parakeet feels comfortable and safe. For those who enjoy noisier activities, smoke, or have little patience, parakeets are not the best pet for you and you should consider a different option.