Caring for your New ParakeetA parakeet is just about the PERFECT pet for a first-time owner. They're very easy to take care of. They're very intelligent and can even learn how to talk. And they're inexpensive, going from between $20 to $50 depending on the type you wish to purchase.
Make sure you read about Buying a Parakeet first for suggestions on how to choose this little bird, and what sort of cage to bring home with it. So now you have a nice, big cage, with fresh food and fresh water in it, some newspapers lining the bottom of it, and a nervous but alert little feathered creature within. What do you do now?
Well first, think of your first day of school. Wasn't it scary? You didn't know anybody and didn't know what you should do. It's just like that for this little bird. It's afraid, everything is new, and it doesn't have anywhere "safe" to run. So let it learn that its cage is safe. Put the cage in the room you're in most of the time - not off in a corner somewhere that people only go when they sleep. So if you're always in the kitchen, put the cage in the kitchen. If you're always in the computer room, put it in the computer room. But put it in a corner of the room where it can both see and hear everything, and also have a 'nook' that feels safe. Drape a cloth over the wall-side of the cage to give it even more safety. Birds like to be 'up high' to be safe from cats and predators, so now your bird can sit high in the cage and have the cloth around it on a few sides. That is very safe feeling. It also keeps out drafts for when the bird sleeps.
Keep loud noises down. Talk normally, so the bird isn't afraid of the silence. Birds get VERY paranoid when it's completely silent, because this normally means (in the wild) that some sort of predator is around. So play soft music, talk quietly amongst yourselves and keep an eye on the bird. Eventually he'll realize that he's not going to be eaten. He'll start examining his cage, maybe taking a bite of food or a sip of water. He'll explore his new little world and see that really, it's not that bad. It's actually kind of nice.
Once your parakeet has gotten over the initial fright, keep him reminded that you are a part of his new world. Don't run to the cage, don't make loud noises. But wander over and talk sweetly to him. Tell him he's a good bird, a pretty bird. Parakeets love words with 'hard' sounds in them like K and B and T. They learn those words very quickly. If your parakeet was hand raised, he may already be ready for finger-sitting, but if you got a bin-o-budgies bird, it may take a while. So spend the next two weeks focussing on this, because this is key. See Training your Bird to Sit on your Finger for help with that.
Once your bird is finger-trained, you can let him out to explore his new world! Make sure ALL doors are closed and it's even good to make a special sign to hang on each door saying DO NOT OPEN. You want to make sure it's extremely clear that a bird is loose so that the door stays shut. Birds love to fly! And now that your bird knows his home is the "safe place to return to" and also that your finger is the place to fly to, you can know that his explorations of the room will end with him returning home again.
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