Getting a Second BirdBirds naturally live in flocks. Especially Parakeets. Back in Australia where parakeets hang out in the wild, there are huge flocks of these delightful birds that, only a century or two ago, would darken the sky and look like a cloud when they flew overhead. Nature has geared them towards a mentality of not living alone. For a parakeet, being alone means you could easily be picked off by a predator. Being with a flock means you are safe and cozy.
True, if you want to teach your parakeet how to talk, you want to start with a single, male, very young parakeet. The parakeet has to think of you as its flock, and want to talk the way you do. However, once you get it talking (or give up after 8 or 12 months), if you will not be home with it for several hours each day, it is time to consider getting your bird a companion.
The first step is to get another young bird. Make sure it's got stripes on its forehead, and that it's as young as possible. You want it to be able to adjust easily to your current bird. Next, get a little cage for it, so it can have its own spot while the two birds get used to each other. It can be an inexpensive $10 one - just somewhere for it to have as its own. Keep the cages close, but keep the birds separate. You want the birds to learn to trust each other without feeling territorial. During this period you can work on making sure both keets are fully hand trained.
Once they're relatively friendly, open both cages (with the doors and windows closed of course!) and let the birds get to know each other. With their own cage to retreat to for safety, they should get to become friends.
Now start letting both of them share the bigger cage. Make sure you have two of everything - two food dishes, two water dishes, two cuttlebones. You don't want them to have to fight for who gets to eat! The more they feel that they're both being taken care of, the happier they both will be. And, once they're content living together, they'll be a 'flock' and will be happy!
Note that I've read some nonsense on other websites about how multiple parakeets must all be male. This is not true. I have had male parakeets, female parakeets, and mixed groups. My current three parakeets are all female. They are quite happy together and preen each other! If you raise your parakeets in a stress-free, happy environment where there's enough food and bathtubs for all, they will get along fine.
I do want to caveat that you want to make sure all parakeets are of the same sex unless you are prepared to be fully involved with breeding. There is no way to prevent male and female parakeets from creating viable eggs. You can try to discourage them, of course, but there is always the chance of babies. If you do somehow end up with male and female keets, and want to take on that responsibility, then make sure you talk to your vet about it, get them the right food, and make all necessary safety arrangements before anything starts to happen.
What if I Cannot Afford / Cannot Have a Second Bird?
There are always going to be situations where you have a single bird. Let's say you have two birds who were together for twelve long, loving years and one one of them has just passed away. The remaining bird is elderly and you feel the stress of a change would be too much for her. Or let's say you're a young eight year old girl and your parents have given you one bird - and one bird only - and this is to be your pet. How can you be the best pet mommy possible for your single bird?
The first thing is to be aware that parakeets are by their nature flock birds. They do not like to be alone. Try not, if at all possible, to put your bird off in a remote room where they will rarely have interaction with living creatures. Instead, put your keet in the most populated room in the house. That way their "household flock" is always around them, keeping them company.
Next, spend as much quality time with your keet as possible. Invest the time to hand train her. Talk with her. Play with her. Sing songs to her, tell her stories, nuzzle her head. Play music for her when you can't be around, and have pictures of you for her to look at. Do your best to help your keet know that you are her flock - and that you love her!
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