Total cockatiel personality change after death of cage mate – what can be done?

Total Cockatiel Personality Change After Death of Cage Mate – What Can Be Done?

“Poor Popcorn”, it seems we say that a lot. She has such high expectations of us and when we cannot fulfill them for her, she lets us know, but unfortunately we can’t explain “why” in bird speak.

Since we have had her, she has gotten us well trained to serve her, she wants attention when she wants it and not most other times. BUT she does want people time every day.

She loves me but she truly loves Mitch more. He did not think so, but she does. For example, I leave early in the morning for work, before they get up in the morning.

 

Her timer goes off at 9 am and she starts chirping loudly which helps to wake Mitch who works late into the evening thus sleeps in, in the mornings. 

 

White cockatiel in towel cabinet 

He lets her out, they go to the bathroom together, she supervises his activities, then they go into the kitchen for a bite or some tea.

Mitch makes her a slice of dry toast which she has grown to expect. She barely nibbles more than a few crumbs off it, but she expects it nonetheless.

She follows him while he dresses and sits by him for scritches while he checks the PC for emails and such. He puts her in her cage, turns on the radio, and comes to work.

In the warm months, she goes into her carrier and comes with him to work where we have a big cage all set up for her so she can watch us and everything else during the day. A nice bright full-spectrum bulb above her cage keeps her active and cheerful.

 Popcorn albino cockatiel in cage at the birdie boutique

 

Well, recently as you know, Mitch had to take off for 6 days to New Mexico for a trip to make arrangements for his 85-year-old mother, Arlene (my middle name, weird right?) to move back to Chicago after 22 years in New Mexico.

Well, no one explained any of this to Popcorn and she was despondent. He left midday on a Friday which meant that he was not at work, he did not come home with me and he was not there to greet her like he does 5 days a week.

She let me let her out of the cage, I gave her a little piece of Lafeber Avi-Cake, but she would have no part of anything else because she was waiting for Mitch. She sat quietly on top of her cage near the door he would usually walk through. He did not come.

I went away to visit with friends for the weekend so I bundled her up in her carrier, not an easy feat as he usually is better than I at it, she lets him pick her up, cup her body, and put her in the carrier, me, she flies off, I had to corner her in one room and wrangle her like a bucking bronco into the carrier. Once inside she is fine again, as she has food, water, Booda perches to sit on, and a big opening to sit and look out of.

 

She also has a nice big cage at our campground site where we go on weekends now and then. It has everything she could want and she gets to be with us.

 

Well, this time “just me”. She dealt with the trip away, still expecting Mitch to come in and giving me the stink eye, then we came home Sunday. Once in the house, she looked for Mitch again, no luck. She had no interest in me until later in the evening and came by for some scritches. Then bedtime. 

 
White cockatiel on bathrobe/leg getting scritches

 

 

Monday came and I had to leave her locked up at home alone as I leave so early (she also does not like to get up when I do), but I also had to uncover her and turn on the radio for her, then left for work. Her light comes on a couple of hours later.

 

I came home at the end of the day and she chirped like mad as usual but looked past me hoping to see Mitch of course. Such a sad-looking little bird.

She would come to me for attention but nowhere near as much as she would for Mitch. She reluctantly would come to me for some but she always waited so long, it is almost birdie bedtime when her lights go off.

Sometimes she knows her light is going to go off and she will fly to us for scritches in hopes we won’t notice how late it is. Just like a child.

Finally, Wednesday night about 9:30 pm Mitch came home. I had already covered her up but I heard a little chirp from under the cover and let her out for a few minutes. She was thrilled to see him but was fine with going back to bed.

 

The next day well, she was a very happy little bird again, I never heard such loud chirping from 100 grams of feathers before but she was so happy Mitch was back.

It is so hard for us to get our little FIDS (feathered kids) to understand what is going on. Yes, they do miss us, but they don’t know why we are gone and have not returned yet.

 

Birds can tell time, but they don’t know what day it is. But they can get used to a schedule that makes for a very happy bird. They will wait patiently when they know something is going to happen.

 

In time, out time, playtime, meals, it all helps to make for a better bird as a pet. There is less screaming, less aggression and they are calmer. They just want to know what is gonna happen when.

 

When we first brought her home she wanted to walk across our plates at dinner times, nope, not gonna happen. I would make her a plate of her own and set it on her open drop-down cage door. In the beginning, she was not interested and wanted our plates instead. 

 Popcorn white cockatiel eating from large steak bone on cage door


She soon learned if she did that, she would be locked up with the dish I prepared for her and not let her out until we were done eating, she now, when she sees us bringing in dishes for dinner, will fly to her cage door as she knows she is getting something too.

If she does not like what we gave her she will fly over and see what we have, then seeing nothing special will go back to her cage or wander the floor.

They are just so smart. I just wish I knew a therapist who spoke bird.

 

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

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