When Birds Prefer The New Bird To Their Humans…

When Birds Prefer The New Bird To Their Humans…

 January 31st, 2011
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Male cockatiel

Q:  I have a seven year old male cockatiel, Cubby, that I have always had a close bond with. We were best friends until six months ago when I got another cockatiel (male) to keep him company.  Now he wants is to spend all of his time with his new best friend, and he doesn’t seem to like me any more.
Mallory, H., New London, CT

A:  I had a similar experience with my cockatiels. Tinky came into our lives as a reward to my daughter for bringing up her grades in school. He was such a joy to have around, and was so well socialized to everyone in the family that we would sometimes argue over who got play with him. We eventually decided to get another, not intending so much for him to be company for Tinky, as there was no short supply of that for this dear bird, but it would give us another cockatiel to love and dote upon. As it was, Tinky had a daily itinerary that divided his out of cage time among the different family members.

Tinky and DeeDee

When we brought DeeDee home, (also a male, but our young daughter was assigned to naming him and couldn’t be talked out of this one), he was kept in a separate cage but in the same room as Tinky (this was some time before quarantine was recognized as a necessity it avian husbandry). The two immediately took to each other and spent much time clinging to the cage sides and calling to each other. Eventually, they were housed together.

Not too long after the two birds were sharing a cage, we began to notice some changes in Tinky in terms of his willingness to interact with the family. DeeDee was impatient with our attempts to bring him around to being a family bird. This was a disheartening period for us.  After all, our intentions were to have two birds to love and share life with and now it seemed we had none.  Somehow, we needed to keep Tinky interactive, and persuade DeeDee to be interactive, while still allowing them each others company. We discussed a strategy, and settled on one.  Back to the itinerary.

Male cockatiel

What we did was not complicated, but it was effective. We decided, for the time being, to put the birds back into separate cages but this time keeping them in separate rooms. We divided up their out of cage time amongst the family members, as before, but this time the schedule gave Tinky time with each of us, the same allotment for DeeDee, and time for the two birds together with each of us.

The alone time spent with Tinky helped to re-establish and maintain our bonds with him. The time spent with DeeDee was helpful in trust building with this new family member. They had their special time together, in our presence, which gave DeeDee the opportunity to watch Tinky interact with his human family. This served to show DeeDee that humans are safe and trusted by Tinky, and that we can be tons of fun. Sometimes we come bearing delicious treats.


Once we felt confident that we had completed our mission, the two birds were once again caged together. Tinky has remained loyal to his humans, bur while DeeDee bonded to a degree with our daughter, he did not with my husbamd or myself.  He is friendly but still aloof , definitely preferring Tinky’s company over ours. This is fine with me.  He is polite and cooperative when the situation calls for such behavior, so I try not to have hurt feelings over his choice for companionship.

We were mistaken in our thinking that a second cockatiel would mirror the behavior of our first. And we were unprepared as to how adding a second bird to the home might change the sense of loyalty in the Tinky’s heart. With a little gentle guidance from the human flock members, it all turned out well in the end.

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26 Comments on “When Birds Prefer The New Bird To Their Humans…”

Christine Dickey  02/03/2011 5:13 am

I bought a sun conure for Christmas. There were two at the store and the second one seemed to be really having a hard time separating from her cage mate, so I bought “her” also. They were thrilled to be back together, but they both want to bond with me and are fighting over who gets “the shoulder” and who gets the “royal perch”. Then they fight and I get bit in the process. I am thinking about separating them into their own cages and in different rooms during the day and letting them stay together at night. I tried separating them once before and they started screaming back and forth to each other, so I gave up on that idea. I think it is necessary however and in the long run should work out. Any more suggestions?

Rachelle Scott  02/03/2011 5:18 am

We had the same situation with our cockatiels, it’s hard to find a balance, but it is important to always try to divide your time equally. They share a cage but have alot of freedom at night time when they fly around 🙂

paul new stewart  02/03/2011 5:33 am

i have a 10 year old sun conure..he sleeps undewr the covers since he 6months old..he loves it there at night..he has 2 cages in the living room..one is big the other he turned into his hideout,cozy and all.thats where he takes his day naps..i’m gone somewhat and i always wanted to get him a friend..another conure..does it matter if its M OR F..but i never want to lose the friedship i have with rusty..it would kill me..he takes showers with me and at times is so cuddly..i love it..so what should i do to keep his same character in place yet give him a friend for company..or would he try to kill it?????he is spoiled rotten but thats why we get them..lol..i’d hate to lose the connection we have..would it bfor him to have company or not…? thank you

Karien  02/03/2011 6:03 am

I have a 4 year old African Grey. She acts only on my husband’s voice end therefor only he can teach her new words, however, always when he enters a room, she keeps quiet and will not even whistle. I can’t stand this, as she is then very, very quiet and i feel sorry for her, as i know how “noisy” she can be. Help!!! What can we do to get this behaviour out of the way??

ILEENE MARCHENA  02/03/2011 6:14 am

More of a question than a comment: I have two cockatiels (male+female in one cage) and one senegal parrot (female) in another cage. I used to have a second senegal parrot (male), but he died a year ago. At the time, I was loathe to get another senegal to keep Passion (the female) company cuz I thought it was disloyal to my Mango (who died). Also, I was not sure Passion would accept another friend since, even when they were together (Passion and Mango) they used to vie for my attention and even be jealous of each other although I made sure I always divided my attention equally to them. So after Mango passed away I did not get another bird for Passion. I wonder now if I should have, or if I should still do so? She’s is extremely attached to me now, and I’m afraid that if I get another one, it would lead to jealousy again. Also, if I were to get another one, should I get a baby one, and female? Will Passion maybe be more inclined to accept a baby bird or might she attack the baby friend? I would rather it were not male as I would not want to go through the whole mating worries and egg laying, it may sound cruel, but I have a truly hard time with my cockatiels in this respect and much as I love my birds I don’t have enough space but also know that if they were to get baby chicks I would not be able to separate from them either. Maybe some advice????

Fatima  02/03/2011 7:01 am

Hi, I had same problem. Both my parrots(females) are best friends and cannot do without each other. My husband’s Dinah no longer go on his shoulder. But mine Mindy still loves me to pet her especially at nights, so like a baby. Amazing isn’t it

Patricia  02/03/2011 7:48 am

As a long time bird keeper I know that handreared birds present as ‘DIFFERENT’ being regarded so for a while by flock reared birds, but they usually get over it, and accept it.The idea of getting to know new bird in a separate room for a start is good,I don’t mind too much if I lose a little of the dependence that was shared with the first bird, so long as they have a bird to interact with, feed with, preen feathers with, and share little pleasures with, it’s a long boring time for a birdalone when I am out shopping, or when he’s in care, alone, while I am on holidayIt is lovely to see birds affectionately preening one another and hear them’talking’ bird language to each other.Two cockatiels I have take turns in ringing the cage bell, watching each other’s performance, it’s a giggle.

Rose Hindman  02/03/2011 8:02 am

i have a ringneck i raised from nest. it is now about a year old. He is very spoiled bird that i love like a child. It is very close to me. Two weeks ago i brought home a new baby ringneck to be a mate for Tsi. But Tsi does not like the new bird at all. Chases it and bites it. Any ideas on how to get the older bird to like the new one?

Michelle hope  02/03/2011 9:59 am

How do I get my quacker parrot who is 2 to
be friends with our new family member who is a female budgie? Our quacker is male. The quacker
Has already tried to hurt the budgie the first time I tried to let them play
Together. The budgie is very interested in”chicken” the quacker.
And same with the quacker. I don’t want anyone Hurt and would like them to get along outside their cages. Any tips?

Angel  02/03/2011 10:26 am

My first cockatiel experience was excellent. He was a hand fed baby and very sucky. I was able to eventually get him a friend. They got along fine, but he was still my best buddy. He tried to be “more than friends” as he would sit on my hand and begin pecking and swaying etc.

Then I had a love bird, who I let pick out a buddy for herself. At first that worked well, with her demonstrating that being out of the cage with me was fun. Then she decided she wanted to breed and all of a sudden we weren’t allowed to touch her cage.

I ended up going back to cockatiels, and picked up a bonded pair. The male was the friendlier one and would come up for treats, sometimes followed by the missus. He vanished one day not long after we got him, and now we have only the female. Unless she is stranded on the floor, she refuses to come to me. It’s disapointing, but I’ve been trying the casual approach, where I mostly ignore her, except when I’m changing her food and water etc. I’m hoping she’ll eventually get over her timidness, but it will probably take quite some time.

Polly Watkins  02/03/2011 10:41 am

I need HELP!! i am sure of this. I have only one bird, our daughters, a quaker, he will be 2 february 14th. Our daughter’s boyfriend is buying a baby green wing. We have socially bonded with our bird very well. Because of this blog and my thoughts before i read this article i am nervous. The green wing will come and go from our home when it arrives. It will probably stay 2 to 3 nights per week and 1 night per weekend. Will the Mccaw attack our little bird???? Will our little bird not socialize well with us anymore?? we enjoy his company sooooo much, I cant imagine not cuddling with him or having all the interaction we get with him 🙁 I am sure we would all be very disappointed and hurt. The birds will not be caged together. They will share the same room during the day but not bedtime. We are building an aviary this spring and they will share a divided aviary some. HELP HELP and thank you

Gayle  02/03/2011 12:00 pm

You have two of the same specie. What if you get two different species. I have a yellow front amazon and have thought of getting another bird of a different specie. I got Zeke when he was 7 months and he is now 8 years old. I have heasitated to get another because I worry about how much it will change him. He doesn’t know to scream he only knows to talk to communicate. Will this change? Will he begin to bond more with the other bird? Will he fight with the other bird? He is an awesome bird for what others tell me is sometimes a bit of a grumpy specie. He will allow others to hold him with very little grumbling. Will that be changed?

Patty  02/03/2011 2:18 pm

Hi Polly,
Two birds with such an extreme size difference should not be kept together unless VERY CAREFULLY supervised. I, personally, wouldn’t allow them together at all. Since the green wing is a baby, and new to the house, he may not be the problem. It is far more likely that, since your quaker is so bonded to the family, he may be the aggressor. I have a quaker that has shown no problem taking on my cockatoos when the mood strikes him. They stay far apart from each other!!

Patty  02/03/2011 2:25 pm

Hi Rose,
Here’s a post that will help: http://www.old1.birdtricks.com/blog/adding-another-bird-to-the-flock/. Good luck and enjoy your new duo!

Nancy  02/03/2011 3:44 pm

I’ve had the opposite problem. I have a rescued Eclectus parrot and my African Grey thinks he stinks, they absolutely ignore each other. It’s been 6 months now and the only time my African Grey reacts is if “the enemy’ goes on a walkabout then she rings her bell furiously to let us know. I thought they would be company for each other but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Diane Matthews  02/03/2011 5:42 pm

I have 2 African Greys-my female (Spikey) is 13 years old, she was 6 years old when I got her, Then, I had the opportunity to get a male (Sherman) was 5 years old when I got him a year ago, so he is 6 years old now, I still have them in separate cages because the female snaps at the male all the time. My male is in a large cage and my hopes and wishes were to have the female join the male in the larger cage. This does not seem to be working out that way. I have the 2 cages side by side for 1 years now. My female won’t come out of her cage on her own at all and my male loves to be out and wonder all around. He gets on top of the females cage and tries to drop her toys down (and sometimes does) . Can anyone help me by making some suggestions on how to intrigate my 2 parrots to 1 large cage. Any suggestions or advice is very welcome as I am feeling pretty hopeless at this point. And I love yor blog and your birds…

love  02/03/2011 6:34 pm

i loved the video

Joan Groves  02/03/2011 9:01 pm

I have a Blue & Gold Mccaw she is now 24years old. She has laid two unfertile eggs and I am not sure if I should take the eggs from her. She has laid them in a laundry tub and stays with them all the time. She only comes out to eat and go to the bathroom then she wants to go back. She sleeps with them all night. This has been going on for about two weeks. Should i take the eggs from her?

Priscilla  02/04/2011 12:52 am

I have a Male Ringneck parrot, when he was 2years old I got a baby fisher lovebird. Since baby has grown up, she is the boss. Lovebird bites the Ringneck. Lovebird wil climb out her own cage, go over to the Ringneck’s cage, climb in and chase the Ringneck out, and then return to her own cage. I can never have the two together on my shoulders. The Lovebird is the boss. She even bites our German Shepherd dog. Now, two years later it looks like they are starting to accept each other at times. I have an aviary outside and leave them both in it at times. The Lovebird wil still chase the Ringneck at times, but not all the time. Lovebird loves to pull the Ringneck’s tail. It makes him scream! Now I want to get a third bird, maybe a Sun Conure. Any suggestions?

sarah  02/04/2011 2:51 am

hi i have a problem similar problem…my tame cockatiel was a bit lonely so i did the easiest thing, i got him a companion,a budgie.the problem is that the budgie has had no handling in its life and so is not tame. i need help ideas and advice so don’t hesitate if you can help me please email me on sarahkee14@gmail.com


Patty  02/04/2011 9:44 pm

Hi Michelle,
Definitely keep these birds apart. Quakers are famous for not playing nicely with smaller birds. You have already experienced a problem between the two and my guess is that it is just a matter of time before there is an outright attack on the budgie.

Patty  02/04/2011 9:53 pm

Hi Gayle,
Two different species can coexist nicely if they are of the same size, but this isn’t always the case. Even two of the same species can decide they dislike each other. To answer your questions: there can be changes in your first bird. If your new bird comes with habits or tendencies, they can definitely rub off on Zeke. The new addition might bring about no changes. You just never know until you have had the two together for a while. A lot of how it turns out depends on your handling of the situation and how well you do in introducing the new bird to Zeke. Here’s a post on the subject: http://www.old1.birdtricks.com/blog/adding-another-bird-to-the-flock/.

Daisy  02/09/2011 4:28 pm

ihave a n african grey he don;t like any one but me…..he gets real aggresive with every one else….i don\t know what would happen if i got another bird

Rhonda  03/21/2011 3:44 am

I now have 2 Macaws. My first one Chico I had since he was 4 months old and at the time I had the opportunity to get another one he was 8. My second one Olivia was 4 years old at the time. I was extremely concerned how they would interact with each other. Unfortunately just 2 weeks before I was getting Olivia, Chico broke his wing. Then I was left with what to do. I then decided because Chico was in an extremely vulnerable state that it would be best to have Olivia separate from him so that she wouldn’t feel that she was the dominate bird in our household and to avoid Chico being picked on at this time. It worked out beautifully. Not only did I have the time to bond with Olivia but Chico also had time to be comfortable with another bird in the house. They talked back and forth until he healed. I did have them isolated until he healed. Once he healed I left her bedroom door open so that they both could come and go as they pleased. Then one magical day Chico moved into her bedroom and her cage rather than his own and they’ve been the best of friends since. They both enjoy interacting with me and both know that I love them each separately. One time though cause I hold Chico like a baby and Olivia got very protective and did bite me … so having said that it is best with this type of bird to interact with them separately as tough as that may be. I so love them both. I hope you find this helfpul!

vedang  07/26/2011 11:53 am


Nadia  07/29/2015 12:27 pm

I have a female cockatiel…Sophie. I would guess her being about 9 months old. We had her for about a month and a half..and we were able to hand train her fairly quickly. She would let anyone hold her, she would ask to come out of her cage. She would start flapping her wings and chirp and get near the door…until we took her out.

Anyhow, we bought a male cockatiel, and he was terribly frightened of us when we tried getting close to him. We thought that putting him in with her would calm him down. He actually bit my husband and I hard!! He wouldn’t let us go…Once he was caged with Sophie, he just sat on the corner of the cage…Within a couple hours, he was up on the rods..and began to eat.

It’s been a 1.5 weeks, and he’s getting used to us..little by little. Sadly, our Sophie doesn’t really ask to come out anymore. We take her out and she will come, but within 5 minutes, she will get on the cage, wanting to get back in with Gunter. She never bit us hard, it was always a little peck, but his bite hurts bad; and once he latches on, he doesn’t want to let go.

She whistles alot more and is learning new tunes…He still hisses and stares at us when we try getting hear him. He lets her groom him, and they will scratch each other…she remains unaggressive towards us.

I don’t want him to influence her good behavior, and possibly make her the way he is. But I don’t know if he will ever pick up on her trust towards us.

What should I do???

please email me if you have any suggestions…jeepfly1@gmail.com