egg laying and retaming an older ringneck

Not sure if your website is still up and running, but I thought I would give it a try.  I have a female, Ellen, that I am guessing is about 15-20 years old.  We “rescued” her from PetSmart.  We were told she was 18 months old.  She was tormented by while in her cage and passed from store to store and no one wanted her.  Ellen was offered to us, free of charge, so we brought her home.  We had experience with other breeds of birds in the past; parrots, parakeets, etc.  

Ellen has never allowed us to touch her and is very defensive or her cage.  She will bite to the bone if given the chance.  But she likes to be around us, likes to be talked to and we have given her a comfortable home. We have other parakeets and have learned that she will hurt/kill them if she has the chance. So we can only let her out strictly supervised; she is sneaky.  She used to be the head of the household.  We had three small dogs and a cat, all of which ran from her and she would walk around the room daring any of them to come near.  Unfortunately, those pets have since passed.  We have another dog and as much the dog wants to be friends, Ellen isn’t having any of it.  Ellen is not a fan, because this dog has lots of hair and isn’t afraid of being bit, it doesn’t hurts.  So Ellen doesn’t come out much anymore.  

Anyway, that is her history.  Now my questions:    She laid two eggs this week, in her large treat cup!  Now she has been sitting on them for two days now.  Am I correct that I should leave them for her until she abandons them?  And, do you have any suggestions of how we could ever gain her trust enough that she would allow contact?  I am guessing that is a lost cause at this point, we have tried everything we can think of and talked to multiple of people who have some bird knowledge and followed their suggestions.  No luck.  We don’t mind this arrangement, but we would all be happier if she trusted us enough to spend more quality time with us.  

Thanks for your thoughts. 

D. Family

It sounds like you’ve provided Ellen with a loving and caring home despite the challenges she’s faced in her past. It’s evident that you’re dedicated to making her life as comfortable and happy as possible. I’ll do my best to address your questions and provide some guidance.

Regarding the eggs Ellen laid this week, you are correct in leaving them with her until she loses interest and abandons them. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month or even more. Removing the eggs prematurely can lead to stress and may cause her to lay more eggs to replace the ones removed, which can be detrimental to her health.

As for gaining Ellen’s trust and allowing contact, it’s essential to remember that trust-building can be a slow and gradual process, especially for older birds with a history of trauma or negative experiences. However, it’s not impossible. Patience and consistency are key. Here are a few suggestions that may help you build trust with Ellen:

Respect her boundaries: Avoid forcing interaction, and always allow her to initiate contact. This will help her feel more in control and comfortable in her environment.

Positive reinforcement: Reward her with praise or her favorite treats when she shows signs of curiosity or friendliness towards you. This will help her associate positive experiences with your presence.

Spend time together: Try to spend quality time with her every day, even if it’s just talking to her or sharing a meal nearby. This will help her become more familiar and comfortable with your presence.

Training: Target training or clicker training can be an excellent way to build trust and communication with Ellen. Start with simple tasks, like stepping up onto a perch or targeting an object, and gradually progress to more complex activities.

Gradual desensitization: If Ellen is fearful of certain objects or situations, try introducing them slowly and at a distance she’s comfortable with. Gradually move them closer over time as she becomes more familiar and relaxed around them.

It’s important to remember that every bird is different, and it may take time to see significant progress. It’s possible that Ellen may never be completely comfortable with physical contact, and that’s okay. The most important thing is to provide her with a safe, comfortable, and loving environment that caters to her individual needs.

I hope these suggestions prove helpful in your journey to build trust and a stronger bond with Ellen. Good luck, and thank you for providing her with such a caring home!

Best wishes,


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