how to hand tame a bird

It is very desirable to have a tame, affectionate, and interactive bird as a family pet. Small birds such as finches and canaries may prove very difficult or challenging to befriend. There are many methods and opinions described by various people to tame and train birds. This handout is designed to give some guidance to you during this process. Your patience may be strained, and you may sustain some bites, but the rewards of your new relationship with your bird will be fulfilling and long-lasting. The ultimate goal is to earn your birds trust and respect. Some larger urban centers have reputable bird trainers. Speak to your avian veterinarian for recommendations and try to get some references first.


I retrained an aviary bird that was afraid of people using this technique for training parrots. It works, but you must exercise patience. DO NOT rush it or it only wont work. From stage 1, where the bird would flee to the other side of the cage if I approached it within two meters, to stage 2, where the bird would gladly step onto my hand from the cage, it took me around two weeks. (It might take you a little longer to rebuild that trust and erase those unpleasant memories if you have previously been forcing your bird to leave its cage when it is afraid. ).

To ensure the effectiveness of this parrot training method, you must ascertain the distance your bird can fly. Every animal has a flight distance, or a point at which they will flee (or run) away if you approach them too closely (think fight or flight). Therefore, you must observe how close your bird will allow you to get to its cage before it moves away in order to determine its flight distance.

Approach the cage calmly and slowly. Don’t make any sudden noises movements with your arms etc. Avoid eye contact. It may make you appear like a predator. (At this point, it’s a good idea to keep the cage somewhere you don’t frequently walk by so that you only come near it to feed and train.) When you notice your bird exhibiting signs of discomfort, stop right there. Your bird may lean back on its perch, crouch down, ready to run or fly, step a foot out to the side, suck its feathers in close to its body, or exhibit other signs of discomfort. It’s the behaviors and signals your bird makes right before it takes off. As soon as you notice these, you need to immediately stop where you are and refrain from approaching any closer.

The most crucial thing is to quit before your bird departs from you. If not, you are merely instructing it to move away from you so that it can receive its reward (ie Moving away from you causes you to also move away. That is the exact opposite of what we want to happen, which is that the bird will benefit from the pressure being released when it calms down (ie you move away from the bird).

how to hand tame a bird

Remain in the same spot until your parrot settles down and begins to exhibit comfort. These could include your bird returning to its typical stance, fluffing its feathers slightly, or even shifting its weight evenly across its legs to indicate that it is no longer prepared to sprint or take off.

Turn around and leave the cage as soon as you notice your bird has calmed down while you are still standing there. The parrot has just learned to shorten its flight distance thanks to your instruction.

I’ll explain why. Suppose your parrot allowed you to approach the cage from a distance of around one meter. Your parrots ‘flight distance’ is one meter. It interprets this as meaning that it is safe as long as it is more than one meter away from its cage. However, it’s beginning to realize that nothing bad happened while you were one meter away from the cage. It hasn’t been contacted, bothered, or coerced into doing something it finds frightening. It actually made you go away by calming itself down. It was given the option to stay or go, and it made the wise choice to remain and gather its thoughts. As a result, pressure was released and the thing it was afraid of moved away.

Repeat, repeat, repeat! Gradually the bird’s flight distance will decrease. You will be able to get within 0. 9m of the cage, 0. 8m of the cage, 0. 5m of the cage etc. But it will take time and many repetitions. However, you must never allow your bird to leave before stopping, or you will have to restart from scratch. When I retrained the avian bird, I even did that a few times. But with time, you’ll get better at interpreting your bird’s body language.

Start training your parrot using the same method, but this time just approach the cage with your hand once you’ve managed to get it inside without the bird taking off. (I. e. Lift your hand and wait for the bird to calm down before lowering it again and moving on. Next, raise your hand a little closer to the cage, give your bird some time to calm down, then lower it and move on, etc. ). After your bird is comfortable with you standing next to the cage and reaching inside, place a treat in its food bowl and move on. Now, this is like positive reinforcement on steroids. Not only does your bird feel at ease when you get close, but it also receives a treat!

For now, that should give you enough to go by. Upon reaching that point, subscribe to Vonnegut’s email list below, and I’ll provide you the next instructions for calming your fearful bird, beginning with teaching it to accept food from your hand and perch on your palm. Please share this link with any friends who own birds and feel free to leave any comments or questions. If I could prove that I have improved the lives of birds and their owners, that would be wonderful to know!

Should you find this tutorial useful in learning the next steps for training your parrot, you might want to sign up for the Facebeak Fanclub. I use it to email all of the useful advice I have from my training manual and parrot book. Membership is free:

What do I need to know before I start training my bird?

Try to get a young bird as a pet because they will be easier to tame and train. Remember, you are trying to bond with the bird. Young birds are simpler to tame and are more adaptable to changing circumstances. Since they have been fully socialized with people and easily form bonds, hand-raised babies typically make better pets. Taming older, wild, colony-raised, or parent-raised birds can be challenging.

It’s best to give your newly acquired tamed or untamed bird a week or so to adjust to its new surroundings before starting daily training to avoid stressing it out. The new arrival in your house is usually moderately stressed. The bird has suddenly moved, lost its familiar handler or feeder, and its familiar cage mates. Keep in mind that the bird and you are strangers who must get to know one another. You and your bird must begin to develop mutual trust. Everything is new to the bird. Everything about the house is unfamiliar, including the people, sounds, smells, and routines. Put the new bird in a peaceful area of the house away from busy streets. Maintain its previous diet and don’t give it any new foods for a few weeks. Avoid startling the bird with abrupt movements or loud noises. Training and taming can start as soon as your bird seems to be getting used to its new environment.

Your veterinarian might suggest trimming the feathers on your bird’s wings. This will typically increase the bird’s reliance on you throughout the taming procedure.

Birds have the ability to bite, and even small birds like cockatiels or budgies can cause skin breaks. While gloves can shield you from most bites, they can also terrify birds, making it difficult for them to tell the difference between your hand’s five fingers and the gloves’ five fingers. It is not what you want the bird to fear your hand.

How do I hand train my bird?

Take it slow! Aim for one or two sessions lasting five to ten minutes each day. Work your new bird up to two 20-minute sessions a day gradually. Too much attention may produce an overly dependent bird. Your new bird needs to be able to amuse itself and be encouraged to do so. Make sure you gradually introduce your bird to a wide range of individuals (e g. , young, old, big, small, males, and females). After a training session, rewarding your bird with healthy food such as sunflower seeds, Nutri-Berries®, carrot pieces, or almond slivers is a great way to show them that you appreciate their cooperation. All pet birds should be trained basic commands like “step up” and “stay.”

It is possible to get the bird to accept food from your hand once it has grown accustomed to your presence and proximity within the cage. The next step is to train your bird to walk onto a stick by working with it slowly and gently. As you slowly and deliberately move the stick toward your bird’s upper legs and lower chest area in the cage, speak softly to it. When your bird becomes accustomed to perching on a stick, you can bring the stick closer to it until your hand serves as the perch instead of the stick.

Keep in mind that birds, particularly larger ones, frequently reach out to grasp onto something while climbing and use their beaks as a third hand for balance. You have to try to project confidence and resist the need to move. Relentlessly removing your hand could startle your bird and result in a bite. Additionally, your bird may learn to manipulate you by simply making you “go away” with a beak reach. Food may serve as both a reward and a distraction for your bird. Encourage and coach your friends and family to work with your bird in the same manner. You’ve now advanced significantly in the training process. Touching, petting, scratching the head, and cuddling will come next if you are persistent and patient.