Here at the perch , I get asked a lot of questions about hand taming budgies. Most parakeet owners, it seems, want a bird that will at least come near, readily perch on a finger and provide some level of social interaction. The good news is….all of these goals (and more) are readily achievable with a good degree of patience and perseverance! Since the taming process involves several steps, I recommend starting by watching our YouTube video on the subject:
The video covers most of the important steps of hand taming, however I will add a few things that help the process along. First of all, it’s important to go through taming step by step, without rushing the bird or forcing it to do things it is not ready or willing to do! That last concept is so important that it bears repeating…never, unless absolutely necessary, force your bird to comply if it has no desire to do so. This can result in fear, lack of trust and loss of progress in both taming and training. Give your bird the choice to work with you and reward it for doing so!
Speaking of reward, there are many things that you can use to reward your bird for sticking around with you. Millet is my treat of choice, and many parrots love it! You can, however, also use things like seeds, bits of fruit (fresh or dried), formula for baby birds (delivered as in the video featuring Tacio below) and your attention! Edible treats take on more of a meaning when given during times the bird is hungry (at mealtimes) and only given during times when you are working on taming.
There are so many fun tricks that you can teach a budgie! They can learn to fly to you on command, interact with objects like slides, rings and balls, and of course perch on your finger and/or shoulders. Again, the most important thing to remember is that training takes patience and perseverance! Some behaviors can be learned in a day, and others may take weeks to perfect! However, if you hang in there, you will be amazed at what your little feathered friend can do! Here is a video of one of our favorite trained parakeets….Tacio:
Super cool right? Tacio is being trained with a clicker, and this tool can be very versatile for training birds (and many other animals….even human athletes!). These training accessories can be found in most pet stores, usually by the dog training tools, or you can check one out here:
Below is our video on introducing a clicker and making it meaningful to a budgie:
Once your budgie understands that a click means a reward is coming, you can use the clicker to “mark” a behavior you are looking for. As a result, birdie knows he is doing the right thing and will tend to repeat it!
Although clickers are great tools, they are not necessary for training a bird. Here is our video on how to train a parakeet to step up on your finger (without clicker):
As with most behaviors, it is good to break things down and teach parts of a behavior before going for the whole thing (for instance, when you work on training the bird to get used to your hand before asking it to perch on your finger). Keep that in mind with any behavior and think about how you will approach the training process before getting started. Then it’s just a matter of rewarding “baby steps” towards your goal and then the eventual goal itself!
Here’s how it might look to teach your budgie, Mr. Featherfluffer, how to ride a mini skateboard:
- Reward Mr. Featherfluffer for tolerating the skateboard near his cage (good bird!)
- Allow Mr. Featherfluffer to come out of cage and onto a table near the skateboard. Reward for not flying off.
- Reward Mr. Featherfluffer for showing interest in the skateboard and maybe even touching it (wow, look at you birdie!). Entice budgie with treats near the skateboard if necessary.
- Reward Mr. Featherfluffer for putting a foot on the skateboard. This could happen by accident, of your could entice budgie by presenting the skateboard to a foot.
- Reward Mr. Featherfluffer for putting both feet on the skateboard and standing on it (wow!).
- Reward Mr. Featherfluffer for standing on the skateboard and allowing it to slightly move.
- Reward Mr. Featherfluffer for standing on the skateboard and allowing it to roll.
This is just an example of a training plan. As I begin to work with Mr. Featherfluffer, I might be able to skip a few steps if he is really active and curious. Conversely, I may have to add a few steps if he is not understanding what I want. Step one may take a day and step 3 many take 5 days. The point is, start with a plan and be prepared to revise, improvise and re-energize (both the bird and yourself). The last part is mainly because you always want to be enthusiastic, despite any frustrations and setbacks you exerience. If you find a training session is becoming frustrating or is not longer fun, end it. Come back later with fresh enthusiasm, so you and your bird find training enjoyable! In the interim, think about how your approach may need to change to help your bird succeed.
Help Your Bird Succeed
Help your bird succeed! I have mentioned that 3 times in a row because that’s the key concept in bird (or any other) training. It’s your job to help your “student” succeed. If birdie fails to understand, explain things differently. If Mr. Featherfluffer takes too long, be patient. If your parakeet does it right, reward (that’s the best part)! Be a great trainer and your bird will be learning amazing behaviors in no time!
Thanks for checking out our page on taming and training! For more information and lots of videos on this subject and more, visit our YouTube channel here.