How to earn your bird's trust
So you are getting a new bird - or already have one - and now you’re stumped. We here at Parrotfunalia are here to help! We had our own challenges taming our non hand-fed cockatiel and so we wanted to share the knowledge we gained through mistakes and successes, with you!
If your bird doesn’t take treats from you
Many sights say that, to tame your bird, you need to be able to offer a favorite treat. Well how are you supposed to know their favorite treat if you can’t even feed them in the first place? Here you will find that extra stepping stone that you need.
Step 1: Sit in a chair beside your bird’s cage, somewhere where they can clearly see you. If your bird looks very nervous, move your chair back a little bit until they look slightly uncomfortable. Wait there until your bird doesn’t look nervous anymore.
Step 2: Once your bird doesn’t look nervous, reward them by walking away. This relieves stress from the bird and teaches them that the faster they calm down, the faster that their stress will be relieved.
Step 3: Continue steps 1 and 2 until you can sit by your bird and they don’t appear panicked. Do not worry if this takes you a few hours or even days. This step may take some patience but it is a huge step in the right direction.
Step 4: If your bird has not been weaned onto pellets yet, put some of their seed mix on your hand (If your bird has been weaned, put their pellets on your hand). Open your bird’s cage door and set your hand right outside of it. If your bird looks uncomfortable, stay there until they are relaxed. If your bird is comfortable, keep moving your hand farther into the cage until they look uncomfortable (this method may not work for an aggressive bird).
Step 5: Do NOT push your bird to eat the seeds out of your hand. If you stick your hand in their face this could severely damage your relationship (and your hand). You need to be patient, as the bird may not immediately trust the hand that is feeding it.
Step 6: Repeat step 4 until you can rest your hand near the bird and they begin to eat out of your hand and possibly step onto it. Again, this may take some time but it is worth it.
Step 7: Once your bird steps on to your hand and is relaxed whilst eating the seeds out of your hand, slowly begin to move it out of the cage. Again, if your bird looks uncomfortable stop and wait for them to be relaxed.
Step 8: Once your bird is out of the cage, you may want to do some target training with your bird to show them that you speak their language. You will just reward them with their normal seed mix, even if they aren’t super motivated for it.
Step 9: Once your bird begins to trust you, you can begin the treat test. Place many different types of treats in your hand and see which ones your bird goes for first. This will tell you which one they want the most. You may need to perform the treat test every few months as their favorite treats may change.
When your bird does take treats from you
If your bird is comfortable coming out of the cage and taking treats from you, you may begin the taming and training process.
Step 1: Target train. Target training is very easily done and there are many thorough youtube videos out there that put target training into detail.
Step 2: Step up train. Step up training can be a difficult skill but is one of the most used. If your bird is comfortable stepping up onto your hand they are likely pretty comfortable with you.
Step 3: Keep gaining trust. Even when your bird will step up and go on your shoulder, you need to keep earning their trust. Keep training, keep spending time with them and keep making them happy. This will increase your bond with them and strengthen your relationship.