How to tame a Parakeet, Lovebird, or a large Parrot
You are FINALLY getting a pet bird!
You're getting a bird! You are going to have a little cutie running up and down your shoulders and chasing a napkin when you wipe the table! Exciting stuff coming up! But... *drumroll*... you might have to tame a bird by yourself. That means, at first that little cutie is going to be running up and down the cage whenever there's any noise or movement. So, how do you get your bird to go from "scared of you to death" all the way to "love you to death"? :) I will gladly share with you how I did it. As you read through my experiences and tips, be sure to check out the extras that I've added to this page. I took the time to go through them, and they are very informative, useful, and plain cute (latter one is about videos). Enjoy my lens!
Make the bird feel secure
As soon as you bring the bird home, take a towel and cover all 4 sides of the cage and the roof. Let the bird calm down. The next day, open one side, but keep the other ones covered. Two days later, open two sides, but make sure that the other two sides AND the roof are covered. This allows your bird the opportunity to feel secure inside and at the same time visually explore a limited area outside of the cage. Keep opening a side every 2-3 days until you can have the towel off without having the bird freak out. It will require a lot of patience from you as a pet owner, but it is definitely worth it.
At first, keep the bird in a room where there will only be as few people as possible. Preferably, your room. Many advices I've heard say the opposite: keep the bird in the family room. This is a really good advice, but it's only beneficial after the bird gets used to the family. The first week or two, it is best if the bird gets to be around not many people so that it stops being afraid of people in general.
Spend time near the bird: eat near the cage, do your homework near the cage, if possible even let the bird stand near your bed while you sleep. The last advice might seem silly, but the bird will stop thinking that you're a predator.
The FIRST SIGN THAT A BIRD IS FEELING SOMEWHAT AT HOME is that it will stretch. My budgie usually stretches one foot and one wing at the same time, and sometimes she yawns during the process :) If you've never seen it before, don't worry, when a bird stretches you cannot mistake it for anything else. And it might make you giggle. :P
I'd suggest you check it out... - there's quite a bunch of useful stuff in the books
Talking bird ALWAYS grabs attention. Want to show it off next time during the family-get-together party? Definitely give it a try!
Also, a suggested guide to help you care for a lovebird is included.
AND a book on actually understanding your bird, how it thinks, and more!
Rule #2 (the hardest one)
The bird liked the cage. Now, how to get it to like YOU?
Try to be the only one that will put hands in the cage until the bird is tame. Keep the bird in the room where you spend most of the time, but try to make that room free from other people as much as possible.
Put one of your hands in the cage for about 3-5 minutes at a time (not counting the water/food changes); do this about once every hour, if you can. Don't move the hand once it's in the cage, just slowly slide it in and few minutes later slowly slide it out. Do NOT approach the bird (which will more likely be slightly panting in the corner), keep your hand near the cage entrance. Keep talking to the bird while you're doing it. Don't speak in a very high-pitched voice, as many birds don't like it, and it is hard to maintain it soft. You can play some music in the background, but make sure it's actually "in the background" and not "the dominant noise in the room." Don't go to the next step until you've been doing this for at least 4 days.
American Idol (or not lol)
Hilarious! It's as if the parakeet is singing into the microphone (pencil) and even doing a little dance!
Repeat, repeat, and then... repeat again
Seems like the bird is not afraid of your hand in the cage. When will you finally get to touch it?
The following is just from my experience; I have never seen or heard this anywhere. Here is what I did. I took out the bird's feeder for 3-4 hours. After that specific time had passed, I took a couple of seeds and tried to balance them at the tip of my index finger. Not stuck under the nail; you turn your palm upwards and put the seeds on the finger pad. Then I stuck it into the cage, just a little bit. Then more. Then more. Then the bird started freaking out and I took it out. In 5 minutes I tried it again. It took my parakeet a little longer to start running around the cage; again, I took my index finger out. Do this maximum 3 times and then put the feeder back. I had been doing that for 3 days, each time getting closer and closer to the bird. Then one day, she bent down, grabbed one seed, and ran to the other corner. :) Mission accomplished! By day 5 of trying to hand-feed my bird, I could dump a pile of seeds on my palm, stick my hand in, and the parakeet would SIT on my thumb and eat from my hand like that's what she was born for!
As soon as my parakeet allowed me to feed her from my hand, our bond got stronger every hour. Soon after she learned how to step up, let me pet her, and now she moves to the cage entrance to jump on my hand as soon as I start opening the cage door. In return, I give her treats, baths, and I hung plenty of toys in her cage.
Any bird can become tame. The key is to build up trust. The reward? A longtime bond with a bird that is unique and just adorable!
If you have any questions, leave me comments and I will answer ASAP.
Making the bond between you and your bird more effective
Do feed your bird some treats once in a while. Parakeets especially love millet spray.
Do feed your bird fruits and vegetables in addition to the seeds you will buy at the store. Every kind of bird has its own list of foods you should not feed them under any circumstances, so be sure that what you are about to give your bird is not harmful to this breed.
Clean the cage as often as you can.
If it is a lovebird or a parakeet, and it is alone in the cage, you should find daily time to socialize with your bird. These are flock birds, they thrive on being a part of a group and may get sick if they feel excluded and lonely. In the worst case, at least hang some mirrors in the bird's cage.
About wing clipping: this is relatively easy to do, but if you've never done it before, get a professional to do it. If you bought your bird from a breeder, more likely he or she knows how to clip their wings and could teach you. It is not hard, but should be supervised by someone who knows and who could correct you before you seriously mess up. The reason for this is that you can cut the wings a bit shorter than you should have, and you can actually damage their veins, causing your bird to bleed. If your bird ever bleeds, go to the vet ASAP. Birds, especially small ones, have only so much blood to sustain them and even one drop could cost longtime illness or even death. This is serious, so be a responsible owner and make sure that the bird gets the appropriate service when it comes to wing clipping.
Sneezing lovebird! - you have to see this for yourself!!!
Well... a cute lovebird learned to fake human sneezes so well that it's bound to impress you!
Indian Ringnecks talking - well.. watch for yourself, it's one of my favorites
What pet bird do you own?
Questions? comments? suggestions? wishes? Plain "hello"? I would love to hear from you!