Let’s look at training pet birds.
This article looks at finger training pet birds in general and doesn’t look at any species in particular. Obviously the parrot family are the easiest types of birds to tame, so these tips should work well on any of them from Budgerigars to Love Birds to African Greys.
These are tips I applied to various cockatiels that I have had over the years.
If you start out with a young or hand-reared parrot, the likelihood is that it will already be hand-tame.
Any new bird will still need some time to adjust to its new surroundings, and it may also take time for it to get used to you, especially if the bird has been reared from the egg by one person.
Although different birds all have different responses to their training, you will no doubt need to be patient with your new pet.
Regular short training sessions about three or four times a day are likely to be far more useful than the occasional marathon. Remember that birds have a relatively short attention span and are going to be bored if you go over five minutes.
Try offering him a piece of fruit if trying to train him to step onto your hand. Hold one hand out for him to step onto and hold the fruit in the other hand so that he needs to step onto your hand to reach it and will need to stay there to eat it.
Starting the training regime by offering tidbits and encouraging the bird to step onto your hand is a good way to get started.
Place your hand parallel with the perch, and gently lift the bird’s toes up, so that it transfers its grip forward to your hand. Keep your hand level so that he can keep his grip easily. for a smaller bird like a budgerigar, use the index finger of one hand rather than the whole hand to ensure that the bird can keep a strong grip, otherwise it will step off.
For larger parrots, it might be a good idea to wear a training glove, as their claws are sharp and you should try to avoid painful scratches. If you are scratched, make sure you wash the wound and apply an antiseptic cream.
Once the bird is sufficiently confident to sept onto your hand, the next stage is to take it out of its quarters in the same way.
At first, the bird will hop off at the last minute, especially if the opening to the cage is small. If this happens encourage it to step from one hand to the other then gradually move the hands out of the cage so he steps out. Before long the bird will realize that it can step out through the opening.
If possible, avoid the situation where you have to restrain the bird in order to take it out through the door. Most birds don’t enjoy being held and this may slow the training process down. On release, the bird is likely to fly off instead of perching on your hand.
Once you have your bird out in the room, it is useful to perch train your pet. This entails using a relatively short length of perch, placed up near the bird onto which it will step readily. This is a great way to get your bird back to its cage if he is out of reach. You can encourage him to step on the perch and then carry him back to his cage on the perch. It is normally easier to coax the bird onto a perch rather than your hand.
In many cases, parrots like to rest on their owner’s shoulder, but be certain to remove any earrings beforehand, or your parrot may try to remove them. It might even nibble at your ear lobe with painful consequences.
If you like your bird to rest on your shoulder, it might be a good idea to buy some protective padding to save your clothes and your shoulder from being scratched.