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Taming & Training

Taming and training a pet budgie will build a bond between you and the bird, assist you with the overall care of the bird, allow you to handle him/her if he/she becomes ill or injured, and can be a very enjoyable challenge.

If you purchased a bird from a reputable breeder who either handled or hand-fed the budgies at a young age, taming your budgie should be straightforward. In all cases, however, it is important to maintain trust. Always move slowly, talk softly, and avoid banging on/abruptly moving the birds’ enclosure to avoid creating unnecessary fear. Remember budgies are prey animals and their instinct is to be afraid of large animals the could eat them. Budgies dislike it when you move or hover over them, as a movement above a budgie will be interpreted as a predator (e.g., a hawk diving at them). They also dislike it when you point at the with an extended finger as this can be interpreted as an aggressive threat (e.g., another bird would reach out with hits beak to strike. Also remember that the best way to train a bird is to reward it; punishing a bird for behavior you don’t like (including biting) will only reinforce the behavior. Keeping all of this in mind, there are four main stages or phases in taming/training a budgie.

Stage 1 – Build Trust

The primary goal during this phase is to bet your budgie accustomed and trusting of your hands. Put your hand near the cage where the budgie can see it for about 10-20 minutes 2-3 times per day. Avoid movement and talk to your budgie in a soft, reassuring voice. After 4-10 days of this, you will notice that the budgie is comfortable with your hand near the cage, and you can move onto the next step. A budgie is comfortable when he/she goes about his/her normal business in spite of your hand, or better yet, shows non-aggressive curiosity towards your hand. Slowly open the enclosure door and place your hand inside of the cage in a neutral, non-threatening posture. Repeat this as with the first step for 10-20 minutes, 2-3 times a day for 4-10 days until your budgie is comfortable with your hand in the cage. Next, hold a treat near a perch when you put your hand in the cage. Spray millet, lettuce, or another treat you know your budgie will find irresistible. It may take 3-5 sessions before the budgie will eat the treat from your hand. After you reach success, repeat this step until the budgie becomes entirely comfortable eating from your hand, 2-3 times a day for 4-10 days. When your budgie automatically approaches your hand and eats from your hand when you put your hand in the cage several times, you are ready for the next stage.




Stage 2 – Hand Training

The goal of this stage is to have your budgie climb onto your hand to be moved in and out of the cage on demand. Before you get started, prepare some treats. Hold your hand with your index finger out like a perch, but do not point at the budgie, but rather point away from the bird. Gently press against the lower abdomen just above the feet. This action should naturally encourage your budgie to step up onto your hand (budgies like to be on the highest perch). At first, your budgie will likely not understand this and will move away. Be patient and remember to move slowly rather than moving quickly towards the budgie or chasing it around the cage, but keep trying. As soon as the budgie climbs onto your finger, reward him/her by giving a treat. If, after a few minutes trying this, your budgie is still not climbing onto your finger, try encouraging your bird to step onto your finger by holding a treat in a position that can only be reached by stepping onto your hand.














The first several times, the bird will probably climb onto your finger only to immediately retreat back to a perch. Be patient. Once the budgie is comfortable getting onto your hand without jumping off right away and has done this for several sessions, you next try to take him/her out of the cage slowly. He/she will probably try to jump off, as his/her cage is a “safe” place, but keep trying. This is one of the most difficult steps, requiring a lot of patience. You may need to reposition things in the cage or your body position, so that you can smoothly extract your hand. Do not try to touch your bird to keep him/her from trying to stay inside. Holding a prized treat just outside of the cage can help.
















Once out of the cage, the budgie will probably try to fly back to the cage. This is ok. Let him/her explore the cage for a while. Then reintroduce your index finger as a perch with a treat and continue reinforcing that he should climb onto your hand when presented. Do this several times. Then, put him back inside of his cage. Repeat this cage exist/entry exercise twice a day for approximately one week.

Stage 3 – New Places (You become the “safe” place)

The goal of this stage is to make your budgie comfortable with you while away from his/her “safe” place (the cage), turning you into the safe place. Before you get started, bird proof a room (not the room where the bird’s cage is located) by removing hazards to your bird in free flight. Keep the lights on, but dimmed lights are best. Remove your budgie from its cage, as described in stage 2. Walk him/her to your bird-safe room. Your budgie will probably panic and try to fly back to its cage. Keep your back to the cage as you move so that you are between the cage and the bird. If this proves difficult after several tries, try using a treat to distract your bird, gradually increase the distance from the cage over several sessions, or as a last result, cup your hand in front of you/the bird (without touching it) to discourage flight. Once you reach the bird-safe room close the door, have a seat on a bed, chair, or the floor and reward your budgie with a treat. Talk to him/her softly and reassuringly while feeding him/her treats. Continue this for 10-20 minutes for 3-5 days. If he/she flies away from you at any point, slowly and gently encourage him/her back onto your hand with treats. Continue this until he/she is completely comfortable in the new room with you.

Stage 4 – Work on more Training

Now that you are a safe place for the bird, you can work on other training such as step-up to a different hand, shoulder perching, introduction to new areas, teaching to talk, etc. In each case, you present a new finger to perch (or shoulder, new place, word, song, trick, etc.) and give a reward for the correct behavior. If the bird doesn’t comply or tried to fly to you head instead of your shoulder, or fly off, simply repeat the desired behavior and reward if correctly executed by your budgie (don’t reward if not correctly completed).

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