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How to Tame a Bird — A Taming Guide for Scared Avians

How to tame a bird

Is your bird skittish and afraid of humans? If yes, then you may be wondering how to tame a bird and establish a strong bond with your new feathery companion.

Taming a budgie or any parrot or bird species can be a tedious task since it takes lots of time and effort.

But with this guide, we’ll help you navigate through the avian world and teach you how to tame a parrot or any pet bird.

In particular, we’ll discuss:

  • How to tame a scared bird and get him accustomed to his new home
  • How to use target and clicker training to overcome its fear of humans
  • Tell-tale signs you need to know so you can see if a bird is comfortable or afraid of you

So, if you’re having trouble dealing with and taming your new pet bird, join us as we journey towards transforming shy and skittish birds into friendly pets.

how to tame a scared budgie

How To Tame a Bird Quickly

Some avian creatures are naturally skittish, especially those who come from the wild. But is it possible to tame a bird?

The direct answer is yes. Even the wild ones can be tamed but know that it requires lots of patience and time.

It doesn’t happen overnight but you can establish a good foundation from day one by following our tips below. 

PREPARATION

Here are some tips to keep in mind before starting the taming process.

1. Provide a safe environment for them

The first step to successfully taming a scared bird is removing anything that may frighten or distract your bird. 

You also need to provide your bird with a healthy diet and nutritionally-balanced bird feed that will improve its brain health. 

Sleeping is crucial too as it can rejuvenate and heal the brain and body. A good night’s sleep for birds lasts 10 to 12 hours.

So, make sure your pet gets enough rest before starting any training.

2. Study your bird’s behavior

Our next tip on how to tame a scared budgie or any bird is to study its behavior and its history. 

It would help if you know your bird’s background and the past traumas he went through. 

A functional behavior assessment will help you with this to:

  • define your bird’s behavior 
  • understand the triggers
  • realize the consequences of maintaining the behavior
  • determine the things that influence its behavior
  • understand why your bird acts that way

Is he shy because he had limited contact with people or did he suffer abuse in the past?

Try to know your bird’s background as much as possible so you can start the taming sessions the right way.

THE TAMING PROCESS

After observing its behavior, it’s time to get to the real process and answer the question about “how to tame parrots” and other birds.

1. Let him get used to the new environment

It takes time before the bird fully adjusts to the new surrounding and strangers around him.

It can be stressful for him to be abruptly brought to a new location, lose his previous cage mates, and interact with a stranger.

So, give him a little time to get used to his new home, to the new people, sound, smell, and experiences.

Some sources suggest waiting for several days before starting the taming process. But it can prolong the adjustment period and make the bird afraid to leave its cage; the only place he feels safe and secure.

However, you can subtly kickstart it on the day you brought your bird home without stressing your bird out by reinforcing gentle and nonthreatening interaction.

This way, you can make yourself one of your bird’s spheres of safety. But how?

Put him in a busy area where you can hang out in his general vicinity. It can speed up the taming process and will help your bird understand that you’re not a predator. This way, you can condition him for human interaction. 

But keep your activities unalarming and avoid creating noise that can frighten him.

2. Make him feel comfortable around you

Another way you can gain your bird’s trust is by making him feel safe when you’re around. For example, you can talk to him with a soothing voice or sing to him. 

This way he’d realize that you’re calm and not a threat. 

You can also read a book next to its cage.

3. Use slow and gentle movements when approaching him

Sudden movements can frighten skittish birds. That’s why you need to be gentle and slow when approaching your pet bird. 

4. Place your hand near the cage

If your concern is about how to hand-tame a parrot, here’s the trick.

Before attempting to touch your bird, you need to try placing your hand near its cage. Skittish birds may be wary of hands and those who come from pet stores may associate it with grabbing and chasing. 

If that’s the case for your bird, try to reduce his anxiety by talking to him in a soothing voice while your hand stays still. 

Then, hold the bird cage for about 10 to 15 minutes, two or three times a day for 4 to 7 days. Just place it gently and let it be comfortable with your hands.

Don’t try to touch your bird yet.

5. Offer your hand

If your bird doesn’t get flustered with your hand’s presence anymore, it’s time to try placing your hand inside the cage. Do it slowly without doing sudden movements that may frighten him.

Avoid having direct eye contact with the bird because it can make him feel threatened.

Your bird may not jump to your hand so easily until you establish trust but you need to do it since you need to open his cage to provide him with food and water.

how to tame a bird with treats

6. Offer healthy food and eat together

If your bird looks comfortable and calm, try to offer him some food. 

Fill his food dish while you eat a snack nearby. Eating food together is one of the best ways to make your bird feel comfortable around you. 

Some birds may hesitate to take a bite but they’ll eventually give in and prioritize their food over discomfort with humans. 

By establishing this as part of your everyday routine, your bird should be able to feel comfortable with your hands and your presence.

7. Trick your bird with a treat

If your bird still doesn’t feel comfortable with your hand, a treat may be the best way to entice him and win him over. 

You can use whatever treats you want as long as it’s familiar to your bird. Millet spray is one of the popular bird treats but dark, leafy greens like spinach will also do. 

Just hold the treat in your hand and stay still. It may take time before your bird starts to trust you and eat the treat. 

But if you’d hold a treat 3 to 5 times a day and every time your change its food and water, your bird may begin to look forward to receiving treats daily.

If your bird is now comfortable receiving treats from your hands, you can move on to the target and clicker training. 

how to tame a scared bird with target training

How to Tame a Bird Using Target Training

Target and clicker training utilizes positive reinforcement and is effective for initial taming. It helps motivate your bird to overcome its fears to get rewards. 

So, let’s continue the taming process and introduce the clicker to your bird.

Introduce the Clicker

This step is a breeze. Just click your clicker before you give your bird a treat so your bird will know that a treat is coming when it hears a clicking sound.

Choose a Target

The next step is to pick a target. You can use a chopstick or colored pencil to teach your bird that it’ll receive treats if it touches the target. 

Introduce the Target

Approach your bird with a stick in a calm and unthreatening manner.

Most birds can’t resist touching or chomping the stick with their beak and if your bird touches it, click and give the treat.

Then, put it a little farther this time and wait until your parrot walks or flies over to touch the stick, then click and treat!

Present the Perch

Now, open the bird’s cage and show the perch to your pet. Touch the perch using the stick and try to encourage the bird to check the perch out.

If it steps up and touches the perch, click the clicker and reward him.

Introduce your Hand

The next stage is to offer your hand as a replacement for a perch. Just hold your index finger out and fold your other fingers then move it towards your bird.

Position it below his breast line, just above his feet. 

Encourage your pet bird to step onto your finger by gently pushing up on his body. 

If your bird flies or moves away, don’t chase him. Just remove your hand and try it again later until he calms down and approaches your hand. 

If your bird still needs more encouragement, hold a treat and position it far enough that your bird would have to jump to your finger to reach it. 

Then give a verbal command “step up” or “up”. If he steps into your finger, click the clicker and reward your bird. 

It’d also help if you’d give your bird verbal praise like “good job” every time he steps onto your finger.

Introduce Touch when taming a bird

Introduce Touch

If you’ve successfully implemented those steps, here’s another exciting part of the taming process; making your bird get used to your touch. 

Just click the clicker and gently tap the bird’s beak. If it tolerates being touched, try it once again by clicking and then touching his body.

It can help build trust that you won’t have to use a treat in the future anymore. And hopefully, your bird will come to you to ask for help in scratching the hard-to-reach spots in his body because it’s an indication that he trusts you.

Keep the taming session short, lasting around 10 to 15 minutes and two to three times a day and do it regularly. 

How to Tame a Frightened Bird

What if your bird is extremely scared of people that it freaks out even when you’re a few meters away? 

If your bird is extremely terrified of humans, he may have had bad experiences.

So, the next question is how to tame birds with past traumas and how to approach them the right way. 

Well, you need to study its flight distance first which refers to the point where if you come too close, it’ll run or fly away. 

Here’s How to Tame a Scared Bird and Tips for Approaching Him

1. Walk to the cage slowly and calmly but avoid eye contact at all costs so your bird won’t feel threatened. If your bird shows signs of discomfort, stop where you are and don’t approach any further. 

Stop before your bird moves away from you. Otherwise, your bird may think that by moving away from you, you’ll move away too. That’s the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve. 

We need him to calm down so he can get a reward which in this case is the pressure being released. In other words, you’ll move away if he stays calm.

2. Wait for your bird to calm down. When it goes back to its normal posture and is no longer ready to fly away, you can now walk away from the cage.

3. It’s time to teach your parrot or bird to decrease the flight distance. For example, if your bird allows you to get to around 1 meter from the cage, its flight distance is 1 meter.

That means that he feels safe until you get closer than one meter from its cage. But he’ll eventually realize that nothing bad happened when you’re 1 meter away from the cage.

And by staying calm, he was rewarded by you moving away.

4. Just repeat the process until the bird’s flight distance gradually decreases from 1 meter to 0.8m to 0.5 m. It’ll take many repetitions before it’ll allow you to stand right next to the cage. 

Never move away if your bird doesn’t calm down. Otherwise, you’d have to restart the training again. 

If your bird allows you to stand near the cage at this point, you can already apply the taming session above. 

How Do You Tell If a Bird is Scared?

You’ll know if your bird feels pressured, scared, stressed, frightened, or upset with you through its body language. 

For example, when a bird:

  • leans back on its perch
  • crouch down to get ready to fly or run
  • step a foot out to the side
  • suck its feathers close to its body

That means your bird is uncomfortable and scared and wants you to move away. 

Another indication that the bird feels threatened is when it bites you and acts aggressively. Most birds also give a warning that they’re going to bite such as:

  • hissing or growling sounds
  • aggressive back-and-forth movements
  • fluffing up of feather’s mane
  • pinned eyes

Those are their ways of telling you to stay away. Otherwise, it will take matters into its own beak. 

how to tame a parrot

Signs that Your Bird is Comfortable Around You

When your bird fluffs up its feather and shakes or takes the first move to come towards you or step onto your hands, those are indications that your bird trusts you. 

Here are other telltale signs that may indicate that a bird is comfortable with your presence.

  • body contact
  • wing flapping
  • tail wagging
  • dilated pupils
  • hanging upside down
  • beak wiggling
  • food regurgitation
  • singing
  • mimicking the words you say
  • tongue clicking
  • beak rubbing against you
  • little feet dance
  • following you around
  • relaxed posture when you approach

So if you’re bird exhibit those signs, that means it trusts and likes you and is comfortable with you around. 

How to Deal With Miscommunication When Taming a Bird

What if your bird bites you during the taming session? If that happens to you, remember not to react dramatically and stay calm. 

Never hit your bird nor spray him with water because it’ll only increase mistrust and associate you with negative experiences. 

We suggest keeping your fingers together and curling them inward because it’s more difficult to bite a flat surface than a single finger. Then, gently pull your hand until it gets out of its reach. 

A downward shift of the bitten hand can help but verbally tell your bird “No” as well. 

young girl with a tamed bird

What is the Easiest Bird to Tame?

Parakeets, especially the males are the easiest to tame, making them perfect for first-time bird owners. 

They’re also easy to train and many of these birds can talk and build extensive vocabulary. 

Other easy-to-tame breeds are cockatiels, doves, canaries, lovebirds, African grey parrots, Pionus parrots, and green-cheeked conures.

They have different personalities and feathering coloration but most are friendly and docile in nature. 

Common Questions Related to How to Tame a Bird

How do you make a bird not scared of you?

You can avoid scaring your bird by making gentle and calm movements and talking to him with a soothing voice.

It’d help if you’d also avoid direct eye contact. Otherwise, it might think you’re a predator waiting for a chance to attack him.

How long does it take for a bird to trust you?

It may take a few weeks or more to establish trust. But by constant training, repetition, and establishing good rapport from day one, you can help speed up the taming process.

How do you tame a scared bird in 1 day?

Taming a bird is a long process. But by paying attention to his body language, staying gentle and calm, and getting him used to seeing and having you near his cage from day one, you can get on the right foot. 

How do you tame a wild bird?

Wild birds are more difficult to tame than domesticated ones but you can use the hand-taming strategies above.

Let him get accustomed to the new environment, talk to him in a soothing voice and use target and clicker training to tame him.

how to tame parrots

How to Tame a Bird — Final Tips

There’s a high risk that your bird will bite you when you approach him. You can wear gloves for protection. But it’ll only defeat the purpose of the taming session which is to get the bird comfortable with your hand. 

So, we recommend not wearing one and using your hand instead.

As we said earlier, building trust doesn’t happen overnight. Fear may hold your bird back and sometimes, they just refuse to make progress.

But even if you fail and repeat several times, by constant practice and exercising patience, you can build a strong bond with your avian companion.

Did you enjoy our guide on how to tame a bird? We hope it’s helpful for you and if you have additional tips up your sleeve, share them with us in the comment section below. 

We’d be pleased to know your thoughts and strategies for taming a bird. 

READ NEXT: How to Discipline a Bird—A Comprehensive Guide for Bird Owners

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