Most pet birds in the United States are bought as hand-fed babies that usually have little, if any, fear of people or aggression toward humans. If you, however, purchase or adopt a wild bird, they will most likely have trust or aggression issues at first with people. Before you get a bird, know that birds need constant attention and their instinct is to bite and chew everything. Taming a wild bird takes time and patience but can be done. The result is an intelligent, devoted bird that can be handled and enjoyed.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- A perch stick thick enough for the bird to perch on without having to wrap its claws completely around the stick (a thick branch or broomstick can work well)
- Treats (raisins and dried fruit work well)
Set aside time each day for training. It can be any time during the day or evening, but set aside 30 minutes per day to bond with your pet. Stick to the training schedule daily.
Keep the bird cage where there is lots of family activity. You want your bird to get used to family noises, smells and having you as a part of his life.
Clip your bird's wings. In an untamed bird, it's generally wise to ask a professional to clip the bird's wings and show you how. Clipping a bird's wings does not hurt the bird. The bird will still be able to gracefully come in for a landing, but won't be able to get the "lift" needed to fly.
Get your bird used to a hand-held perch. While the bird is in his cage or on top of his cage, gently nudge the perch under his belly by his legs. He should step up on the perch Reward the bird with a treat.
For a week, do not try to touch the bird. Just speak in calm tones while the bird is on the perch. When training time is up, put the bird back in the cage and give another treat.
After a week of perch training, try to move the bird from the perch to another perch using the perch-under-the-belly move. Always reward the bird with a treat.
Gradually substitute a perch for your finger (if it's a small bird) or hand (for a larger bird). Remember to reward the bird with a treat.
Gradually touch the bird on his head from behind. By now the bird should be used to you and allow some petting. Don't approach the bird from the front as that might scare him. Gently move to the cheek area and gently touch. Reward with a treat.
Actions to Take
Tips and warnings
- Don't flinch if the bird "mouths" your hand. Birds don't have hands and use their beaks to grasp.
- If the bird bites hard or is aggressive, never get mad. Simply put the bird back and try again the next day.
- Birds are incredibly smart and loving creatures with the intelligence and temperament of a 3-year-old child.
- Bird beaks are powerful and can hurt you or small children. When taming a pet bird, don't be fearful, but be aware that a bird bite can easily draw blood. Don't make sudden jerky moves and don't ever get mad, yell at or hit the bird.
- Never try to tame a bird of prey by yourself.
- If you find an injured or orphan bird, call your local wildlife care centre for instructions on how to handle the situation. Once a bird is tamed, it cannot go back to the wild.
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