How to Hand-Tame Wild Birds

Written by louise lawson
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How to Hand-Tame Wild Birds
Hand-taming wild birds can be a fun and rewarding experience. (Northeren mocking bird image by Gail Ranney from

Soaring above the clouds, birds embody wildness and freedom. Birds have been important symbols in many cultures throughout history, representing deities and concepts such as beauty and liberty. The thought of teaching a wild bird to eat out of your hand might seem like just a fantasy. However, it is possible to hand-tame even the most skittish bird species in approximately a month's time with patience and persistence.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Bird feeder
  • Bird seed
  • Nuts
  • Gloves

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  1. 1

    Erect a bird feeder near your home. Birds will frequent the feeder and learn to ignore your presence as you work around your property as they feed. Keep the feeder filled with bird seed at all times to encourage birds to visit your property consistently.

  2. 2

    Add a few fresh chopped nuts somewhere on the feeder where the birds can reach it immediately. Placing nuts like this gives the birds a special treat because they don't have to pick through the seed to reach it. Most birds relish fresh nuts and will remember that your feeder offers this favourite food. Fill your feeder in the early morning, when birds are most likely to seek out a feeding station for the day.

  3. 3

    Stand approximately 15 feet from the feeder and quietly observe the birds. You can talk softly to familiarise them with the sound of your voice, but avoid making any sudden movements. Repeat this step for three or four days, or until the birds disregard your presence at this distance.

  4. 4

    When the birds are completely at ease with you at the 15-foot distance, move 1 foot closer to the feeder per day until you are standing directly in front of it. Consistency is important--the more often you visit the feeder, the faster the birds will learn to accept you. If the birds appear agitated or fly away at any time during this process, back up a foot and stand calmly until they return and once again accept your presence.

  5. 5

    When you can stand at the feeder without disturbing the birds, slip on your gloves, remove some seed and nuts from the feeder, and place them in your gloved palm. Stand quietly as the birds move in to explore the food in your hand. The birds may cling onto the feeder at first as they pick food from your hand but eventually will move down onto your fingers as they feed. It may take two or three days or more until the birds explore the food in your hand, but if you remain quiet they will eventually nibble from your hand.

  6. 6

    Repeat the feeding process daily, gradually moving away from the feeder two or three steps per day, then standing still and extending your hand with a nut. The birds will associate your open palm with a treat. Eventually, they will watch you and follow you around, landing in your open hand to enjoy treats you offer them.

Tips and warnings

  • You can remove your gloves if you're not worried about being scratched.
  • You can purchase bird seed at most home improvement and farm supply stores.
  • Never attempt to tame wild birds. Although you might be able to teach them to eat from your hand, wild birds are not pets.

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