Budgies, also known as parakeets, are highly social birds that thrive when they are in the centre of the household activity. Budgies make intelligent pets and can learn a number of tricks. Before teaching your bird any tricks are taught or attempting breeding, you must make sure your budgie is comfortable with its human family. Bonding with a budgie can take time; even though these birds have long been kept as pets, they are still prey animals. With time, patience and understanding, you can develop a true bond with your budgie.
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Place the cage in an area where the budgie will be able to see and hear you for much of the day. This can be the kitchen, an office or a living room; put the cage in whichever room you're in most often. Proper placement of the cage will allow the budgie to get used to your movements and your voice.
Interact with the bird while it remains in the safety of its cage. Talk to it, sit next to it and show it that you are not a threat. This can include offering treats through the bars of the cage. Don't make sudden movements, speak loudly or make the bird feel threatened. The basis of a strong relationship is trust; this will take days or even weeks.
Open the door and reach into the cage, but don't move toward the budgie yet. Place food inside the cage, clean water dishes and baths. Once you can do this with the bird remaining calm, you can start to move your hand in its direction without touching it.
Offer a treat to the budgie with your hand inside the cage. It may take several attempts before the bird is eating out of your hand; be patient.
Once the budgie will approach your hand to take treats, you can move on to touching your bird. Pressing a finger against its belly will cue a natural response of stepping up and forward, and this will get it to stand on your finger. The first few attempts might scare the budgie, so do not try to remove it from the cage until it will sit calmly on your finger inside the cage.
Once your budgie is comfortable on your finger in the cage, you can begin to take it out for short periods of time that will gradually get longer as the bird adjusts to life outside the cage. Offering a favourite treat as it comes outside will not only act as a distraction, but will also help make it a pleasant experience.
Sit with the bird and allow it to walk up your arms and over your shoulders, and explore the area around it at its leisure. Do this when the house is quiet to help keep the parakeet calm. Most budgies have their wings clipped at the pet store, so flying shouldn't be an issue.
Introduce new toys to your parakeet when it is outside of its cage. This can mean setting up an obstacle course on your desk or placing a dish of water on the floor for it to splash around in. Continue to make coming out of its cage a pleasant experience, and your bird will soon be looking for you to take it out and spend some quality time with it.
Tips and warnings
- Don't rush your budgie; letting it go at its own pace will only help make the relationship stronger at the end.
- A budgie with clipped wings will be easier to control and therefore harder to frighten.
- You will probably be bitten several times, but it is important to remember not to react and not to punish; biting is your budgie's way of saying you're going too fast. Take a step back and listen to the budgie.
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