How to Hand Train a Bird

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You may not be able to get your parakeet to balance a ball on his beak, but every hook-billed species — from parakeets to cockatoos — can be trained to step onto your finger when you tell him to.

Step 1: Train only wing-clipped birds
Don’t try to take your bird out of his cage unless his wings have been clipped.

Step 2: Desensitize bird
To get your bird not to flip out when you put your hand into his cage, several times a day insert your hand into the cage and wave it slowly in the bird’s direction. Repeat this daily until the bird gets used to it.

Try holding a bird treat when you put your hand into the cage. Once you can get your bird to eat from your hand, you’re well on the way toward establishing ‘hand trust.’

Step 3: Hold perch or stick
For the next two weeks, insert your hand into the cage several times a day–but this time, hold a perch or stick in your hand. Your goal: getting the bird to step onto the perch.

Step 4: Trigger “step up” reflex with perch
When the bird gets used to the perch in your hand, start getting him to step onto it. Hold it at a right angle to the bird’s body and gently nudge him in the chest. This will trigger his ‘step up’ reflex.

Always say ‘Up, up’ or ‘Step up’ when you nudge the bird with the perch. Give him lots of praise when he steps onto it. He’s making progress!

Step 5: Replace perch with hand
When the bird is comfortable standing on a hand-held perch, you can start training him to stand on your hand alone. During each training session, move your hand farther down the perch — and closer to the bird.

Step 6: Discard perch
After a few days, your bird should assume that a perch comes with a hand attached–so now it’s time to up the ante once again. What’s next? That’s right: your hand without the perch.

Step 7: Trigger “step up” reflex with hand
Moving slowly and smoothly and repeating the ‘Up, up’ command, nudge the bird in the chest until he has no choice but to step onto your pointer finger to steady himself.

Step 8: Repeat
Repeat this procedure until the bird has no problem stepping onto your finger and perching there.

Step 9: Practice outside of cage
Now you and your feathered friend can begin working outside the cage. With the bird perched on your finger, slowly and smoothly bring him out through the cage door.

If you have a large bird, a T-stand will be a helpful training tool when working outside the cage. Practice putting the bird onto the T-stand and taking him off again.

Step 10: Practice verbal command
Practice the ‘Up, up’ command diligently until the bird knows that he should always step onto your ‘finger perch’ when you say so.

If the bird gets startled and flutters off your hand, calmly follow him to where he lands and nudge him, saying ‘Up, up.’ Usually, he’ll step right back onto your finger.

Step 11: Enlist friends and relatives
Encourage your friends and relatives to work with your bird as much as possible. The tamer a bird becomes, the happier his relationship with his human flock will be.

Did You Know?
Birds in the parrot family have two toes facing forward and two facing backward, to help them hold onto things while they’re climbing.

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  1. when wings are clipped correctly it won't stop my bird from flying they just can't fly up up and away. unless I cut really short.

  2. I prefer not clipping the wings because if the bird gets scared they can’t fly back to their cage and harness training is great if you don’t wanna free flight your bird

  3. Hey ok, so I have a bird and don't know what type of bird it is XD my bird looks exactly like yours though so can anyone tell me what type of bird that is!?

  4. Please read this I need ur help

    My birds wings have been clipped but every time I put my hand in he jumps on the walls of the cage and then falls on the floor. Will he be hurt or is it part of the process

  5. It isn't necessary to clip a bird's wings' to let him or her out of their cage. It just makes it much easier to train. Have fun xX

  6. My bird can step up and will sit there until I put him down, yet he won't eat from my hand or let me pet him. His wings aren't clipped and he is only a baby. What should I do?

  7. Lol this took him 3 weeks to make the bird to step-up
    I did it in only 1 day without cliping their wings
    1.take your bird out of its cage
    2. If you dont have a stick or something take out your birds cage perch and it is also useful because your birs is used to its perch
    3. Now put the perch near the birds chest or his knees and the bird will step up now put the bird down for 10 or 5 seconds and keep repeating this process again and again
    I did this process for about 1 hour you can do it for 30 min put you finger near the bird chest or kness
    And your bird should step up
    TIP:if your bird does not step-up do the no 3. Process that is to put the perch near the bird or so.

    TIP 2 (important for birds health) : give the bird some water between this process i prefer you to give them cool or cold water after 1 hour or so

    Hope this helped😊

  8. I trained my bird in 2 days because it was a baby Indian ringneck

  9. Super helpfull 😃😃😃😃 if i had a bird to do this. I will have one. 😑😑😑