Hi Laura, youíve been given good advice above.
With regards to out of cage time, it isnít absolutely necessary for them to be fully tame in order to do so, itís just a lot easier.
At the time of posting, you said that one cage was in your bedroom and one was upstairs. I suggest that you assess both of these rooms to judge which will be the simplest to Ďbird proofí, both in terms of safety (covering mirrors/windows, placing items so that it would be difficult for a bird to fall behind a piece of furniture, poisonous plants that need relocating etc) and in terms of limiting very high roosting spots that could be awkward to remove them from if you suddenly needed to return them to their cage (eg. A blind within the window inset is easier for you than a curtain rail).
Perhaps you could have a slight reshuffle of the furniture within these two rooms to create a safer and less cluttered layout.
Give the birds a few days in their cages in the new room to familiarise themselves before allowing them to choose to come out of the cage.
My birds are semi-tame (will only step up for a bribe and have no real interest in me) and they are allowed out of the cage daily. They pop in and out throughout the day , and just naturally go back into their cages at the end of the day.
Make sure that you have a LOT of free time before you decide to leave the cage door open, you really donít want to make this a scary experience by having to catch them.
If there is anyone else living in the house, I think itís a good habit to place a sign on the outside handle of the room door(s), to avoid someone opening it at the wrong time.
Birdproof the room as much possible. Have some sound playing softly in the background, open the cage door(s), sit a little way from the cage and read a book/watch tv etc.
Let your bird choose whether to come out of the cage or not. If they donít, thatís fine, it often takes a while, just try again another day.
Most birds fly around a little crazy at first, thatís normal. They likely havenít had that amount of space to fly before and every potential landing spot seems to consist of untested materials. Your heart will also be racing but sit still and wait, donít add to the confusion by trying to help unless absolutely necessary, as youíre likely just creating another thing to get away from (you
They often land on something high (curtain rail, picture frame, lampshade) wide-eyed and panting; sit still, let them catch their breath, calm down and think it through.
The most appealing places for your two will likely be the high spots and the other birdís cage.
Attach perches to the tops of their cages - For us, these are great places for them to hang out as any poop tends to fall into the cage. Donít place anything new and scary (eg brightly coloured new toy) in these areas that you want to encourage them to fly to; try to make them look familiar and safe.
I would recommend that you (at least initially) alternate which birdís cage to open and allow out only one bird at a time. Hopefully, this will encourage them to fly to the other birdís cage (rather than the curtain rail) and if these cages are placed at different sides of the room, it gives them a nice little exercise route.
Going back in the cage.
With perches on the outside of their cage, beside the doors, they should eventually find their way back inside.
Faerybee uses positive reinforcement to get her birds to return to their cages.
Quote - ďI have untamed budgies that go back in their cage because I've used positive reinforcement training to teach them they will get a reward when they do so.
Initially, when I was ready for them to go back in the cage I would first dim the lights and pull down the shades in the room. If the radio or TV was on, I turned it off.
Then I would stand by their cage and ringing the bell on one of their toys while telling them, "It's time to go in your cage now!"
Once they went back into the cage, they were given a small bit of millet.
This method worked well and they now go in the cage when asked to do so without the lights being dimmed or the blinds lowered and the TV or radio can stay on.
Getting the millet reward is the best part of Ďgoing back homeí.Ē
I realise that you have stated that your particular birds arenít interested in millet, but this could be any food that they find appealing. You could also split their daily ration of seed into two halves and give the second half at the end of out of cage time.
Once theyíve found their way back a few times, itíll become easier. Theyíll know what theyíre doing and what you want, plus youíll know where they like to visit and can think of ways to make certain areas (where youíd like them to be) more enticing, block off others and also make strategic poop protection additions.
Hopefully you will have some good time left before uni restarts, to make some progress. Try as best you can, to create an out of cage routine that you will be able to maintain when back at uni.
Best of luck