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Go Back   Talk Budgies Forums > Budgie Talk > Taming and Bonding


Taming and Bonding Taming and Bonding is all about helping your budgie learn to TRUST you. This requires time and patience and does not happen overnight.

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Old 07-03-2018, 12:42 AM
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Default Trying to tame hand raised budgie but feel like I am going backwards?

Hi everyone! I have a 7 week old hand raised budgie. The budgie tamer who tamed him said before I bought him she would take him out at least a few times a day and that we should continue that when we brought him home to keep him tame. For the first few days, he would step up onto my finger and when I brought him out he would sit contently on my finger for up to an hour and perch on his budgie playground and seemed fine.

The fourth day he didn't want to come out and kept hopping off my finger when I tried to get him out. The set up of my cage is kind of inconvenient because the gate is way at the bottom and his favourite spots are all at the top of the cage so every time I tried to move him on my finger to the gate he would hop off onto a perch on the journey down to the gate. I did eventually get him out and he seemed fine, even falling asleep on my finger.

I did some reading about budgie taming and how you shouldn't force them to come out of their cage if they don't want to so for the next few days, I just fed him millet from my hand. He will eat the millet off my hand but if I move it further so he has to step on my hand to get it he won't get on my hand. I can also get him to perch on my finger and eat the millet from there, but I have to push him to get on my finger by coming up from under his toes with my finger, he won't step up, and I don't know if I am being too forceful when I do that.

I realized later that an easier way to get him out without using the gate on the bottom would be to take off the roof and I tried that this weekend, but he seemed very scared when I took the roof off and started shaking (I imagine it's like someone taking the roof off your house suddenly!) so I don't think that would be a good way to get him out.

I called the original budgie trainer and she said to take him out of the cage whether he wants to or not because you have to establish you are the dominant one in the relationship and he can't dictate you what to do - but this seems at odds with the other advice I've read about taming budgies. I do worry that the longer he stays in his cage the more settled he will get and that he will never want to come out of it again.

Does anyone have any advice on what I should keep doing? Should I keep doing the millet hand feeding for a few more weeks? I just feel like I've gone a few steps backwards when he was willing to sit on my finger for long periods of time to now where I can't even get him to step up on my finger to eat millet inside the cage. I'm afraid I did something in those first few days that traumatized him and that's why he doesn't want to leave his cage now.

Thanks in advance!


Last edited by Willow_; 07-03-2018 at 02:15 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-03-2018, 03:36 AM
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Hi and welcome to the forum

Iíd leave him to choose when to come out.

The idea behind a hand tame budgie is that you have a bit of a head start in taming as the bird is not fearful of hands. He isnít bonded to you and he is still scared, (just not particularly of those grabby hand things - Heís had a more balanced introduction to those things) his whole world has changed.
When you brought home your bird, he did not know his cage as his safe place. You were the closest thing he recognised and he submit. Now heís accepting the cage as his home in this scary new world.

Leave him to settle in to his new environment. Move gently when you need to be inside the cage to change dishes and clean. Hang out around the cage, chat to him & offer him treats.

When heís consistently happy moving around his new home, chirping and preening beside you and coming straight over to you when he notices you holding a treat, then you can start tempting him outside. You could then consider moving his food bowls lower down, to get him used to being near the door. Followed by placing a perch on the outside of the doorway, and attaching/holding a treat there. Leave the door open, sit back and let him take the lead.

Itís about trust not dominance. He isnít being naughty, heís scared. You know that you are safe, he doesnít know that.

There are many different approaches to taming but my line of thinking is - Do we really want to bully our birds into compliance?
The bird has 3 responses to fear - submission, flight and fight.
Some people (your breeder?) would suggest forcing them out with the logic, ďThen theyíll see itís ok!Ē So, the bird then flies off in a panic.
The owner is then told, ďIts easier to tame them with their wings clipped!Ē
Youíve removed flight, so now the bird is left with the options of submit or bite you.
So then we get posts, ďHelp. I was sold a supposedly hand tame bird but now itís biting me!Ē
This isnít the best start to a good trusting relationship.
Theyíre not like dogs, birds are much more wild. Itís a completely different relationship
Ultimately the question is: Do you want a bird who is forced to interact with you or one who chooses to?

My advice is to read through our new bird arrivals and bonding and taming stickies. You DO have a benefit with a hand tame bird, but all birds are individuals and adjust at different rates.

*Edit:
Iíve just reread this post and realised that it sounds much more abrupt than I intended. I apologise for that, I think that half way through, I inadvertently slipped onto a soapbox and my reply came out more of a rant than a response. My irritation was with the breederís approach and not at all with you.
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Old 07-03-2018, 03:45 AM
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Hi there and welcome. Congrats on your new feathered friend. I hope we get to see pics of him soon. After bringing home your budgie, he needs at least two weeks to settle in before you start trying to tame him (getting him to step up, trying to get him out of his cage). He needs to get used to you, his new home and his new routine. During his settling in period, you should sit by his cage and calmly talk to him, sing or read to him to get him used to your voice and your presence. Covering the top and three sides of his cage will help him to feel more secure. He was likely stepping up onto your finger during the first three days out of fear. Budgies are often submissive when you first bring them home because they're petrified. As they start to settle in and feel braver, they'll then start to let you know when they don't like something, by running away from you or biting etc. and this is what your little guy is doing now. You can go onto the taming and bonding process after he's settled in.

You should never force a budgie to come out of its cage. Their cage is their safe place and forcing them to come out against their will, will make them feel very scared and will also be detrimental to your bonding with him. After he's settled in and you feel he's ready to start coming out of his cage, you can open the cage door and let him come out when and if he chooses. Some budgies come out straight away, whereas others take months to want to venture out. Each budgie is different and some just prefer to stay in their cage. You can encourage him by placing perches on the outside of the cage near the door, and some toys that he likes, or even a play gym. If he likes millet, you could clip a piece of millet near the door to try to entice him to come out. Remember, this is down the track. He needs to settle in first.

If you go to the 'Taming and bonding' section of the forum and read all the stickies at the top, you'll find a lot of fantastic information on taming your new friend.

Best of luck and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.


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Old 07-03-2018, 11:55 AM
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I agree with others, that it is never a good idea to force a budgie to come out of it’s cage just because you’d like them to.

Regarding the first 4 days; sometimes budgies seem to be more tamed than they really are, out of submission and underconfidence in a brand new environment. Then when they start feeling a little more comfortable, they will let you know when you’re “too close for comfort”.

The person you got your budgie from is incorrect about needing to establish dominance. Taming and training has nothing to do with dominance for birds. Birds are prey animals, and you must earn their trust. But before you get on to trying to tame, we advise limited handling in the next couple weeks. Be calm around him, look at him with no hard staring like a predator, talk softly and reassuringly, watch your budgie’s body language and respect when he’d prefer you back off. Your bird needs to settle in his new environment, and observe his surroundings in order to gain confidence, without feeling pressure from you to do more than he is comfortable at the time.

Keep in mind too, that even having a budgie “hand raised” and hand fed as a chick, doesn’t guarantee extreme tameness or a closer bond than starting with a wild budgie. The benefit is that they aren’t AS freaked out by humans as a truly wild budgie would be at first. Regardless of starting wild or hand fed, some budgies will become close human companions over time, while others will let you know their boundaries.
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Old 07-03-2018, 12:50 PM
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Thanks everyone for the helpful advice! I was wondering how he went from being so tame to not wanting to come out in just a few days and your explanation makes sense that he was just too scared before to protest and now he feels more comfortable in his age. I hope I haven't damaged his trust irreparably by making him come out once. @JRS, I did not find your post abrupt at all, thank you for the helpful advice!

He already seems quite settled in his cage, happily playing with his toys and hopping from perch to perch. He will chirp at me when he sees me in the morning and when I come home from work but he definitely still likes being in his cage.

Should I leave him alone for a few days then or continue to work on him eating millet from my hand once a day? He doesn't seem scared of this at all and will continue eating the millet until I take it away.

Also, unfortunately I am leaving on a 2 week vacation on Friday (the timing isn't great, I had my name on a list of hand raised budgies for months so when he came up I didn't want to turn him down even though I would prefer to not get him in a month I'm going to be gone for half of it!) My partner (who I live with) is taking care of him for one week and then a pet sitter (who has lots of experiences with budgies) for the second. I think he likes my partner because he will chirp when he sees him and when he talks to him but I'm the only one who has been doing the hand millet thing. Should I just tell my partner and the pet sitter to leave him alone for those two weeks to settle in or should they also keep doing the feeding from the hand millet thing to get him used to it? Or will he freak out because it's not the usual person he knows doing it?

Thanks, sorry for all the questions! I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge you guys are willing to share here

Last edited by Willow_; 07-03-2018 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 07-04-2018, 12:55 PM
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Hi Willow and to the forums!

You've been given great advice so far and I'm glad you won't be following the breeder's advice, that's definitely not a good way to earn a budgies' trust. I would hold off on giving him millet from your hand just yet because despite the fact that he's comfortable with it, right now he's just associating your hand with food so it's not truly helping him form a bond with you. Sitting by his cage and talking/reading to him is a great idea for the first week or so in order for him to begin to see you as someone he can trust. During your vacation, don't tell your partner and the pet sitter to feed him millet, tell them to sit with him next to the cage and do the same thing. He doesn't have a fear of hands so feeding him millet won't help him right now; it's the individual people that he needs to get used to. Having everyone sit with him and read/talk to him will make him feel more at home.

If you have any questions after reading through the forums' many budgie articles and stickies, be sure to ask as we'd love to help!

We look forward to meeting the little fellow soon

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Old 07-04-2018, 02:33 PM
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Iím not sure if the pet sitter is coming to your house or your budgie is having his own little holiday at hers.
If heís staying in your house it would be nice to get a timer plug and ask her to switch the radio/TV on when she leaves, and the timer set to switch it off later.
If heís staying at hers, then donít assume that sheís aware of current best practice - Check location to any other pets/ possible fumes etc.
I would also recommend you leave a check off list for her to view and work through e.g. a printed chart with dates down the first column and jobs along the top: remove top soiled layer of paper, wash water dish and replace, empty contents of seed bowl and replace with X quantity of Y, etc.
Same with your partner
Have a lovely holiday!
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Old 07-04-2018, 05:26 PM
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Thanks again for the helpful advice! I will tell my partner and the pet sitter just to talk to him outside then. I was just worried that he would get used to no one ever invading his cage with their hands and would freak out if I tried in a few weeks while right now he's used to it.

The pet sitter is coming to my place, I was thinking of boarding him at the bird store I bought him at but I was worried it would be too traumatic for him after finally getting used to our house so I searched for a long time for a pet sitter with experience with budgies. I had to move him up to our bedroom temporarily while we were having a BBQ on the weekend and the poor baby was super stressed so I imagine it would be super traumatic for him to be moved somewhere completely different!

Here's my instructions for the pet sitter, I tried to cover everything! I'm really going to miss him while I'm gone I'm not sure how long budgie's memories are and I hope he doesn't forget me while I'm gone since he'll only have known me for two weeks at that point.

Thanks again for the advice!
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Trying to tame hand raised budgie but feel like I am going backwards?-d3c9eb9d-9de8-4254-b493-c04a3fabe212.jpg   Trying to tame hand raised budgie but feel like I am going backwards?-a25c312b-25fd-4c8a-a574-255f395a2954.jpg  

Last edited by Willow_; 07-04-2018 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 07-05-2018, 03:11 AM
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Sounds great.
Whilst not as bad as insoluble grit, soluble grit (oyster shell) isn’t generally believed to be necessary anymore. There are people on either side of the fence, but I would certainly discourage you from adding it (especially to the seed/pellet mix) for a young budgie trying to work out what is food and what isn’t. A cuttlebone and a mineral block will cover this area of nutrition.
You could specify 2 tsp of seed.
I’m assuming it’s just the heating controls above him and he’s not directly in any drafts.
Only thing I’d add is , ‘make yourself a cuppa’ at the beginning (to help keep her there longer, haha).
Enjoy your holiday.
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Last edited by JRS; 07-05-2018 at 03:38 AM.
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Old 07-05-2018, 02:14 PM
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Thanks, man I'm glad I found this forum as I'm beginning to think the bird store that sold me my budgie doesn't know anything as they told me to add the oyster shells to his food. He does have a cuttlebone and mineral block but I haven't seen him chew on them yet, instead he climbs all over them, I think he thinks they're toys!

Yes, there are no drafts around him it's just the thermostat next to him.

Good thinking I will also tell her to help herself to anything in the fridge haha.

Thanks again for the tips!
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