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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.
Thread Description:I don't want to overwhelm my budgie with training.

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  #1  
Old 01-20-2019, 10:22 PM
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Question Am I Moving Too Fast?

Hi everyone, first of all my apologies if I'm doing this wrong as this is my first post on this site.

I purchased a young female budgie just over 2wks ago which I have named Skye, and would love to hand train her. I wanted to make sure I'm using the correct technique to minimise stress for her and yield the best results as I have much more experience training/handling dogs than birds (I have owned budgies before but never hand tame ones).

I'll try not to make this too wordy, haha.

Basically I started by just sitting by the cage browsing the internet or reading, and occasionally whistling to her. She is comfortable with this now and will whistle to me consistently and move around the cage freely (even eat seed) with me sitting beside her.

Then I had my hand outside the cage while talking to her, same result.

So I have been putting my hand in the cage slowly while holding a small piece of food (millet or various fruits/veg) and holding it as still as possible for a few minutes and then retreating. After a few days she would move around my arm/hand, whistle, preen and eat with it there as long as it stayed still. She never touched my hand or the treat though.

Now I have started to place my hand in and then slowly move it toward her (stopping every cm or so, or if she looks startled or like she might run/fly away - once she calms I retreat). She has brushed against my hand a couple of times but still has no interest in the food rewards.

After a few more days I stopped using food and just placed my hand (with finger extended) in the cage instead, and immediately she was a bit more comfortable with it. I even managed to get her to step up (briefly) a day later.

Since then she seems less trusting of my hand though (even though it took only a little encouragement for her to perch on me once I got it close enough). She didn't seem startled/overwhelmed at the time.

Did I do something wrong? I feel like I might be moving too fast for her?
Should I be keeping my hand perfectly still and not approach her at all?

How can I reward her when she won't accept food from me? (I have been trying to use removing my hand as a type of reward but not sure if it's working).
Why is she more comfortable with my hand if it doesn't have food?

- Side Note -
I have not let her out of the cage, or tried to take her out yet as I would like her to comfortably sit on my finger first so that I can get her back in.
Also her cage is in the lounge/family room as this is where I spent the most time when I am home, and I can only allow her to be outside the cage in my bedroom so that I can close the door to keep her safe from my indoor dogs (I would be in the bedroom with her the entire time).

Any answers to the above questions or advice is appreciated.
I want Skye to spend time with me voluntarily; because she enjoys it and hope that I'm going about it the right way.

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Old 01-21-2019, 12:25 AM
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Have you tried a piece of the whole millet spray? For now just spending time with her and resting your hand on the outside of the cage would probably calm her from the "invading" hand. Soon though you could go back to just holding the hand inside the cage without forcing her to step up. At two weeks she's showing a lot of potential but I'd just back off a bit and slow down. They're all individuals in gaining confidence with their human companion.
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Old 01-21-2019, 02:45 AM
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Thank you for your reply. I have been using the little fingernail sized 'pods?' from the millet, not the whole spray (I thought it's size might be intimidating for her). She is very clever, but I agree that it would probably be best to ask a bit less of her for a while.

She has started nibbling/eating the small treats I have left in the seed dish for her, so I will try going back to offering food through the bars of the cage again.
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Old 01-21-2019, 02:50 AM
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Just a little piece of advice. Before you go letting Skye out of her cage in your bedroom, make sure she has been in that room before and is comfortable in there. You said she is in the lounge room, so unless she is already currently spending time in your bedroom as well, this room will be a new and likely a scary place for her. Good luck but it sounds like you’re already off to a great start.


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Old 01-21-2019, 03:00 AM
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Thank you for you advice. I will start bringing the cage up to the bedroom for a couple of hours at a time over the next couple of weeks, I just wanted to make sure she was settled in the lounge room first as that is where her cage will be most of the time.
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:17 AM
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We usually approach a bird in training slowly, at their pace. Since she is backing off your hand is "invading her space". I would back off, as suggested, to outside of cage. You can work on holding a perch in your hand with treats to start perch training her. Ultimately this means you should be able to have her step up on to a perch from wherever she is sitting. The next step would be for her to step up on to your hand or finger. Count on this training taking at least a month or two.
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Old 01-22-2019, 07:18 PM
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To build your budgie’s trust, sit by her cage and read, talk or sing quietly to her for a period of at least 10-15 minutes, 3 or 4 times day.
Rest your hand on the outside of the cage when you talk to her so she'll learn that your hand is safe and will not hurt her.

After a week, rest your hand inside the cage when you talk.
Don’t make sudden moves, don’t try to touch her.
Let her get used to the idea that the hand is now in her safe place and not harming her.

After a few days, begin moving your hand slowly toward your budgie. If she becomes agitated, stop moving your hand and just hold very still until she calms down. When she's comfortable with your hand near her, you can offer her a bit of millet or a few seeds. I like to offer them in the palm of my hand first and let the budgie determine when s/he is read to step onto my hand.
In a few more days, you can begin your taming and bonding sessions with "step-up" using either your finger or the back of your hand.

Always work at your budgie's pace.
Move slowly and talk reassuringly and calmly to her whenever you interact with her.
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Old 01-23-2019, 01:59 AM
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Thank you for your advice. I will let you know how the training is going in another couple of weeks.
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Old 01-31-2019, 12:21 AM
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Hi, I'm back again. I feel like I'm not making any progress anymore.

I'm not sure if it's just going to take a LOT longer than I thought (as in 6 months or more), or if I'm still doing the wrong thing. I started from the beginning again & Skye is friendly and talkative when I'm beside the cage and with my hand beside, so I have been putting my hand in and leaving it perfectly still with food in my palm.

I don't think he's scared of it as he will still whistle, play with toys, preen etc nearby, but he has no interest in the food. If I rest the edge of my fingers on the upper perch he will sometimes walk across them & a couple of times he has 'preened' the edge of my finger (he only touches me for half a second in either case).

It has now been about a week & it seems like he has no interest whatsoever in coming any closer than that. In fact most of the time he plays with his toys while I have my hand in the cage and practically ignores me. I keep reading & being told to just wait until he is curious enough to eat from my hand, but I'm starting to think he never will (he's happy to eat from the seed dish with my hand in the cage though).

I don't know what to do... he's not scared of my hand as long as it's still, but he refuses to perch on it at all. He doesn't even seem to like food; he eats the seed and may nibble on the extras I put in (millet and various fruit & veg) but he never eats them.

I have no clue how to train an animal which doesn't like food. Every animal I have owned could be enticed to come closer/learn tricks with some patience and their favourite foods.

I know every bird is different, but will Skye ever have enough interest in the food to investigate my hand?
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:15 PM
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How much seed are you giving Skye each day?

It will be easier to work with him if you ensure you are not overfeeding him.

A budgie only needs 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of seed per day. I recommend splitting that amount into two separate rations - one given in the morning and one in the evening.

Have you started trying to get Skye to eat pellets yet? He should have pellets available 24/7 and I'd also suggest having dried herb salad in his cage for him to munch on as well.

Instead of giving Skye his morning seed ration in the morning in his seed dish, hold the seed in the palm of your hand. Try this for about 10 minutes (if you can manage to keep your hand in the cage that long). See if Skye will try the seed in your hand when it is only available that way. If he doesn't eat it with that time period, then put the seed in a dish, take it away for an hour or so and then try again giving it to him in your palm. If it doesn't work the second time then put the seed into his seed dish and let him eat normally.

Let me know how that works out for you.
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