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My little guy only stepped up when he was extremely young, which I have now understood was probably just because he was terrified and submissive. But even when he did step up he would hop right off if I moved my hand away from his perch. In other words, it was clear there would be no way for me to move him in and out of the cage reliably on my hand or finger.

So I finally just respected his choice and I no longer try to touch him at all. He will hop on my hand sometimes to eat millet but it's clear that's all he is doing, he is not on my hand in order to be close to me, he's on there because it's easier to eat his treat that way. He gets close to me emotionally and mentally in many other ways, he is playful, he wuvs me, and he trusts me a lot more now that I never try to touch him.

I was also afraid this would mean it wouldn't be safe for him to fly if I couldn't get him back into his cage by hand, but that's not the case at all. He doesn't fly a lot, but when he does, he goes right back to his cage all by himself. He knows that is where his safety, food and water are. So if you have a room where he is safe and cannot escape or get onto dangerous household items, just let him out and see what happens! He will most likely check things out and then head right back to his cage, or even if he explores and tries to hide under the couch or something, he won't stay there all day and night. Eventually he knows his cage is home and will head back.

If he is not a good flyer yet you may have to be prepared to gently pick up up with a small towel over him and put him back in, but only after he has worn himself out a bit.

I am a new birb mom so if this advice doesn't come across as correct to the moderators hopefully they will edit it or clarify it.

Good luck!
 

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I just want to be able to handle him if I'm going to change his cage or give him sometime outside his cage without grabbing him.
I understand. It is possible he will never allow you to "handle" him in the way you are thinking. So in order to give him time outside of his cage, you are going to have to trust the process a little bit and trust that he can find his way back to the cage. A small towel on hand is just in case he gets into trouble and you have no choice but to gently pick him up under the towel. You most likely will not need to do this though.

One thing I did for my Sweety before I had a safe room for him to fly in, was to get a pop up pod tent thingy that his whole cage could fit into and then had plenty of room for him to also fly around inside of. So you might explore that as an option if you feel it would be too risky to let him out into a room.
 

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That isn’t a great pic but that’s my guy inside his POD tent. It is big enough that I can get in there with him too if I’m down on the floor. It’s about the size of a phone booth but only about 5 feet tall.

mine is similar to this one but there are some different sizes and dimensions.

 
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