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· Wing Commander
1,779 Posts
Think about it as a balancing act. Your birds weigh up the relative values of two actions:

1) Stay here with my bestest best buddy.
2) Step onto the interesting, but still inferior, human hand and risk being taken away from my bestest buddy.

So while they are together, option 1 is always going to be the most attractive option. You're going to seriously have to make it worth their while in order for option 2 to be the choice.

Scenario 2, where you have them one on one in a smaller cage (size of the cage in this case is probably irrelevant to the behaviour, btw). The choices are different:

1) Stay here on the perch by myself
2) Step up for the more interesting human who is not as good as my bestest buddy, but in a pinch will do - and may even lead to my going back to my friend!

So you can see why option two is more attractive in a bird that is comfortable with a human. For a new bird, this looks different again:

1) Stay here on the perch where I am safe.
2) Step onto the paw of the BIG SCARY ANIMAL.

You have to really take baby steps to make option 2 less intimidating. Hand feeding is just the best process to get there.

Structured training, where familiar repeated patterns of behaviour play out (clicker training, luring etc.) is a great way to break down fear barriers at the bird's pace. I know many people who have "untamed" birds that will respond to known, familiar behaviour in their humans (particular excitement when fetching grasses from the yard, landing on hands or heads in excitement to get to treat foods etc.). Training a pair is harder, and generally you do have to work solo at first so that the bird focuses on you and what you're doing, but once you have the structures in place the familiarity of learned behaviour (eg. step up brings a reward) will kick in and help with getting the balance of the equation more in your favour.
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