Can it even be done?
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've had Caspar for two years, and the other three for one year, and none of them are tame. I've attempted a few times to start hand taming them, but I just felt a little overwhelmed, and when I did some research online, I was very disheartened, as many people had explained that it was nearly impossible to train even two budgies at the same time, let alone four! People were saying that you had to separate the budgies into singles in order to train them, and while it was theoretically feasible for me to do that, I knew the four were already bonded to each other, and it wouldn't be fair to them. So I left them alone for a little while, just popping in daily to refill their pellets and water, and give them fresh veggies. However, after some time, I noticed myself still wishing for more. I thought, there had to be a way. And what was the harm in trying, really?
So, last week, I started their training again.
So far, I've noted that training a flock vs. training a single bird has one major advantage and one major disadvantage. The advantage is that if you have one more friendly, approachable bird, they will come to you first, and convince the others to join. For example, Charlie sees me bending down to grab some millet underneath the cage, knows it's treat time, and comes down on to the lower perch to wait for me. Eventually, the other three will join him because they get jealous/curious/know it's safe. One disadvantage is that if one of them gets scared (this is usually either Kiwi or Indigo, as they are the two more cautious budgies) and flies away, the others will soon follow.
The first issue I ran into is how do I give four birds millet at the same time? Four birds + two hands = ??? I soon learned, however, that with only two spots available, the birds would figure out their own hierarchy. Charlie is always the first one to visit. Indigo will follow soon after because she has a crazy love for food in general, especially millet. Caspar and Kiwi will come down a few minutes later, and the birds will swap places until one gets bored and leaves. There has been a little bit of poking and "get out of my way" stuff, but it never gets serious, or even close to it.
I've been doing 1-2 training sessions daily, and after a week, all four have now willingly stepped completely onto my finger while eating millet. I know we still have a long way to go, though. Charlie is the most confident, while Kiwi is the least, and I think it will always be this way.
Today, I sat next to their cage and read to them, for two 30 min sessions, and they seemed to really enjoy it. They all did that thing where they fluff up and turn their head around to rest it on their backs, and close their eyes and get all sleepy. Charlie quietly cheeped along, adding extra narration where he felt the story needed it
So far, progress is slow, but I think we're on the right track! If anyone has tamed pairs/multiples of budgies before, and has any tips they'd like to share, that would be much appreciated!