Guest Author - Heather Thomas
In a perfect world all companion birds would be perfectly trained and friendly. Obviously, this is not the case. For many reasons you could be faced with the challenge of transforming an untamed bird into a member of your family. You may have chosen to purchase or rescue an adult bird; or a family member or friend could no longer care for a bird and you’ve inherited it, along with its habits. Regardless of the cause, one of the first steps in being able to handle your bird is the basic “step-up” command.
Allow your new bird to acclimate to its environment and you. Provide basic care for the first month. Allow this time for the bird to get used to your hands in its environment. Change toys, clean its cage and offer food and treats from your hand. Speak kindly to the bird while you care for its needs. You will gain the bird’s trust over this period of time.
With the bird in its cage, slowly present a perch identical to the others in its cage. Slowly, place the perch in front of the bird while it is standing on its perch. Calmly give the command to “step-up”. Ideally, you will gently touch the perch to the bird’s chest and the bird will step up. This will take several attempts. If the bird runs away, pull the perch back and wait for it to return to its perch to try again. After many successful attempts, you can move onto the next step.
With the bird still in its cage, hold the perch in your hand but move your hand to the end you are presenting. Extend your index finger so that it runs parallel to the perch. You will offer your finger to the bird and give the command to “step-up”. Often, this is a short transition if you have spent enough time perch training. When the bird willingly steps up repeatedly, offer your hand without the perch.
Out of the Cage
Once the bird happily steps up onto your finger, gently remove the bird from its cage on your finger. This may sound like an easy task, however the bird feels most secure in its cage. Speak gently and reassure the bird that everything is ok. A large door opening will make this task easier for you and the bird.
The “step-up” command is the first step to a tame bird. Spend time each day working with your bird. Keep training sessions short and stop before you get frustrated. Frustration will transfer to your bird and attempts to train will be pointless.