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Step-by-Step Guide for Taming and Finger-Training Budgie Parakeets
Like us, each bird has it’s own unique personality. Some are extraverts who seem drawn toward exploration and human interaction, others are more introverted and may prefer your company from a slight distance. Regardless, with consistency and positive reinforcement, you can train budgies to do what you want. Budgies are small parrots with big brains! Learn to read their body language and take your time. In the end, you will be rewarded with a bonded, trusting, feathered friendship.
Above all, keep in mind these very important things:
- Your bird is very aware that WE are predator animals and THEY are prey. Trust is essential for her to bond to you. Be patient — trust is earned, but so is mistrust — so go slowly and gently. Patience and small doses of daily handling are the key. The overall goal is to EARN (not force) her trust over time.
- If your bird flies off, follow her slowly until she settles, then offer your finger as a perch in front of her and say “step up”. When she does, reward her immediately by becoming her elevator — raise your hand up high into the air. This is rewarding because birds like being high where they feel safe. Secondarily, you can also offer her a bite of millet. Avoid chasing, catching or restraining her in your hand. This can make a prey animal feel trapped and cause her to feel afraid and want to escape. The goal is for her to want to come to you, even if that means just an inch or two towards your waiting finger perch.
- Move her cage around to various parts of the house (wherever you want her to eventually hang out with you) so she gets used to the various areas from the safety of her cage environment.
- A reward must immediately follow the behavior you are trying to increase or strengthen.
The following outlines an intensive, effective finger-training program. I highly recommend completing this training BEFORE you remove your budgie from the cage!
- When you bring your new budgie home, let her rest in her cage for a couple of hours. If it’s dark outside, let her sleep until morning.
- When you have some uninterrupted time, remove the food from her cage and set a timer alarm for 30 minutes.
- When the timer alarm goes off, hold a millet spray or put some loose millet seed in the cup of your hand. Talk softly with your budgie for 1 minute before opening the cage door and tell her what you are about to do. She won’t understand your words; the point is that you are moving slowly and politely, accustoming her to your non-threatening approach into the cage.
- Then open the door and put your hand, holding the millet treat, just below the level of her perch and 1 inch to the side. In other words, don’t force the millet on her, just put it within her reach.
- Wait quietly — without moving your hand or the millet — and talk to her for 2 minutes. If she eats the millet, great!, let her eat it for 2 minutes. If she doesn’t eat it, no worries, you’ll try again soon. After 2 minutes, whether she has eaten the millet or not, say “goodbye” and remove your hand and the millet from her cage.
- Set the timer alarm for another 30 minutes.
- Repeat the above steps again.
- Set the timer alarm for another 30 minutes.
- Repeat the above steps again.
- Continue this procedure as many times, every 30 minutes, as you have the time and patience for.
- At least 1 hour before the lights will be turned off in your house for the night, put your bird’s food dish back into her cage so she can fill up her crop (belly) before bedtime.
Day Two: Follow the same steps as Day One but this time, place your hand with the millet 3 inches to the side of her, along the perch she’s standing on, and at the same level as her feet. This way she has to take a couple steps towards your hand to reach it.
Day Three: Same as Day One, but hold the millet 4 inches away from her.
Day Four: Same as Day One, but hold the millet 5 inches away from her.
Day Five: Same as Day One, but hold the millet 6 inches away from her.
Day Six: Same as Day One, but hold the millet 7 inches away from her. By now, she should be happy to hear and see you approach her cage. She should be coming up to your hand with the millet. You will have made great strides in earning the bird’s trust!
When your bird is comfortable enough to be removed from the cage on your hand, allow her to perch on your shoulder. This will allow her time to check you out — she might preen or play with your hair or earlobe, climb on top of your head, or cozy up to your warm neck and take a nap. This is how your relationship will grow.
Tame budgerigars can be taught to speak, whistle tunes, and play with humans. Both males and females sing and can learn to mimic sounds and words and do simple tricks although both singing and mimicry are more pronounced and better perfected in males. Male specimens of budgerigars are considered one of the top five talking champions amongst parrot species! Males can easily acquire vocabularies ranging between a few dozen to a hundred words. Pet males, especially those that are hand-raised, are generally the best speakers. A budgerigar named Puck holds the world record for the largest vocabulary of any bird, at 1,728 words. Puck, a male budgerigar owned by American Camille Jordan, died in 1994, with the record first appearing in the 1995 edition of Guinness World Records.
Talking Budgie Parakeet Video:
Duke the budgerigar waves, turns around, fetches and flies to owner on cue.
More Budgie Parakeet Pages:
Nutrition and Food Recommendations: Birds fed seed-only diets have a much shorter life span. We provide lists of healthy foods and show you how to grow your own sprouts.
Colors, Varieties, Mutations, Genetics: Budgie Parakeets come in a rainbow of colors. This page has beautiful photos with variety and mutation descriptions.
How To Care For Your Budgie Parakeet: What is the best cage and how should I set it up? How do I keep my budgie healthy and safe? What are the best toys and playtime activities? How do I trim their wing feathers?
FAQ (frequently asked questions): What is a budgie parakeet’s personality like? What are the differences between American parakeets and English budgies? How do you tell a male from a female? Should you keep one, two or more? How long do they live? Where did the species originate?
Training, Tricks, Talking: A step-by-step guide for finger-training, trust-building, and bonding. Watch informative and entertaining video demonstrations. Find out how many words they can learn to say.
Play gyms, Stands and Perches: How to make your own (or order a custom one from us).
Homemade Aviaries and Flight Cages: How to converted used furniture into large flight cages and beautiful indoor aviaries.
Parakeet Food and Supplies Market: We offer organic, homemade bird food plus other essential bird supplies.
Budgie Parakeet Breeder in Colorado: Our family raises, hand-feeds, trains and adores budgie parakeets! Learn more about our selective breeding program and view our gorgeous, tame birds.
Inside Our Aviary: See where our birds live — flight enclosures, breeding room, play gyms.
Our Flock of Budgie Parakeets: Take a peek at our gorgeous feathered friends. Lots of photos with color mutations listed!
Adorable Pictures of Our Hand-fed Babies: Come ooh and aahh over all the cuteness and watch them grow up!
Pre-Adoption Questionnaire: If you are interested in adopting one (or more) of our parakeets, please respond to these questions.
Budgie Baby Waiting List: I know how hard it is to wait when you’re excited but I promise you, the wait is worth it!