Taming and bonding with budgerigars: tips for beginners

reeb

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Berry (♀ Cockatiel) hatched June 2017
Opal (♂ Budgie) hatched 13 August 2017
Pearl (♀ Budgie) hatched 15 August 2017
+ an aviary of 16 other budgies! all hatched 2014-2017
I have seen a lot of questions on the forums about taming budgies. Some users have suggested that I create a single post with some helpful information.

There's a lot of myths about budgies. Firstly, many people do not regard them as parrots. Budgies ARE parrots: they can bond with their owner, learn to talk and are very intelligent. Secondly, budgies are known to be "notoriously difficult to tame", however this is not the case. Budgies are in fact incredibly social with people - even older "more stubborn" budgies can be tamed. Most of the information I have on this topic comes from personal experience and observation of my birds, as well as all the bits of research that I have done over the years. I hope some of this can help someone.

Let's imagine you get your new budgie, and he/she is completely untame with little to no human contact. The bird may fly away the moment you stand next to the cage. So you bring your little guy or gal home, and set him/her up in a new cage. What can you do to bond with your new bird?

What should you do?

1) The cage

While this is a post about bonding, I think it is important to mention that having the best possible cage setup for your budgie will make it more comfortable in its new home, particularly with regards to space. The minimum cage requirements for a single budgie is 18x18x18 inches, however, I've always thought that is a bit too small - the bigger the better! There is a misconception that budgies don't need much space - they are actually very active birds and a bigger cage means a healthier bird. Make sure to fill the cage with interesting toys, along with food and water of course. You want your budgie to like his or her new home, and the cage is a big part of that!

2) The power of trust

Step-by-step, I recommend:

  1. Spend about 2 weeks sitting next to or near the cage talking to your budgie for about 1 hour a day, and if you can, even longer. You can talk about anything really - it will help for your bird to adjust to the sound of your voice. Keep your tone friendly and upbeat - parrots love animated emotions - just don't be so enthusiastic that you scare them.
  2. After this period, I recommend familiarising your bird with the idea of your hand OUTSIDE the cage. Touch and hold your hand on the left side of the cage for a few minutes every day for a week, and then repeat this process for the right, front, back and top of the cage (so right side for a week, top for a week, etc). This will take a lot of patience and time.
  3. Next, you should be able to familiarise your bird with your hand INSIDE the cage. Similar to the above, you can start by placing your hand on the left side of the inside of the cage for a few minutes every day for a week, and then repeat the process with the right, front, back and top of the cage. Your budgie may at first shy away from you or bite you, but as they realise that your hand is non-threatening through this repetition, they will become less afraid of you.
  4. Once your budgie appears fairly comfortable with your hand in and out of the cage (each bird is different and this is important to keep in mind), you can offer them seed, millet, spinach, apple or any other treat/food that they like using your hand. At first they may not eat from your hand, but from my own experience, with enough patience they will as they adjust to you. food=trust, and it is very important for you to let your budgies know that they can trust you in this way.
  5. The hope is that your budgie will begin to step onto your hand. When this happens, continue to hand feed your bird daily for a few more weeks (or as long as your bird needs). Whenever your bird steps onto your hand, vocalise "step up" in an upbeat tone of voice, and offer them their food. When your bird seems comfortable enough, you can start bringing him/her out of the cage and onto a play stand.
When your bird is trusting of you (and your hand) within his/her cage, which is a safe-space, you need to make sure that the environment outside of the cage feels equally as safe for him/her.

2) Playing outisde the cage

There are tons of play stands avaialbel on the market. I have one natural wood tree stand and one traditional table top stand for my birds. When looking for playstands, it is important to look at the materials used in their production.

What should a play stand for a budgie have?

  1. At least 3 to 4 perches at different levels, possibly a swing or two
  2. Food, water and treats available
  3. A variety of new, interesting toys
When introducing your bird to their play stand, make sure that it is fairly close to the cage (the safe space), so that he/she can always go back in if they want to. Allow your budgie to adjust to being outside of the cage, and let your bird explore, even throughout the rest of the room if they want to. You can start to talk to him/her and sit near the stand. You can again offer treats and food from your hand and continue the step-up training.

This, along with repetition over time will help to build a strong bond between you and your budgie! Your bird will soon step up easily and will enjoy being with you more and more as his or her trust of you grows. Always remember that budgies are very small, delicate animals and we look pretty big and scary to them if they haven't been around humans much - bonding is all about you assimilating into your budgie's flock, and must be done slowly and gently.

What shouldn't you do?

Heres a list of behaviour that might jeopardise the bonding process:
  1. Chasing your bird around the cage with your hand
  2. Grabbing your bird in their cage
  3. Trying to pet your bird when it is scared
  4. Yelling at your bird if it nips you
  5. Punishing your bird in any way (some people spray water at their birds when they bite, I really do not recommend this)

If anyone has anything to add to this, please do so in the thread. I'm sure lots of other people also have great advice that I may have missed.

I really hope that this will be informative for anyone who is considering a pet budgie. They are wonderful little parrots, and their sweet personalities can bring such joy into your life!

:greenyellow::blue2::whiteblue::yellow2:
 

tashawithanekkie

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Thanks for this! I think I'll have my son read it after school tomorrow. His budgies have been here for a few months and he's doing pretty well with them but every bit of information helps. Especially the playstand portion, since he removed the one from the top of the cage.
 

Anansi

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Great post, reeb! I love it!
 

Terry57

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Fantastic post! Thank you for taking the time to write this, I can see it helping many people:)
 

Allee

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Thank you for this wonderful post, very helpful and informative.
 

Terry57

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We decided to make this thread a sticky to make it easy for people to find. Thank you again, reeb!
 
OP
reeb

reeb

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Oct 23, 2017
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Cape Town, South Africa
Parrots
Berry (♀ Cockatiel) hatched June 2017
Opal (♂ Budgie) hatched 13 August 2017
Pearl (♀ Budgie) hatched 15 August 2017
+ an aviary of 16 other budgies! all hatched 2014-2017
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
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Thanks so much for making it a sticky! I hope it helps lots of people!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Allee

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U2-Poppy(Poppy lives with her new mommy, Misty now) CAG-Jack, YNA, Bingo, Budgie-Piper, Cockatiel-Sweet Pea Quakers-Harry, Sammy, Wilson ***Zeke (quaker) Twinkle (budgie) forever in our hearts
Well written and informative! Thank you for the new sticky, reeb!
 

Syed

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Help me out guys

Hiii,
This is Syed got a pair of Alexandrine Parakeet on 4 jan they were baby's now approx they are 1 month old from day 1 when i put my hand in the cage mostly male spreads its wings and attacks my hand after feeding them they are scared but do not attack my hand
 

Amadeo

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This is very informative! Thank you!
I have a single cockatiel who is not tame and I'm hoping to, over time, get him to come out and not be so scared.
He talks to me in the cage, preens himself while I talk to him and, for the most part, is usually quite happy. But he spent his life as a cage only bird (he's been with us years, but has never actually been handled) which is really sad.

My only concern is that he will very occasionally hiss. I've read that this is usually because their scared, but moments later he'll be friendly again.
Its going to be a long process, but i hope he'll be happy to wander out of his cage eventually. :grey:
 
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GaleriaGila

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I was thinking this had STICKY written all over it!
I'll look forward to handing it out in future.
Budgies are so great. They deserver full dedication and devotion. Great little birds!
Great job, reeb! We know you have wonderful inspiration!
 

AmyMyBlueFront

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Jonesy a Goffins 'Too who had to be rehomed :-(

And a Normal Grey Cockatiel named BB who came home with me on 5/20/2016.
I wish this post was around when Wally came into my families life 45 years ago..geez...I wish the innerweb was around! :D

Excellent thread and advice. Budgies are so underrated! Such marvelous little creatures full of spunk,mischief,mayhem and love. Everyone should be required to be owned by one if they are thinking about getting a "parrot" ;)




Jim
 

marrmarr

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Bird the budge
Great post! People seem to take these guys for granted. They're a lot bigger than their physical size. I'd like to add that patience is key. It can take months for budgies to finally trust you. Mine took about 3 months to where he no longer is scared of me. Also, if you plan on buying one, know where your bird came from. I cant imagine the kind of trauma birds get from being shipped around to places like Petco, ect.
 

Pikafuey

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Good advice! Is there a way to get my budgie to come out of her cage? She will perch on my fingers inside her cage, but once I try to move my hand slowly out of the cage with her perched, she freaks out! She hates coming out of her cage, despite nothing bad ever happening to her while she was outside of it. I have even tried coaxing her with food and treats, but to no avail. She absolutely refuses to come outside the cage, and I don't want to force her unless necessary (trip to the vet, cage cleaning, etc.)
 

marrmarr

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Good advice! Is there a way to get my budgie to come out of her cage?

what I did was I would praise him with words while on my finger and slowly move towards the door. once he jumped off I would pretend I wasn't interested and wont say anything, until he was on my finger again. eventually id only praise him once he was really close, if not right under the door. it takes a lot of patience, it took me about an hour of doing this the first time. most importantly don't lose your cool the bird doesn't know better.
 

apagano

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Thank you for the great post, two questions..I have had my parakeet stand on my hand many times with Millet as an insentive, just lately she is ignoring the millet, any thoughts? Is it posasible that a parakeet would move around the cage away from your hand as a game? it seems sometimes that mine is?
Thanks Again
apagano
 

Jasmine333

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Good common sense advice about bird care. I love birds and have always been intrigued with them.
 

Melscamp

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Hunny Bunny Munny Sunny & Roger the parakeets
Excellent post! Thanks so much. As said, each bird has its own pace. All 5 of mine are at different stages and I try to honor where each of them are at. Sometimes I get frustrated because it's like, dudes, I love you and would never hurt you, I'm here to make your life awesome... But they have to come to that conclusion on their own.
 

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