Parakeets are a common choice of companion for beginner and seasoned bird enthusiasts alike thanks to their inquisitive, playful, and sociable nature. That said, parakeets—like many other bird species—can be shy and skittish at first, and it takes time to gain their trust.
So, how do you go about building a bond with your parakeet so that they feel comfortable and confident around you? Let’s explore this step by step.
Winning Your Parakeet’s Trust: The 4 Steps
Before we get into the steps, it’s important to acknowledge that winning your parakeet’s trust likely won’t happen overnight. While some parakeets—especially those that have been hand-raised from a young age—quickly warm up to their new human parents, others need much more time.
Whatever your budgie’s personality, here are some steps to take:
What You’ll Need:
- Lots of patience
1. Let Your Parakeet Get Used to Your Presence
When you first bring your parakeet home, don’t overwhelm them with attention. It’s better to put their cage in a room where you spend a lot of time and let your bird get used to you from a distance at first.
If your parakeet sees you and hears your voice (speak softly when around your bird to avoid startling them) often without you directly interacting with them, they will get used to your presence in a way that doesn’t feel threatening. It’s also wise to move slowly around your new bird, as sudden movements might panic them.
2. Start with Feeding
At first, only put your hands in your budgie’s cage to put food and water in there. Don’t try to handle your bird at this stage. When your budgie seems comfortable with you putting your hands in to feed them, place a treat on your palm to encourage them to come to you. This helps the bird create a positive association with your presence.
If your parakeet shies away at first, take a step back and try again later—don’t force things. It may take several attempts before your parakeet feels comfortable enough to take the treat from your hand.
3. Encourage Your Parakeet to Step Up
Now that your feathered friend is confidently taking treats from your palm, it’s time to start encouraging them to perch on your finger. Keep your hand steady to encourage confidence in your bird. Gently touch the bird’s lower chest to encourage them to lift their foot and step onto your finger.
When the bird’s foot touches your finger, say “step up” so that they start to learn the command, and repeat this every time you want your parakeet to step onto your finger. Again, this might not happen right away, so be patient.
4. Let Your Parakeet Explore
Once they’re happy to perch on your finger, it’s time to start taking your parakeet out of the cage so they can explore their surroundings. Gently remove the bird from the cage while they’re perched on your finger to gauge their reaction.
If they get stressed, put them back and try again later. The next time you try, take the bird out for just a couple of seconds and gradually build up the length of time in each session. When they seem comfortable, you can slowly move your bird further away from the cage and build up to walking around the room with them. Offer treats to create positive associations.
Try Petting Your Parakeet
When your parakeet is okay with approaching you to retrieve a treat, you can try gently touching their beak, then move on to petting them on the sides of the head.
If they enjoy being petted, this is another great way to bond with your parakeet but beware: Touching them anywhere below the neck or on the back or wings may be perceived by the bird as a mating ritual, so this should be avoided. Furthermore, not every parakeet is comfortable with petting, so don’t force it.
Stick to short training sessions lasting around 10 minutes to avoid overwhelming your parakeet when teaching them commands like “step up”.
Don’t worry if your parakeet doesn’t immediately warm up to you; it’s completely normal for birds to be nervous around new people, and it can take weeks or, in some cases, months for some birds to fully trust you.
It’s Fine to Start Again
If your bird is afraid of you because you went in too enthusiastically at the start, start afresh by giving them time to get used to your presence without you interacting with them directly. Then follow the other steps described above.
As long as you’re patient, kind, and consistent and go at your parakeet’s pace, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t start to trust you soon. On a final note, always be very gentle when handling your parakeet, and make sure children know not to squeeze or be rough with the bird.