‘How to tame a budgie’ is a popular phrase that new budgie owners search for on the internet and with good reason!
Taming a pet bird can be very satisfying and will lead to a deeper and more rewarding relationship with your pet.
How far you advance with taming or training is a matter of personal choice but I guarantee it has amazing benefits. Many hours can be invested in the process but it is also possible to tame a budgie to a basic level in a very short period of time.
Teaching your budgie to ‘step up’ or ‘come here’ involves the same level of trust, encouragement and patience as teaching a puppy to ‘sit’, ‘roll over’ and ‘fetch’.
Read the step by step guide below to learn how to start the taming process. This article will focus on ‘In Cage’ taming techniques with further articles teaching ‘Free Flight’ techniques.
In Cage Taming Summary.
- Buy a young bird and possibly a male (for greater chance of training to talk)
- Give your new family member a few days to settle in to their environment
- Develop a daily care routine to allow the budgie to become familiar with their primary care giver
Following this, you can now begin to truly tame your budgie by increasing the time spent interacting with him and implementing the following techniques.
The most important thing is that your budgie must trust you. Never try to scare your bird or harm him in any way – this includes making loud noises, abrupt hand movements (especially over or near its head) or banging / shaking the cage.
Teaching The ‘Come Here’ Command.
This command is a very useful one to teach and will be handy when your budgie is enjoying ‘out of cage’ time. You can begin teaching the command when your budgie is still confined to its cage in the days after purchase.
Step 1. Offer Food Through Cage Bars And Use Visual Prompt.
Start by offering a piece of food through the bars of the cage. Something yummy mind! Millet is a favourite with most budgies, although broccoli florets work well too. Whilst offering the food, you can introduce a verbal and visual prompt by saying ‘come here’ and by making a ‘come to me’ hand gesture.
Check out this cute video where a budgie and cockatiel race each other to eat spilled millet seed. They’re not my pets but I think they’re really cute!
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqyeGEFOj4U by Steve Hill
Step 2. Encourage All Positive Movement.
2. Praise and encourage every movement your budgie makes to come closer to the offered food. It won’t take long for the bird to realise that the food being offered is a tasty treat and it will begin to enthusiastically come to your hand every time you offer a reward.
This step is the perfect starting point and will make teaching the ‘step up’ command easier.
Are you ready for that? Well, read on!
Teaching The ‘Step Up’ Or ‘Up’ Command.
By now your budgie will be familiar with you putting a hand in the cage and this should not cause alarm to the bird.
The next steps are to teach your budgie to step up onto your finger and palm.
This can be broken down into small steps. Practise each step several times a day in short sessions and only move on when the step is successfully complete.
Step 1. Offer Familiar Food By Hand.
Hold a piece of food that you know your budgie likes between your fingers and place your hand near a perch. At first it might help to angle the food away from your hand, pointing it towards the budgie.
The aim is to get budgie comfortable with being close to your hand and for it to accept the offered food.
Tip – I find that a length of millet works well for this. Offer the entire length and over the next few sessions, gradually shorten the length until a ½ inch piece is being hand fed with no issues. Images are below for a visual guide.
Step 2. Offer Food With Outstretched Finger.
Your aim is to get budgie to step up onto your finger in order for it to reach the food.
Hold a short piece of food between your thumb and middle finger with index finger outstretched resembling a perch.
Approach your budgie slowly and with your index finger, push gently against the lower chest area of your budgie, just above the legs.
At first your budgie might be startled by this, but remain calm and patient. Eventually budgie will step up onto your finger. Keep a steady hand to reassure him that there is nothing to be afraid of. It’s likely he will quickly jump off your finger, but in time, will be content to sit calmly.
Tip – Whilst doing this you can also introduce the command phrase ‘step up’ or ‘up’ or whatever command you like to trigger the correct response in the future.
Repeat this step until such time as the ‘step up’ response is automatic.
Step 3. Offer Outstretched Finger Only.
By now your budgie should be comfortable with stepping onto your finger to access food.
The next step is to get budgie to step onto your finger with no reward of food.
You can do this by increasing the distance between your finger and the food until eventually the food is not associated with the ‘step up’ response.
The easiest way to do this is by holding the food in the alternate hand and whilst budgie is sitting on your finger, slowly moving it away until it is no longer visible.
This step can be achieved quite quickly and might only take a day or two. Some budgies will bypass this taming step entirely.
Teaching The ‘Step On’ Command
Now that you have successfully trained budgie to ‘step up’, an extension of this is to ‘step on’. This can be a little trickier and is not entirely necessary – consider it a bonus command!
It is taught in a similar way to ‘step up’.
Step 1. Offer Familiar Food In Palm Of Outstretched Hand.
Hold a piece of food that you know your budgie likes on the palm of your hand and place your hand near a perch.
Gently encourage the ‘step up’ by pressing the side of your hand against the lower chest area. The aim is to get budgie comfortable to step onto your palm in order for it to access the offered food.
Tip – Whilst doing this you can also introduce the command phrase ‘step on’ or whatever command you like to trigger the correct response in the future.
Repeat this technique until the response becomes automatic.
Step 2. Offer Outstretched Palm Only.
By now your budgie should be comfortable with stepping onto your palm to access food. The next step is to get budgie to perform it without a reward of food.
Using a similar method of increasing the distance between hand and food, it is possible to fully train your budgie to ‘step on’ to your hand on command.
Be patient with this – it can take longer to teach this command than ‘step up’ as your hand is perceived as being like standing on the ground and is less like a safer perch (your finger).
I hope you have now successfully achieved the basic steps of how to tame a budgie using the beginner ‘In Cage’ techniques.
It’s a really great feeling to develop that connection between budgie and human and you are now ready to attempt ‘Free Flight’ taming – where you allow your budgie out of the cage and further develop its skill at responding to commands.
If your budgie hasn’t yet mastered the steps of ‘come here’, ‘step up’ and ‘step on’ – please be patient. Budgies don’t learn to a time frame – just like people, they will learn at their own individual pace. Consistency, calmness and patience is key.
If you have found this guide helpful I’d love to hear about it!
Share your success with me by tweeting it to the world, commenting or by sending me a happy pic of budgie on your finger – I promise to feature it here at the end of this article!