Full disclaimer: this method may not work for every bird because every parrot is different. Some might require more patience than others and some may simply never adjust. In my experience, however, as long as you have the patience to keep working with them, most of our feathery friends will come around. They may not want to be cuddly or affectionate with you, but they’ll at least tolerate you holding them and enjoy your presence.
First things first: ask yourself what kind of relationship you currently have with your bird.
- Is he frightened of people like a wild bird would be? He wasn’t hand-raised or hasn’t been socialized with people? Many pet store birds are like this. I’m going to call this Type A.
- Is she a rescue and you have no idea what kind of conditions she was subjected to? She’s aggressive and fearful of humans but instead of running away, she tries to tell you to leave her alone by biting, screaming, or fluffing up in a threatening manner. I’m going to label this Type B.
- Have you had him for a while but he suddenly doesn’t seem interested in you anymore? He tries to bite or get away from you, yet adores someone else in your household and lets them do everything you can’t? This is going to be Type C.
If you’re not sure which description fits your particular problem, try the method you think is best. If that method fails, try another one. If you’re still having trouble, please feel free to message me on any platform – Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Keep in mind, I’m not a vet. I can only give you guidance based on my personal experiences.
- Since your parrot is not accustomed to people, you need to build up some trust by leaving him alone. It sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But you’ve just brought the little guy home and he’s already experienced a world of change. Give him time to settle in. My suggestion would be to wait a week at least. Just let him watch the household and get comfortable within the safety of his cage.
- Now you can start moving closer. Get a chair and put it closer to his cage. Slow movements are best here. Don’t do anything aggressively. Your objective is to respect his fear and satisfy his curiosity. He’s going to watch you and try to assess whether you’re a threat. Slow movements let him keep his eye on you better and are less likely to cause a “flight” response. Then, turn on the TV or read a book. Just sit there, close to him. You only need to do this for maybe an hour per day. Enough for him to start thinking “that monster isn’t trying to eat me.” Do this everyday for as long as it takes him to start looking around and getting comfortable with your presence. He should be preening, singing, or at least looking at things other than you. He should seem relaxed when you’re nearby before you move onto the next step.
- Buy some treats for your little friend. Healthy foods like fruits or vegetables are best, but if he won’t eat those, then get him some seeds (millet work great; you can cut a stalk into tinier pieces to serve as individual servings).Every time you walk by his cage, talk to him. Then open the door and drop a treat into his food bowl. Eventually, he will look forward to seeing you. You’ve become the sign that he gets a treat. You’re something positive that he looks forward to. There’s no clear sign to determine when you can move on, so I’ll throw out an arbitrary “do this for a week” because the next step will determine whether he’s ready to move on or needs to be given more time.
- He looks forward to seeing you, but you’re still scary. So brace yourself because this one might take some time. When you walk by his cage from now on, instead of dropping the treat into his bowl, hold it in your fingers. Make him to come to you. Some birds will be braver than others and come over right away. Others need coaxing. Start slowly. If he approaches you even by a few tiny steps, say sweet things and drop the treat into his bowl. Every day, require him to come just a little closer. Don’t give him the treat until he comes toward you. If he never approaches you, go back to step 3 and try step 4 again later.
- Eventually, he’s going to be taking treats from your hand. From here, you can hold one finger out with the treat in the other hand and make him step onto your finger to get the treat. It takes patience but he’ll get there eventually. Just keep bribing him. When he finally steps onto your finger to get the treat, give him the treat without moving your “perch finger” and let him step off on his own. Do not move him from the cage yet. Let him practice a few more times, getting treats along the way. He learns to be comfortable with stepping onto your finger. Eventually you can move a little and if he seems okay, take him out.