|Let's Celebrate Pet Birds!|
T.J. Lafeber D.V.M.
Contact Taming For Large Birds
Large birds present some danger to owners because of the possibility of biting. Contact taming is recommended only for those people who have had experience handling larger birds.
Plan: The same plan is applied in this procedure as with the EZ-TAME CAGE-only the setting is different.
Preparation: Have your bird's flight feathers cut, beak blunted, and toe nails clipped.
Pick an area just slightly larger than needed for the owner to sit on the floor and be comfortable. In actual size about 3' to 4' square. The area in a home most suitable could be a closet, end of hallway, shower stall, or something like a playpen or box with straight smooth sides that will accommodate both you and your bird.
A small area keeps the bird confined and close to you. Larger areas invite cat and mouse games. Repeated "round-up-time" causes short tempers and hostile attitudes.
Close proximity to the owner causes birds to accept the situation and adjust to it. The main precaution is for the owner not to do anything that would be interpreted by the bird as hostile.
Procedure: Plan for each taming session to last 15-30 minutes and repeat daily or more often to make good progress.
Getting Birds Out Of Their Cage
To work with a bird he must be out of the cage, and this at time presents problems. If you reach into the cage to catch him, you probably will be making the bird even more fearful of you, and if done repeatedly, much harm can be done. For this situation use a cage which has a bottom that can easily be removed. With the bottom out, the cage is laid on it's side in the confinement area. In a short time the bird will wander out.
The owner now carefully gets into the pen with the bird, and assumes a comfortable position.
Step 1 - Waiting For Fear To Alleviate
At first the bird will be fearful and all his mental and physical efforts will go toward finding a way to escape. It's only after these thoughts begin to wane that any progress can be made. Initially, then, it is a matter of time maybe 15-30 minutes-before any progress is possible.
The bird has to feel that he is not being attacked, or being put in a defensive situation, We want the bird to feel that everything is okay, that the person confined with him is not a predator, aggressor, or, in any way harmful.
Step 2 - Contact
The bird is tested from time to time by sliding your hand near, waiting, and repeating the procedure until the bird steps onto your hand. Wait again, let him feel comfortable.
For the first sitting this may be as far as you go, but it is real progress. At future taming sessions your bird will accept your hand more readily, although each time, initially, he will think of escape.
Step 3 - Raise Birds Off The Floor
When you start to elevate your hand, he may step off. By repeated experiences he will remain on your hand.
Step 4 - Using Height As An Advantage
At first you may be sitting on the floor with the bird, but later on you may find that by being higher-either kneeling or standing-birds will step on your hand quicker. The explanation involves the insecurity a bird feels with another living thing over him. Birds will compromise their fear of your hand to get to a higher position.
It he starts to walk up your forearm, elevate your hand and forearm. That way you can keep him from walking to your shoulder.
Since the first goal is to make birds relate to your hand, allowing birds to climb to your shoulder lets them avoid your hand. Also, until your bird is fully tame-your ear or neck might be bitten.
Step 5 - "Stair Stepping''
Climbing comes natural to members of the parrot family. So, parrots quickly take to stepping up from a finger on a hand to the finger on the other hand in a sort of climb the ladder exercise. With your bird on your index finger facing you-press your finger from the opposite hand against his chest. This pressure generally causes birds to step up onto whatever is creating the pressure. Soon the action feels comfortable to him and he will continue "stair-stepping'' from one finger to the other as you rotate hands.
Step 6 - Freedom and Owner Involvement
The following days repeat the procedure, only add more personal contact. As the bird allows-touch the bird on the chest and back, and try working toward the head.
If during any of this time the bird wants to move away, let him. Don't try to physically confine him as the result will be fear and distrust. The more freedom he gets, the more trust and confidence he will have in his owner.
The object will be to have the bird freely step on your hand or forearm, to let you scratch his head and back, and have confidence that he is in no danger.