How to Hold a Cockatiel

Train your little feathered friend to enjoy being held on your finger.

Train your little feathered friend to enjoy being held on your finger.

Your new cockatiel is a friendly and sociable little bird. Once he has been socialized to you and the other humans in your home, he can be trained to step onto your finger and held. But because your feathered friend can be skittish, take this process slowly.

Talk to your bird while he’s in his cage. Use a soft, calm voice and get him used to your presence and voice. Move slowly on this step so he can get used to you and allow you to take him to the next step. Moving too quickly can result in a frightened, biting bird. Each time you talk to him, open his cage and give him a bird treat from your hand.

Slip a leather glove on your hand and unlock your cockatiel’s cage. Slowly and smoothly move your hand into his cage and keep it there. The glove protects your hand just in case your bird gets scared and takes a nip out of you. Repeat this process every day until your bird is used to your hand extending into his cage. Every time he allows you to move your hand into his cage, give him a treat.

Stroke your bird’s abdomen gently. Do this several times and allow him to get used to the feel of your finger against his abdomen. Again, wear the leather glove just in case he gets scared. Once he’s used to your touch, softly press your finger against his abdomen. This should cause him to move from his perch to your finger. After he's moved to your finger, give him a treat.

Place your other hand around your cockatiel’s back, holding his wings in the palm of your hand. Keep your grip soft and gentle. Hold his head with your thumb and one finger. Give him a treat so he associates being held with something pleasant.

Remove your cockatiel from his cage. Keep a soft blanket handy in case he tries to make an escape -- in which case, toss the cloth over him to catch him, then move him to his cage.

Teach your little guy the “step up” command. This should become his signal to hop onto your finger so you can safely remove him from his cage for some together time. Again, give him a treat every time he moves to your finger.

Items you will need

  • Leather glove
  • Bird treats
  • Soft blanket


  • Any time he gets scared, smoothly move your hand away from him -- but leave it inside the cage. After he appears to be calm, try again.
  • Any time you take an untamed cockatiel out of his cage, close every door and window in your house to prevent him from flying outside.
  • Once your cockatiel has become socialized to you and other family members, you’ll need to teach him the “go home” command. This tells him he needs to go back into his cage.


  • Don’t try to put your hand into the cage of an unsocialized cockatiel. You’ll frighten him and be nipped.

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About the Author

Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.

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