Parakeets are social animals, greatly appreciative of their flock, which can certainly include humans. On the other hand, they also have a natural instinct to fly away from fearsome monsters like you. Gaining your parakeet’s trust involves getting him to see you as a friend and not a predator.
Position the cage in a family room, although not one that is usually packed full of partying adults, yelling children, bouncing dogs and stalking cats. If you have a lively household, put the cage somewhere that people pass by, but not right in the middle of the action. Your parakeet needs to feel part of the family but too many strange loud people and animals will scare him.
Advise your family on parakeet protocol -- in particular not making loud or sudden noises near the cage or trying to take him out before he has settled in.
Spend time near the cage every day for about a week, just talking quietly to your pet. This gets him accustomed to your presence and voice. You can also start making a distinctive noise, such as whistling, just before you top up his food bowl or supply treats. This is the beginning of training him to come when called, which can be useful later on.
Open the cage door once your parakeet seems comfortable with you standing nearby. Put your hand a little way in but obviously don’t try to grab or pet him. Withdraw your hand if he seems particularly nervous or agitated. Repeat until he starts coming over. This stage takes about a week, depending on how confident he was to start with.
Start holding a treat, such as spray millet, when you put your hand in the cage and let him take it.
Make your hand into a convenient perch by forming a fist and pointing out your index finder (like making a “gun”). Let him jump on if he wants to. Gently pushing your finger against the bottom of his chest might encourage him to jump up.
Close all doors and windows leading to the room with the parakeet’s cage. Cover any mirrors and pull the window blinds or draw the curtains, to prevent accidents. You might also wish to protect some of your furniture with old sheets -- toilet training is not something that comes naturally to birds.
Let him perch on your finger or hand and withdraw your arm from the cage, once he seems comfortable. Let him explore the room as he wishes. To return him to the cage, get him to perch on your hand, put your hand with parakeet in the cage, wait till he hops off, withdraw your hand and close the door.
- Spend at least an hour with your parakeet out of the cage every day and more time just in the same room. He needs the exercise and the companionship.
- It is easier to bond with a single parakeet than with a pair. However, this means that you have the entire responsibility of companionship. Unless you are at home (relaxing, not working) most of the day, it is probably best to get a pair. A compromise is to get one parakeet, spend time bonding with him and then get a second. A parakeet’s flock can include both humans and birds. The second bird will probably follow the first one’s example, making earning his or her trust fast and easy.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.