Ten Tips for Training Your Baby Bird
4. Giving treats
Treats should not be given indiscriminately; they should be reserved for when the bird is doing something that is to be encouraged. While it is still young, begin to give your bird handheld treats after it has climbed onto your hand or followed a command. Just be careful of how you hold it.
The treat should be held with the tips of your fingers facing out to the sides rather than from top and bottom. This is to protect your fingers from accidental bites, because the bird may mistake your fingernail for a nut and bite into it. You can also hold the treat on your open fingertips.
5. Towel Training
Getting your bird accustomed to a towel is essential, since you will be using towels for various situations, such as for grooming, giving medication, or handling an injury. You will want to include towel training in your regular training sessions.
Using a small white or light colored hand towel (bright colors may alarm your bird), allow your bird to step onto the towel, perhaps to eat a small treat that has been laid on the towel. Once the bird is accustomed to the towel, take the towel and wrap the bird from behind, taking special care not to press against the bird’s chest with the towel or your hands. (Birds need to be unrestricted at the chest, or they can easily suffocate.) Hold the bird’s sides only, so that it cannot squirm out of your grasp, and using your other hand, place your middle finger and thumb on each side of its neck, with your index finger resting on top of the head to keep its head still.
6. Discourage biting and aggression
Be mindful that birds often use their beaks to balance, placing their beaks on the object they are about to step on. Do not jump back expecting to be bitten or your bird may become nervous about stepping onto your hand. Birds also like to taste things, including your skin, so you may find it appearing to nibble on you, but it is really just touching its tongue to your skin. You will know the difference.
Additionally, biting should always be discouraged. But rather than screaming or punishing the bird, try to remain calm, and in the master position at all times. Timeouts are not effective, either, as you may unintentionally train your bird to bite when it simply wants to be left alone. Instead, firmly say "no," place your hand, palm out, in front of its face and use a stop gesture.
On the other hand, if your bird is behaving aggressively -- flapping its wings, screaming, or raising itself high (to make itself appear big and scary) -- do not ignore it or stand down, but stay close and use calm words until it has settled down. You should also never try to hold the bird when it is overexcited.
If your bird does get you in a bite hold, try a puff of air to make it let go, and repeat the discouraging words. Needless to say, there will be no treat after a biting session.
To prevent your bird from biting and chewing on furniture or window blinds and coverings, you can use a veterinary approved deterrent called bitter apple spray. Spray this on the objects that you want your bird to keep its beak off of.
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