A Guide to taming all kinds of Birds


What is a Tamed Bird –

In general, a bird that is friendly with human is known as a tame bird. But precisely, a tame bird is the bird that enjoys human companion & has a special bond with its owner/caretaker which it shows by its behavior & activities at all times. A bird that is really Tame, is not just friendly or comfortable with human but rather it has a strong emotional attachment with its human companion. It will love & trust him or her, will try to take part in his/her activities, will obey him/her & will miss him/her when he/she is away for a long time. In many cases, a tame bird shows its emotional distress due to its detachment from its human companion by stop eating, acting aggressive or too quiet and plucking off its own feathers – sometimes to its death! Besides, having a tame bird who prefers staying with you most of the time instead of in its own cage requires a lot of careful measures to ensure its safety. This is why a tame bird requires a lot more responsibilities by its owner than other birds that are not tame.

Taming Procedure –

While many people try to follow a “taming procedure” to tame birds, it really works far better if it is considered as a procedure of befriending a bird. They may be tiny little creatures but they are capable of surprising you with their intelligence & emotions. The first attempt of befriending a bird is exactly what you would do while trying to befriend a human – be positive & try to gain its trust. Then – Interact. What will you do when you want someone to like you? You will find what they like & give them that, or give them a treat with their favorite food. Do the same to your bird too. Pay more attention to their comfort & their needs than trying to make them stay close to you. Observe them first and then try something & see how they like it, don’t force anything on them.  Always keep in mind – a taming procedure is a befriending procedure, you are trying to make them your friend or even more –family, not your slave.

FAQs of taming birds and answers – FAQs of taming birds and answers –

What age is the best age for taming?

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

Most birds can be tamed at any age as long as you are following the right procedure. For parakeets & all kinds of small & medium birds – any age is suitable, but it’s a little easier to tame at the age when they have fully weaned & have just learned to eat by themselves. For large parrots the best age is when they are fully weaned and 1-2 week away to eat by themselves.

 

 

Can all types of birds be tame?

Sifat’ tame sparrows (1993, Dhaka)

Sifat’ tame sparrows (1993, Dhaka)

Taming mostly depends on the right procedure, the personality of birds & its previous history, rather than the type of birds. When the proper taming procedure is applied, any type of birds can be more or less tamed. Some birds may just have it in their personality where they are not very social or not very fond of getting friendly with human. Such bird will become somewhat tame but not extremely tame. Sometimes birds with a history of trauma caused by human may have difficulties trusting human again – hence not being friendly or tame.

Does tame bird breed?

Sifat’s tame budgie babies with their tame father (2006, USA)

Sifat’s tame budgie babies with their tame father (2006, USA)

Tame birds breed just as good as any other birds, as long as they are given a compatible partner & a suitable breeding environment, as are usually a bit picky. It is very important for you as the owner to understand that your  tame bird should not be disturbed at this time & should not be expected to act as friendly with you as it does other times. You may see your lovely tame bird showing some aggressiveness & ignorance towards you which is natural & only temporary. Dont get worried about it, let the bird focus on its nest, eggs & babies as they hatch. Do your best to show your support & love for them by taking proper care & keeping their privacy. As the babies starts to grow a bit, you will start seeing your bird becoming friendly with you again & perhaps grow a stronger attachment with you than before for taking good care of the bird & its family. The babies will be become tame in the process too!

 

Can several birds be tamed at the same time?

Photo: Sifat’s bonded cockatiel pair scratching each other & scratching Sifat at the same time (2008, USA)

Photo: Sifat’s bonded cockatiel pair scratching each other & scratching Sifat at the same time (2008, USA)

Photo: Sifat’s tame budgie & cockatiels (2013, Dhaka)

Photo: Sifat’s tame budgie & cockatiels (2013, Dhaka)

It actually would speed up the taming procedure when you are trying to tame more than one bird at the same time. It is a misconception that you must get a single bird so it can be tame by recognizing you as its only companion. It is never a good idea to keep a single birds alone. You can never spend 24 hours with it & there may even be time when you are too busy to spend that minimum amount of time your tame bird requires, leading the bird towards frustration. Keep your bird in pairs or keep a several young birds together & communicate with them both individually & in group. You will soon develop a friendly relation with them all.

Should tame birds be kept in the cage or out of the cage?

Sifat’s tame birds in their large cage with toys & fresh greens (2013, Dhaka)

Sifat’s tame birds in their large cage with toys & fresh greens (2013, Dhaka)

Tame birds should be kept out of the cage only when you are supervising them ensuring their safety. Other times, they must be kept inside the cage & the cage must be big & well organized where they can be comfortable. While large parrots can be kept out of the cage, they must be very well-trained before its attempted & safety measures must be taken at all time & someone must be present at home. When no one is at home & at night time when they sleep, they must be kept in the cage to avoid sudden danger.

 

 

 

 

If I buy a tame bird, will it remain tame with me too?

It depends on several things. First, you must know what procedure was followed to tame the bird. If wrong techniques were used, it may appear tame at the beginning but soon you will find that its not tame at all. Secondly, even if the right procedure was followed to tame the bird, if the bird does not like its new environment or misses the old owner a lot or you fail to make it comfortable – it may not be tame to you. On the other hand, it may even be more tame with you if you can give it a better home & provide better care than its old owner. Make sure you are well-knowledgeable & well-prepared to make the bird comfortable & do the things to enable the bird befriend you.

 

Should I go for a handfeeding baby bird for taming or a baby that has just learned to eat by itself?

NEVER go for a handfeeding baby if you are taming a budgie/cockatiel/lovebird or other birds of such size or type. As mentioned before, any age is fine for taming & its somewhat easier when the baby has just learned to eat by itself. Getting a handfeeding baby puts the baby in danger & you in jeopardy. These baby birds are too tiny & delicate for you to handle & feed. A little mistake of yours would put the bird through suffering & even cause its death.

You can go for a handfeeding baby ONLY when it’s a large parrot – such as african grey, macaw, cockatoo etc. Then also, you must make sure that it is fully weaned and is just a week or 2 away from learning to eat. You must also learn proper handfeeding & prepare handfeeding tools before you go for a handfeeding parrot baby. Never use feeding tube or syringe, prepare a plastic spoon as shown in the diagram later in this article. Home made feeding formula is always the best & a recipe will be provided for handfeeding large parrot babies at the end of this article.

How long a tame bird lives?

A tame bird is likely to live longer as long as it gets good care consistently all through their lives. This is because they enjoy their life more when they are treated as a friend or a family member of the owner rather than just a pet. Such positive environment stimulates them both physically & mentally. They feel secure and become more resistant towards different problematic situations. For example – environmental changes or long travel is usually very stressful for birds physically, even more emotionally. But when its tame and it goes through such situations with its owner, it will stay relaxed knowing its owner is there to take good care of it. My tame budgies had a lifespan of 7.5-11 years and my tame cockatiels have lived almost 17 years and longer. In this long lifetime of theirs, they have always been with me even when I traveled locally & internationally. They have always been very well adaptive to many different situations & remained healthy.

How to clip wings of the bird to make it tame?

NEVER consider clipping wings of a bird whether it’s a small parakeet or a large parrot. Doing so will not only damage its health & fitness but also will root a permanent trauma deep in its mind. Ask yourself – will you like to be friends with someone who crippled you just so you have no choice but to stick to them? I have tame birds of different types & age- wild & captive, small & big, young & adults and never had to clip their feathers/wings to tame them, whether they were budgies or African Greys. Not only I was successful at taming them, I successfully trained them so that can fly around my house but land & play only on those spots that I have pointed out for them as safe. If I could do all that without clipping their feathers – wild sparrows, parakeets & large parrots, so can you!

Some people suggest clipping some flight feathers so the tame bird can still fly but does not fly high to hit the ceiling fan. What about that?

There are other options to keep your birds safe from fan without damaging their wings. You can either go for table fans or make case for ceiling fan as shown in the picture below –

Photo: Sifat’s house

Photo: Sifat’s house

pak fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, cutting their feather and letting them out doesn’t really make anything better for them. If you don’t feel safe letting them out for their flight ability, just keep them in a big cage where they can fly properly, and thus stay fit physically & mentally

 

Taming techniques: DOs & DONTs

1.    The right age of the bird for taming–

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.    Communication attempt –

Try communicating from outside the cage first. At the beginning, just stay near the cage & observe them. Try to understand their likings. Try touching them gently through the cage or offer food through cage bars. Then put your hand inside the cage & offer food or scratch. Let them touch you first before you touch them. Once they get comfortable with that, then you can take them out of the cage, let them sit on top of the cage (because they are already familiar & comfortable with the cage) & continue the same practice
Photo 1: Sifat’s tame budgie enjoying scratch (2007, USA)

Photo 1: Sifat’s tame budgie enjoying scratch (2007, USA)

Photo 2 Source: Internet

Photo 2 Source: Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.    Feeding process for taming –

 Let them eat on their own from your hand – this is a safer, faster & much better feeding process for taming. When you get the bird at the age it just learned eating, it will happen more easily.

Photos Source: Internet

Photos Source: Internet

Photos Source: Internet

Photos Source: Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.    Handfeeding tool –

For handfeeding large parrot babies or for emergency handfeeding of small to medium parakeet babies, you must NEVER go for syringe or feeding tube and these are the reasons why –

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

  1. It is an extremely risky process where it can easily enter the lungs and cause deadly damage or just 1 drop of water/food can put your bird fall dead instantly if gone to lungs.
  2. It causes severe damage to their esophagus (bird’s food tube from throat to crop) & makes the muscles of esophagus weak & inactive since the food is being put directly to the crop without the bird having the move its esophagus muscle.
  3. It damages the crop & cause crop disorder since too much food is being put there at once. Besides the crop is also at risk of being injured by the tube.
  4. It is highly discomforting for the bird.
  5. Even the experts have many incidents of unfortunate deaths caused by using such feeding tools.
  6. Such feeding process hampers the process of learning self-feeding & the babies end up not learning to eat on their own even when they become quite grown. This is a big trouble for both the bird & the owner.

In the photo here, look how closely lies the esophagus & trachea of the bird from the end of its beak. its quite impossible to be 100% sure which one it is that you are trying to insert the tube. One drop of food or water in the trachea will directly go down into the lungs & kill the bird and you cant do anything to reverse it. Now look at the esophagus – its very narrow & delicate and is only prepared to take in the softened food that the birds’ parents has half digested already, not some plastic tube that can easily hurt or damage it.

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

A feeding tool that is the much safer, easier, cheaper & better in every possible way is as follows-

Photo courtesy: Rashdan Ahmed

Photo courtesy: Rashdan Ahmed

5.    Handfeeding large parrot babies –

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

In the picture above – not only the feeding tool is wrong but also the feeding angle is wrong. Check the photo & description below to understand the correct feeding procedure

Photo: Sifat Handfeeding Triton Cockatoo Baby (Dhaka, 2015)

Photo: Sifat Handfeeding Triton Cockatoo Baby (Dhaka, 2015)

In the above picture, please carefully observe the position of the birds, the spoon & the person feeding. Birds head should be gently held up about 45 degree angle & the same angle for the spoon. The food must be slowly put in the point where it can easily slide down the throat. Feed a small amount each time and give a few seconds break in between. The bird should be gently held during feeding to manage any sudden movement. Be very attentive & careful the whole time during feeding because a tiny drop of food/water entering into the lungs is enough to kill the bird in just a moment. Feed a little water right before feeding to eliminate dryness in throat & right after feeding so the food remaining can wash down from the mouth & throat.

6.    Handfeeding small & medium parakeets (budgerigar, cockatiel, lovebird & others) in case of emergency –

Photo : Nazmul Hoque Himel (2015, Dhaka)

Photo : Nazmul Hoque Himel (2015, Dhaka)

As suggested earlier, NEVER handfeed the small & medium parakeets for taming purpose. Only if there is an emergency when both parents of one or more babies die or they become too aggressive & attacks the baby, and there is no other parent pair for fostering the baby, then prepare yourself for handfeeding the helpless baby birds. Sometimes older babies in the same clutch that has just learned to eat happens to feed its younger siblings. In that case you don’t have to feed the younger babies, just provide all kinds of food – seedmix, fresh vegetables, greens, fruits & soft-food & keep them under observation.

Photo : Nazmul Hoque Himel (2015, Dhaka)

Photo : Nazmul Hoque Himel (2015, Dhaka)

The basic feeding procedure & feeding tool is the same as the as the demonstrations above on point 5 & 6. The plastic spoon would be a little smaller size in this case & it requires more caution for small& medium sized babies since they are extremely delicate. Do try to get them interested in trying to eat on their own than you having to force feed. The photos below will give you ideas on how it should be done.

 

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.    Handfeeding formula –

a.    Cerelac –cerelac

NEVER even imagine feeding this to your bird no matter who says what! This is a milk-based product that is not suitable for birds. Bird stomach is lactose intolerant and feeding this will damage its digestive system sooner and later. This doesn’t have the nutrients for birds body either.

 

 

b.    Bread (dry/wet) –
bread

Bread is also not the right food to feed your baby, which many people are used to the idea of feeding babies soaked bread. Just think – does it have the necessary vitamin, protein, minerals that the baby birds needs to grow up healthy? Bread is made with ingredients that are totally unsuitable for bird stomach – milk, sugar, preservative & heavy starch. Feeding soak bread is not only unhealthy but also grows fungus & thus causing severe crop disorder

 

b.    Commercial Handfeeding formula –Sifat_img

The commercial handfeeding formula, even if it is a world famous brand, it is still not the best for your birds. That’s because its full of artificial nutrients & chemical preservatives. It can never replace the necessity of “real food”. This commercial formula can be used ONLY for a few times in emergency situations when there is a dire need & you don’t have the homemade formula prepared. But this can NEVER be fed the entire time the bird baby is being handfed.

 

 

The appropriate handfeeding formula is the one that is homemade, freshly prepared from fresh & real food ingredients such as – raw vegetable, greens, fruits, cooked grains, honey etc. that are bird’s natural diet. You can prepare it and keep it in the refrigerator and feed 2 consecutive days. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before feeding it as you take it out of the refrigerator. Sounds like a lot of trouble? Well, you love your baby bird & you want whats best for it. So this is something you should enjoy doing out of love, not think it troublesome! Besides, its only temporary so enjoy sharing this special brief time of caretaking! Here’s a nutritious recipe that your bird will love being fed –

IMG_3206

Photo: Home made handfeeding formula made by Sifat

Ingredients :

  1. Cooked millet – ½ cup
  2. Coocked chickpeas/ mungbeans/ sprouts – ¼ cup
  3. 2 types of fruits (grated/mashed) : apple, cantaloupe, strawberry, guava, papaya, mango – 1/3 cup
  4. 2 types of vegetable (finely grated): broccoli, zucchini, pumpkin, seasonal green vegetables –1/3 cup
  5. 1 green (chopped) : moringa leaf/ watercress/ spinach/ romaine lettuce – 1/3 cup
  6. 3-4 drops of lemon juice
  7. 1 teaspoon of organic honey
  8. Aloe vera gel – 1 teaspoon
  9. Almond powder (optional) – 1 teaspoon

nutri_feedPreparation method: blend all the ingredients with a little bit water and make a smooth texture that is not too thick not too liquid. Here is how it will look –

For those who are unable to prepare home-made handfeeding formula on a regular basis, may consider using this handfeeding formula – “Avian Care: Nutri-Feed” , since this is made of 100% natural food ingredients and totally free of chemicals/preservatives. Even if you are using this formula, try to mix some fresh vegetables/fruits in it and feed this alternatively along with home-made formula instead of feeding only this. Do remember, there can never be a better su

Photo source: Internet

Photo source: Internet

bstitute to fresh home-made food.

 

8.    To keep your birds from flying away when trying to tame –

Shut your windows, shut your door & turn off your ceiling fan right before you release your birds from the cage. If you are concerned about the bird flying away from you, DONT consider clipping their wings. Instead, follow the suggestions above to create a friendly relation between you & your birds before your take them out of the cage. Also, once you take them out, observe for some time, don’t force it to stay next to you.sifats-husband

You can also bring the bird into your bed with a mosquito net surrounded and let it move around close to you for a few days.

Photo: Sifat’s tame cockatiels (2010, Dhaka)

Photo: Sifat’s tame cockatiels (2010, Dhaka)

Once it gets friendly with you, you dont need to use the mosquito net anymore, and you would see them flying to you & landing on you on their own. You may rather find it difficult to get them off of you!

 

 

 

 

9.    Going outside with your bird + Harness/leash/belt –

Photo Source: Internet

Photo Source: Internet

Never consider taking your tame parakeet (budgie, cockatiel & other same size birds) outside, with or without a leash. These birds are too small to take outside safely and can be easily attacked by predators. Its also not safe to use leash on their fragile body.

Taking large parrots outside is safe as long as you have trained them at home already & have taken precautions & have used safe leash. If you want to learn about Parrot Training, that will another big article for me to share.

Photo: Sifat’s Tame Cockatoo & African Grey outdoors (2014, Gazipur)

Photo: Sifat’s Tame Cockatoo & African Grey outdoors (2014, Gazipur)

 


By-SIFAT E RABBANI

 ( Certified Aviculturist of American Federation of Aviculture, USA. Holistic Treatment Consultant of The Fig Tree Health Group, USA )
[ Sifat E Rabbani  is a holistic Treatment & Nutrition Consultant (Human) since 2008 at “The Fig Tree Health Group USA” – A Holistic/Natural treatment center in New York, USA. The Avian treatment she performs are based on her own experience of 23+ years of bird-keeping & caring, her knowledge on Holistic/Natural treatment obtained through her job in combination of her knowledge & research gained through consulting with many Avian Vets during her stay in New York. ]

This Article is strictly based on my own knowledge & experience of bird-keeping. No internet information sources were used in here, only a few photos were collected from Internet for demonstration purpose. All my suggestions here are proven and they concern both physical & mental health of all types of birds.