Friday, September 10, 2010

Bourke Parakeets as Pets – Taming Parakeets

Young Bourkes tame down as easily as young Budgerigars. I’ve read accounts that even if they’ve been living in an aviary for a year, they will still tame down if handled properly. This is less likely with budgies. No matter what bird you get, the younger they are, the easier they will be to tame.

Each individual bird has a personality all its own, however, and variances in ability to tame them exists.

If your young Bourke was parent fed and weaned, it won’t be as immediately friendly as a bird that was hand fed by a person. Don’t let that stop you from attempting to tame the bird. When it first comes into your home, give it a few days to calm down and adapt. Speak softly to it through the cage. Allow it to get used to you and your voice. Spend only about 15 minutes working with it the first time you take it out. The timeframe can get gradually longer as the bird seems less frightened of you.

When you first attempt to tame the bird, you need to be in a safe, enclosed area. No window glass or mirrors should be present that the bird will assuredly fly into, possibly injuring itself. Read my earlier post on safety and preventing injuries. If the room can be darkened, that may help you, but what works best for budgies isn’t as effective with Bourkes that are used to being active in the evening when the light is dim.

The bird will be stressed and need rest after your attempts to tame it. Remember to keep the first sessions short. When the bird flies from you, retrieve it, but don’t grab it and get bitten. The best way is to put the back of your flat hand in front of the bird’s chest and slowly push upward forcing the bird to step up. Always talk softly in a friendly voice to the bird. Keep attempting this until the bird is tired and stops flying away from you. It is best not to let it rest between your attempts. It is necessary to follow it all around the room, retrieving it from curtain rods, chair backs, etc. It won’t step up at first, but eventually it will. When it does, continue talking softly to it, telling it what a good bird it is for standing on your hand. Over time you can use a single finger in this same way, but a flat hand at first is probably less frightening to the bird. When it’s on your hand, lift it up a few inches from your face, look it in the eyes, and speak with a smile in your voice. Birds are visual creatures and looking the bird in the eyes is something they relate to and expect when being communicated with.

Some people prefer to clip a bird’s wings so that it cannot fly away. You can do this and it won’t hurt the bird. The feathers eventually grow back. However, I don’t find it necessary to cut wing feathers. Even with their wings clipped, birds are still able to do some flying and often flop onto the floor…hopefully on a carpet and not tile. Also, it seems to me that birds whose wings are clipped will resent that treatment and not soon forget it. I want a tame bird that will honestly feel affection for me, so I avoid clipping wings.

Once your young Bourke is sitting on your finger, continue talking “sweetly” to it. Slowly walk it back to its cage and put your hand and the bird inside. It helps if you are fortunate to have a large cage door. Gently, press the bird’s perch against its chest until it steps off your hand and onto the perch.

With enough daily attention, you may one day have a Bourke who will fly to you when called and possibly even bathe on your hand as you hold it next to a small stream of water from your faucet. Be sure to frequently repeat its name so that it learns to recognize it.

Be certain there is always fresh, cool water available, especially after your Bourke has been flying around outside its cage. After your first few training sessions, your bird will be hot, tired and stressed.

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