Whether your cockatiel is a baby or an older bird who has never been tamed, he will learn to trust you if you take your time and go slowly. Give the bird several days to adjust to his new surroundings after you bring him home before you begin working with him.
Visit the Vet
Ask your veterinarian to trim your cockatiel's wings before you start to train him. Don't allow him the freedom to fly around your house until he knows you and will come to you. If you have to chase and catch him to return him to the cage, it will teach him to be afraid of you and the training process will take longer. Have his wings clipped initially to allow you the time to gain his trust and get to know him. You can let his wing feathers grow back once he's trained if you plan to let him fly.
Sit and Chat
Get acquainted with your cockatiel slowly. Sit by his cage for a few minutes several times a day and whistle or talk softly. Let him watch you. You will find that he listens and moves closer to you in the cage as he becomes more comfortable with you. Don't put your hand inside the cage or your fingers through the cage bars. Do this for about a week.
Once the bird is comfortable with you by his cage, hold a treat for him through the cage bars. Use vegetables or fruit that he likes, dry cereal or unsalted popcorn. Talk softly to him while you hold the treat, using his name. Cockatiels respond to words and will learn their name fairly quickly.
Come Out and Play
Once your cockatiel will take treats from your hand, open his cage door and offer the treat on the palm of your hand. When he comes to the cage door and takes a treat from your hand, he is ready to learn to step up. Raise your hand or a finger in a slow but steady motion just above his feet under his abdomen. Press lightly until he steps onto your hand. Give him a treat and praise him. Repeat this daily until the cockatiel is comfortable sitting on your hand without a treat.
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