You've done it! You've bought your first bird. You've chosen one that suits your lifestyle and your family, and you've got a young one too, because they settle more easily. You've invested in a good quality cage, the right food, a few toys, tasty treats - everything! Now it's time for the 3 T's, Taming, Training and Talking …
It's all about getting your bird accustomed to you, and only you. During these early stages it's not a good idea to let anyone else interfere - this may cause problems with family and friends, but there will be plenty of time for introductions to them as soon as the bird is totally tame with you.
It's important that you pay your bird as much attention as possible. The more time you give it, the tamer it will become. Don't make the mistake, though, of thinking you can spend a whole day with it and then ignore it for the rest of the week. Your bird needs regular daily attention.
Within a few days when your bird has started to relax and settle in, offer it a piece of fruit or seeds from your hand. Young birds are seldom reluctant to accept food this way, and may even beg by bobbing their heads up and down and chattering. If your bird shy's away from hand feeding, don't worry, just keep trying. After a while it'll start grabbing the food from your hand and eventually, it will take it willingly.
A young bird will readily treat your finger, hand or arm as an extension of its perch. If it does not, then start by training it to step onto a short length of dowel. One way of doing this is to 'bribe' the bird by holding its favourite food item just out of reach, and giving it a helping hand to get to it - first with the dowel, then later with your hand.
Once your bird is finger or hand tame, allow it to explore the room (after taking all safety steps first, like closing windows and doors). You could place special perches in the room, and the bird will soon get to know them. Before long, your new friend will probably start landing on your shoulder or even your head!
This is where you and your bird really begin to have fun, and it's up to you what happens next! Many birds will be happy to invent their own tricks - just give them the chance by buying a few toys from your pet shop. In addition, you could try the following, which cover the three basic tricks: climbing, perching and pulling.
Ladder climbing ~ Car driving ~ Rope climbing ~ Toy Pulling
Once your bird has mastered these kinds of tricks you'll be surprised what it is capable of. The only limit will be with your imagination! Don't forget to encourage your bird all the time. The best way to reward it is with tasty treats.
Some species are better talkers than others, and each bird differs from the next. That's why it's so important that you take the time to build up a close relationship with your bird, only this way can you learn its moods and abilities. Teaching your bird to talk can be an amusing and rewarding experience.
It's best to begin with an easy word or phrase, repeating it as often as possible. Try using either the bird's name or 'hello', or something equally simple and say it every time you come into the room. After a while, the bird may learn from your family and friends, and may even pick things up on its own.
You can discover what to do in greater detail by reading some of the many excellent books written specifically about your chosen species. Ask your pet shop owner to recommend a few titles. For both yours and the bird's sake, do make the effort to build a good relationship right from the start. And don't make the mistake of trying too hard, too soon. Your bird could take weeks or even months to settle into its new home, and if that's the case, just sit by the cage and talk gently, as often as you are able.