Bird Training

Parrot Training

What we will cover

• Parrot body language is covered in-depth on this page, because training is very hard without understanding the basic parrot body language.
• Target training, clickertraining, tricks, station training, stick training, carrier training, Parrot potty training, harness training and more.
• Reward and reinforcing behaviors positively and negatively

You can teach old birds’ new tricks; I saw many older birds back in my zoo days.  Some of them didn’t even know how to fly.  I remember this red collared lorikeet that we introduced to the rainforest exhibit.  This bird was an older lorikeet and must have come from a very small cage as it didn’t know how to fly at all.  It would barely glide to the floor.  It didn’t take long for this parrot to learn our routines and soon learn to fly to us for treats.

With this knowledge you can receive confidence to understand how to interact and communicate with your parrot. / Our goal is to provide you with the best training techniques, so that your parrot will be happy and healthy in its home environment.  If you love this page and its helpful, we would like to know in our google reviews.

We do also engage our customers to educate them on our social media platforms including facebook and instagram.

Before following the below techniques, let the bird in new acquired to settle into a new environment for at least 24 to 48 hours before handling.  Negative handling techniques do not work well at all for medium parrots like conures and quakers or large parrots and cockatoos.  It does fast track bonding for smaller parrots like budgies and lovebirds which can be quite flighty when arriving to a new environment.  Make sure training is done in a quiet relaxed environemt, with small parrots, start training on a couch or bed so they do not get injured if they become scared.  Remember handling and regular bonding sessions are the key for successful training.  When parrots are bonded to humans, this is irreversible, they will love you forever.

When doing any training there are three basic concepts to keep in mind.


  1. When the bird does something good –> give it a reward
  2. When the bird does something undesirable –> ignore it
  3. Never punish your bird physically or yell at the bird.  click the link for issues with squawking or aggression.

Start training your bird with a simple command, like step up.

Have the bird on one hand, place the other hand against the birds’ chest and say the command, step up, as you apply a slight pressure to the birds’ chest. The bird will then put one leg up, pull slightly up with the second hand and the other leg will follow, reward your bird with a treat, like a favorite fruit, seed or nut.  Then repeat, as the bird gets better, get it to step up a few times before rewarding. Once your bird catches on to it, instead of rewarding it with food, reward it with praise. This will soon become second nature to the bird.


It is important not to overdo the training, keep it short, but frequent.

Stopping your Bird from Bitting

We will cover in this section a variety of techniques used for aggressive parrots.

If your bird is or becomes a little nippy or starts biting, the worst think you could do is pull away or pull the bird down.  Pulling your hand away actually trains the bird to bite as the bird can see you are scared.  This may cause the bird to be more aggressive and display dominant behavior. Act confident and fake it till you make it.  For much more detail in stopping aggressive parrot behaviour click this link

Stick training can help with handling aggressive parrots as they will bite the stick instead of your hand.

Stick training parrots

One is called ‘stick training’. The idea of stick training is the parrot will bite the stick instead of your hand.  This form of training can be both positive and negative.

Before you start stick training you want the Parrot to become familiar with stick training.

Positive Reward training, this type of training is new school, takes longer and is the most effective type of training.  The bird looks forward to this type of training.  Before training an adult bird make sure the bird is hungry so remove the food a couple of hours before training commences.

  1. If the bird has a fear of the stick, leave the stick a distance from the cage until the bird is comfortable.  Slowly bring the stick closer, maybe hourly or daily.
  2. Now the bird has become used to the stick, place the stick on the wire of the cage, if the bird touches or tries to chew the stick, give the parrot click link favorite treat.
  3. After doing this open the cage door and place the stick slightly inside the cage, if the parrot moved towards the stick or touches the stick give a reward.
  4. repeat process 3 until the bird touches the stick with its feet.
  5. When the parrot is confident enough place the food further back, so the parrot needs to step onto the stick to get a treat.
  6. When your bird is confident in stepping onto the stick, then gently take the bird out of the cage just a little bit while it is still on the stick and if the bird stays offer a reward.
  7. repeat the last process a number of times, then start to move a little bit further away while still rewarding the bird every time.  Always rewardng the bird when they step onto the perch.


Negatively reward training.

This type of training works faster is less effective but can work well for small parrots such as budgies but as soon as they are stepping up, we recommend to then start using the positive methods mentioned above.

When first using this method of stick training always get the bird out of the cage using your hands.

Remove the bird from its cage with a stick (similar to what you will use as a perch in the bird’s cage). Then use a second stick and get the bird to step up on to it with the ‘step up’ command. We calmly and repeatedly get the bird to step up until it stops biting the stick, this could take 1 minute to 5 minutes. Only once the bird stops biting the stick is when you put it down. Repeat this a few times a day, until the bird doesn’t bite the stick anymore. This may take a couple of days of training.

When the bird is stepping up happily, use the second stick to stroke their back gently, get the bird use to being patted. Some birds are just not used to their body being touched. As the bird gets used to it, slowly move your hand closer to the bird and eventually pat the bird with your hand, while still holding the stick. The bird will soon learn that nipping or biting will not get it anywhere.

Birds that are stick trained are easier to get from high places such as curtain rods or difficult areas of their aviary or enclosure as they will be more likely to happily step up on a stick that is presented when trained.


  1. calmly hold perch or stick in front of bird around chest area.
  2. Bird will step up.
  3. use second perch or stick to get bird to step up repeatedly.
  4. continue to repeat process for 5-minute intervals.
  5. When confident your bird is used to this process use one hand and get your bird to step up from hand to stick.
  6. Now you parrot is used to your hands you can put the stick down and handle.


Some parrots bite when they are being placed back inside the cage.

Most parrots will want to go on birdie adventures and may bite when they are being placed back into their cage.  This can be a learnt behavior or habit as the bird doesn’t want to go back into its enclosure or aviary.  A positive way of getting out of this habit is placing a treat in the cage every time they are returned to the enclosure.  If you get them out in the morning you can re move the food the night before, have your out of cage time in the morning, place food inside the cage before you need to go, and your parrot should happily go into their cage with no aggression.

Placing a bitey parrot back into its cage

Scenario 1

  1. place yummy treat into the cage
  2. Put bird away
  3. Bird should want to go back into cage to eat breakfast and you can close the door.

scenario 2

  1. night before remove bird food
  2. next morning when your bird has had out of cage time and you are ready to put them away place food back into cage
  3. Then place bird back into the cage



Stopping your Bird from Being Noisy or Squawking

Firstly, you need to expect a little bit of noise, just like you would if you owned a dog, a cat. To stop or reduce the consistent noise or loud squawks, the best way is to start training them at a young age as it will just get worse and more difficult to get rid of the bad habit as they get older although you can teach old birds’ new tricks.

Make sure your bird is in a reasonable size cage, remember you need enough space for your bird to spread its wings, to jump, to move, as well as toys, perches, food/water bowls and swings.

When you’re not home, make sure there are plenty of toys in your birds’ cage, as birds are very active and intelligent creature. They need different types of toys to keep them entertained. It is a good idea to rotate the toys in and out of the cage and in different spots around their cage, so your bird doesn’t get bored with them.

Choose toys they can destroy and chew on, like leather, wood and ropes, toys that make noise, like bells, toys that move, like swings, and toys that challenge them, like puzzle or reward toys. Branch from eucalyptus, grevillea, wattles and other native plants will also provide your bird some to do, leave the leaves and flowers on these branches and make sure they are washed to remove any unwanted bacteria.

The toys and branches will also reduce the chance of you bird developing physiological issues like feather plucking, which is extremely hard to train them out of.

When you are home, always reward your bird when it is doing the right thing i.e. being quiet or make soft noises. If it is sitting in it cage quietly take it out and have playtime or cuddle. If your bird is out of the cage and is being quiet, pay it some extra attention to it or give it a treat.

When your bird is being noisy or squawking, never yell at your bird just ignore it, don’t even look at your bird. If it is in its cage, leave it there. If it is out, put it way, with no pat or cuddles (get it to step straight up and straight in its cage) and only bring the bird back out when it is quiet again. Make a fuss of the bird when it is quiet and never when it is noisy.

For a short period of time the bird may get a little worse before it gets better, but make sure you don’t go back on your training. It will be tough and the whole family need to be a part of it. If you give in to your bird, all the training prior to that point is lost and the habit will be reconfirmed. So, stay focused on the targeted goal and eventually you will have a quiet will behaved bird.


  • Always end the training session on a positive note.
  • Pick a favorite food as a reward, i.e., fruit or sunflower seed.
  • Only train your bird in a relaxed situation.
  • Training session should only be short but frequent.
  •  Keep your train sessions fun for your bird.
  • Never hit your bird.
  • Don’t give up, stay firm and strong.
  • If your bird runs away from you the worst thing you can do is in leave your bird alone.  Quickly pick your bird up and gently handle your bird.  It wont take long for your bird to bond with you.

Frequently asked bird training questions

Q. My bird is biting and running away from me how do I train it?

A. If you want a tame bird the worst thing you can do is not play with your bird.  Running away is common for many small birds that arrive to a new environment.  Many people see the bird want to hold the bird try and grab the bird and it runs away.  They chase the bird and then give up.  If your bird is running away, it is important to catch the bird up and gently hold the bird with gloves or a towel and only put the bird back in the cage or on a perch when they have calmed down this will give the bird a chance to bond with you. continue to do this and the bird will get better each time and before long you will no longer need to use a towel or gloves.  The longer you do not play with your bird the worse it may become as young birds can revert back into a wild state easily at a young age.  When your bird is friendly and bonding with you nicely, its time to start our other training techniques.



Handling your bird

It is best to begin with the basics. Get it comfortable being touched and held. Always stand above the bird, never below, so that you remain in the master position. Place your finger against your bird’s lower breast, just above its feet, and encourage the bird to step onto your finger, with the commands “up” or “step up.” If it obeys, reward it with words, such as “good bird” or something similar. Be careful not to hold the bird too low or it may try to gain higher ground by climbing up your arm, but don’t the hold the bird too high, either. The proper level is about chest high.

During the sessions, repeat the stepping up motions and verbal commands by having your bird “ladder” with your hands. Using your free hand, place your finger against your bird’s lower breast, above its feet, and say, “step up.” Do this several times, as each hand becomes free, staying aware of your bird’s interest and ending the session before the bird bores with it. As you are holding the bird, use one of your fingers to lightly stroke and lift its toes. This will accustom the bird to having its toes touched, making later toe clippings easier.


To train your bird to step back down onto its perch, practice the same motions in reverse. Do not place your bird in the cage or on the perch backwards, but turn the bird so that it is facing its perch, and hold it just below the perch so that it has to step up onto the perch, thought you will be using the words “down,” or “step down” this time. When the bird follows this request, make sure to tell it that it is a “good bird.” You may also follow-up with a small treat after successful training sessions.


If your bird is going to grow into a large parrot, however, do not allow it to sit on your shoulder. This will enforce a bad habit that will certainly lead to a later injury. Birds, no matter how well trained, will bite when they get spooked, and you never want a spooked bird to be in the vicinity of your face. Small birds tend to have smaller and less injurious bites, but still keep this in mind.



Understanding Parrot body language

Parrots have a body language that is difficult for people to understand if they don’t know what they are looking for.  Because parrots see their human family members as parrots, they expect us to know parrot sign language which comes in the form of body language, much like a dog tucks its tail when it is scared or bears its teeth when its aggressive.  Understanding a parrot’s body language will help you adjust your training techniques and take a different course of action.

To get Attention many parrots will puff up its feathers or bob its head when excited. It might move from side to side, hop up and down, or flap its wings.

They may also shriek, squawk, scream or whistle when they want something.

When a parrot doesn’t want to do something, they may move away, shake their head back and forth, parrots may also pin their eyes making them small or quickly dilating their pupils from large or small.  Their beak may also click, and they may lean away from an object or animal/person they do not want to be close to.

Content and relaxed parrot’s will often have its eyes closed, chirp, or march around in circles or be playing with toys. It may also preen its feathers, hop onto a person’s hand or shoulder to show that it trusts them.

A variety of parrot species have differing unique behaviors and communication signals although many of these behaviors overlap.

Some parrots use beak-touching as a sign of affection while others use it as a sign of dominance. Always pay close attention to the behaviors of the individual parrot in order to properly understand its body language.

We will outline to help you learn what specific body language to look out for.  when you notice and can recognize these signs you will know to give the parrot time, leave the bird alone and let the bird calm down.  For more on parrot body language and to help identify aggressive parrot body language click the link and scroll down, aggressive parrot body language.

Harness training your Parrot.

• Training sessions should be conducted in an inside or enclosed environement until the bird is comfortable wearing a harness.
• Do not leave your bird unattended in a harness or tie them to them down.
• The Harness should fit snug enough so that you can slip a finger between the harness and the parrot’s body.
• If there are predators are in the area, always walk in pairs and keep an eye out.
• Use Motivational rewards, such as our birdsville treats, toys or favourite nuts when training your parrot. .
• Introduce the harness slowly, then gradually expose more of it and allow them to mouth it. Every time they mouth the harness, reward your parrot with a treat
• Always reward your parrot when placing the harness on your bird
• Take frequent walks indoors areas first, then proceed to outdoors environments when your parrot has grown in confidence.

Target and clicker Training Parrots

Any type of parrot can be target trained using a clicker.  Medium to large sized birds respond best to this type of training.  All you need is a clicker a target or stick and your parrot’s favorite treat.  We recommend clicker training to be done with parrots that are at least 6 months old.

Parrots will respond better if they are hungry, remove the food at the end of the day and then clicker train your parrot first thing in the morning.  Or you could remove the food and train a couple of hours later.  Millet is the best training treat for small birds, with larger bird’s nuts are very popular training treats.

You are trying to make your bird understand it has done something right and associate the sound of the clicker with a reward that is coming.

The first thing you can teach is make a click sound and give your bird a reward to get the parrot used to the idea.  It may take at least 2 training sessions of this before the bird starts to anticipate a treat is coming, every bird is different and learn at different rates.

How to train your parrot to get used to training

  • click, and give a reward
  • wait for the bird to finish eating a reward before you repeat process

How to train your parrot to turn around

  • Use a target in one hand, a target could be a stick or want and a clicker in the other.  Birdsville have these in stock. Have your parrot ready on a perch or bird stand.
  • Give your parrot a verbal cue like turn and with your clicker hand do a twirley motion.
  • With the target do a slow circle around the parrot, giving your parrot time to follow the target.
  • When the parrot does a circle offer a treat.