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Jessi gives advice on what to do on the first few days after bringing a companion bird home. This advice works for parrots, parakeets, conures, cockatiels, cockatoos, macaws, lovebirds, and lorikeets. It holds true for rescued birds and also those purchased from a breeder or a pet store.

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Link to bird stepping onto finger:

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Jessi: Hello, and welcome to Animal Wonders, I'm Jessi, here's our question of the week: "I just got a new parrot.  How do I get him to like me?"  I have an answer to this--oh!--I've been answering this email a lot lately so I wanted to do a video to help y'all out.  These suggestions that I have for you today are my opinions and what I've learned from rescuing 38 highly intelligent birds, 34 of which are parrots.  

First things first, you need to prepare your space with an enclosure as large as possible, put perches, food, toys, food, water dish inside.  Make it happy.  Throw out all your non-stick Teflon pans, get rid of them, get screens for your windows and practice observant door opening and closing.  When you bring your psittacine home for the first time, they are incredibly stressed out.  This is a very, very traumatic experience for them, and it's important that you know that so you can respond accordingly.  

Even though you'll want to, it's human nature to try and comfort things with our voice and our bodies, don't talk to them on the drive home.  This is another very stressful time for them.  This is the first time they're going to hear your voice really, so you wanna make sure that you're not associating your voice with something stressful.  

When you do get them home, open the carrier door and let them climb out on their own into their new enclosure, and then leave them alone.  I'm not trying to be mean to you or the bird, but they need time to take in their new surroundings and being forced to interact with someone is just going to stress them out more.  Make sure they have fresh food and water and then go about your daily routine.  I'm serious, don't even look at them.  

For the next 2-3 days, try and keep this up.  Try and pretty much ignore them as much as possible.  It's gonna be hard because you're gonna want to interact with, but go about your daily routine just like you normally would.  It's really good for them to see you being comfortable in the area.  Of course, you can go near them to give them food and water, but don't make eye contact and don't talk to them yet.  

After the third day of ignoring them pretty much, you can start talking to them.  Say hello, tell them how much they're appreciated when you feed and water them, and you can start making brief contact with them throughout the day.  And start saying hello and goodbye to them when you enter and leave the room.  Bye, Ecuador.  

After a full week of them being in your home and settling in, you can start offering them a treat.  I'd start with a seed held through the bars, nothing too pushy.  If they don't take a seed from your hand right away, they might be nervous of your hand or your fingers, so you can offer it to them on a spoon or the end of a stick, or you can just set it next to them and move your hand, and then praise them when they take it.  Stick around, let them know they did a good job.

After a week or two of this, having them eat little treats from your fingers, the next step is to open the door and let them explore their space.  If you've chosen not to trim their flight feathers, make sure that they have the space that they have access to is bird safe.  Make sure you have secured doors, block your windows, your stove should not be hot, close all your toilet lids, no fans, and no other animals.  If their flight feathers are trimmed, still do all the above, but then look around the immediate area and make sure there's no hard surfaces that they can hurt themselves on--tile, cement, and glass tables can all be dangerous.

Let them climb out of their enclosure on top of the door or on top of the enclosure.  Entice them over with a treat, let them eat it, and then since you've already established that treats are good from your weeks of practice with them, put a treat down into their food dish so that they climb back down to their food dish and you're establishing that it's fun to go back inside the enclosure, it's rewarding when playtime is over.  

If your bird is doing great with all of these steps, then it's time to offer your finger to get them to step up for the very first time.  You can do that pretty much any time now.  Now there is always the possibility that they will bite your finger, but honestly, that's just part of being a parrot companion.  Steel yourself to keep your finger still, because sometimes, they're just using their beak to test and make sure that perch is stable.  If you move your finger at that point, they're gonna lose trust in that perch.  I know, step up?  If they are biting you because they want you to go away and you move your finger away, they're probably just going to do this again and again to communicate over and over, so keep your finger there.  If they're doing well with all the other steps, it's more likely that they are enjoying your company, so keep your finger there and just wait. 

If they don't step up right away, just move your finger slowly towards the chest.  I have a detailed video on that, you can check that out.  Once they do step up, give them a treat and praise them vocally.  Good job, Lulu, nice work!  Now, set them back down.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but they need to be comfortable being picked up and then set back down.  Once you've established this successful, positive stepping up, give it about a week.  Then you can slowly start moving around with them.  Make sure you put your thumb over their toe, so that if they do spook, they don't hurt themselves.  

If you're still having trouble, and honestly, there's a lot of difficulties that can arise with psittacines, here's a video I made troubleshooting the most common issues that come up.  

So remember, this process can take a few weeks, it can take up to a year or more, but by going slow and keeping all of your first interactions positive, you are now establishing a great relationship with your new feathered friend.  

If you have any more questions, or you need help, put 'em in the comments section below or you can ask me on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.  If you guys would like to go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel, Animal Wonders Montana.  Thanks for watching, guys.  


*clicks tongue*  You're still cute, Ginger.  You're a good girl.