Ask Lafeber

Question:

September 24, 2020

Settling in Quaker


Hi we bought a quaker 2 weeks ago and when we try to put our hands in the cage he tries to fly away and avoid us. What is the best way to gain his trust. He wont come to the bars to take treats. I don’t think he has been hand reared. He is about 5 months old we were told. We talk to him and he always has new food and water daily, toys in his cage. How long does it normally take to gain trust. This is our first bird.


Answer:

Hi Debbie,

I have to be honest, you truly have your work cut out for you. And especially with this being your first bird. If this bird was not handfed, you may never be able to tame him. It is definitely going to take a lot of patience and time. First, if the bird’s wings are not clipped, you have little chance of making any progress with him. If he can fly away from you, he will. For a wild bird, two weeks is not long enough for him to be settled in. You should not be attempting to touch him or reach for him right now. You should spend time around him, talking to him softly and trying to gain his trust. You can offer treats in a food bowl, but do not try to get your hands near him. Parrots are prey animals, so they are very sensitive to being grabbed. The bird likely only knows hands as something that has grabbed him and taken him from his parents or flock, moved to a cage, or possibly moved many times. Hands are scary. When you talk to him, your hands should be lowered or behind you. You can sit next to the cage and talk to him. But until he shows interest in you, and approaches you, he is nowhere near ready to face hands. If he does start to interact with you and shows interest by moving close to you, making eye contact and responding to your voice, you can try resting your hand where he can see it. Until he stops running away or shying away from hands, he is not ready for hand taming. This process will most likely be a long process – we are talking weeks, months, maybe even longer. It depends on the bird and on how patient and consistent you are. If you can gain his trust, you might try stick training him rather than trying to get him on your hand. I’ll give you a link with more details on taming techniques. You never know with a bird – he could end up coming around and wanting to be a pet, or he could be wild for the rest of his life. Patience is the key, and acceptance if it turns out he never opens up to being tame. These links below should be very helpful for you, and I do hope this little guy will learn to trust you and want to be part of the family and enjoy human contact.

Teaching Your Bird

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Your Bird’s Home

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

Subscribe to our newsletter