3 Simple Tricks to Teach Your Parrot

Whether you’ve just brought home a new baby bird or you’ve been living with your parrot for 20 years, it’s never too late to teach your bird something new! Working on tricks with your bird serves two main purposes: it stimulates your parrot’s intelligence by introducing something novel, and it strengthens your bond by spending quality time together. In fact, even spending just a few minutes a day working on a new trick can help relieve boredom and give your bird something to look forward to. As an added bonus, both you and your parrot will have fun showing off to friends and family!

Getting Started

Before you start teaching your bird any tricks, you will need to master basic handling techniques if you haven’t already. With a new baby parrot, one of the very first things you will want to teach them is how to step up onto your hand. This will enable you to take them in and out of their cage easily. Your bird may be reluctant at first — this is normal. Be patient with them and shower them with praise when they do finally step up onto your hand with ease. If the time that they spend out of their cage is a positive experience, they will be more eager to step up for you next time, too. 

Learning New Tricks

Once you and your bird have begun to establish a trusting relationship, you can start working on some tricks together. Keep in mind that different birds mature at different rates. A 6-month-old conure or cockatiel may be excited to work with you on a trick, while an African Grey or macaw of the same age might not yet be ready to learn. Always work at your bird’s pace, and stop if they become bored, frustrated, or uncomfortable.

Handshake

After learning how to step up, an easy trick to transition to is a handshake. Extend your finger to your bird, but don’t let them step up onto it. Stop them with just one fit and give a gentle bounce. As you do the action, give a command such as “handshake” or “how do you do?”.

Bird Parrot GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Wave

Once your bird has learned to shake hands, you can transition to waving. Start with a similar action to a handshake so that your bird only lifts up one foot. But instead of allowing them to shake your hand, hold up your hand and give a command like “wave” or “say hello.”

High Five Nat Geo Wild GIF by Dr. K's Exotic Animal ER - Find & Share on GIPHY

Dance/Spin/Bounce

This next trick relies on a different strategy. Observe some of the actions your bird does on its own. What happens if you sing or put on some music? What about if you start bouncing around the room? Many birds like to bob their heads, spin, or bounce around. All you need to do is figure out what your parrot enjoys doing, and then pair it with a command!

Happy Dr Pol GIF by Nat Geo Wild  - Find & Share on GIPHY
Bird GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Tips for Success

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