Teaching Bird Tricks: The Wave

Many bird owners see programs on television where birds are performing tricks, saying cute lines and interacting with their owners on a personal level. Most of these owners wish to have the same relationship with their own birds, but do not realize how easy it is to teach a bird a few tricks. With a little patience and a few minutes of dedication a day, birds can be taught a number of tricks and they are often more perceptive than owners realize. But first there must be trust between the pet bird and its owner.

Owners must build up a relationship with their birds before attempting to teach their pets to do tricks. They must be able to handle their pet birds, touch their bodies and have their birds sit on their shoulders and hands. Being afraid of being bitten will be a hindrance in the learning process, so trust must be established beforehand. Owners should then establish what their bird’s favorite food is, to be able to use food treats as a reward. These treats should then only be used while training, so that the bird can associate the treat with learning and that it will be an incentive for him/her to perform a trick.

One of the first tricks, which is the simplest, that most owners teach their birds is the wave. At first, a verbal and visual cue is used, and is taught from the simple action of the bird getting onto their owners hand. Holding out the right hand, as if for the bird to climb on, the owner will tell the bird to wave and wiggle their fingers as the bird lifts its foot to climb on. Before the bird is able to place their foot on their owners’ hand, the owner will take the hand away and praise the pet immediately. This will teach the bird that whenever he lifts his foot for the verbal command, he will receive a treat. Repeating the trick a few times each day will teach the bird to associate the word “wave” with the action.

After getting the wave down to a fine art, owners can move on to other prop-less tricks such as the “turn around” and to shake hands. With each new trick learnt, the difficulty and skill can be increased. Teaching a bird small tricks can be as rewarding for the bird as it is for the owner and gives owners and the pet quality time together. With trust, activities and hours of fun, the relationship between owners and beloved pets can only grow stronger.