Tails Blog

Teach your Parrot to Step up

Steve Coppell - Sunday, July 31, 2011

Parrots have been kept for pets for centuries, since before the Roman times. For many people these creatures are revered for there colourful appearance, character and charm. New Zealand is home to six native species of parrot, though they aren't to be kept as pets because they are under threat and so are protected. 

The shape of a parrots beak offers clues about it's proffered diet. Whether it has a small compact bill designed to remove grass seeds from stalks and husks like the Cockatiel and Budgerigar, or the relatively larger beak of the Amazons and Greys for tackling a variety of fruits and seeds, or the thin bill of the Kea which is used to probe for insects.

As keeping birds for pets has become increasingly  popular, so our knowledge has improved with regard to the different species dietary needs and requirements. Some breeds of Parrot can live for 80 years and beyond. A good diet is an important aspect when you consider what provides the best outcome for a happy healthy Parrot.

That being said, Tails has a huge range of food and supplements specially designed for all your pet birds dietary needs. These are just a few. 


Toys for Parrots
Parrots are playful, and should never be denied access to toys. In the wild even our own Kea have been known to chew on cars parked up in national parks causing extensive damage and mayhem. Chewing things provides entertainment and mental stimulation. You don't have to spend a lot of money buying the most expensive toys available on the market, but you do need to be mindful that what you give them to chew is not poisonous.

Cost effective options
There are cost effective options like Pine Cones. These can be studded with treats for encouragement. Twigs and Branches for chewing. Toilet rolls and paper towel tubes, these are all light, hygienic and easily replaced when soiled.

Purchase a toy or two for your parrots environment
If you decide you want to purchase a toy or two for your parrots environment, buy ones that will last because otherwise your parrot will make short work of it, and your hard earned cash will quickly be converted to mess at the bottom of your parrots cage.


Training your Parrot
People quickly associate parrots with the idea that they can be trained to speak, and in many cases this is true, but some won't utter a word. Parrots have been known to have cognitive word association, rather than automatons repeatedly uttering the same words. Calling their owners by name, saying thank you when given food, saying hello when you arrive and good bye when you leave. All this is only achieved by our interaction with them as cognitive beings.

Step up

The first place a lot of  people start when they begin to train their parrot is to step up. Step up is taught most easily outside the cage to begin with. Ideally, place your bird on a T bar stand, facing you at chest height. Then offer your hand to the bird at it's chest while giving the command to step up. Some will automatically step up. If it doesn't step up,  push against the bird enough to unbalance the bird with your flat downward facing palm. When he climbs aboard praise and stroke him. If parrot tries to bite take things slow and offer a perch initially till your parrot becomes more use to you. Sometimes a treat in your other hand is an effective encouragement. Repeat this exercise regularly, it should soon becomes natural. By teaching step up you are asserting your dominance.

Fly to you

This behaviour (asking to step up) can extend to training your parrot to fly to you. Simply step back from the perch while extending your hand and give the command, praising him copiously when he does what is required. The distance between you and the bird can be extended until he is flying some distance to you. An extra reward or treat will not go amiss at this stage.

Check out our other Bird related blog Posts

Your Parrot and Happy Healthy Feet   
Keeping a Budgie for a Pet  
Keeping chickens for pets in NZ 
Treat foods for birds 
Feeding Parrots