The budgerigar as a pet
Make a budgie finger tame
Teaching a budgie to talk<
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Budgie parakeets > Teaching a budgie to talk
Teaching a budgie to talk
Under this heading we will continue with the training of your pet to make finger tame and then we will give you our idea of the best method to adopt in making the tame budgie into a talking budgie. In the first place you must give your pet a few days in which to settle down in his new cage and surroundings and to make himself quite at home, and then everything should be done slowly and quietly.
Until the budgie is about three months old it will not attempt to talk but, during these two or three months it should be spoken to; short sentences, such as "Pretty Joey," "Pretty Boy" and "Hallo, pretty Joey," should be gradually extended, but not until the bird has become proficient in simple sayings should any attempt be made to teach long sentences. Many excellent talkers have been ruined by trying to force the pace. The bird becomes confused and we get such sentences as "Joey's a boy pretty birdboy boy boy Joey bird pretty Hullo bird" just a jumble of words which are not attractive in sequence.
Just one other matter before we proceed with the training. If by any chance you have other budgies in the house, make quite sure your pet's cage is both out of sight and hearing of the other birds. This is very important as birds which can hear one another seldom, if ever, learn to speak the human language.
The real training should commence in the evening; the room lighting should be reduced and a cloth should be placed over the cage and the door gently opened and the hand inserted high up in the cage; the bird should be spoken to very quietly but continuously to attract its attention. There should be just sufficient light to enable the owner to see the bird distinctly. Very slowly the hand should be inserted until it is above the bird and then tne forefinger should be brought gently down to tickle the top of the bird's head; all the time this is being done the talking should continue and the first ruffling of the feathers on the top of the bird's head should be done very gently; if it takes fright and flies about, the hand should be placed high in the cage and Low perfectly still; the bird may perch again, and, if it does, the tickling should be repeated; if it merely ducks the tickling should be repeated as soon as it has settled again and this should be done time after time; frequently it will be seen that the bird comes to enjoy it and will turn its head sideways to get some other part tickled; if it does this the battle is almost over.
For a few nights the same training should be carried out, but the period should be extended; gradually the lighting may be increased and the cage cover withdrawn until the bird allows you to insert the hand without fear. Some young budgerigars at this stage will e, ven come forward to have their heads scratched and, as soon as it doer so, it should be rewarded. The real training now commences; while the head is being scratched single words should be repeated over and over, or a simple combination of words used, e.g., "Pretty Joey." No attempt should be made to get the bird to say anything other than this until it actually is heard to talk. While this teaching progresses additional confidence is gained by the pupil and, in a few days, it should be possible to induce the bird to perch on the finger while being spoken to. The great moment comes when the bird approaches of its own free will, hops on to the finger and perches there. Not until it does so should it be allowed out of its cage. It should come readily to hand before being allowed the liberty of the room as, if it has to he caught for return to its cage.
All the training be so much wasted time and effort. The young bird's fear will return and once confidence is shattered it is not easily regained. Once the bird comes readily to the finger, when it is perched in the room. it can easily be returned to its cause.
There are certain precautions to be taken before the bird is allowed the freedom of the room. There should be no access to an open fire; there should be no hot stove ton on which the bird can land; the windows should be closed and the door should not only be closed but either locked or suitable warning given to other people not to open it during this initial period of liberty.
The bird should be frequently coaxed to perch on the finger, on the shoulder or the head and, when it flies to some other perch, it should be coaxed back. It should be spoken to on its return each time. It should be induced to stand and run on the table, on the chair backs or ornaments. Care should be taken that vases have their entrances stuffed with paper as it is easy for the little bird to slip down the hole and sometimes difficult to get it out again.
Imagination should be used to anticipate harm which might befall the little bird, and it cannot be too often emphasised that the more tame the bird becomes the greater the risk of escape. Innumerable tame budgerigars are lost through the owners leaving the room with the birds perched on their shoulders; they forget the bird is there or are unaware that it has landed on them. The owner of a pet budgerigar should never leave the room without restoring the bird to its cage. It will be his own fault if someone else allows the bird to escape.
The only way in which an owner can ensure against escape is by cutting off, not withdrawing, some of the flight feathers either on one side or on both. This lessens the bird's ability to fly a distance and although sufficient to allow it to fly in the room, should it get out it can easily be recaptured.
If the feathers are withdrawn they will grow again in a short time, so it is necessary to cut them, leaving only two long flight feathers in each wing so as not to spoil the bird's appearance. It must be remembered that these cut feathers will be replaced by full length normal ones with the next moult. The cutting is entirely painless and easily done with the assistance of someone to hold a wing-tip.
Some people prefer to tie some of the feathers together rather than cut them. but this is not satisfactory as budgerigars can remove the thread or it can catch up in a claw and cause serious damage if not immediately detected.
There is anotner danger to guard against when allowing a young bird its liberty in a room for the first time, namely, that of the young bird flying headlong into the window. Birds have been known to break their necks by flying into the glass. The best way to avoid this is to take him close to me window-pane and let him touch it, then if he does take fright he will merely flutter against it with no harm.
The main things which should concern the owner of a pet budgerigar are regular cleaning of the cage and regular feeding with great care against escape or injury to the bird while at liberty in a room.
Occasionally the pet bird should be given a light spray while out of its cage. Budgies do not bathe regularly but like a fine spray with cold water. An ordinary perfume spray will do.