Why Does My Bird Refuse to Step Onto My Hand?

There are a couple of reasons why your bird may decline to step onto your hand. Generally, when a bird ignores or even bites an offered hand, she is indicating that she doesn’t want to stop whatever she is doing at that time to do what you are asking. For example, if your bird is eating or playing with a toy, she may not want to have anything to do with you at that moment.

Another reason your bird may refuse to step up is because she is fearful of human hands. If your bird has had a bad experience with hands in the past, such as falling off the hand of a nervous human, she may not want to attempt that again. When you offer your hand tentatively or pull it away as the bird steps on it, you run the risk of making your bird nervous about stepping onto your hand in the future.

Teach Your Bird to Step Up Onto Your Hand

The first step to teaching your bird to step onto your hand is to offer your hand confidently and hold it still (after all, no one wants to step onto a moving platform). As you hold your hand out, say “step up” clearly. Be sure to make stepping onto your hand more rewarding than whatever activity the bird is engaged in inside her cage at that moment. To do this, you need to pair stepping onto your hand with some physical reward, such as a novel food treat that is not offered at any time other than during the step up behavior. Your bird will eventually come to associate the treat with stepping up on your hand and will be more likely to do so willingly.



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About Veterinary Centers for Birds and Exotics

If you have been looking for specialized care for your bird or exotic pet, look no further! We have you covered. At our unique animal hospital, we provide care to birds and exotics ONLY—no cats and dogs! We are the only bird and exotic veterinary hospital with a full-time, board certified bird specialist, Dr. Laurie Hess. Dr. Hess, who, with her two associates, Dr. Amanda Marino and Dr. Amanda Dewey, are the only full-time veterinarians in Westchester County who are residency-trained in bird and exotic medicine and surgery. Call to schedule an appointment for your pet!