Trained Parrot Blog
HomeStoreNU PerchesTrees & StandsTrained Parrot BlogParrot AcademyVideos

Subscribe to Blog
Your Name
Your Email
Dancing Senegal Parrot


Type: Senegal Parrot
Genus: Poicephalus
Species: Senegalus
Subspecies: Mesotypus
Sex: Female
Weight: 120 grams
Height: 9 inches
Age: 16 years
Caped Cape Parrot


Type: Cape Parrot
Genus: Poicephalus
Subspecies: Fuscicollis
Sex: Male
Weight: 330 grams
Height: 13 inches
Age: 14 years, 3 months
Blue and Gold Macaw


Type: Blue & Gold Macaw
Genus: Ara
Sex: Female
Weight: 850 grams
Height: 26 inches
Age: 12 years
Trick Training Guides
Taming & Training Guide
Flight Recall
Go through Tube
Turn Around
Flighted Fetch
Play Dead
Piggy Bank
Climb Rope
Ring Toss
Additional Top Articles
Stop Parrot Biting
Getting Your First Parrot
Treat Selection
Evolution of Flight
Clipping Wings
How to Put Parrot In Cage
Kili's Stroller Trick
Camping Parrots
Truman's Tree
Parrot Wizard Seminar
Kili on David Letterman
Cape Parrot Review
Roudybush Pellets

List of Common Parrots:

Budgerigar (Budgie)
Alexandrine Parakeet
African Ringneck
Indian Ringneck
Monk Parakeet (Quaker Parrot)

Mexican Parrotlet
Green Rumped Parrotlet
Blue Winged Parrotlet
Spectacled Parrotlet
Dusky Billed Parrotlet
Pacific Parrotlet
Yellow Faced Parrotlet

Peach Faced Lovebird
Masked Lovebird
Fischer's Lovebird
Lilian's (Nyasa) Lovebird
Black Cheeked Lovebird
Madagascar Lovebird
Abyssinian Lovebird
Red Faced Lovebird
Swindern's Lovebird

Lories and Lorikeets:
Rainbow Lorikeet

Sun Conure
Jenday Conure
Cherry Headed Conure
Blue Crowned Conure
Mitred Conure
Patagonian Conure
Green Cheeked Conure
Nanday Conure

Black Headed Caique
White Bellied Caique

Poicephalus Parrots:
Senegal Parrot
Meyer's Parrot
Red Bellied Parrot
Brown Headed Parrot
Jardine's Parrot
Cape Parrot
Ruppell's Parrot

Eclectus Parrot

African Greys:
Congo African Grey (CAG)
Timneh African Grey (TAG)

Blue Fronted Amazon
Yellow Naped Amazon
Yellow Headed Amazon
Orange Winged Amazon
Yellow Crowned Amazon

Galah (Rose Breasted) Cockatoo
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Umbrella Cockatoo
Moluccan Cockatoo
Bare Eyed Cockatoo
Goffin's Cockatoo

Red Shouldered (Hahn's) Macaw
Severe Macaw
Blue And Gold Macaw
Blue Throated Macaw
Military Macaw
Red Fronted Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Green Winged Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw

Glossary of Common Parrot Terms

How to Hold a Parrot - Step Up and Grab Methods

Comments (0)

By Michael Sazhin

Saturday July 31st, 2010

Here is an article for the very beginners. This is not an article about actually teaching a parrot to step up, refer to this one for more information about actually training this. This one is about the actual approach to requesting a trained parrot to step up. This is great for members of a household that has a parrot that steps up but want to know how to hold it, folks who bought a tame baby parrot and want it to step up, and just anyone wondering about good ways to hold them.

I've watched videos online, seen people (who claim to be parrot owners) try to pick my birds up, and watched people at the bird store trying to handle the birds. I have amassed many observations of people approaching parrots the wrong way and it won't step up or even bites. Meanwhile I could reach for the same parrot and it steps right up. It's not because the parrot has a specific thing for me and not them but rather because I've developed a universal approach to picking up parrots whether mine or other. I was very disappointed not to have an article like this available to teach me how to hold a parrot when I bought my first and had no prior experience so I would like to share what I've learned with you.

First and foremost, you don't want to leave a bad first impression on the parrot. Avoid making any sudden moves anywhere in the presence of the parrot. This includes both within sight and earshot. If you slam the door, even though your parrot may not have seen it, it may be in a nervous/jumpy mood and picking it up will be more difficult. Always err on the side of being too cautious because if you succeed in interaction, you can slowly be more and more abrupt/normal and it won't bother the parrot, but if you leave a bad first impression it may develop a fear of you. Give the parrot time to adjust at first sight. Don't go straight for the parrot after entering the room. Go about and do some things on your own and slowly work your way closer to the parrot. Of course if you have an existing relationship this may not be necessary but if you are visiting someone else's parrot or this one is new to you, these are definitely things you'll want to do.

Now, once you have established a calm presence in front of the parrot, you can approach for the step up. At this stage the parrot might be on a stand, in the cage, or on someone's hand. It doesn't particularly matter what it is actually standing on as your approach should be roughly the same. Slowly walk toward the parrot watching for any signs of fear or aggression. Assuming the parrot is calm, proceed closer and closer. Stop and stand at half an arm's length from the parrot and reach your arm (right/left handedness doesn't matter, use what is convenient) away from the parrot at first. For small parrots reach out your index finger and tuck the rest of your fingers down. For a larger parrot use your wrist or entire arm. Aim the back of your hand toward the parrot so there is less available to bite or nip. Now from a distance your parrot will already see the cue for stepping up and it will come as no surprise that it is what you want. If the parrot is adamantly against this, you will know before your fingers are close enough to get chomped because you are taking your time approaching the parrot.

Move the hand toward the parrot at a slow but steady pace. This way the parrot has time to think and act. Aim for just above the legs but don't hold your hand at beak height as that will encourage nipping. Parrots don't step down well so definitely don't aim at the feet or below. Once you are within beak length from the parrot, there is no backing down. Bite or not, at this point you have to bring the hand close enough for it to step up. If you back off at this point, the parrot will learn to bite whenever it doesn't feel like stepping up and you'll have a much bigger problem. The time for changing your mind was before you got close enough if the parrot was showing any aggressive body language. If the parrot does start to bite, keep pressing in toward the parrot and that will force it to step up and stop biting. By leaning into the bite you overwhelm the parrot and it should relax the bite. Assuming the parrot doesn't bite, once your hand is close enough it should step up. If it does not, continue moving your hand toward the parrot and gently press on the belly until it begins to lose its balance and is forced to step up. Once the bird is on your hand, be sure to move your arm slowly and gently the rest of the time because you don't want the parrot to develop a terrible association of being on you.

As for grabbing a parrot, once again assuming the behavior is already learned by the parrot and it is strictly a matter of transferring to another person, use the same approach as for step up except swinging your arm from behind and slightly above the parrot. Keep your hand open with the thumb swung out to form a cradle that the parrot will be grabbed in. When you grab, squeeze from the sides onto the wings/shoulders but never hold by the belly because that will restrict breathing. Alternatively you can grab by the neck by holding your thumb to index finger together just under the beak. Not only does this keep the parrot firmly in your hand, it also prevents biting. This is a good grip to use for maintenance behaviors such as clipping nails or checking the wings. Don't actually squeeze the neck but rather make a circle between the thumb and index finger to keep the parrot from sliding out because the head is thicker than the neck.

In conclusion, it is about having a collected and deliberate approach to holding the parrot. If the parrot is not afraid of you and senses that you will be picking it up no matter what, it is much less likely to refuse to step up than if you are shaky and uncertain. The parrot can tell all of this by how you move and act so be confident in yourself and don't be scared and you will be surprised by how much more cooperative the parrot will actually become.

Here is a video where I demonstrate these methods and different ways of holding small and medium sized parrots:

Part of: Taming & Basic Training, Poicephalus, Cape Parrots, Senegal Parrots
Truman Cape Parrot Kili Senegal Parrot How to Step Up
Previous ArticleTrained Parrot HomeNext Article
Trained Parrot HomeAboutSitemapParrot Training PerchesThe Parrot ForumVideosYoutube Channel
Trained Parrot is a blog about how to train tricks to all parrots and parakeets. Read about how I teach tricks to Truman the Brown Necked Cape Parrot including flight recall, shake, wave, nod, turn around, fetch, wings, and play dead. Learn how you can train tricks to your Parrot, Parrotlet, Parakeet, Lovebird, Cockatiel, Conure, African Grey, Amazon, Cockatoo or Macaw. This blog is better than books or DVDs because the information is real, live, and completely free of charge. If you want to know how to teach your parrot tricks then you will enjoy this free parrot training tutorial.
Trained Parrot site content Copyright 2010-2020 Michael Sazhin. Reproduction of text, images, or videos without prior permission prohibited. All rights reserved.