How to Train Cockatiels

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Cockatiels are beautiful birds that respond well to training. To begin teaching your cockatiel any kind of trick, work on making the bird comfortable around you. Once your cockatiel trusts you, you can teach tricks, such as stepping up or flying to you, by repetition. Rewards are also an important way to encourage your bird to learn. If you’re patient with your cockatiel and give it plenty of opportunities to practice, your bird will be following your simple directions in no time!


EditLearning How to Effectively Train

  1. Encourage the cockatiel to become comfortable with you. Since you won’t be able to train the cockatiel unless it trusts you, work on building your relationship with the bird. Spend time around the cockatiel and talk to it so it becomes used to the sound of your voice.[1]
    Train Cockatiels Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • This is especially important if you’re training a cockatiel that you just got.
  2. Select a quiet place to train the bird. Your cockatiel will become distracted if you’re training it in a room with loud noises, lots of movement, and too much stimulation. Find a quiet room and close all of the windows and doors. Keep the cage nearby so your cockatiel feels safe and secure.[2]
    Train Cockatiels Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • If there are any fans in the room, turn them off so the bird isn’t distracted or irritated.
  3. Limit the training sessions to 10 minutes at a time. Keeping the training sessions short will ensure that your bird stays interested and doesn’t become tired with the lesson. Plan on holding 2 or 3 10-minute training sessions every day. When you end the session, give the bird lots of praise so it looks forward to the training sessions.[3]
    Train Cockatiels Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • If the bird becomes aggressive, cut the session short. For example, if it flaps its wings or bites you, wrap up the lesson quickly.
  4. Reward your bird with treats and verbal praise. When the cockatiel responds to training and follows your directions, immediately say something like, “Good bird,” and give it a small food treat. You can feed it spray millet, strawberries, mango pieces, or chopped peppers.
    Train Cockatiels Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • To ensure that the cockatiel really looks forward to the treats and the training sessions, reserve the treats just for training.
    • Clicker training is a great way to train with treats effectively. When your bird performs a correct behavior, click the clicker and then give it a treat. Over time, the bird will learn that the clicker means a treat is coming, so you can use the clicker to mark good behavior.[4] You can find a clicker online or at a local pet store.
  5. Be consistent and patient with the cockatiel. Birds learn through repetition, so you need to give the same command every time you’re working on a new trick. Keep in mind that you’ll need to practice a lot. It can take cockatiels months to master a new trick. If the bird seems like it’s getting frustrated, take a break or work on a different trick.[5]
    Train Cockatiels Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • Never punish the cocktail or yell at it when it doesn’t follow your directions. This will only make your bird dislike training sessions.

EditTraining the Cockatiel to Step up onto Your Finger

  1. Place your hand close to the cage. Your cockatiel should be comfortable with you putting your hand near the cage or you shouldn’t begin training. You should also feel safe in putting your hand near the cage without drawing it away suddenly.[6]
    Train Cockatiels Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • If you pull your hand away from the cage, the cockatiel might think that you’re an unstable perch and won’t feel safe stepping onto it.
  2. Hold a treat in your other hand. If your bird isn’t interested in leaving its cage, hold a piece of its favorite food in the palm of your other hand. Position this hand behind the hand you want the cockatiel to step on to. Ensure that the treat is in the bird’s line of sight, so it wants to get it.[7]
    Train Cockatiels Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • Use your cockatiel’s favorite treat, such as a bit of kale, millet spray, or strawberries.
  3. Open the cage door and press your hand against the bird’s chest. Press your forefinger firmly against the cockatiel’s lower chest so your finger is like a perch above the bird’s legs. You should press firmly enough that the bird is a little off balance and will have to move to correct its balance.[8]
    Train Cockatiels Step 8 Version 2.jpg
    • The cockatiel will probably lift its leg when it feels off balance, which is a great opportunity to train it to step up.
  4. Give the verbal command to step up. As soon as you press the finger against the cockatiel, say, “Up, up!” or “Step up!” Your bird should associate this phrase with stepping up. Look your bird in the eyes while you give the command.[9]
    Train Cockatiels Step 9 Version 2.jpg
  5. Move your finger under the cockatiel’s foot and lift gently. When your bird starts to correct its balance, lower your forefinger to the bird’s feet and keep your hand steady. Your cockatiel should step up onto your finger. Let the bird eat the treat in your other hand and give it verbal praise. Remember to keep practicing so your bird learns the trick.[10]
    Train Cockatiels Step 10.jpg
    • For example, say, “Good bird!” when it successfully steps onto your finger.

EditTeaching a Cockatiel to Fly to You

  1. Master the step up trick. Your cockatiel should already be comfortable with following the step up command before you begin working on flying tricks. This is because the bird will need to fly to you and land on your finger.[11]
    Train Cockatiels Step 11.jpg
  2. Tell the bird to step up onto your finger and reward it with a treat. Hold a treat, such as a spray of millet, in the hand you want your bird to land on. Bring the hand close to your bird and command it to step up onto your finger. Once the bird steps up, let it eat some of the treat.[12]
    Train Cockatiels Step 12.jpg
  3. Move your hand away and command it to step up again. Return your cockatiel to its cage or perch and hold the hand with the treat farther away from the bird. Then direct the bird to step up. In order to do this, your bird will have to fly over a little bit to get to you and the treat. When it does, let it eat some of the treat in your hand.[13]
    Train Cockatiels Step 13.jpg
    • Remember to give your cockatiel lots of verbal praise as it flies over to you.
  4. Extend the distance and tell your bird to step up again. Encourage your bird to fly a greater distance towards you by moving your hand even farther away when you begin. Try holding your hand about away from the bird in its cage or on its perch. Then tell it to step up so it flies over to you.[14]
    Train Cockatiels Step 14.jpg
    • If your bird has trouble flying this far, move your hand a few inches closer to the bird and try again.
    • Practice a lot to help your cockatiel become comfortable with flying to you.


  • Have fun with the training session, so your cockatiel will look forward to them. If you’re enthusiastic, the bird is more likely to follow your lead and learn.

EditRelated wikiHows

  • Take Care of a Cockatiel
  • Train a Cockatiel to Talk
  • Train a Bird to Step on Your Finger
  • Buy a Pet Cockatiel
  • Train Parrots to Make Less Noise

EditSources and Citations

EditQuick Summary

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