Deciding to add a Lovebird to the family is an exciting moment. After reading about their personalities and needs for space, you know they will be a great pet for your family. But know that you are bringing a new bird home; you’re going to need to tame them. How do you do so? The good news is that in this post, I will break down each step.
So, how do you tame a Lovebird? To tame a Lovebird, the two biggest things you need are time and patience. Taming your Lovebird will happen in phases that build your bird’s trust. First, you should help your Lovebird become used to your environment, regular noises, and smells in your home. Then, you help your Lovebird recognize and relax when it hears your voice. Last, you begin to gain your Lovebird’s trust when being held and touched.
It’s all about building momentum, really.
But, you can make consistent daily progress – particularly in the first few days of ownership.
This will help them settle down much more quickly into their new home.
Without further ado, let’s break it down further.
How Do You Tame a Lovebird?
To tame your Lovebird, you build its trust in the environment, your voice, and your handling with consistency over time. This isn’t an overnight process, but it is a very rewarding one for both you and your pet.
Let us now go through the steps, in chronological order so you know what to do, when, and how to progress and react along the way.
Optimize Your Environment
The first step to taming a Lovebird is creating an environment where it feels secure and letting it get used to that space.
Avoid having your untamed Lovebird’s cage in the most crowded room in your house.
A Lovebird that is not tame will feel easily scared in a noisy and overly busy space.
Instead, find a room with mild traffic and noise where your bird can feel safe observing you and other close caretakers in a quiet way.
Talk To Your Lovebird
Talk to your bird calmly and gently when you are in the room or near the cage.
Speaking to your Lovebird helps build the second phase of your Lovebird’s trust by allowing it to begin to recognize your voice.
If you are harsh or overly stern when speaking to your Lovebird, you may frighten it.
Instead, try to use a soothing but steady voice that your Lovebird can grow to enjoy.
Just as a Lovebird would learn the calls of its partner and flock mates in the wild, your bird will learn the sounds of your voice both when you are speaking to it and when you are talking with other humans.
You can tell that your Lovebird is beginning to feel comfortable in its environment and with your voice by its own sounds and movements.
A scared bird may screech or make no noise at all.
It is likely to huddle in one part of its cage, too afraid to draw attention to itself. As your bird begins to trust, it will be seen exploring its cage in a relaxed and curious manner.
Your bird may also begin to let out a happy chirp or move across its cage to be closer to you when it sees and hears you.
These are great signs your bird is ready to move forward with taming.
Start Gentle Handling
Once your Lovebird is comfortable with your voice and environment, you are ready to start getting it used to handling!
They say food is the way to a person’s heart, and the saying is true for birds too!
When you first begin placing your hand inside your bird’s cage, you will want to be holding treats and other enjoyable items for your bird.
You want your bird to learn that your hand means good things are going to happen.
You may have to experiment with different treats until you find something your bird cannot resist.
A small piece of fruit, like a small slice of banana, is ideal.
When first placing your hand into your bird’s cage, avoid the urge to move directly in front of your bird.
Instead, slowly and steadily move your hand with a treat into the cage to a neutral area and allow your bird to come to explore.
At first, your bird may squawk or hide.
Don’t be discouraged.
Remember, this is about patience and consistency.
Leave your hand in the cage for several minutes, speak soothing words, and if your bird isn’t ready to come, say hello, try again the next day.
One day you will place your hand in the cage, and your Lovebird will feel safe in its environment, know your voice, and come over eagerly for a treat. Great! You’re ready for the next (really fun and exciting) step.
Progress To Holding
This next step is a thrill for most people taming a bird. You get to actually hold your bird.
Holding a bird isn’t the same as holding a hamster or other small pet.
We don’t want to cup our hands around our birds because instead of making them feel secure, it will make them feel trapped.
Instead, extend your index finger (or two fingers – index and middle – if preferred) and very slowly move the side of your finger towards your bird’s chest.
Your bird should be used to your hand, and while it may be curious about what you are doing, it shouldn’t run away in fear.
When the side of your finger is pressed against your bird, it will shift their weight and encourage them to step forward.
The next thing you know, your Lovebird will be standing on your finger.
Do not jerk or quickly try to move your bird from the cage.
Instead, remain steady and allow your bird to perch on your finger while you give it verbal praise.
To encourage your bird to step off your finger, you can turn it towards a perch much the same way your finger moved against its chest.
Some birds will naturally step down into a favorite cage area.
Let Your Lovebird Out Of The Cage
After your bird is used to your hand in its cage and stepping onto your finger, usually a few days of this routine and your bird will be happily hopping up to be with you, you can start slowly removing your bird from its cage.
Make sure that you move in a way that does not bump your bird against perches and cage bars, and doors.
Also, keep your movement slow and steady; sudden jerks and jumps may scare your bird into hopping off your finger before it leaves the cage.
A true victorious moment will be the first time your bird is resting on your finger outside of the cage!
Keep up this routine of bringing your bird outside of its cage on your finger while speaking soothing words for a few days.
Once your bird hops on your finger and is comfortable outside of the cage, the direction training and taming takes is up to you!
Many owners enjoy sitting with their bird on their finger.
Others encourage their bird to walk from hand to hand.
Feeding treats always brings a bird joy.
You may even sit with your bird and find that as it becomes comfortable with you, it will crawl up your arm to rest on your shoulder or rub its head against your cheek.
Keep playing with your bird every day, and there is no limit to the fun you can have together.
Are Lovebirds Hard To Tame?
Lovebirds are naturally curious and friendly birds; this makes them a great bird for taming. The steps of taming a Lovebird are not difficult, but what some may find hard is the time, patience, and consistency required to truly tame a Lovebird.
The easiest Lovebirds to tame are young birds that were handraised by loving breeders.
A young bird has not become accustomed to life on its own. Its daily routines and security will not feel as disrupted by the addition of a human companion.
A handraised bird has the advantage of already being used to the presence and touch of people.
Taming a handraised bird is more about teaching it to trust and bond with you specifically, not teaching it that humans, in general, will not hurt it.
This means your taming will likely feel much easier than with an adult bird who has never been handled.
Taming an unhandled adult bird is not impossible, but it will require a lot more time and patience.
An adult bird that has not been handled is used to living a life free of human interference.
A sudden hand appearing in its cage may cause fear and alarm. Just like adult humans, adult birds are slower to trust and try new things.
You should expect an adult bird to feel much harder to tame (but perhaps more rewarding) than a young handraised bird.
One other factor in taming difficulty is whether your Lovebird lives with another bonded bird.
Lovebirds really enjoy each other’s company, and this can be a great thing.
However, when taming your bird, it may be best to have a way to interact with it one on one.
A Lovebird that is closely bonded with a cagemate and not used to being handled may be stressed at the idea of leaving behind its friend to spend time with you.
Once a bird is tamed, it is easier to keep it in with another bird and maintain your bond as well.
How Long Does It Take To Tame A Lovebird?
The honest answer to this question is that it varies. Even the friendliest of Lovebirds won’t be tamed overnight. Just like people, each Lovebird has its own personality and comfort level with new things. You should plan on taming to take two weeks on the short end and a couple of months of consistent practice on the longer side.
A Lovebird that is purchased from a breeder that has hand raised the Lovebird will likely be tamed much sooner than an adult bird with limited handling.
A handraised Lovebird may simply need time to become used to your environment and voice, and once you place your hand in its cage, it may be eager to explore you and your home up close.
A Lovebird that has lived alone without human interaction for a long time or with only a fellow bird for companionship will generally take longer to tame.
This bird must become used to your home, your sounds, and then the physical presence of a human in its cage.
These birds are not impossible to tame, but you should plan on it taking a good deal longer, possibly a couple of months, to truly tame an unhandled adult bird.
Tips For Taming Your Lovebird
Before we go, I want to give you a few handy tips for taming your Lovebird or any pet bird you may have.
If you have a bird that likes to nip or peck when scared, it is okay to wear fitted leather gardening-type gloves when first handling your bird.
To make sure your gloves smell like you, sleep with them in your bed one night or rub the outside against your skin and clothes a few minutes before handling your bird.
This protects your fingers but still allows your bird to gain handling experience.
If you have a series of good training sessions and then a terrible one, don’t be discouraged.
Just like people have happy and grumpy days, so do birds. You may have just caught your bird on a day it is tired or feeling under the weather.
Allow your bird to take a break and try the next day again.
One Person At A Time
Get your bird used to one person in the home at a time. This relates to the consistency aspect of training.
If you work with your bird one day, then your spouse, then your child, your bird will have a hard time learning to trust.
Let one person gain your Lovebird’s trust and then introduce other handling family members.
Short, frequent taming sessions beat long sporadic ones every time.
If you can dedicate 15 minutes to taming your bird every single day, you will have a happy and tame bird much sooner than someone who tries to do an hour of training once or twice a week.
Lovebirds make great pets, particularly when they have been tamed.
Don’t forget to have fun.
Taming a bird is a great experience, and the reward of earning your bird’s trust is hard to beat.
Remember that even while your bird is learning to be handled, you can still enjoy its songs, chirps, and movements in its cage.
Before you know it, you and your bird will have a very special bond.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.