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sources tell me i should put my hand in the cage everyday so my bird gets used to it. if anything, it just makes it worse. i’ve gotten bitten, screamed, and flapped at even though i had a gentle approach.
 

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Start by resting your hand outside the cage first. Is he comfortable with that? If not, do that until he is more comfortable with seeing your hand close but not in the cage, then you can gradually move to putting your hand in the door, and eventually in the cage.

You can also try some food bribery in addition to this.
 

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Hi there. I've also read about taming a bird by putting your hand into the cage routinely. I have a bird of ten years who does not like hands. I tried for months putting my hand in the cage and he clearly felt threatened every single time. I gave up this method and began enticing him out onto his cage door where I hand fed millet, and now he comes out onto his door and jumps onto my hand of his own accord from there. I never invade his cage space with my hand while he is inside and we have a great relationship now. It seems with certain birds, perhaps they just require personal space or are territorial of their cage?
 

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Yes, they can be territorial of their cage because their cage is their safe place. Some 'tiels don't warm up to hands unless there is a reward involved, but some do regardless. Just a hand moving can cause a negative reaction if your bird is particularly afraid. It all depends on their temperament to begin with and also how they've been treated by people in the past (for example if your 'tiel is a rescue).

Food bribery is a method I've had much more success with in my own flock in getting timid birds used to fingers and hands. They learn to associate your hands with a treat and therefore a positive experience, and eventually forget about your hand to get the food, and suddenly fingers and hands aren't such a threat anymore. You need to work at it several times a day, every day to have success.
 
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