Your cockatiel is a bright bird and can learn to perform a wide variety of tricks. Her repertoire of learned behaviors is limited only by your imagination and your patience during the training process. Listed below are some beginning tricks to teach your pet. As your training skills improve, you will undoubtedly come up with some tricks that are unique to you and your bird. Good luck, and remember to have fun!
Ride in a Wagon
A cockatiel who is outgoing and unafraid of new toys or new people is a good candidate to learn to ride in a wagon or even in a radio-controlled car. If your bird is shy, though, she may not enjoy riding in a toy vehicle, and you might want to try a different trick instead.
To teach your cockatiel to ride in a wagon, you must first get your bird accustomed to the vehicle. Roll the wagon or drive the car in front of your pet to show her what it will do. Praise the bird if she does not run away from the moving vehicle and reassure her that she will be okay if the vehicle motion seems frightening.
After a few days of short sessions of watching the wagon or car roll by, put your bird in the vehicle. Let her sit in it without moving the wagon. Praise and pet your cockatiel as she sits in the wagon, and continue to get the bird accustomed to the vehicle by letting her sit in it for brief periods over several days.
When your bird seems completely comfortable sitting in the wagon, move it a short distance. Praise your cockatiel for her good behavior if she sits calmly, or comfort and reassure your pet if she seems excited or anxious over the vehicle’s movement. Put your bird in the vehicle for short rides several times a day, and gradually increase the length of time spent and distance traveled during the rides.
Nod Your Head
A cockatiel who interacts well with her owner and is unafraid of showing off for strangers is a good candidate to learn to nod her head yes and shake her head no. To teach your bird to nod her head, hold a small portion of her favorite treat just out of reach of her beak and slowly bob it up and down. Your cockatiel will nod her head as she follows the motion of the treat, trying to catch it with her beak. Give her verbal praise, such as “is that a yes?” as she nods, so she will associate the words with the motion.
Practice this trick with the treat and the verbal praise, and gradually increase the praise while eliminating
the treat. To teach your cockatiel to shake her head no, repeat the steps above but move the treat side to side instead of up and down, so your bird’s head will shake side to side to indicate no. Provide different verbal praise, such as “is that a no?” as you move the treat from side to side.
Pose Like an Eagle
A cockatiel who enjoys being petted under her wings is a very good candidate to learn to pose like an eagle. Birds who do not enjoy being petted under their wings can also learn this trick, but training them may take a little longer.
Start your training by gently tickling your cockatiel under each wing tip with your index finger. This will cause your cockatiel to raise her wings. Praise her at this point by saying something like “good eagle, good bird” so your cockatiel will begin to associate the word “eagle” with raising her wings.
Practice the combination of gentle tickling and verbal praise at each training session. Increase the use of verbal praise and decrease the tickling until your cockatiel responds to your words alone.
Drop Coins in a Bank
A cockatiel who enjoys picking things up with her beak is a good candidate to learn to drop coins in a bank. To perform this trick, you will need some clean cockatiel-sized coins (dimes work well) and a bank. Put some clean dimes in front of your bird on a tabletop. Her curious nature will soon get the better of her and she will pick up a dime. When she does, praise her and reward her with a food treat.
Practice this behavior until the bird is comfortable picking up the coins, and gradually replace the food reward with verbal praise. After the bird is comfortable picking up the coins, drop a coin into the piggybank in front of the bird.
When your bird tries to imitate your behavior, praise her and reward her with a food treat. Continue practicing the trick until your bird masters dropping the coins into the slot in the bank, and gradually replace the food treats with verbal praise. In no time at all, your bird should have the hang of making deposits into her own piggybank.