LEAN Steering

How does your bird get between his cage and his perches? Even flighted birds often ask for the human to come over and move them. The human becomes the Taxi for the bird. Taking him to places he can’t get to by himself. Perhaps you pick him up to come sit with you. Perhaps it’s to move him to his perch or cage. Or perhaps you are picking him up from a forbidden location! We are the human taxi, moving our bird from place to place.

Cockatiel standing on a tree with his wings extended, as if he was about to fly

Usually, we give our birds no choice in the matter. The bird has to go to their cage, or must come off of the table. But what about the times we could offer some choice? Do you want to go to this perch or that one? Do you want on-top of your cage or inside? Do you want to come sit beside me or on my knee? When we can give the bird a choice, they are empowered. This creates a happy bird, and a happy human!

One of my favourite ways of giving the bird a choice is by giving them a way to “steer the taxi”. The bird can lean in the direction they want to go. By leaning, they are choosing what direction I can take them. I can feel them leaning when they are on my hand. So just lean into it! It’s fun to experiment with this “lean steering” and see where your bird takes you!

Quentin the African Grey sitting on Robins hand, ready to lean to indicate where he would like to go.

If my bird wants to go to his perch, he can step onto my hand and lean towards the perch he wants. I will feel the lean and move him in that direction. If he wants to go anywhere, he just leans and can steer me! Often, he will lean towards a perch I wouldn’t have thought to put him on. Yesterday he wanted to explore the shower perch. That’s great! Let’s go! Leaning is great communication!

  • Robin Horemans

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