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African grey parrot step up training!


Staff member
African Greys can be very wary of hands so you may need to spend time gaining trust before you can start step up training. You might also consider using a stick rather than your hand if your bird is not tame.

To start step up training, put your hand in front of him/her, just above the feet. Make sure your hand is presented as a firm looking perch with your fingers together and your thumb tucked away; birds need to feel confident. Your bird might beak at your hand or use its beak to steady itself while learning to step up but don't confuse this with proper biting, and don't pull your hand away as it is important that your bird feels safe. Gently nudge its tummy and at the same time say "step up" or whatever phrase you are going to use for this procedure.

This should make it move its feet, hopefully onto your hand. Give lots of praise and encouragement. It is also a good idea to teach your bird the names of various parts of its body so that you can tell it what you want it to do with its feet if it seems unsure.

Training is sometimes more effective if it is done in an unfamiliar room, or in a location the bird isn’t so sure about such as the floor. (This is also a useful strategy for a Grey that will already step up but only for one person.) If your bird is lunging and biting when you are positioning your hand try to distract it with a toy but always keep your movements and verbal commands positive because if you are hesitant or nervous your bird will pick up on this.

Also, if you are frightened of being bitten, the more taut and compact you can make your hand, the more difficult it is for your bird to get a hold of a part of it to bite.