I recently saw an ad on the Internet for bird training treats. What was interesting to me was in recommending a bird treats similar to NutriBerries. Don’t get me wrong we love NutriBerries and think it’s a great treat, just not for training.
Before I get ahead of myself when I speak of training when it comes to birds (horses and dogs do well with this) I talk about clicker training. We been saying for years that a anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes a day spent with your bird in a clicker training session will help to find a very positive relationship between you and said bird.
Clickers can actually help make an aggressive bird more cooperative. Think about it, birds are all about communication and clicker training is all about one-on-one communication. Just you and your bird.
A man shows parrots trained to tourists in the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia
Clicker training is just that. It uses a small plastic device that clicks when you depress it. A clicker itself isn’t necessary, a tongue noise or snap of the fingers can be just as effective.
Clicker training works because it’s asking your bird to cooperate which will make him or her feel better when making their own choices rather than forcing them fit into your lifestyle. It’s like playing a game with a child and what child doesn’t like game playing?
Clicker training helps bridge the gap between you not understanding bird speaking your bird not understanding human speak and anyone even without experience can be successful at it. Clicker training will be a little less successful if bird does not have the proper diet, sleep cycle or a proper caged environment.
Clicker training can work with birds who are flighted or whose wings are clipped. When working with the young bird it’s best to wait until they are off hand feeding. If you acquire an adult bird is really no reason to wait for the bird to adjust. The sooner you start the better you’ll both be. To that point the age of the birds should not matter as long as the birds healthy
Clicker training can be used for everything from tricks to modifying screaming and biting behavior. If you have more than one bird, try working with one bird at a time allowing the other one to watch.
Because birds are so smart with very refined memories skipping a day or two or taking the weekends off isn’t a bad thing. Your bird should pick it up on the next session. By all means don’t force it. If you’re a bad mood your bird knows it and can see from your facial expressions or sensitive in the tone of your voice. Training session should be fun for the two of you
My goal here is not to teach you the art/science of clicker training but to help you help yourself by spending less time than you would to drink a cup of coffee in order to gain a listing positive relationship with your bird.
This is been a brief overview and I don’t want to steal the thunder of Melinda Johnson the author of a great easy-to-read book “Getting Started Clicker Training for Birds” found here. It comes complete with 150 page book, a clicker, a target stick some sample treats and a bonus CD offer 19 bucks.
If your are not sure about making that investment you can use a pencil or chopstick. You can use your tongue to click snap your fingers or just get the clicker itself – your bird won’t know the difference.
Here’s a great video done by a veterinarian breaking down the process and showing how an aggressive Senegal parrot stopped biting in two days.
Getting back to the treat thing, Melinda Johnson talks about it in chapter 6 of this clicker training book, keeping the treat small. NutriBerries – are small but the composed of a bunch of seeds which take too long for bird to break down with it’s beak.
A single piece of mango is tasty and the bird can finish it rapidly. If you are starting with an aggressive bird, a biter who will always go for your fingers, try placing the single treat (which could also be something like piece of papaya or coconut) in a stainless steel dish, reducing your finger exposure.
Millet has the attraction to birds the same way McDonald’s French fries has the attraction to humans. You can use a scissors to cut a very small portion from Millet sprig. (or use Millet bits from Higgins) You can place that small portion into the stainless steel dish, or you can use the 10 inch Millet spray (like in the video) using the length of the sprig to keep your hand distanced from a razor-sharp parrot’s beak
Regardless of the treats were tools that you use, clicker training is a no lose proposition for you and your bird.
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing