Training your parrot is much more than circus tricks!

Training your bird to perform tasks is an important part of owning a parrot which is often forgotten. One reason behind this is it makes them use their very clever brain. Parrots in the wild spend all day foraging for food, interacting with their flock, interacting with other types of animals and much more. When we have parrots as pets their opportunity to learn and use their brain is more limited. Training can help keep your parrot active, mentally healthy and stimulated. Working out what reward your bird is most motivated by is essential. This may be a type of food (eg sunflower seeds, small pieces of almond), a vocal praise or petting. If using a food item it should only be given during training to increase your birds motivation for it. Ask us at your next consultation if you are unsure how to start training your bird.

Here are some photos of Dr Sasha’s Blue Fronted Amazon performing some simple tricks which are easy to train.

Polly want a cracker???

Every time a bird interacts with their humans, they learn something.  It might be as simple as ‘coming close to my Mum gets me a cuddle’, or it could be that biting my owner is a good way to maintain access to my food!  By starting a training program, we get a chance to have a clear plan on the ‘lessons’ that we want to share with our feathered friends.  In addition, a successful training session builds trust with your bird, provides a communication framework for the human/bird relationship and is just plain fun!

Behaviours to train can broadly be divided into ‘good avian citizen’, ‘integration into the family’, ‘medication/veterinary’ and ‘good times’.

Examples of good avian citizen behaviours include stepping up, stepping down, going to bed, coming out of the enclosure, stepping off shoulders (in birds that are allowed on the shoulder).  Integration into the family behaviours might also add not biting your siblings (human, avian and other!), staying off dangerous items like the stovetop or toaster.  Veterinary-helpful behaviours are things like taking liquid from a syringe, spreading wings to allow examination, stepping up onto scales, holding toes out for a nail clip and being comfortable being wrapped in a towel.  Good times tricks include anything that you like – as long as you can make a step by step plan to ‘explain’ it to your feathered friend.  

Working out what reward your bird is most motivated by is essential. This may be a type of food (eg sunflower seeds, small pieces of almond), a vocal praise or petting. If using a food item it should only be given during training to increase your birds motivation for it, and it is important not to overdose – obesity may result! Ask us at your next consultation if you are unsure how to start training your bird and follow this LINK to our website for more information.

Check out our Birds page for medication videos to see some birds that are participating in their medical care!

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