Here’s a video of Stewie putting rings on a peg. This trick is based on simple retrieve (although I didn’t start working on it until he perfected “ball in a cup“). I trained retrieve with a variety of objects, including these rings, so when it became time to teach this ring toss game, Stewie already knew to bring the ring to me and put it in my palm. I started off holding the peg in my hand and guiding it through the ring as he was holding it.
It took a long time of my helping him place the rings before he was capable of doing it without much help, and even once I stopped helping him by guiding the peg it still took a long time before he got proficient at it and perfected his aim. In the beginning he got a treat for every ring, but now that he does it pretty well I make him do 3 rings one after the other before he gets a reward.
Because the rings are also used for retrieve, he sometimes just tries to give the ring to me (i.e., put it in my hand) instead of getting it onto the ring — that’s what’s going on with the blue ring in the second section of the above video.
He also likes to cheat and lift up the ring he just placed on the peg a little bit and the let it drop again, rather than going to get a new one, so I have to hold down the already-placed rings with my finger so he can’t pick them up again.
If you’re interested in teaching your small parrot how to perform tricks like these, please check out Melinda Johnson’s book Clicker Training for Birds (Getting Started).
Clicker Training for Birds is an awesome resource for anyone interested in building a stronger relationship with their pet parrot. I’ll be writing up a book review of Melinda Johnson’s Clicker Training for Birds, but definitely don’t wait to buy it. Check out Stewie’s YouTube videos for more examples of cool tricks my sun conure learned using clicker training.