Finally I have some video to share of Mika (white capped pionus) working on her retrieving skills!

[updated: I’ve noticed some criticism of this video floating out there, so I want to make a couple of points: 1) This is NOT her regular cage. I just needed a surface to work on that I could wheel in front of the camera. You can see pics of her daytime cage here. 2) She is not food deprived. She has plenty of food available all day, but she will work for treats because she WANTS to. 3) I made this video to demonstrate the how’s and when’s of bridging with a clicker. I purposesfully avoided praising her because one of the mistakes that newbie trainers make is that they’ll confuse the bird with lots of noise and mistimed clicks. Don’t worry, she gets lots of praise and affection outside of this 5-minute demonstration video.]

Before we got to this point, we started with her standing on her regular cage’s door and taking the pink ring from me and then letting go again. Then I upped the criterion so that Mika would get C/T’d only when the ring landed in my hand.

When it finally “clicked” for her that she needs to put the pink ring in my hand, I set up her travel cage in front of the camera to document a practice session.

In our previous sessions we only worked on the door of her cage so she didn’t need to move much, just lean in one direction or the other. This video shows Mika’s first session on a surface where she has to walk in different directions to get the object into my palm. I also didn’t hand her the ring, making her fetch it herself. She did better than I expected given the new, higher criteria, demonstrating that she understood the end goal.

We’ll continue working on this trick for a while to get Mika’s retrieve really solid and generalized to a couple different options. But one thing I want to be careful about is making sure that Mika continues to enjoy playing with foot toys by herself and doesn’t start to think of every toy as simply an object that needs to be retrieved to me.