Bird Training

Should You Train Your Bird for Freeflight?

If you’re asking the Internet “How can I train my bird for freeflight?” the better question is really “Should I try to train my bird for freeflight?” (Free flight, to be clear, means flying your bird outdoors without physical restriction.)   I’ve shared my personal, amateur opinions about freeflight before, but today I wanted to…

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2012 in review

Happy New Year! It’s been a light year on this blog, but WordPress ginned up a report for the site. According to the report, my most popular posts for the year were written in previous years: Not so surprising, given that it’s not been a prolific writing year. But what was surprising was that my…

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Interview: Dr. Irene Pepperberg

If you love parrots, and even if you don’t, you’ve probably heard of Alex the African Grey. The woman behind Alex’s accomplishments and the research that showed the world that parrots don’t just mimic but actually understand language was Dr. Irene Pepperberg, adjunct associate professor at Brandeis University. The main focus of her work with…

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Introducing Shy and Scared Birds to Strangers

What a fantastic positive reinforcement training video. I really like everything about this training and the instructions the narrator/trainer gives: Note how (aside from the initial couple of seconds in the opening that establish that the macaw is uncomfortable), the woman doesn’t push into the bird’s space. She holds her arm or hand steady and…

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Clicker Training for Parrots – Workshop Slides

In case you missed it, here are the slides for the Clicker Training for Birds workshop presented at Phoenix Landing in September. This class focused on the principles of operant conditioning and, specifically, how it applies to our interactions with our birds — and how to use those principles in conjunction with a clicker to…

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Negative Reinforcement vs. Punishment — They Don’t Mean the Same Thing!

Over at PBS, the folks at NOVA have started a new blog series called “Animal Acumen” where they post interesting stories about animal cognition. Always interesting! The latest article is about the incentive for animals to cooperate in society. Photo by prashant maxsteel Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed about this post was that in…

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Mika is Flying! (Teaching a Parrot to Fly)

Mika showed me this weekend that she REALLY likes Sun Chips: she saw me eating some and flew to my arm to get closer. This is a big deal because Mika doesn’t really fly. Or to be more accurate, Mika doesn’t know how to land. She flies very rarely and when she does it’s usually…

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Working on Harness Training

A long time ago I decided to buy the Aviator Harness for Mika. Last weekend I finally got it out and introduced it to both the birds. The Aviator Harness comes with a DVD, which I have to admit I haven’t watched yet 🙁 Apparently you’re not supposed to watch it where your birds can…

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Book Review: Reaching the Animal Mind

I recently read the new Karen Pryor book “Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals” and would like to recommend it to anyone who has an interest in training and how learning takes place. I’m a huge of Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog” — the book that…

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Turn Around – Conure Does Interpretative Dance to Total Eclipse of the Heart

Stewie “turns around” to Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 hit song Total Eclipse of the Heart. This is an old trick, set to music for the first time. (He’s not turning to the song; he’s watching for my “turn” cue off-camera. Shhhh.) 

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Walnut Exchange Program: Cockatoo “Recycles” for Treats

This cockatoo has learned that it can barter for a yummy treat by bringing back an empty walnut shell. Shells = currency in this simple economy. The owner explains “if I don’t want him to ask for more, I simply remove all the empty shells [from the cockatoo’s reach]” How clever! The bird has learned…

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