How to Clean with a Parrid (Parrot Kid)!

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Question: How can you include your parrot in your day-to-day activities?

I think this is a common inquiry by lots of parrot parents because they understand the need to interact with their parrot but not sure how to do it on a regular. Coming from a parrot parent that has multiple parrids (parrot kids), I can say it isn`t always easy. Some days my African Grey may have gotten more out of his cage time than one of the other birds or vice versa. However if people really started looking at parrots as their toddler, this task would be so much easier.

Today, I cleaned my washroom (pretty small) and decided to share with you how to clean with a parrid a.k.a parrot kid. What I do is gather all my supplies, a pocket full of treats, my clicker and a bird perch. I do this two different ways: clean each room with a different parrot or clean each section of one room with a different parrot. Today it was cleaning each section with a different parrot.

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Ringo

I started off with the tub and Ringo, our Indian Ringneck. Put him on the perch did a 5 minute training and started doing my tub. The perch is situated right outside the washroom door. I put on gloves and scrubbed down my tub while doing this I’m calling out and talking to Ringo the whole time. Once I’ve completed cleaning everything to do with the tub, I go back to another 5 minute training session with Ringo before putting him away to get another parrot to clean with. (I remove my gloves, wash and dry my hands before interacting with the parrot). If you clean with harsh chemicals than this method isn’t a good idea for you. If you know your cleaning with parrot safe items than doing this is a great way to incorporate your parrot into your cleaning.

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Piper

Next, I took out Piper, our Quaker parrot. I did the same thing, train for 5 minutes and then clean the toilet. I trust Piper to not fly out of the blue so that is why I can trust him to clean the toilet with him however even with that I still leave the perch outside the washroom door. While I’m cleaning, I am still talking to the parrot the whole time so they are not just sitting there bored.When I am done, I do another 5 minute training session and put him back in his cage.

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Rasta

Then I brought out Rasta, our male green-naped lorikeet. He likes to perch on the shower rod so he gets a choice: either the perch or the shower rod. I usually train for 5 minutes, put him on the shower rod and then go to clean the washroom sink and sweep the floor. While doing this, I never forget to interact with Rasta via words. Once that is completed he gets another training session and back in his cage.

When I mop the floor, I do not have any parrots out as I leave the mop bucket without supervision and do not want any accidents. Also parrots can still do things out of character and sometimes their behavior is not always predictable so I don’t want to take any chances.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of how to clean an area with your parrots. Cleaning the house or a certain room has to be done, so why not make it fun!?! I enjoy cleaning with the presence of my parrots because I get to have one on one time while doing housework.

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Rasta Approved!!

If I was doing a full day of cleaning then having one parrot out for cleaning the washroom would work but I would have to take slight breaks to do a bit of physical interaction with the parrot. Sometimes I even stop halfway to remove them from that perch to a play stand or the wood tree etc… The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you are keeping your parrot entertained while cleaning or else it won’t look forward to the time spent with you and that would defeat the whole purpose. Every interaction with your parrid (parrot kids) needs to be a fun one!

Parenting Parrots!

The Test -Chapter 4 – Week one and week two update

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Week one was pretty straight forward, I just made sure my “parrids” ( get it??! Parrot kids – PARR from parrots and IDS from kids lol… My new word – I’m going to have to start an index if I keep this up.) knew everything they needed to and were ready to start the The Parrot Wizard’s Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots

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The Parrot Wizard’s Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots

Chapter 4 is called “Taming and Training”. He covers the different type of punishment and reinforcement terms he will be using. He has sections on Motivation, Food Management, Clicker Conditioning, Target Training, Step up,  Touch/Grab, Towelling and Turning on Back. I refused to look at Chapter 5 until I spent at least 2 weeks in Chapter four. I also want to say before doing all of this it is important to have done some trust building exercises because I feel that makes or breaks your relationship with your parrots.

Day one (Saturday November 5):
         Today, I weighed and monitored my parrids making sure I watched how much they ate in a serving, how much they didn’t eat etc. I implemented the first two sections: Motivation and food management. I did absolutely no training with them as I wanted to follow the book as close as possible and not fall back into my old habits of training. So a pretty boring day.

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Ringo on our scale

Day Two (Sunday November 6):
          Today was clicker conditioning day, making sure all my parrids especially my focus subjects knew what a clicker was. I took them out in the morning, did 10 minutes of clicker training and then put them back in their cages for them to enjoy their breakfast. I did a second training session in the evening before bed. All the parrids already knew the clicker but some became stronger trainees after this. Maybe it is just my mind playing tricks on me but I think by spending the time to really make them understand what a clicker’s purpose is, did in fact help me with training Marlee. Everyone else I didn’t see a difference as they were properly introduced to the clicker. I think with Marlee, I must have missed a step because I believe she never truly understood the sound of the clicker. Also with Ringo, (Even though he isn’t part of the focus subjects) I was still using the clicker far away from him as he was afraid of the sound, I now can use the clicker right by him. So call me crazy but I think by really taking the time to introduce the clicker versus just starting to train with it, makes a difference. Check out the video below of how to properly clicker train your parrot which can technically work for any animal that can be trained.

Day Three and day four (Monday November 7 & Tuesday November  8):
   
     Today was target training day, my parrids also already know target training so it was another easy task for me to do.  I did two 10 minute sessions a day. Day three I focused on doing target training inside of the cage. Day four was target training outside the cage. All parrots were very successful as expected. For those who don’t know what target training is. It is a “Chopstick”, clicker and a treat. You put the stick some where, the parrot moves towards it and touches it, you click and give the treat. If your parrot doesn’t know target training, you put the stick right in front of them and wait until they touch it. Do that a few times and slowly move the stick further and further out of their reach until they have to actually move to touch it.


Day Five and day six (Wednesday November 9 and Thursday November 10):
       “Step up”, “Step up”, “Step up”. I tried to follow all his instructions but I have to admit for the parrots that already knew step up, I had to kind of just go over my previous step up sessions. What he says in the book makes sense though because there are times that I go to step up a parrot and it moves away from me. He recommends to teach your parrots to step up by targeting – I think that’s a great idea however I was having a difficult time with it. I did what worked for me and all my parrots were successful except… I found that Marlee is actually afraid of hands so I had to revert back to trust building exercises and target training her inside of her cage. Piper is afraid of perches, so I slowly been introducing him to different perches. I couldn’t do step up by targeting so I taught step up the only way I know how by simply asking the parrot to step up on different perches.

Day 7 (Friday November 11):
            I read over the sections of touch/grab, towelling and turning on back. I was already familiar with towelling as it is something I do every now and then with Grayson, my african grey. The touch/grab method is going to need more time for me to grasp the concept and the turning on back, some of my parrids already do however it wasn’t taught to them as he describes it so I will also have to work with them on this. Basically my training session on Friday was simply just going over target training and stepping up. This concluded my 1st week of trying to train my parrids off of The Parrot Wizard’s Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots

Conclusion: So far, so good. He covers the basics which is important to be successful in the training process and he is teaching things that will help with the basics that parrots are exposed to such as vet visits, grooming etc… If you teach your parrot towelling that eliminates the fear of when the vet wraps them in a towel. If you teach touch/grab that eliminates the fear of when they have to be grabbed out of their carrier and held for the vet. If you teach turning on back, that eliminates the stress of when the vet is checking them out and grooming them. Step up helps you be able to transport your parrot whenever you want. Target training is just a basic method needed to continue the training process in my eyes anyways. Clicker training is the perfect “bridge” to let a parrot know they did an excellent job and will be rewarded for it.    

Week Two:

Day 8 ( Saturday November 12) – Day 14 (Friday November 18):
        This week I continued doing target training in and out of the cage. I continued teaching step up however not by the book standards but by my way of teaching it, getting them used to hands and different perches. I really focused on trying to teach touch/grab, towelling and turning on back however I only got to do touch/grab and even that I didn’t finish. Hovering your hand over a parrot’s head is something that we are taught from the very beginning not to do, as it is like a predator for them but this is exactly what touch/grab is telling you to do. I was able to touch some of the parrids but Piper and Marlee are not that strong in stepping up with different perches and especially Marlee who doesn’t like hands – I didn’t even bother to attempt this with them. So the only test subject that was exposed to this was Grayson and I’m now really close with my hand over him however I started off really far away but I’m still not touching him. I also did this with Nyx, my black-capped conure who I can touch on her head and back with my hand hovering over her. He does tell you in the book that these methods are taming methods and may take a while before you are able to reap the benefits so as of Saturday November 19, I will be reading chapter 5 and moving on while continuing to work on “taming” my parrids more.

Update (Thursday November 30th, 2017: This was started November of 2016 and then I  had stopped implementing it well I started this process all over and I can hover my hand over Piper and Purrain (irn) but did a good distance away. Towelling, I might try teaching it the way I taught it to Grayson as The Wizard’s way seems as though it would take longer. Turning on back – I am only able to do with Nyx (even though she is not one of the test subjects.)

Parenting Parrots!

What time is it?? It’s Training Time!!!

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What time is it? It’s training time!
What time is it? It’s training time!
What time is it? It’s training time!

It’s Parenting Parrots’ Training Time!!

Hey everyone! I think it’s time we focus on getting your parrots trained or at least listen to me get my parrots trained hahahaha. So when I decide it’s training time which happens once or twice a day depending on my workload, there is a few things I have to make sure I have.

1) Quiet space

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Our training room

You need a quiet spot to start training as you want your parrot’s undivided attention. Now when I say quiet it may not be completely quiet but as long as it is quieter than the rest of the house with minimal distractions, it should work. I used to train in the living room with the television off and that worked perfectly.
2) Clicker

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My clicker – I’m missing the orange button in the middle but it still works

We clicker train however if you do not have or want to clicker train than you can always skip this step. I believe in clicker training as I learned about it from www.birdtricks.com. I have been very successful with using it and my birds look forward to a treat once they hear that clicker. I have this clicker currently however I have been through quite a few clickers over the years and as you can see in my personal picture, my clicker is missing the orange button. This clicker is cheaper so if I need to replace the one I currently have I would get this one, as this is what I used to have but lost it.
3) Treat

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Positive reinforcement is what we are focused on here. When you go to animal shows, you will see the animal do a trick and then receive a treat. Well if it is successful for professionals, why can’t it be for the average person? So we do the same thing. They do the trick, you click and give the reward. If your bird will not accept treats from your hands, you can put the treat in a food bowl or offer something else the bird would like. Read this post to understand what “reward” I did with Ringo to get him used to me being near him. I offered him more space when he would display calmness ( got that from birdtricks). I then removed my hand as a reward once he stepped on it (I think I made this one up hahaha). I find that a food treat works best because it’s easy to understand as it is something that they will not receive except for when training. To figure out what treat to give, do what I did in my above picture, get a variety of treats and see which one the bird picks first, second and third. This will give you an idea of what treats you can train with. In the above picture I have, (in clockwise) sunflower seed, pine nuts, peanuts (not a good option), spray millet, walnut and an almond.
4) A watch

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I train for 10 – 15 minutes. Since I don’t want to go over time, I always have a watch or my cell phone or something with the time on me, so I know when to stop. Even if the parrot looks like they would want to keep going I do not pass the 15 minute mark. 10 minutes is my time, however if I feel the parrot wants more I will do 15 but that’s it. You don’t want to “overstay your welcome”. It’s better to stop before the bird wants to stop, that way you are ending the training on a positive note instead of a restless, frustrated or getting fed up note.
5) A parrot that is ready to start eating

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Grayson eating a treat

What I do, is feed them their daily portion and if there is food still in there in the morning, I won’t train. I wait it out until all the food is gone out of their cage then I train when it is time for them to eat again. If the food is all gone in the morning, I will do a morning training session. If the bird is almost ready to eat again, food treats will be a perfect reward however if the bird is full, why would it want more food?? Even if it is their favorite food. Once your full, your full! If I’m not sure when they finished last, I do have a scale that I put them on to weigh them. I keep a chart of their normal weight and what is good training weight which is apparently 10% less than their normal weight. (If you do not have a scale – click on the link and buy one because it is SO worth it). I use a scale for monitoring their weight as it will tell me if they are sick and it comes in handy for training so a MUST BUY!!!

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My bird scale

Once you have all these things in place, you are ready to start training!!! And remember if you have any issues or questions, you can reach us by clicking on contact us. We respond within 24 h0urs!

Parenting Parrots!

Grayson – African Grey

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Grayson

I purchased Grayson from a reputable breeder in Oshawa when he was 4 months old (Oct. 2012). I would recommend her to anyone because Grayson is the perfect companion and I can only give her the thanks for that. If you want her information click here: Contact Us and send me a quick message and I’ll connect you to her. Her place isn’t the tidiest however her birds love her so she must be doing something right. Grayson choose me when I went to visit the first time. I sat with the breeder as all 3 greys moved around. Grayson was the one that showed me all the interest. I took note of his band number and told the  breeder he is who I wanted. Originally I had asked her for a female. Once she got the dna back and told me Grayson was a male, I told her I will pass on the female and still take him. BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE! I read in this book (if you want an african grey or have one please buy this book, it is so great!) to never take an african grey that is cowering in the corner of the cage and growling, well let me tell you… That was Grayson when I went back to pick him up. I was nervous as hell after having that experience of him growling however Grayson is a beauty. I brought him to the vet when I first got him and he got a clear bill of health. The breeder already clipped his wings. I’ve been his only owner. He will go to other people but sometimes like with my partner, he will fake it and then bite, so we are working on that but for the most part if you are not nervous then he will step up to you no problem. For the past 4 years he wouldn’t go to anyone but me however this year (officially an adult – 2016) he will now go to people – a complete 360 but I’m loving it. I can talk on and on about him but I have nothing negative to say. I was working full time when I got Grayson and everyone told me NO, you can’t have an African Grey and work a full time job… Well guess what?!?! I did it and Grayson is not a plucker or afraid of everything bla bla bla. He doesn’t have all those behavioral problems you get warned about. I believe it is all about the love you show your parrot and in return they will love you back.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F1FloeticJustice%2Fvideos%2F10153119770610375%2F&show_text=0&width=400>Video of Grayson’s first words

Name: Grayson

Type of Parrot: Congo African Grey

Sex: Male

Birth Date: June 2012

Wings Status: Fully Flighted

Favorite food: Pine Nuts

Noise Level: He can be loud when he mimics the other birds. Otherwise I would say he is moderate when he is talking and making sounds. He is overall quiet when he is just relaxing.

Training progress: He loves training sessions

Tricks: He can step up, Turn around, do pet, stick up his wings, wave hi, say doggy go wolf, wolf

Talking ability: Everything! He says his name – “Grayson”,  “Lola “- our late galah cockatoo, “Piper” – our Quaker’s name, each member of the family’s name, “step up”, “stick them up”, “peek-a-boo”,”doggy go wolf, wolf”, “hi”, “hello”, “what the”, “whats up grayson”, he laughs, does the clicker sound, telephone sound, microwave sound, whistles and my least favorite the squawking of other birds… I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. He is shy to make noise around people but after about 30 minutes of him observing you, he then starts to make noise.

Favorite toys: He is a banger – best toys for him have been his hanging toys that he can swing on and make noise with. He also likes his foraging toys (be prepared to lose a lot of pellets as he removes them though – HELPFUL HINT I put it over his food bowl so if it falls, it falls in his bowl)

Fears: Can’t think of anything he is really afraid of right now besides my partner – they don’t get along.

Diet: Harrison’s Pellets with fruits and veggies. He eats table food – Chicken, rice, pasta…

Treats: Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Walnuts and Brazil nuts

Cage Size: Dome cage. 36.5 x 28 height is 57″ not including the stand. With the stand it would be higher. I was thinking of switching him into a cage with less length and more width as he doesn’t use the bottom of the cage, haven’t found one I like though.

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Grayson’s cage

Last Vet visit: December 2012– Wellness check – Everything clear! Healthy baby! Is in need of a vet visit… Hopefully I’ll take him in September 2016

Next Steps: Getting him to do the bat – hang upside down, getting him use to the harness and shower perch

Parenting Parrots!

How to Train Love birds

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Day one 

Our peach-faced lovebird was born in our house a year ago (May 2015). He was parent raised and was left in the cage that he was born in. We would come home to see him flying around the house. Somehow he was always able to escape no matter how much we tried to make sure the cage was locked. Eventually we came to realize that he would move the food bowl and come out of the hole that was made in the cage for the nest box. In doing so, he damaged his beak. It looks like the needle got stuck in the beak and he broke it. Lots of blood in his beak. He finally healed but I can still see where the beak had been damaged. Poor little guy :(. We brought him to the vet, there is nothing that they can do to fix his beak as there is a big blood vessel right there so all we can do is monitor the growth. If you look closely at the below picture, you can see the raised line down his beak.

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How to train a lovebird

I finally decided enough was enough and put him in our Quaker’s old cage and moved the Quaker to a new cage. Well he didn’t like that very much because that meant no escaping anymore but it was the safest thing for him as he was fully flighted.

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training a love bird

After a year of neglect ( I say this with lots of shame but I was pregnant, was tired all the time and just couldn’t find the energy for parrots or anything else for that matter), we finally named him…. He was “Boss“.

We named him Boss because he was definitely a boss in his own right. He was aggressive. You couldn’t put your hand near his cage without him trying to lunge at it from the inside. He didn’t even want us changing his water or giving him food. I was discouraged as I was not used to small birds. In his defense, even though he grew up with us, he was not used to hands.

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It took me losing my Galah Cockatoo, Lola (R.I.P) for me to smarten up and realize that all parrots whether big or small MATTER!! I was determined to make Boss feel as part of the flock and I was determined to show Lola, that mommy cares about all parrots. I started to grow our flock and videotape our progress with each bird. I decided to make a YouTube channel (please subscribe!).  There are a lot of training videos out there but if my flock can help another person, even just one person with their own flock then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

Day Two

We would open the cage and Boss wouldn’t even come out. Every day we opened the cage for 1 hour and went about our business. After a week Boss would come out on his own however he didn’t want to be handled and he wouldn’t eat from my hands. I tried target training him and because he wouldn’t eat from my hands it was difficult however if he was sitting on the food bowl he would tap the stick and then I would put the treat (sunflower seed) in his food bowl. He seem to get the concept but he still wouldn’t follow the stick anywhere except for around the food bowl.

Checkmark for getting him out the cage and half a checkmark for target training.

Day Three (used loosely)

He would fly away anytime we got close and we would have to chase him around. So I clipped his wings. For him, I cut the first eight. Then we attempted stepping up. He would do it  but it seemed he was doing it by force and I didn’t like that.

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Day four

Same as day three, we worked on stepping up.

Day five

I searched YouTube for clues – for me, nothing helped. so I’m hoping my YouTube channel  (please subscribe) will help someone like me. I was still at stage one with no progress. I whacked my brain… How can I train a bird that wouldn’t accept treats from us? The first two days, my son would pet him and say “good bird Boss”, however I felt like that wasn’t a good method because he doesn’t like hands so he wouldn’t/couldn’t be enjoying that. Obviously this method wasn’t working.

Day six

Time for a change. I had Boss step up and then I held him to my chest and stroked him over and over and over and over and over again, for about 10 minutes while singing and talking softly. I then put him down and told him to “step up” and put my finger under his belly right by his legs. When he did I clicked on my clicker and put a spray millet piece in front of his face. He was not taking the millet and we both sat there and waited and waited and waited. He tasted it. Checkmark! He just ate a treat from my hand! I continued this for 10 minutes. Each time it was a long wait for him to take the treat. I put him back in his cage and called it a day. (sorry for the blur it was hard trying to capture the picture while training)

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Day seven

Same thing as day six but this time there was less resistance. He was accepting the millet after a short pause and after the 10 minutes of training, there was no pause. He would step up, take the millet and let me hold him to my chest and caress his whole body without squirming or trying to  bite or get away. This was only day two of this type of training and I would say mission accomplished. He would still sometimes hop off and wander off, but overall the aggression had decreased.

I’m happy, my little feisty Boss was now eating from my hand and allowing me to hold him, pet him and was stepping up!!

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P.S.

In two days I had decided to introduce him to another member of our flock named Nyx. She is a three-year old Black capped Conure (fully flighted). To introduce them I put them in the same room without their cages and just did regular things with them. My son would bring them near one another and say praises to each for not showing any aggression. Day two, I had them both on my shoulders one on each side. I trained Boss while Nyx was on my shoulder, making sure to only be focused on training Boss at that time. Once I was done training Boss I put him on my other shoulder and they came together on one shoulder by themselves ( I wouldn’t recommend having them on your shoulder though. Just have them in a mutual area away from each of their cages, an area that is fairly new to both of them. If they decide to fight, it would be harder to intervene with them on your shoulder). Anyhow,they kissed while on my shoulder so I knew they were good. I can now have them both out of their cages at the same time.

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Remember when doing this never leave them unsupervised.

I will continue to keep you updated on our training progress. Thanks for the support!!

Parenting Parrots!