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!

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Parrots Shower too, you know??

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Piper on the shower perch

People always seem amazed when they find out exactly how much work goes into taking care of a parrot, but yet these same people are not amazed at how much work goes into taking care of a dog. Why the different reactions?

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Internet pic

I think because dogs have been domesticated and is a “normal” pet to have, everyone has adjusted to the way of living with them. Parrots are becoming more and more popular as each year goes on however they are still far from being able to declare as domesticated and maybe because of that, misconceptions have followed them for years. “Birds are pets that stay in a cage all day long and all you have to do is give it some toys, a food bowl and a water bowl”. NOT!!! Sorry to disappoint anyone however everything you do for a dog, you have to do for a parrot. So one thing that I wanted to cover today was showering. Parrots shower too, you know? They have bath time!

Some will automatically use their water bowls as their bath water when they need a good washing. Others may decide when you are washing dishes is a good time to jump on in. You may have to force some to take a bath until they learn how to enjoy it however either way it has to happen, it has to happen just like having a dog.

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Grayson, african grey

How often you decide to bath your parrot is really a personal choice but because we are Parenting Parrots we treat our parrots as close as possible to how we treat our toddlers. So technically bathing everyday is what should be happening but of course it doesn’t, as I want to give them a chance to do it themselves. Which means… I bathe them as often as possible usually that’s once every other day. In the summertime, I try to stick to this and I like to do it in the morning around 11am after their morning training and breakfast. So then they have all day to preen and dry off, help keep themselves busy. In the winter time I only shower them twice a week. When I have to go to work obviously this is not an option and I work too early to even give them a quick bath so that sucks but if your parrots bathe themselves anyways then you really don’t have to worry about this.

I used to spray mist them in their cages but then other stuff would get wet and it just seemed like a disaster. So I’m trying this shower perch. Right now they’re all timid on it and act shy. The size I have is a small which seems to work okay for most of the parrots however Grayson, my african grey needs a bigger size (medium) as there’s not enough room for him to stretch out his wings and enjoy himself. Boss, the lovebird needs a smaller perch as she just falls right off and since Nyx always takes her showers when I’m washing the dishes she doesn’t use the perch.

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Boss and Nyx in the sink

Bathing your parrot helps to keep the dander down. Lovebirds and African Grey parrots can make a lot of dander (I think Indian Ringnecks do too). Dander is an informal term for a material shed from the body of various animals, including humans, which have fur, hair, or feathers. The term is similar to dandruff, when an excess of flakes becomes visible. Skin flakes that come off the main body of an animal are dander, while the flakes of skin called dandruff come from the scalp and is composed of epithelial skin cells. Quote from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dander.

The main thing to consider here is that dander can cause allergies if not controlled. I have an air filter for this but i still need to control it by making sure that the birds are constantly taking baths. IT HELPS OUT A LOT!!!

Every now and then I will see Grayson take a bath in his water bowl, which is too small for him to bath in but I love the fact that he is taking his hygiene into his own hands. I especially see this when I’ve been at work the whole week. Boss always uses her water bowl or she will go visit Piper and bath in his water hahaha. Nyx used to bath in her water bowl but now that I have her with me every time I wash dishes, I haven’t seen her use her water bowl in a long time. Piper and Ringo use their water bowl just not as frequently as I would like. Marlee and Rasta bath every day in their water bowl so sometimes I don’t bath them as I make sure I give them fresh water first thing in the morning and as soon as they bath I switch it out but I will be getting them another bowl of water just in case they bath one day and I’m not home to change it. Sometimes I turn on the vacuum to see if they will go bathe in their water on their own, I have yet to be successful with this. But rumor is, to encourage a parrot to bath, turn on the vacuum.

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Ringo in the shower

My biggest pet peeve about this shower perch is that I wish it had grooves. When the birds first go on it, they slip and slide before getting their balance. This seems like the typical shower perch as every one I look at lacks grooves or if it doesn’t lack grooves it costs almost 50 bucks. I will continue to use this perch as once they get a grip they don’t fall off. I keep it low now and very close to the tub so if they do fall it’s not a far drop. My favorite Parrot shop has shower perches that do have texture on the actual perch so if I get really annoyed I might try one and then I can do a comparison review.

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Sorry Rasta wouldn’t stay still so I could get a good picture

Otherwise I have no complaints as it beats having them in the actual tub. I would recommend every parrot owner to invest in a shower perch but of course some people prefer just having them in the sink or misting or letting them bathe themselves. Whatever your method is please just pay attention that your parrot is bathing or getting a shower at least once a week at the very minimal. I know people who take their parrots into the shower with them and have them sit on the railing to catch the mist from their actual shower. That’s cool, if you don’t mind being watched hahaha. I’m shy, so I like my own shower with no eyes but its a good way to bond with your parrot by bathing together…

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Marlee, green naped lorikeet

There is bath soap out there for parrots however I don’t use any because if they were in the wild, they wouldn’t be using it. So there you have it, parrots shower too!!

 

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!