Parrot Training – Targeting

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,684
    Parrot Expert Jenny Drummey discusses targeting.

    Jenny Drummey: Hi, this is Jenny, I am with Phoenix Landing and we are talking about training parrots. In this segment, we are going to talk about how to get started training your bird, and there are some pretty basic things you can do upfront that don't really have anything to do with your bird yet in the beginning, which is sort of a training plan; what are you trying to teach. Make sure it's a behavior that's realistic for your bird to do. You don't want to take a cage-bound trembler, put him on roller skates and send him down the highway, but you can do targeting with him. That's a good way to start.

    I am going to work on targeting Nero here in a few seconds. Another thing besides having the training plan, and you break them down to those approximations as we talked about in an earlier clip, which is also to desensitize the parrot to the environment that you are going to train them in.

    Here we are in a fairly large room and I have brought Nero up here for the past three days, getting him used to it so that he's not as anxious. Nero is a flighted bird, all of my birds are flighted, so that's another thing to deal with. If your bird is flighted, you need to be ready for them to -- you have to engage them, so that they won't fly off. When we talk about starting a training plan, we also need to have realistic expectations. In that part of developing the training plan, it's making sure that your steps are small and they are clear, they have a goal and you move from the start behavior to the end behavior in small reasonable steps. You also need to have a good reinforcer and that reinforcer ready. I am using Sunflower seeds with him and I've got a pocket-full and I'm just going to keep on hand them to him, this little guy can eat for hours. But if you have these three or four little seeds and the bird is ready to go for 15 reps then all of a sudden, you've got to run back to your jar, get your seeds and it's good to have them ready and on hand. So what I'm going to show you first is a good way to start with the bird, a lot of people say, I want to start with step up but step up is a big trust issue for a bird. Having him step up on to your hand from the start is really a lot to ask. So we often tell people to start with targeting. You can use any kind of object as target. I am just going to use this drinking straw and the object here is to train to touch the straw. Now when we start with any new object, whether it's a straw or a toy or whatever, you always want to make sure the bird is not afraid and here is back to that body language issue.

    I am going to hold this up, look how he's leaning back like that. So I am going to stop right there and I am going to reward him because he didn't move. The object is to get into touch this and do not be afraid of it. So let's try again. See, how he stepped a way there, so I am going to pull this back, and I am going to go back in, I am going to offer him the seed so that he has to get closer to the object. I am desensitizing into it. As he gets closer to the object, I'll continue to move this closer and closer and eventually, he will learn that when he touches this that's when he gets rewarded. Now targeting is actually really helpful because if a bird learns to follow a target, you can point him around a cage, you can ask him to go somewhere that you want him to go, you can train him to get away from something that you don't want him to get near and it also helps to establish the idea that he is learning from you. So let's see how he is backing further up, so I am going to take that away. The issue is that I am keeping him engaged. He seems pretty interested, although he's not quite sure what I want him to do and I can't tell that because he's not really made a lot of forward progress. He is learning in a different pace than other birds will. I'll try one more time. See how he backed up, I'm going to take this back. I'll put it over here, I'm going to put this here and now good! Now he's moving towards it. So as you can see, it's give and take, it's a lot of watching body language, it's a lot of being where, what they are comfortable with, and it's a lot of seed feeding. So in this segment we talked about how to get started training and in our next segment, we are going to show you how to teach a parrot how to drop an object into a bowl.