Rasta the alexandrine parakeet
To learn how to build your bird’s confidence check out our Total Parrot Transformation Series. This blog isn’t necessarily intended to teach you these techniques for free, but to show you that they work by tracking and sharing (and showing) my progress using them.
I’ve been working on building Rasta’s confidence with flight. Since he has come to be with me, he is allowed out of his cage 24/7. I’ve propped his cage door open with a chair so it never closes (because before he would accidentally close it himself while putting himself away) it looks something like this:
Chair set up to hold Rasta’s cage door open
Since then to now, I’ve added chairs… it now looks like this:
Chair set up from the cage along with a table and my own chair
I have his area set up like this for a few reasons:
- To encourage him to stay out of his cage.
- So that I can sit at the table and train him using ‘capturing’ (aka capturing behaviors with a clicker).
- I know that when we goes onto the chair backs he wants to train so I know when it’s a good idea to start a training session.
- To build confidence with his abilities as he has fallen from those chair backs before and I want him to be sturdy on his feet or use flight when unsure of himself.
He now flies from the chair backs to the conure or parakeet cages, as well as to the top of his cage. This tells me he is building more and more confidence in his flight skills which is very exciting! A confident bird is something I can work with!
Rasta at the top of the wall in the kitchen area where the conures constantly go
Better view of Rasta in his newest flight spot
He is also experimenting with flying to new places. He watches the sun conures fly all over the house and has recently flown to one of their favorite spots. This doesn’t bother me and actually excites me because again, he is building confidence, and I have already put the proper training in place along the way to recall him down when I want. As you can see in the video below:
His recall training is spot on which is very exciting and rewarding for me. The fact that he wants to train, enjoys it and wants to be in my company enough to fly over to me to do so is huge progress for Rasta.
Besides his flight skills and confidence building, I’ve also been working slowly on teaching him to wave. I’ve been doing this using the training technique of capturing, which is much slower than other techniques but necessary for me to continue with my ‘hands off’ training approach.
However, just yesterday he finally GOT IT!
Here is some video footage I caught of it in the morning of my actual training sessions (learn why it’s important to keep training sessions short in our training videos):
I’m hoping now that he finally understands to lift his foot that the actual training and shaping will happen rather quickly. I’ll be phasing him out from scratching his head and then eventually figuring out how high I want his wave to be to qualify for a treat. All this is really great progress, though, and I am very excited to have his wave on cue soon for Liam and Karen to see!
The other thing I did with Rasta that I plan to come back to later on after some more bond building games have been learned… is touching training him onto my hand. I got him to touch train onto my arm without biting twice and he was great about it, but he was too hesitant so I felt like to relieve some of that hesitancy I needed to work more on our bond and trust before coming back to that again. I was pleased he did it twice, though. It gives me great hope to be able to get him to trust hands again using touch training. Here are some photos of what that looked like:
Rasta’s toes on my arm as he reaches to touch the stick
Rasta being rewarded for making contact with my arm
One of my sun conures supervising our training session… Rasta takes notice
And I added some new foods to the diet… cherries are a new love of Rasta’s, apricots are just OK!
Rasta nom noming some apricot
Rasta loves cherries (no pits, of course!)
Note: I kept my arm/hand covered so not to make Rasta feel threatened (he has severe hand hatred). My hand and fingers were completely out of view and I acted as though my arm was an extension to the back of the chair. If your bird is hesitant to step up for you, it means you need to work on your RELATIONSHIP first. And when it comes to touch training a bird into your arm, TAKE IT SLOW. Reward the bird for touching the stick even with your arm there (along the chair back, like I did) and then for coming close to your arm, and then for pushing his foot against your arm (like Rasta’s foot did) small steps like this make a huge difference in how much success you have in your training.
Rasta leaning in for his treat
Also offer the treat further away so the bird has to lean for that too, to help widen that comfort zone. These are all things I took into mind when working on this with Rasta.