Among the flock I work with, there are many little alliances and friendships (and rivalries!) but one of the cutest relationships to observe is the one between the 3 girls; Charlie, Blue-fronted Amazon, Molly, Citron-Crested Cockatoo and Rosie, Rose-breasted Cockatoo/Galah.
Since they first arrived at the Tropical Butterfly House around 10 years ago, they have been very close; Molly and Rosie even share a cage at night and all three are happy to travel in the same carry box to the outdoor aviary every morning. They can be a bad influence on each other, though! Molly is a bit of a drama queen and is the one less comfortable with new things… Rosie is brave on her own but she follows Molly’s lead so if Molly thinks something is scary, so does Rosie. If Molly refuses to go into the carry box to go in her cage for dinner at night, Rosie is likely to make a big fuss too! They’re a very comical pair
Charlie is the only parent-reared parrot in the flock and likes to look after Molly and Rosie, she sometimes regurgitates food for them and often preens them. She has been performing a cute little trick where she stacks up little plastic pots with Molly for a number of years and we recently decided to bring Rosie in on the routine too! Molly already knew to take the pot in her beak from our fingers and pass it to Charlie, and Charlie would then do the stacking up, so we decided it was easiest to add Rosie in before Molly.
To begin with, we offered the pot to Rosie which she grabbed with her beak, and then held it so she couldn’t drop it until Molly came to collect it, and rewarded Rosie. Technically, she wasn’t really completing the behaviour at this point but at this stage she was learning that she should take the pot, but she wouldn’t be keeping it to play with and that she would get treats when Molly took it from her.
We wanted Rosie not just to hold the pot until Molly took it from her, but to actually turn to face Molly and even take a few steps towards her. Initially we manipulated this, so we basically kept hold of the pot and moved it sideways round to Molly with Rosie still holding it – essentially this is rewarding Rosie even though she’s not really doing it herself.
After 2 days and about 6 sessions in total, Rosie successfully took the pot and passed it to Molly, and eagerly awaited the next one!
Whilst Molly is on her way to Charlie to pass her a pot, Rosie will even take a few steps ready to pass the next to Molly, it’s absolutely adorable to watch (I think so, anyway!) so here’s a video of this little teamwork routine! You can see that all 3 birds do the whole sequence before they get a reward and that Rosie understands what to do – (I held the last stacking pot while Rosie had it to demonstrate what I explained earlier about manipulating a successful attempt), hope you all enjoy the video!
To learn how to train your bird tricks, or just more about trick training with props in general check out Parrot Trick Training.