Turning Wild Caught Birds Around in 8 Days

Posted by Jamieleigh on

Toco Toucans

These Toco Toucans were supposedly wild caught and when the two sets of them came in (two breeding pairs) no one could get near them, they were so afraid.

After working with both aggressive and scared parrots, I prefer scared birds over aggressive. I enjoy helping build a bird’s confidence and skills and watching it overcome its small fears and eventually, large fears. The goal for these wild toucans was to make it so that guests visiting the island could interact with them. Dave and I decided it would be really cool if people could walk inside their aviaries and feed them out of their hand with some fruit. We gave the toucans their normal pellet diet throughout the day, and just used blue berries and papaya (their favorite).

We started by tossing the food to them and letting them catch it, then eventually, feeding it straight from our hands…

Toco Toucans

With both pairs, one would be braver than the other and so some observational learning took place. Once the other (more timid) toucan saw that his pal was getting all the good stuff and filling up, the other toucan would get more brave.

By the end of 8 days, these wild toucans were feeding GENTLY out of our hands and allowed it from ANYONE! We had the local island trainer try first, her name was Cathy. The toucans did great with her, and so the next day we would put them to the test with the island’s first vistors… two girls by the name of Chloe who had never been around toucans before but were dying to feed them. I knew any slight sign of aggression from the toucans would scare the girls half to death so I counted on our in depth training to come through.

Toco Toucans

Now the guests didn’t want their pictures taken, but the toucans were as gentle as could be and pulled through. David was happy with the temperment of them enough that it was a job done and a new thing to offer guests on the island.

With two days left on our trip, Dave and I thought, cool, we have two days to ourselves to relax on the island! However, David had other ideas. “How about crate training them for when a hurricane comes?” he said. Dave and I looked at each other… “In two days?” we said, jaws dropped.


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2 comments

  • I accidently came across your YouTube video while I was searching for ways to train my 6mo old cockatiel. From that point I was able to watch and then follow up on all of your blogs (recent and old) on JamiesParrothelp.wordpress.com. I have to say that you have made my training sessions with my new cockatiel “Matilda”, or Matty for short, very easy. I only had her for about a week now and I have gotten her to step up after a day. She came from a very hectic environment so I knew it was going to take some time to gain her trust, but I didnt know where to start. I do use the clicker and I find myself carrying around treats for her (to reward any behavior that she may naturally do that I want to encourage) just like you suggested. I would eventually like to teach her how to say her “Matty” or “Love You” just like your one bird. (Sorry I forgot his name. I want to say Bandit?) Thank You so very much and I look forward to hearing what you have to say in the future blogs.

    Jennifer Reyer on
  • Hi Jennifer! I’m glad you came across everything you did and it was able to help you so much! I would love to see a video of Matty if you get around to it :D!

    We have a new blogger on this blog named Michael and he actually bought a rose breasted cockatoo because he loved Bandit so much online, so he is going to be posting about his successes with the course and things and he recently taught Mumbo (his bird) to wave just like I had to teach Bandit. It was super cute.

    I love hearing success stories so thank you for sharing!

    Jamieleigh on

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