Bandit (galah, age 6) and Sydney (human, age 1)
I was giving my daughter, Capri, a bath yesterday. I had the water running in, and she was splish splashing away enjoying herself when she noticed the faucet. She scooted over to it, and pulled up on the part that changes it from a bath, to a shower! When the water first switches, it comes out cold through the shower head and when it did it hit her back! Her shocked look said it all, and I switched it back to the tub.
But she couldn't help but play with it, and did it again. Pull! ...And water started hitting her back again. Again, she yelped with upset in her squeal. I changed it back again, and she did it again.
Each time it was as though she was expecting a different result. I stopped helping and waited for her to understand what the consequence of her action was. She pulled that lever, and water hit her back. She didn't like it, so eventually she stopped pulling it. If only bird owners caught on so well.
I received an email from a customer who was at a loss with their bird's bad behavior. She explained the constant screaming and how it was driving her and the rest of the family crazy. She went on about how the bird calls to her, and she always calls back, and when it screams she goes to get it so it can ride around on her shoulder with her. I'm gonna wait for that to sink in for all of you.
This customer was doing the same thing every time, expecting the bird to give her different results. She kept "pulling" so to speak, and expecting one of the times for the water not to hit her back. Just like my daughter in the bath tub. It made me realize the lessons we learn are the same through life, just different circumstances and objects playing the roles. If you want different results, try different things.
That's why BirdTricks is comprised of a "team" of people - because what works for one, two, or even twenty people won't work for someone else who comes along. It's important to take a lesson from everyone and piece together what will work for you. And it's important not to reward your bird with a shoulder ride for screaming if you don't want it to continue to scream every time it wants a shoulder ride.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.