I am very excited to share with you our first Bird Tricks success story in this series. I really love this story because it is a great example that even in a “perfect” situation, problems will inevitably arise in raising a parrot over its lifetime and we need to be both willing and prepared as caregivers to meet the challenges as they come.
Samina Ansari and her husband (otherwise known as “hubby”) live in Birmingham, UK with their beloved 2 ½ year old blue mutation Green Cheek Conure, Kiki. They adopted Kiki from a breeder and brought her home at 9 weeks old. She immediately won their hearts with her happy, loving personality – one Samina describes with such glowing adjectives such as “eager, inquisitive, courageous, adventurous, loving, bossy, and cute!”
Samina is in an almost “perfect” situation with Kiki:
- She is a housewife and is therefore able to devote lots of uninterrupted time with Kiki at home
- Her hubby also works from home and is committed to spending time on his relationship with Kiki too
- Kiki is a healthy, parent-then-hand-reared bird from a respectable breeder
- They have no children, so Kiki gets their full attention
- Kiki is not clipped (and never has been) and enjoys a fully-flighted lifestyle in their home
So why, do you ask, would someone like this even need a training program?
An ideal situation = ideal bird behavior, right?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the answer here is…no. As many of us with birds have experienced whether we adopted them as adults or babies, Samina experienced a bit of a wake-up call that presented an unexpected problem in their otherwise perfect world. I’ll turn the floor over to Samina to share with you her journey with the darling Kiki…who developed a big biting problem.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
“When Kiki was two, she started nipping hard. She had always been nippy, but this was different – it seemed malicious and aimed at me. I could understand most of her foibles – her fear of yellow, her reluctance for me to have anything to do with a telephone – but this ‘out of the blue’ biting was hurting my fingers and hurting my heart. Many hot tears were spilled before I typed ‘how to stop your parrot biting’ into a search engine in February this year and found Chet. I then signed up for the emails and Spreecasts…
EARLY CHANGES TOWARD A SOLUTION
I first learned that if she can’t reach it, she can’t bite it and that I needed to change her diet to pellets. It nearly broke my heart to have to stop ‘cuddle time’ in my hands, as they were what she was aiming for, but I did it and I did it for the welfare of my girl. I converted her onto Harrisons, which was like a little miracle – she became calmer and cuddlier within two days. Using the Get Your Bird Off Junk Food ebook, I was able to convert her fully in ten days – exactly one month after delivery of a six months supply of seed had arrived! That went to the local animal shelter.
TOUCH TRAINING ISN’T JUST FOR MAGIC TRICKS
I bought the Taming, Training and Tricks DVD, and with the help of the Spreecast episode on Touch Training Secrets, was able to teach her touch training. I do not really want a performing bird, so she is not on a training diet and she can’t pick a card out of a pack. My aim was to have a controllable little bundle of fun, who didn’t take the skin off my hands!
She loves touch training and I have used it to introduce new toys to her, new places in the room, I have also used it to distract her while I got her over her camera phobia which she suddenly developed. We have a session every morning when she is hungry. At the moment, she is learning to climb the net curtains to the tune of Spider-bird. She has worked out how to climb the curtains to get to the stick, touch the stick, and then she worked out for herself that it is quicker to come down the boing than to climb down the net, little tinker!
APPLYING THE 60/40 RULE – NO FAVORITES IN OUR HOUSE!
When Kiki went a little feral this spring, I bought the Spring Horror-mones DVD. It was very helpful, but not in the way that I had expected. I had already learned, and was implementing, the ways to ‘control’ springtime behaviour in birds as it had been addressed in two blogs by Patty. We were already stopping her access to her much-loved drawer full of paper (a shredder’s paradise), not feeding her mushy food, and limiting her daylight hours. Where the DVD helped was that it really explained the 60/40 technique. I realised that I had to implement it more with Kiki and my husband, as she was sticking to me like conure super glue and just giving daddy a passing look. This was the opposite to when we first took her home – she was a real daddy’s girl, I did not even need the results of the DNA test to tell me that she is a girl! I now make sure that the 60/40 rule is applied, and what a difference it’s made.
RE-FOCUSING KIKI’S ENERGY ON POSITIVE PURSUITS
I bought the toys from Bird Tricks and am now on the monthly toy programme, which reminds me to change things up when they come through the door. At about the same time, Chet did a series of blogs about turning your toys into foraging toys, so we started foraging…BIG time! Kiki has no food in her bowl now, except for her Bird Tricks diet; she has to find, or work for, all of her veg and fruit. She loves it! She watches me put her food around the room in the morning, then goes to find it while I put food in her toys and bars in the cage. When I pop her in, she’s looking over her shoulder to see where the motherload is! It has made her a more inquisitive and courageous bird. She will move about the room in a much more interested and engaged way. She forages in everything – the fridge, the shelves, any cupboards, all pockets – she is hysterical.
HEALTHY DIET = HAPPY BIRD
I bought the parrot scale from Bird Tricks while my husband was in the US on business. Bird Trick’s customer service, who are wonderful, managed to get it to him in a very limited amount of time so that he could bring it home to us. She is weighed every morning to ensure that she is maintaining a healthy weight for a conure who thinks she’s a lion. We are also now implementing the Bird Tricks diet, as described in their cookbook series. While she has always eaten well and is not a picky eater by any means, she is definitely enjoying some of the new recipes and I am enjoying making them.
GLOWING PRAISE FOR KIKI
When Kiki went for her annual check-up, the vet said that it’s a pleasure to treat a bird who lives with someone who has trained her in medical things like syringe training, recall, ascending and descending, and builds a trusting bond between bird and human. Bird Tricks has revolutionized my relationship with Kiki and I am really grateful for that – it brings a tear to my eye when I think of it.
A BIRD TRICKS FAN FOR LIFE
I never stop thanking God for how well my little conure, Kiki Ansari, is. She is happy, she is healthy. She is not a picky eater. She loves me to death. She has never plucked. Finding Bird Tricks has helped her to be a happier and healthier parrot and I am really grateful to them for that. Bird Tricks are always on-hand to help and advise and you feel like part of their family. I love the Spreecasts and the immediacy of the Facebook page. I love the fact that I can talk to training and well-being experts and get a quick and informative answer. It has given me confidence in myself as a bird owner that I am doing the right thing. I also enjoy ‘paying it forward’ on the Facebook page in my own small way!”
Congratulations on your successes, Samina, and thank you for your enthusiasm to share your experiences.
You are certainly a Bird Tricks overachiever who deserves much praise for your investment in a positive future with Kiki!
~ All of the photos in this post were provided by Samina Ansari ~
Chrissann offers private behavioral consultations for the furred and feathered in the British Virgin Islands. She is passionate about applying the science of behavior to animal training and has received the following training certificates; “Behavior Apps: Training with Art and Science”, Certificate of Excellence from Natural Encounters Inc, “Living and Learning with Parrots – The Science and Technology of Behavior Change” and Certificate of Excellence from Behavior Works.