I am loving this new series we have begun on sharing people’s success stories with the Bird Tricks’ training program. It is incredibly uplifting and inspiring to hear about more and more people realizing that having a bird is so much more than just something pretty in a cage to add to their household décor. This next story is particularly near to my heart as it’s a great example of my fervent belief that no matter what the start your bird has had in this life, no bird is untrainable – every bird deserves the opportunity to live an enriched life and shine to its full potential. And that is exactly what Spike has been given the chance to do – shine!
Lavinia Young and her partner, Rick, live in Orelia in Perth of Western Australia and are the proud “parronts” of a darling 1-year-old Galah named Spike. Due to improper socialization at a young age, Spike came to them as an untame bundle of pink feathers. He seemed to be afraid of everything, making it near impossible for Lavinia to get near his cage, feed him, let alone, touch him.
After spending their first few weeks with their aggressive new galah and enduring the disheartening fearful behaviors of biting and screaming, Lavinia decided to look for a solution. In just a few short days upon finding Bird Tricks, she was already celebrating major milestones with a bird she had previously dubbed “untrainable”. She learned a lot and her enthusiasm is nothing short of contagious. Here’s her story.
Hi, Lavinia! How did you come to adopt Spike?
My partner, Rick, and I went to a pet produce shed and they were selling a huge cage for $300. We couldn’t pass it up so we brought it home for out little cockatiel, Rosie. When we put him in the cage, he just looked so small. I took that opportunity to remind Rick that he had promised me a parrot of some kind for the last 6 months. So that very afternoon we went to Bird World and asked for a tame Galah or Corella. They didn’t have any babies, only a few boys from last year’s hatch that were hand-raised but then put in an aviary as soon as they were able to eat seed on their own. I couldn’t wait until next November so I just said, “give me one”. The shopkeeper caught him in a net, which freaked him right out – poor baby. We got him home, put him in the new cage, and let him settle in for a couple of days. Then we tried to touch him. WORST mistake EVER!!! He was so wild and angry and scared. We couldn’t get near him.
Uh, oh. That had to be very discouraging to not be able to engage with your new baby. What did you do then?
Yes, anytime I tried he would bite and squawk – it was terrible and sad. I looked on YouTube for any kind of help I could get to help me tame my little beast. I looked up ‘training parrots’ that’s how I found out about Chet and Bird Tricks. It was here I came across Chet’s video on the Power Pause technique. I’m sad to say that this was not an action he responded to. I tried for 4 days with no response. Everyone was telling me I was better off letting him go into the wild. My response was NEVER going to happen!!!
Good for you for not giving up on him so quickly. What was your next plan of action to help Spike get over his fears?
Although I was starting to feel that I would never be able to touch or hold my boy and felt 200% sure that my Spike was untrainable, I kept researching and found the Taming, Training, & Tricks program. I had had Spike for a week by now and he would lunge to bite me, hissing and screaming, whenever I came in to his path of sight. It was heart breaking. After I got the package, the first thing I did was get some foraging toys which turned out to be the biggest life saver ever!!! He actually stopped screaming that night. This was such a great step forward for us.
The next morning, I thought I’d try the Target Training since the Power Pause was a no-go. Shockingly, within the first 5 minutes, he got the hang of it and was moving all around the cage to touch the stick. I was so happy with his work. The next day, I tried putting the stick on top of his cage to see if he would come out and believe it or not, he couldn’t get out fast enough to touch the stick! I want to cheer with excitement but managed to keep it in because I didn’t was to scare the life outta him.
That’s awesome, great job! By taking care of his mental and emotional needs first with the right environment and enrichment, you set him up for success to begin training. So I’m dying to know – did your success continue?
After only four days of training and applying what I learned from the Taming, Training, & Tricks program, he was stepping up onto my hand and even letting me stroke his back. It was such a beautiful thing. Here I was, so sure he was untrainable- but it turns out we just had to find the thing that worked for Spike. In 10 short days since we started his training, he had already come such a long way. It is really unbelievable. He has gone from a bird who was scared at the sight of me to a beautiful boy who can’t get enough of me. He sits on my chest with his head under my chin and I scratch his back.
It must feel like a miracle, huh? I bet you’re both hooked on training now. What are your currently working on?
Spike and I are trying the “wave” and he has learnt to give the smallest of honks to get my attention. He raises his wings when I say “pretties” and I have also taught him the word “gentle” – he now takes treats from my hand so softly that if you weren’t watching, you wouldn’t even know he took it.
My other bird says “hey baby” whenever I walk into the room, which is a lovely greeting. Spike, on the other hand, has taken on my partner’s greeting of “what’s up?” – he wasn’t even trained to say that, lol!
I am so so happy with Spike’s progress and it’s still the early days. I can’t wait to see where he is as time goes on – I am one very happy mumma!
Congratulations on your many successes, Lavinia!
In a situation where many other people would have given up, you showed real care and commitment to Spike’s needs and have transformed him into a happy little Galah. I’m certain you have a great life together ahead of you.
All of the photos in this post were provided by Lavinia Young.
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.