Hi, my name is Chrissann Nickel, also known as “The Toucan Lady” from Adventures in Toucanland. I’ve been a big Bird Tricks fan for about a year now, shortly after I adopted my three adult Toco toucans – Paco, Paz, and Pepe (otherwise known as the “Three-Cans”) in June 2011.
I am really excited about this new blog series we are beginning, sharing the successes of others who have overcome behavioral problems using the Bird Tricks training program. I am always enlivened by all of the great people in the Bird Tricks community who put in the effort to create a happy, healthy life for the companion birds in their care. Beyond proper nutrition and veterinary care, I strongly believe that training is THE most important thing you can do to invest in the life of your bird.
I often see people on the Bird Tricks Facebook page who are still a bit skeptical as to whether or not they should invest in the training program. While I can understand the need to research before you purchase, it often saddens me to see people drag their feet for so long, when they could already be experiencing a reprieve of their bird’s (insert: screaming, biting, fear, etc.) problem and living a more peaceful, enriching life together.
Personally, I truly believe in the Bird Tricks training program. And not because they paid me to say that, but because I am a proud customer myself who has had a lot of success applying what I have learned in my own situation. The simple beauty of their program is that it actually works! The only catch is that YOU have to put in the effort and apply what you learn with your bird. The reason why Bird Tricks is one of the best out there is because they make it easy and accessible not just for people who have a knack for animal training, but literally ANYONE who tries it can do it. I’ve even seen videos of small children successfully clicker training birds! If a five-year-old can do it, if I can do it, then I’m certain you have it in you too.
As we begin this series, I thought I would first share with you my own success story and what converted me into a Bird Tricks fan like yourself.
How I Overcame Fear and Aggression with My Toco Toucans
THE BIRDS: While I don’t like to use the word “rescued” because our birds weren’t being physically abused, I do believe that they were in a sub-standard living situation and have a lot of trust issues as a result of it. Having had no experience in training birds before, some might say that I was in a bit over my head in the beginning. Two of the Cans, Paz and Pepe, were both quite fearful and generally tended to avoid interaction; while the other, Paco, was very aggressive – pecking, biting, and chasing me around his cage whenever I entered to clean, feed him, or move his toys.
THE PRODUCT: I desperately wanted to have a positive, loving, pet-like relationship with my Three-Cans. And while I understood the basic principles of positive reinforcement animal training from my experience with dogs, I could tell immediately that birds were completely different in their psychology. I found Bird Tricks on You Tube and knew right away that their down-to-earth, easy to understand approach was for me.
I initially purchased the appropriately-named Stop Biting Course in hopes that it would help me to convince Paco to stop biting me! Like a lot of bird owners in this situation, I felt nothing short of desperate for help – and fast.
OBSTACLES I FACED: The main challenge I immediately ran into was that toucans are not parrots. I know – not a surprising revelation, but at first, it almost made me feel like I was set-up for failure because they are so different in behavior than the parrots featured in the training program. This excuse was tempting to give in to, but after realizing my only choice was to try or keep getting attacked, I decided to give the parrot program a go anyway.
The Bird Tricks team was super helpful in answering any toucan-related questions I had, as Dave and Jamie also have experience with toucans too. For example, my questions like, “Should I put the toucans on a training diet, even though they have a faster metabolism and no crop?” were answered swiftly so that I could proceed in the right training direction. (The answer to that question is NO, by the way).
THE OUTCOME: Within a couple of weeks of implementing what I learned in the Stop Biting course, I was able to notice a significant improvement in the Three-Cans’ behavioral issues. Through touch training, I was able to coax Paz and Pepe to interact with me on my level and teach the command “down”, an important step towards encouraging other training and connection opportunities. Touch training also helped me to redirect Paco’s aggression towards me and stop the cycle of his attacks, teaching him that interactions with me could be positive and not so filled with wild stress.
The training program also gave me insight into their bird mindset and psychology and helped me to understand how they might be interpreting my actions. I learned more about the ways I should be interacting with the Three-Cans that would move me towards, not away from, my goals of the relationship I so desired. Not only was their behavior improved for the better (no more biting – YAY!!), they just seemed happier and more at peace.
I have since added to my Bird Tricks training library, purchasing the monthly Parrot Magic program, the Spring Horror-mones DVD, as well as the Total Transformation package. I am so satisfied with the quality of the information provided and continue to progress in my training prowess. My favorite thing about the training programs is that I am constantly learning – when I come back to portions I have previously watched, I always have fresh “a-ha!” moments that become applicable to my current training goals.
One of the best ways to learn is to be inspired by the success of others. I am looking very forward to sharing all of the amazing stories to come.
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.