Treat Size

I get asked a lot about ideal treat sizes for birds to train with and often times in our masterclasses I will see people trying to use something the size of a nutriberry or a half almond for a single repetition.
An ideal treat is:
  • Something eaten/consumed QUICKLY (so the bird doesn't forget what he/she did to earn it in the first place AND so the bird doesn't fill up before the behavior has a chance to progress)
  • Something the bird WANTS (you have to use something the bird finds desirable; if the bird isn't working for it, it doesn't want it!)

On the left is a treat in its whole form (the nuts have been shelled and in the case of the walnut I only used a portion from an entire walnut), to the right shows how much smaller you can get with each reward. A safflower seed and sunflower seed are ideal sizes of treats. Even a pine nut is an ideal treat size, but I sometimes break those into two pieces for my sun conures or if I want to try to get more repetitions in a single session.

With the cashews and pistachios you can even go a size SMALLER if needed, depending on the size bird you're working with.

So in other words, you can either use 1 almond as 1 repetition or you can get 8 repetitions from a single almond!

I like to use the whole nuts (to the left of the image) as JACKPOT REWARDS. I give these when the bird overcomes fear or discomfort (that's a big deal and should be reinforced! We want to see more of that!) or when a bird exaggerates a behavior to my liking (training my bird to talk he can sometimes be incredibly enthusiastic about it or he can sound bored and as though he isn't trying... when I get ultimate enthusiasm I will jackpot reward to indicate THAT is the standard of behavior I want from now on!) 

Treat size plays a HUGE role in your training session success. I keep a mixture of ALL of these in my treat pouch because I'm rewarding 8 birds who  have different food preferences and ratings and I like to have something for everyone.

Remember these treats in your treat pouch are your TOOLS for getting more good behaviors from your bird so use them as such. You can always give more, but if you find yourself waiting on your bird to hurry up and consume your treat, you may want to jump it to a size to the right...

Jamieleigh Womach 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.

Be the first to comment

All comments are moderated before being published