Visuals Help Us Learn To Work With Parrots

Learning to train an Alexndrine parakeet by example

For years, going to the vet when my bird was sick was a completely stressful experience. Before I started to have an understanding of avian illnesses, and LONG before I found an avian vet (before I even knew they existed), the experience would leave me dazed and confused. This is not a good feeling when your bird is sick and in need.

Often a vet would take the time to eloquently explain the nature of the illnes and I would nod at him feeling certain that I had an understanding of what he was trying to tell me. Then something mystical would happen between the clinic door and my car – I would promptly forget everything I was told and only retain that I had to somehow medicate my bird twice a day, and something about an infection. Everything else was lost in the fog of my confusion.

I always wound up at home again feeling insecure about my ability to help my bird. It was so stressful and, thinking back, I wish I had thought to bring my heavy, oversized, 1980s style, video camera along with me. That way I would have the entire adventure recorded so that I could review the content and ease my mind when I was sure that I was going to kill my bird with my ineptness.

Today, I often recommend that those who have similar lapses following a vet visit break out their phones to record the important explanatory parts.

Alexandrine parakeet

Many people find they have similar experiences when learning to train their parrots. Training is actually a very simple process. A child can do it – literally! Where people seem to face difficulties is typically in neglecting to apply the small details that make the experience clear to a parrot. It can mean the difference between success and failure:

  • the importance of properly holding and directing the target stick
  • the importance of consistency on the part of the owner
  • the importance of the timing of the click and the delivery of the reward
  • the importance of the training diet

All of these factors play a vital role in your success with training your bird. Did I mention that a child can do it?

The Womachs have produced a training series called One Day Miracles in which they went into the homes of 12 bird owners just like you who have birds with common behavioral issues just like your bird has and taught owners how to use training to eliminate them.

More often than not, the problems were rooted in areas that the owners had not even considered. When Dave and Jamie would redirect the owners to the actual source of the problem is when the healing could begin. Suffice to say, you can’t fix a problem that you don’t understand.

From fear of hands to unwillingness to interact to aggression issues, they recorded each and every encounter for everyone to watch and learn from. If you have a parrot with behavioral issues, you are going to find them covered in One Day Miracles.

For me, the greatest thing about this series is the fact that we can go back and watch and rewatch until we feel confident in our abilities. There are not any other training DVDs on the market that are this explicit and demonstrative.

Are you thinking that miracles can’t happen in a single day? Birdtricks is about to prove you wrong! Click here to learn more: One day Miracles!

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.


Ren T.

I find one day miracle series very helpfull and I do watch them several times over again. Of course I had a go at touch training and was amazed how fast my 2 years old grey picked it up…however, he still have issues that I am or should I say we are trying to work on….Biting and not just biting but I would describe it as vicuos biting which draws blood most of the time…My boy sometimes does it out of blue with no apparent reason to me…for instance, he is sitting on open top of his cage and suddenly he would fly to me only to land on my shoulder to bite me and then he would just fly back to his cage, or If not I would shake him off when being bit…..he really is giving me a grief recently….making me think at the times whether it wouldnt be better for both of us to give him away….

Ren T.
Lee Rivers

I feel so lucky on one hand and on the other hand skeptical about what people are doing to their birds. I have a conure who was sold and returned repeatedly as “a problem bird.” Birds gave me the creeps, but he was so pathetic I bought him with the intention of finding him a good home. By the time I finished wrangling with the pet store employees who didn’t want to take him out of the cage and finally had him home, bird phobia or no, he was, as he informs me daily, “momma’s baby.” He makes noise in the morning and at night. If it bothers me, I distract him with something like Sesame Street. He becomes slightly nippy in the spring and fall, but nothing drastic—doesn’t go so far as to draw blood. And he doesn’t like strangers to touch him—especially anyone wearing a baseball cap, which gives me a hint about his abusive past. That’s it and that’s all. Took me an hour to potty train him, takes about 10 minutes for him to learn a new trick. We have a special call we use with each other if we’re in separate rooms, he goes everywhere with me—even places you’re not supposed to take pets—and I am still trying to figure out why he was a “problem bird.” I suspect it was because he’s not a dog. I read a safety and diet book. I bought some trading materials but never got to them, thank goodness. I bought an avian first aid kit and had my vet show me how to use it and give me two prescriptions—Valium and a pain med—for emergencies. That and reading posts such as this out of curiosity is all I’ve ever done. I don’t believe in training with treats and have never used it with any type of pet I’ve owned. My pets have always been well-behaved and their reward has always been my lavish approval. I am appalled at the idea of a “training diet” and consider it cruel to withhold food to force an animal to do tricks. I’ve never owned a clicker in my life, and no animal is so stupid that they need one—certainly not a bird, which is the most intelligent of pets. A bird is a perpetual 2 year old. Would you withhold food and clicker train your 2 year old? I think these methods are more about creating a robot that impresses an audience than about having a happy, well-behaved bird who knows some cute tricks. Making any animal worry about his food source is going to make for an insecure animal. It’s not only unnecessary—it’s sick. Try bonding with your bird so he enjoys your approval. It works much better than a clicker and a hungry bird.

Lee Rivers

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