A Cure For Shoulder Birds

If you have a bird that REFUSES to get off your shoulder when you want it to, then this post applies to you! When I first took on Hymie the Hyacinth Macaw, that was his MAIN problem area. And having a bird of that size on your shoulder telling you he isn't going anywhere... is super intimating and dangerous. Here's what I did... I taught a little thing called "stationing". You may also know it as "stay" or "go to perch". There are zillions of names for everything! But I refer to it as stationing.

I basically taught Hymie that when I say "perch", he goes to the perch and stays there. When he goes there, I give him a reward, and ONLY when I tell him to go there. He is fully flighted so he would fly to it on command. But I started him jumping to it as shown in the video above. But the reason I did this is because anytime he was on my shoulder, I'd simply ask him to perch and he'd either climb down my shoulder and arm to the perch and stay there or he'd fly off my shoulder to the perch and stay there. It was a way for me to "restart" my time with him the right way. And it made it so that he would come off of ANYONE.

Even if he LOVES being up there, a food motivation and the act of performing the right behavior was better for Hymie. A bird should only be on your shoulder if you PUT him there. Never let your bird tell you when it's okay to be up there, that's just starting bad, bad habits. And remember, bad habits are easier to AVOID, then to FIX.

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She 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.

1 comment

James Ph. Kotsybar

Last line should read: “easier to avoid THAN to fix.”

James Ph. Kotsybar

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