Birds Need Motivation

 Photo by Mona Location: Daytona Beach, FL Receiving a Kiss: Rose Breasted Cockatoo "Bandit"

While giving a parrot seminar in Daytona Beach, Florida I realized how un-fun many bird owners tend to be. A very common question was, "My bird doesn't want to come out of its cage to be with me, why?"

Now obviously, there can be a list of reasons for this depending on your situation but I think everyone can agree on the fact that the bird obviously has ZERO motivation to be with you if he isn't coming out of his cage. Everyone needs motivation to do things, and it's the same for birds.

Two motivations I use for training my parrots to want to spend time with me are:

  1. They will receive a treat that is NOT in their normal diet
  2. I'm pretty darn fun to be around and they know it

Those are the "motivations" I give to my birds to come out of their cage. Another thing to keep in mind is that every single task or behavior you ask of your bird, it should get rewarded for. Even as little of a thing as step up (especially if your bird doesn't do it all that willingly) even asking your bird to "step up" is asking a "behavior" and it should be rewarded.

Photo by Mona Location: Daytona Beach, FL On my Head: Rare Solid White Parakeet "Visa" 

Even smaller birds need motivation so I'm not just talking about one specific bird, I'm talking about them all from cockatoos to parakeets! Some animals are not food motivated so a fancy treat may not work for you... find out what DOES work for you. It may take time. I knew an umbrella cockatoo (and have found it common in their breed) that was rewarded by excitement (ie: clapping, cheering, praising and pets) so be creative and learn what your parrot in particular responds best to. 

And make sure you are FUN! No one likes hanging out with someone who brings them down or is in a bad mood, so if you are in a bad mood, don't grab your parrot. Animals can feel when you're upset or in a bad mood and it's not fair to carry around your baggage and drop it on someone else's doorstep. Work with your parrot when you're in a good mood so you have more patience around your bird. Make sure you aren't boring your bird to tears with your actions after he successfully comes out of his cage... you want your bird to be excited to spend time with you then you have to actually be exciting!

If every time your dad came over he took you to your favorite spots like theme parks and other things you might enjoy, you would get excited to see him... even if sometimes he didn't take you because it was a nice break and you already know he's fun to be around. Well, if every time he came over he took you to school or work, or to sit around while he worked... you would dread the trips with him.

Really try to get in your parrot's "shoes" and think about what makes them tick and do (or not do) the things they do (or do not).

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. 

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