How Mirrors Help Train Birds

I realized just the other day how I've used mirrors A LOT in my training of parrots. It sounds weird, but every time I use the mirror to train one of my birds... it seems to train something completely different. Okay, I've only had two examples of this but now that I've caught onto it I will be using it on ALL my birds eventually. So far, it's just kind of accidentally happened.   The first was with my rose breasted cockatoo (galah) Bondi. I actually used a mirror to train her to perform the Rock Out trick (completely original, I'm pretty darn proud of that accident!) you can read about it here. I was able to do that because Bondi responded aggressively to the mirror when she made contact with it.   But now, Jinx, my blue throated macaw, has been showing more and more interest in learning new words and talking in front of people. Actually, now, while he is excited and when he first comes out for the preshow he will say "hello" in front of complete strangers. I've been encouraging him to speak in front of everyone and he has been catching onto that fast. I remember back when he was too shy to talk when he knew anyone was listening... And the only proof we had that he was talking was backstage crew who was out of sight, who would make recordings on their phones so we all believed them! Below are some blog posts on Jinx's talking process:  

Here is a more recent video of Jinx talking, his normal "hello" but also experimenting with other sounds and words as well. (By the way, I don't tell my birds to "shut up".)  

I noticed that when Jinx is in front of the mirror, he becomes so excited and his eyes begin to pin, and he is WAY more likely to talk!   So the mirror makes Bondi pissed off, and Jinx excited. Now, Bondi doesn't care about mirrors, but it makes me so curious about the effects mirrors will have on all my other birds. And what effects it has on your bird that you can use to your advantage in your training!

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

Gail Quiggle

Amazing …I was attempting to find info on whether mirrors were harmful to my Military Blue Macaw, Charley. I was told by his previous owner that you can lose your parrots to mirrors. That sounded pretty hokey to me. I am moving into a new property that has mirror tiles on one wall. I was thinking I had to remove them before I move Charley my Macaw. What would be your advice? I appreciate all you do for our fine feathered friends. Sincerely, Gail

Gail Quiggle

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