Parrot Surprise: Performing African Grey Parrots

Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Huntington, West Virginia Shown: Congo African Grey Parrot "Cressi"

Recently Dave and I have formed a "routine" (as much as we can, anyhow) by going in around 9am and training with our birds. We decided on a whim to see if Cressi would be any good at Fiji's old trick in the show, "The Toucan Card Trick". Which, before Fiji was performing it, was called the Cockatoo Card Trick starring Linus, the umbrella cockatoo. Cockatoos have so much personality and they really ham it up in front of an audience or camera. Which Bondi also did when we had her temporarily in the show in place of Fiji. However, Bondi gets more reaction and reinforcement from the audience, than she does from treats. So when she would do certain things that we didn't want her to do, but that the audience would love, we couldn't make our reinforcement stronger than the audience reaction. More about Bondi's training in this trick at David's Thrillusionist blog. So we tried Cressi out and not only does she not ever want to be on the ground (phew!) but she also has a stronger bond with Dave. She's also SUPER desensitized and not excited by going to other people - all of which work for us with this trick. We've been having training sessions with her and all is going perfectly well. If it keeps up - you'll be seeing future videos of her performances in the Greatest Show on Earth, and eventually her work into the All Access Pre-Show for all the new show next year!

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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