The 60-40 Rule

Photo by Nathan Slabaugh Location: San Angelo, TX Modeling with: Camelot macaw "Tusa"

Dave and I have a secret training method we use between the two of us and our birds, ALL of our birds. Naturally, your bird is going to like one person a bit more than the other people in your house. Even our own parrots have a preference, but that doesn't make them "one person birds" or mean only that person, the chosen one, can only handle the bird. 

For example, here's our bird's preferences in case you didn't know from our many, many videos!

Tusa prefers Dave. Jinx prefers me. Cressi prefers Dave. Bandit prefers me. Crash prefers Dave. Comet prefers me. Bondi and Ace are exactly 50/50 depending on who is spending more time with them. If Bondi is craving training, she wants me more. If she just wants to be pet, she craves Dave more. Apparently my pets are not as good... psh!

Photo by Nathan Slabaugh Location: San Angelo, TX Modeling with: Blue throated macaw "Jinx" 

Anyway, what the 60-40 rule is, is something Dave and I made up, haha! Or maybe it exists and it's called something different and we just think we made it up. But anyway, it's something we discovered works magic with our flock and keeping them nice, tame and lovable.

The 60-40 rule means your bird ALWAYS likes one person 60% and the other 40%. This is a good balance to be able to work your bird easily, by using the person they prefer, without cutting out the person they don't. For example, we base all of the flights in our show around the person the bird likes 60% so that is why Bandit, Comet and Jinx fly to me in the show and Tusa and Crash fly to Dave. They want to be with me enough that they want to leave the 40% person to be with the 60%. But this also makes it so that I can get away with things that Dave can't and vice versa. It's better for the 60% person to put the bird away, or do things the bird may not want because they can afford to get away with that. Whereas the 40% person needs to work a little harder and can be the one taking the bird out, spending a little extra time, etc.

In the show I spend the time during the horse act with Jinx, cuddling him and just hanging out with him. That is his time to be with me, almost like giving him his reward before his flight. Then Dave comes, we prepare him to appear together, and when he appears on stage he flies to me. I was spending too much time and our 60-40 got more like 80-20 and Jinx no longer wanted anything to do with Dave and wanted me to "rescue" him all the time from Dave. He would be fine with Dave until I showed up, then his foot went up and he was desperate to get to me. So Dave started spending more time with him and using lots of treat rewards to get the balance back.

Pay attention to this type of rule and see how you can apply it in your household. If someone is really hated in the house, like your spouse, have them do the good stuff to even out that balance again. And see what things you may or may not be doing to cause that balance to get out of whack.

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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