A lot of parrot owners tend to cringe at the thought of getting their bird on some sort of "diet". They would prefer their bird perform tricks and things on cue if they WANT to...
Well, good luck getting your bird to do much.
A training diet is neccessary if you care about results and making the sessions enjoyable. The bird will learn faster and progress further on a training diet because the food becomes the motivation to learn and once they learn, they LOVE it and can't get enough training. Now, some birds aren't huge fans of training. I know a bird who doesn't like to be trained one-on-one but actually prefers to watch the other birds be trained and pick it up via observational learning but that is a rare case. Most birds love training once you open the door to it for them.
I attempt to train my entire flock the same behaviors at the same time. I love when they can watch one another and possibly pick it up faster. Plus, it's a good way to learn how to train each bird the same behavior because it never goes the same.
Most recently I've been training flying through a hula hoop since all my birds are flight trained. I've been working with the entire flock but this post is just going to feature my Camelot macaw Comet.
Below is a video of him NOT hungry at all. So he is not on a training diet, I am not using any sort of food management but am still offering him a "treat" that is not in his normal diet (an almond). I'm even offering him the entire nut, and not just a piece.
You can see how slow this session is going for me. Comet has hardly any interest until I was really far away, then he just doesn't want to be ditched by "mom" (me) and so he flies through the hoop to get to me.
Comet would not be willing to do more than that SINGLE repetition so I didn't try again, I knew we'd both get nowhere without him even a little bit hungry. This is how you can expect any behavior to be done if your bird has no motivation for doing it. A training diet sets both you and your bird up for success so try it before you call it cruel and let your bird and his/her successes be the judge.
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.