Photo by Dave Location: Saipan, MP Siblings: Blue and Gold Macaws "Jersey" and "Chayko"
Recently on my YouTube videos, I've received a lot of the same question, "What treats do you use to give your bird during training sessions?"
And I know what those askers are really thinking... if they use what I use for my birds, their birds will do that which my birds are doing, right? WRONG! That's the whole point of "Bird Treats for Training: Finding Yours". Every bird is different and will prefer something different as their own treat reward for training. In my Bondi training videos I use sunflower seeds because I know that is what she will work for. I also caught onto "random rewarding" where I throw in a peanut or other large jackpot reward that she will really get excited and motivated about.
So, even though my rose breasted cockatoo works for sunflower seeds doesn't mean yours will. Just like your bird may like only a specific pellet diet and not another.
Recently, my Congo African Grey "Cressi" began to get very lax with her recall. It slowly became slower and slower and I needed to find out why. She began playing a game of Marco Polo but without saying Polo and it wasn't any fun for me. I figured out she just didn't want to work for sunflower seeds anymore and other things were become more rewarding than a simple seed. An almond, however, was a different story and worth working for to her. Although she still likes sunflower seeds, they aren't encouraging enough on their own to motivate her to do a desired behavior anymore as they once were. So it's important to stay up on what your bird likes best and use that when training.
If it's a large nut like an almond, walnut or peanut, break it into small pieces for training. If you use the whole nut, you aren't going to get very many repititions in. By laying all the different kinds of treats on a table, you can let your bird choose which one it wants. The one it picks first, is its favorite treat and what you should be using for training.
Here are some examples of what has been the favorite treats to use among my own flock (or that which I've trained): - Blue and Gold Macaw "Merlin" loves cashews - Military Macaw "Cash" loves peanuts - Blue and Gold Macaw "Mika" loves almonds - Rose Breasted Cockatoos "Bandit" and "Bondi" love sunflower seeds - Congo African Grey "Cressi" loves almonds - Swainson Toucan "Fiji" loves blue berries - Swainson Toucan "Meaka" loves strawberries - Blue and Gold Macaws "Jersey" and "Chayko" love peanuts.
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.