Saturday, May 30, 2009

Training a Cape Parrot at a Workshop in Portugal

When I would tell people I was going to Europe, so many people lit up when I said Portugal was on the itinerary. I had no idea what to expect, having never been. Well I have learned why people love Portugal so much; beautiful beaches, fabulous food and incredibly friendly people.

I presented two days of parrot training workshops. The first day was for parrot owners near the city of Lisbon. The second day was for veterinary and zoo professionals in the north of Portugal.

I promised I would share some of the highlights of these workshops. A stand out in Lisbon was a wonderful young Cape Parrot. It is not too often you see Cape Parrots. They are an unusual African species with a large beak. Some people say they look they are always smiling. Plus they are sexually dimorphic, which is pretty uncommon for most parrot species. A very unique species indeed.

The first thing that was quite obvious about this little fella was that he was very comfortable with new people, new environments and he was also a bit of pig. In other words he had a great attention for treats. He was the ideal training subject.

Because he was flighted and a number of people in the room were interested in working with flighted birds, the first thing I worked on was demonstrating how you train a strong recall. This also included teaching a cue that means fly to a perch. Piece of cake for the Cape Parrot.

Throughout the day he continued to show his eagerness to learn. In a matter of minutes he learned to turn around on cue. This is always a nice easy behavior for people new to training to try at home with their parrots. The humans learn how to train and the parrots learn how to learn. Usually it can be trained in one session, so it is a big confidence booster for everyone.

After that I thought I would demonstrate teaching a bird to take liquid from a syringe as we did in France with an Umbrella Cockatoo. I used a straw. The Cape Parrot was a bit nervous of the straw at first. Since he was flighted this was a good lesson in just how slow to go and the subtle signs of fear trainers must respect in order to have success.

When we got to the step where he tasted the water, everyone was surprised, especially him! He shook his head and sprayed a few droplets of water around. But fortunately he came back for more despite a bigger approximation than planned.

He was certainly a joy to work with and I think we all went home wishing we could add a Cape Parrot to our feathered families.

Photos Courtesy of Decio Lopes.

Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright Good Bird Inc 2009


Kelly Pakes said...

Darn, I wish I had thought to ask you about recall and flying to a perch on Saturday at BEST! All of our birds are unclipped, and my Timneh Grey and Cockatiels are good fliers.

Carolina Monteiro said...

Hello Barbara.

I'm happy you enjoyed your stay in Portugal, I have to say both I and Pepe, the cape parrot, loved you workshop. It was wonderful and I've learned a lot. I've read your book and have you DVD, but for an inexperience owner, there is nothing like seeing live how you interact with birds and how they respond to you..... so anyone out there who has a chance, please go and see Barbara in a workshop it's worth it! You also get to meet so many birds and "bird people".

I'm so happy with Pepe, he's doing really well with his training and the best part is that he loves it, he gets really excited and starts offering all the behaviours we learned so far, he's so funny :-)) so now he are working discerning the behaviour and cue. We love training and Pepe is definitely a pig, so it sure makes things easier for me, the newbie bird companion.

Best Wishes

Carolina and Pepe

Miguel Santos said...

Hi Barbara! I'm glad you enjoyed Portugal and had fun with the people and birds you've met.
It was definitely great to have someone like you sharing the knowledge and the power of positive reinforcement and training.
I wish you could have come to the Algarve and spent a few days enjoying our beaches and see our place.
Hopefully there will be a next time...

see you in Albuquerque.
Take care

Miguel Santos