Tuesday, August 25, 2009
My blog has been kind of quiet lately. But my house hasn’t! Both are the result of some new visitors to my home. Two baby parrots. Jackson is a young Blue Throated Macaw and Joker is a young Double Yellow Headed Amazon parrot.
These two adorable youngsters are here for some training. The Kaytee Learning Center is their intended home. There they will help educate people about responsible pet ownership, as well as be ambassadors for conservation education. (Blue Throated Macaw numbers are quite low in the wild, and captive hatched Jackson will help spread the word and raise awareness!)
Because of their role in education there are some specific training goals I am working towards with these two birds. They are both flighted and will not only educate at the Kaytee Learning Center, but also at special events. This means both birds need to be comfortable with travel, be comfortable wearing a harness and interacting with new people in new environments.
For some birds, those can be challenging behaviors. With Jackson and Joker being youngsters they are a little more receptive to change at the moment. I am taking advantage of this time in their development and exposing them to many new things and pairing these experiences with positive reinforcers.
They recently met two new people and also some puppies! Both birds responded as I had hoped. No fear whatsoever…….just a bit of curiosity. They flew to new people for treats. However they soon discovered playing with one new friend’s curly hair was more tempting than a treat. I had to spend the next day teaching Jackson that other places were for perching….not heads.
It is an easy trap to fall into. A parrot flies to someone’s head and starts to have all sorts of fun. That makes flying to heads reinforcing. This means that flying to heads is likely to happen more often. To address this the following day, whenever Jackson tried to fly to my head, I simply stepped aside. He is a very confident flyer at this point and remained aloft and looked for another perch. As soon as he landed I reinforced him. This quickly got him back on track. It was now hard to land on a head and super easy to land somewhere else. Plus you get a treat for it. Problem solved!
These two young parrots will be with me for a number of weeks. I will continue to post on their training and their progress. Keep checking back for updates!