Thursday, June 12, 2008

Parrot Training and Handling Guidelines

Susan Friedman, PhD and I developed these guidelines to use when involved in a training session with your bird. We have been fortunate to teach a number of workshops with hundreds of parrots and have apllied these strategies with good success. We hope you will find them useful.

Parrot Handling and Training Guidelines
Prepared by
Barbara Heidenreich
and S.G. Friedman, PhD

Make it your goal to create an environment in which a parrot appears relaxed and comfortable at all times. This can only be inferred from the parrot’s body language, specifically the behavior of feathers, eyes, head, wings, body, legs and feet.

Approach unfamiliar parrots slowly, calmly and quietly to avoid creating any signs of anxiety, fear responses or aggressive behavior.

If a parrot presents any signs of anxiety, fear, or aggressive behavior discontinue the actions creating this response, including lowering hands or stepping away from the parrot.

If a parrot presents aggressive behavior, immediately discontinue actions creating this response.

Keep your attention and your eyes focused on the parrot.

Avoid engaging in conversations with people around you when committed to an interaction with a parrot.

If you need to direct your attention away from the parrot for more than a few seconds put it back in the enclosure or carrier if that is a place where the parrot is relaxed.

Be aware of where you place or hold food in the presence of a parrot, as this can cause anxiety.

Be aware of how every action you do influences the parrot’s behavior and adjust your behavior moment by moment to maintain a calm bird.

Be aware of moving objects and how that may influence parrot behavior.

Move crate, carriers, cages that contain parrots with extreme care to minimize jostling or bumping the bird.

Prior to removing a flighted parrot from an enclosure or carrier, evaluate surroundings for safety and address any potential safety issues (cover large mirrors, shut doors, pull down shades, etc.).

If a parrot launches into flight, offer the parrot your steady, firm hand as a place to land.

Be aware of the parrot’s body and its proximity to surrounding objects. Avoid hitting tails, wings, and head on anything. This may require careful placement of the perch or hand where parrot is positioned.

Avoid creating a high level of arousal/excitement (e.g. bobbing or crest raising) by talking loudly or using other animated actions. This can sometimes contribute to the presentation of aggressive behavior.

While another person is working with a parrot, quietly observe as unobtrusively as possible to minimize distractions for both the parrot and the primary handler.

© Copyright 2007 Barbara Heidenreich and S.G. Friedman, PhD

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Parrot Podcast on Pet Life Radio

Robin Shewokis enrichment guru and owner of The Leather Elves ( and I are now hosting a pod cast. The first show was recently posted on We are the new hosts of a show formerly presented by Susan Chamberlain called "Wings 'n Things" The current show description will soon be changed to reflect the new direction we are taking things.

The show will be a bit more focused on behavior, training and enrichment. However we anticipate we will cover more topics, especially when we get to interview some of the many inspiring people we have met traveling for speaking engagements. To listen go to and click on Wings N Things.

Please feel free to spread the word, cross post and also drop me a line if you have a suggestion for a show topic.


Barbara Heidenreich