Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Six Year Old Parrot Trainer

You are never too old to learn and you are never too young. I was recently in Curacao to teach a parrot behavior and training workshop. The first day we focused on the principles of learning and the “how to’s”. The next day people brought their parrots and we did hands on training sessions. My job was to coach them through their sessions.

The veterinarian who hosted the event Dr Doest had her six year old son in aattendance on the second day. His name is Connor. At one point I played a video clip on how to train a parrot to turn around on cue. This was an example the students could watch and then practice with their parrots. My focus had been on the other attendees and the birds. However out of the corner of my eye, I caught some activity going on behind my back. Connor was training a 26 year old Amazon Parrot to turn around on cue!

But wait! There is more to the story. The parrot in question is named Crockey. And in the past Crockey had not always been very pleased with Connor and would show him aggressive behavior. Instead Crockey was calm and focused on figuring out what she needed to do to earn a treat.

The final piece to the story that I thought was fascinating is that Connor also speaks Dutch and is just learning English. Therefore he learned mostly by watching the video clip as opposed to listening to the verbal instructions.

Best of all I love that Connor was able to have fun training Crockey and build their relationship. Gotta love the power of positive reinforcement training. Way to go Connor!

P.S. I have heard that since the seminar Connor has continued what he started. He and Crockey have been having more successful training sessions together. I can't wait to see what Connor will train next!

Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright Good Bird Inc 2010

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