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Taming techniques

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InTheAir
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Taming techniques

Post by InTheAir » Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:24 am

When I got my second irn, a 3 month old aviary raised bird, everyone I met had some advice on how to tame her, I mean EVERYONE. People who don't have birds, people who had a budgie when they were a kid, older people who breed birds.

The most common advice was "clip it's wings!" Or "clip one wing" because that will make it tame.
This is a complete fallacy. I did not take this advice, of course. There seem to be an extraordinary amount of questions on here that run along the lines of "my bird bites me, his wings are clipped, what do I do?". If we apply some thought into the matter we realise that IRNs are a prey species (ie: they are not the hunters, they are the hunted). Their first method of defense is flight, quite literally. If they are deprived of this method they default to stage two in self defense: bite. The other problem I see with this method is that restricting a birds ability to fly away is not taming it, it is just removing the birds ability to make free choices about whether it should participate.

I am not going to discuss wing clipping in general here. I keep flighted birds and I would not consider myself a good trainer if I have to remove their ability to fly so i could train them.

Clipping one wing is not advocated by any authority on birds. It unbalances the bird and can cause major accidents before the bird realises it had no control and gives up flying.


"Hold the bird to your heart" or "wrap it in a towel and hug it"
Strangely enough, soft hearted hippies who do not understand the mechanics of animal behaviour think that this is nice because you're showing the bird you love it.
This is not how Indian Ringnecks interact with other birds they like at all! It is so removed from their nature that they do not comprehend it as something pleasant.
This method is most likely to produce what is referred to as "learnt helplessness". http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top ... lplessness
By holding the bird against your heart, it does not know that you love it. It knows it is trapped and it will learn that it can't do anything about its current situation. Resistance is futile, just give up.

"Put glove on, it will soon learn biting has no effect"
I really don't see why this is any different from the last technique. The only way one would have provoked a bite from my bird when I got her would have been to corner her somewhere, like her cage. Not only does the bird end up feeling unsafe in it's cage, but it also encourages the bird to practise biting your hand.

No one bothered to suggest the "take away it's food and it will come to you when it's hungry". This is just as well, as that would not have been well received. At 3 months old my bird still had some filling out to do and was near starting her first juvenile moult. She needed a complete diet.
It is possible to achieve dramatic results by simply using the birds one favoured food from their regular diet and using this food to reward the behaviour you like. My birds favourite food is any kind of fruit, which she only needs in moderation anyway.


I cannot comprehend how, when so much is understood about how effective reward based training is, that people are still advocating any of the above techniques. Why force and coerce a creature, especially when it is possible to achieve better results by letting it choose if it would like to participate?


The method I used was:
"Listen to the birds body language, respect its wishes and offer it wonderful things."
I went with this technique. Within 2 weeks for my bird was hopping or flying onto my hand when called. Taking into account that my bird could live at least 20 years, 2 weeks is a blip across the screen. This process can take longer or be quicker, depending on the bird and the handler.
I had Sapphires cage in a spare room, every time I was going to enter the room I would tell her, open the door and slowly approach her cage to drop a treat (a small piece of fruit) into her dish and leave her to eat it. Within a few days she was running up to snatch the treat from my fingers as I dropped it into her dish. She was still exhibiting very cautious body language, but would not flutter off in a panic at my approach as she had when she first arrived at our house.
If she didn't approach me for the fruit, I just left it in her dish anyway. The idea was to get a positive association with my presence, not to make her come to me. There does not seem to be an advantage in making a bird come to you, besides in a human mind.
My bird soon decided I was pretty cool and is now very tame. She reliably steps up, goes to her cage, comes when called, goes in her travel cage, sits on my shoulder, lets me touch her head, chest and lift her wings, gives me a foot so I can trim her nails, plays with me, flies to me uninvited so she can preen my hair or just watch what I'm doing, demands attention when I'm busy, likes car rides, does a few tricks, flies to where I point and shoves her head into her harness and lets me wrap it around her (she is not completely harness trained yet). All of this has been achieved in about 4 months using only reward based training. Believe or not, I spend 5 minutes actively training her a day, I reinforce everything I like throughout the day. Because it has always been reinforced positively, she loves to oblige and be a good girl!
You can check out both my birds on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/ClaireInTheAir

Anyone with a bird should learn to observe it and what signals are being displayed, it requires sympathy and lots of patience. It is also essential that the trainer assesses themselves and makes improvements to their techniques if necessary. I do this on a daily basis.

Here is the taming method I followed http://learningparrots.com/blog/trainin ... l-parrots/

I would also recommend http://www.goodbirdinc.com, especially for anyone new to parrots and training. http://www.behaviorworks.org is a very valuable resource, especially for anyone who's bird feels it necessary to bite them. Parrots don't bite for no reason, there is always something that happens to cause it. A very common cause is fear.

Show your parrot you love it by learning about it and how is behaviour works so you can behave appropriately towards it and learn to have the best possible relationship with him or her!

Regards,
Claire

MissK
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by MissK » Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:08 am

Claire, Thank you for taking the time to make this post. I know people will be helped both by understanding your perspective and by following the links. They will be able to look to your videos for reassurance that yes, it can work.
-MissK

Tessi84
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by Tessi84 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:17 pm

Thank you so much for this write up.. I'm trying all sorts at the moment, I bought the BirdTricks DVD's but am having no luck. I don't know whats right and wrong to do because everyone has a different opinion about what is right..

My IRN Joe is now 6 months old and I need to re tame him as at the start he was a stunning cuddling bird but then as time went on the bluffing started and everyone said 'just ignore his bites' well when you have thin skin and hes taking chunks I couldn't just ignore it I became scared of him and he became a cage bird... This saddens me so I want to turn that around.

As it stands if I go near his cage he pins his eyes, fluffs right up and then lunges at me and sort of hisses at me.. I can't change his food and clean his cage until I allow him to get himself out of the cage or he will attack me quite nastily.
With my partner it's completely different, my partner isn't afraid and Joe knows it so the second my partner enters the room Joe flies around his cage in what appears to be fear and squawks, if he's out of the cage and my partner approaches he flies away.

I am currently trying the 'clicker' training but I think this may take time because I just don't know what I am doing lol.. Everything I read or see says sooooo many different things.. :/ I just want my happy Joe back, the one that trusted me at the start and didn't hate me!!

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Donovan
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by Donovan » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:38 pm

The things I have taught my bird have been extensions of things he seemed to be leaning towards anyway. So in their own ways they'll let you know what they want to be taught... I'm not sure if that makes sense... but in my very limited experience with birds I believe that they simply can't learn everything.

My bird does some really neat stuff, but then seems retarded compared to other birds, and vice versa.... it takes time, patience, and treats :) .. then more time... then reminders.. then challenges... then more reminders... and more patience mixed in

SkyeBerry
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by SkyeBerry » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:21 am

Donovan - it sound like you are 'capturing behaviour' - it is a valid training method and there is lots to read about it if you want including at the Goodbirdinc site Claire supplied.

I think it is fantastic that Claire managed all she described in 4 months. But each bird and each bird/owner/trainer is unique. How the bird was raised by the breeder and genetics also come into play. Some birds are going to require a lot more time and patience than others. I recommend that people do not use 4 months as a guideline of failure or success.

Claire - I do not believe it was your motive to create a 4 month goal for training. I just thought it might be a good idea to add the above.
Mary

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InTheAir
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by InTheAir » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:38 am

Opps, I haven't checked this forum for awhile!

Tessi, I'm sorry to hear your having such a relationship issue with your birdy! Neither of my birds have done that "bluffing" thing towards me, so I don't understand it at all. If you check out the websites in my first post, especially learning parrots, I think you can improve the current situation. Just treat him like an untamed bird and gain his trust again. If you are really motivated check out the companion parrots section http://www.iaate.org, I read a great article on addressing aggressive behaviour on their last night. Try to discuss the aspects of fear and aggression with your partner too, it really helps when both parronts are on the same page.
Clicker training is the same theory as I use, I just prefer to use my voice to a Clicker. :wink:


Donovan, I disagree that they have a limited capacity to learn. Every interaction is a learning experience. I haven't taught Nila any new tricks for a while, so he learns new words to entertain himself. If I gave my birds to someone who handles them differently from me, they would learn to modify their behaviour to suit that.

Skyeberry, sorry for the confusion, Sapphire had been with us 4 months at the time of writing the post. I had no time frame and I think any method that states a time frame for taming is utter BS! Every bird and every handler is different. There are so many intricate layers of body language and stuff to take into account.
My goal was to have a functionally tame friend for Nila, just tame enough to be convenient. I totally failed that goal, she doesn't get on that well with Nila and is all over me! Nila provides a training aid by being the model/rival.
My bf and I argue over the role of genetics in her ability to accept humans. She was a fostered egg, but the breeder who has her foster parents has a nice relationship with his birds. Her foster parents are not at all tame, we don't know about her real parents at all. Obviously, her family have been in captivity for quite a few generations. I'm very interested in the role genetics plays in tamability, I haven't found any clear answers in irns so far. Sapphire has a less jumpy disposition than Nila. He appears tamer, but really just isn't as confident and self assured. There are so many variables with makes it impossible to compare them, really.

AJPeter
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by AJPeter » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:24 pm

I agree with Donovan, (You would!) If you do not force them to respond with rewards for the behaviour you want they learn at their own pace and on a basis that if they want to learn they are responsive to you wishes if they don't want to learn then proceed at your peril!

MissK
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by MissK » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:55 pm

I'll go with they can learn to do what birds can do. I doubt they could learn to drive a car unless it had been modified for use by a bird, for example. However, I have long said they are smart enough to learn whatever you are smart enough to teach them, and I do believe that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO2TR_8jXPc Maybe algebra is out, though........

I also have to say that when we use a reward to train the bird, the bird isn't being forced to respond; he is being bribed. I feel they learn at their own pace anyway because learning cannot be forced.
-MissK

SkyeBerry
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by SkyeBerry » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:40 am

So MissK - how many hours to find that video?

:lol: :lol: :lol: Mary
Mary

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InTheAir
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by InTheAir » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:32 am

Missk, I love the video! I read about that story last year, but hadn't seen any videos.

Aj: please don't ruin this thread, which was created to encourage people that it is possible and advisable to TAME PARROTS WITHOUT FORCING THEM TO DO ANYTHING THEY DON'T WANT TO DO, with inane comments because you have not thoroughly read or understood the posts.

MissK
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Re: Taming techniques

Post by MissK » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:57 am

HAH! It took mere seconds because as I was typing my car comment I was thinking, heeeeey, wasn't there a you tube of a bird on a buggy? Was that a bird or a hamster...? So I Googled and found it right off. :D

(edited for typos, nothing new here)
Last edited by MissK on Sat Jul 19, 2014 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
-MissK

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Re: Taming techniques

Post by AJPeter » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:42 pm

Northern Parrots sell a bicycle that a Macaw can ride, l bet Billie could ride a bike if she wanted to, l think it takes a lot more inteligence for parrots and IRN to learn things than we give them credit for, after all Billie unscrews nuts and that must be very difficult to work out.

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