February 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
It must be that time of the year, because I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about nippy and hormonal cape parrots. It hasn’t quite hit Lola yet, but one of the things I’ve done to prepare myself and others for when that time does arrive is to train her to use a hand-protecting step up perch. I think this is really key for when hormones do strike– and even better if you can get started well before they do, so that your parrot is trained to step up immediately by the time hormone season rolls around.
The right type of step-up perch is necessary. I chose one that is simple with no distractions, but also amply protects the hands so that you can safely transport your parrot into or out of the cage during those difficult times when you your parrot doesn’t want to be handled otherwise. It’s simply made of two dowels and a stainless steel screw, along with a small sheet of clear acrylic that protects your hand. It’s called the Buddy Perch and you can buy it at 4Z Birds, but I’m sure that if you’re crafty you can also make one yourself. (That being said, I was really pleased with the excellent customer service I received from 4Z Birds and highly recommend them! They were really fantastic to work with and put a lot of care into their products.) I’ve seen others that use coconut shells and natural perches, and a plastic one as well on the market.
Funnily enough, Lola, who is normally not afraid of any new perches or toys, was absolutely terrified of this thing when I first took it out! It took a few weeks of persistent training and many an in-shell almond for her to realize that it’s her friend, not foe. At first, the most I could do was get her just to touch it with the tip of her beak. But we went at her pace and she learned very quickly. I made sure to train her to step up whether it’s me or anybody else holding the perch. She is a little more hesitant with strangers, but she knows that stepping up = reward. It took less than a month for her to get really comfortable with it, and we practice consistently, even though hormones haven’t hit. That way, when they do come around, we’ll be ready.
I think having your parrot trained to use a step up stick can also help in a lot of others ways. For example, if you ever want or need to travel and require a bird sitter, it can be difficult for the bird sitter to allow out of cage time or even retrieve your parrot if they accidentally sneak out of the cage while changing bowls or cleaning. But now that Lola’s trained to step up for anybody anywhere, I know that there will be no problem with getting her back in the cage safely and keeping everybody’s fingers in tact in the process. I definitely recommend training your parrots to use step-up perches as well. It’s great for some peace of mind and I’m sure it will come in handy when we find ourselves dealing with hormones!
May 11, 2011 § 11 Comments
This past week, Lola and I made a sudden breakthrough with her harness training!! We’ve been through months and months of harness training that seemed like one step forward, two steps back most of the time. I wasn’t hopeful, and in fact had been losing hope more and more in recent weeks. Then suddenly this week she let me put the harness over her head with no resistance… and the next day I actually got the whole thing on her!!
I am so, so excited!! I really didn’t think we’d ever get there, after all of my failures and frustrations. But we did, and the past two days in a row I’ve been taking her for walks around the neighborhood to enjoy the sun!! She definitely doesn’t love being harnessed, but, she has been a lot better about it than she has in the past. It also seems like once I get her outside and walking around, she is much more interested in what’s going on around her than chewing at the harness itself. She also enjoys getting showered with treats and praise, of course. She’s attracted quite a few neighbors and children especially!
Although I had been taking her out in her travel cage frequently since the weather’s been nicer, I am so happy to have her harness trained. I even have a flight line for it, so hopefully one day she will be brave enough to let go of her death grip on my hand and arm. I am a really big fan of the Aviator Harness, and in my opinion it is the absolute safest harness on the market. It is very, very secure (and doesn’t depend on velcro straps which to me doesn’t seem safe at all) and also the least bulky. I think that the idea of diapers is a bit ridiculous, personally. Parrots “go” so frequently for various biological reasons, and one of them is to keep their bodies as light as possible to promote flight. To buy a flight suit or a harness with a diaper attached seems incredibly counter intuitive to me, and much more for the human’s convenience than the parrot’s enrichment.
Anyway, I couldn’t be more pleased about finally getting her into this thing– it sure took long enough! I am hoping that we can continue to make trips outdoors all throughout the nice weather. I am so excited!!
April 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Lately [from November of 2010] I’ve been doing a lot of flight recall training with Lola. We’re still at the very basic stages, but she’s getting pretty good at it!! Every time she successfully flies to me, I offer her an almond (or a piece of an almond). We use the cue, “Come here!” Here’s a video of one of her most recent successes. On the first attempt, you’ll notice, she decides to pounce the camera instead.
[This entry has been imported, with some edits, from my previous blog.]