How to Tame Birds Who Just
Want to Fly Off
I was peeking through our membership forum last night and saw a great question asking for advice on how to train a parrot who ALWAYS tries to escape. So I thought I’d provide some clarity on how I personally trained my Blue and Gold Macaw to handle his training without being so afraid of me as to always fly away.
Hi, I have a 6 month old Lutino IRN of an unknown sex. I wanted to start the perching technique as demonstrated by Dave on the
video but I can’t seem to get my fella to stay long enough on the T-Stand. The minute I try to touch it with the wooden dowels it will jump off the T-Stand and I end up just picking it up with the dowel and placing it back and that keeps going on and on. At the end it becomes a “Step Up” exercise instead of “perching”. Any Tips to help me to get it to stay on the T-Stand long enough would be very helpful.
This is a VERY good question, and one that needs to be addressed.
When my brother and I first started training birds, we had LIMITED experience with different types of training methods. And we focused most of our efforts on trying to train my biting Blue and Gold Macaw, Tiko.
Tiko was the type of bird that would charge, attack and try to scare you away from his cage if he didn’t like you… which makes the “Perching” technique we teach in our video, where we use perches to deflect our parrot’s biting an EXTREMELY effective technique for being able to stand our ground, prove to our parrot we are in control of the situation and help our bird understand that he can’t bully us around with biting.
But here’s the problem…
This “Perching” technique only works on birds who like to stand their ground and fight you. And we soon discovered that it’s NOT a very good technique for training birds who are afraid of you.
We discovered that not all birds could be tamed with our “Perching” technique the way we were teaching it. So we started experimenting with other, more positive training approaches, like “Shaping” and “Targeting”, and techniques that involved strictly positive rewards.
We even went so far as to add an audio CD to our Taming, Training & Tricks program that taught these types of techniques.
And what we eventually discovered is that Perching (the way we first taught it) really isn’t necessary. It can work, and it was the exact method I personally used to train my own Blue and Gold Macaw. But we now use it in a slightly different way.
I no longer force my birds into fearful situations, or situations that make them uncomfortable. It’s been proven by many experts smarter than me that using techniques that are not perceived as positive by an animal will get you VERY mixed results. bsp;
So the way I teach perching now is ‘slightly’ modified…
First, I don’t use Perching as the first step in getting my parrot to love me. Instead I use the Targeting & Shaping Techniques I teach in the audio portion of our Taming, Training & Tricks Program.
In that program I go into a lot of detail on how to get parrots to come to you willingly. So they aren’t EVER afraid, and in a way that builds up your credibility as a person that won’t harm or scare them.
Tons of my clients now use these techniques to get even scared birds to willingly climb out of their cages and hop on their owners fingers… even when 2 weeks prior to this type of training the bird would flail wildly in their cage at the site of their owners.
And it’s only after my clients have mastered this technique of getting their parrots to come to them on their own free will that I will use the perching technique.
But I make sure that it’s used in a more deliberate and positive manner…
Here’s what I mean:
Where I used to use what is called the “Perching” method to fend off a bird from biting me when I got close. I know wait to use the perching techniques until my bird is already comfortable with me being VERY close to him.
The Perching technique is now only used to bridge that final gap between your bird letting you be close, and your bird letting you pet him.
With perching, if I take it slow, I’m able to reward the bird with food treats for letting me get a perching stick closer and closer to a part of his body I want to pet (like it’s feet). I can reach in to pet the bird with a stick, and keep my fingers out of harms way at the same time.
But where in my video I used to teach people to go right in and touch the bird with the stick even if it was afraid, now I’ll take my time, and reward my bird with treats for letting me get the stick closer and closer over a period of several minutes, or even hours… heck, sometimes days.
When I take it slow like this, you’re able to build your bird’s trust in you, never scare him, and calmly teach your bird how pleasant touch can be.
So to bring it back around to the original question one of my Members posted in our forum, the answer is to do the training slow enough so the bird never gets scared. Focus on the techniques taught in our clicker training CD first, and then go back to a more Gentle version of the Perching technique once your parrot is comfortable with letting you be close to him and you’re ready to start desensitizing him to touch.
For more information on the training methods described above or to pick up a copy of our training course check this out!