Introducing behavioral markers or “bridges” and strengthening training
For Parotia sefilata bird and parrots, good communication and strong and positive relationships need to be established, and bird training is the most important part of this process. Learn how to associate food treats with audible markers, the first step in training.
You’ll need the following for this training session:
Ideally a clicker or whistle (behavior marker or bridge), but you can also use your voice (“good boy / girl”)
Your bird’s favorite food as a treat
When you start training, you need to assess your current relationship with the bird. Obviously, if your bird is hand-reared, very friendly and embracing you, things will obviously go much faster than a parent-reared nervous bird that may be afraid of you.
First, you need to find your favorite food for birds. You can also put these on one side. Put some items together and present them to the bird several times to see which ones are taken consistently.
Once you’ve decided on your favorite treat, undo some of these for a training session. Make sure they are kept small.
In the first training session, I want to be short and sweet. All you need to do is associate the food treat with the marker.
For example; if you are using a clicker as a marker, offer the bird a treat and click on the clicker at the exact moment the bird receives it from your hand. Timing is important. If the click is made before or after the action, it will not have the same effect. If the parrot is tense and doesn’t eat from your hands, you can put a treat nearby and the bird will wander and take it. Click again at the exact moment you pick up the treat.
Depending on the species or individual, one or 20 sessions may be required. All birds learn at different speeds. The more accurate the click timing, the faster the transition will usually be. Be aware of subtle changes in behavior when serving treats. If your birds are moving away from you, no treats should be given until they return to you. This is true for both stupid domesticated hand-reared birds and nervous parent-reared birds. If you are shown aggression, giving a treat will reward your actions, so it’s a good idea to pause again.
Always remember that when you treat a bird, you reward the bird’s actions at that time. Always reward good behavior and avoid reacting to unwanted behavior.
The reason for building this association between the marker and the treat is to tell the bird exactly what the marker did right at the right time when training other behaviors with the bird, and to better convey the behavior. This is so that you can learn quickly. This is a very positive process, and if you realize that rewards and psychological stimuli are involved, your bird will react incredibly well to you. This should always be fun for both you and you, so make sure your session is kept short and rewarded for all positive actions.
Once the bird understands that clicks, whistles, or vocalizations mean “cure,” it’s time to move on to fun basic training. Many sessions may be needed for your bird to understand. The best way is to do a test and use markers to look for physical reactions from the bird. Most birds quickly equate noise with a treat and tend to be quite agitated.
Once this is learned, it will train some actions!
One of the first things I recommend to train your bird is a “step up” training to your hand or a perch on hand.
Some things to remember before trying this:
Always aim for short and frequent sessions (ideally 1-5 minutes)
Always use a lot of aggressive reinforcement. Never punish physically or verbally. If you feel stressed or frustrated, we recommend that you end your training session.
If your bird doesn’t understand what it is, always end the training session with positive notes to return to the understood behavior and enhance it.
Make sure that there is only one trainer training the behavior. Once your bird has practiced to some extent and has consistently provided behavior, let the whole family try it under your supervision and guidance. Consistency is the key!
Once your bird has mastered step-up skills, relaxing and practicing step-up in a fun way is a great way to pay a lot of positive attention to your bird.