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Hormonal Cockatiel?

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby gmgallen » Sun Jun 12, 2016 4:37 pm

I have two cockatiels living in the same cage; a 7 year old male and a 7 year old female. Within the past year, I have discovered the joy of clicker training these cuties. The female, Toby, took to it instantly. She loves to go on the training perch and I have been making leaps and bounds with training/taming her. Miley, the male, not so much. He requires a lot of coaxing to leave the cage, and when he does, he immediately turns around and flies to the top of the cage, which is about a head taller than I am. While I'm working with Toby, he will spread his wings wide in a male display while calling loudly. Training is not practical while he's up there, so I've tried taming. If my hand makes any movement towards him, he opens his beak in warning at me.
When I can get him to sit still on the training perch, he has no interest in simple target training (which he knows how to do). All he tries to do is beeline back to the top of the cage.
I'm not sure what to do because trying to train when he's on top of his cage is pointless as he ignores treats while up there (he normally loves them), and he's far too nervous to train on the training perch. Should I not allow him on top of the cage? How can I get him to relax well enough to train?
Its just frustrating to see one bird blossom so beautifully, while the other is hindered by nervousness and possibly hormones. I know that he has the capacity to learn.
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby liz » Mon Jun 13, 2016 5:55 am

He just isn't ready yet. He will learn by watching the other. He will probably be easy to train once he decides that you are not going to eat him.
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby Pajarita » Mon Jun 13, 2016 9:20 am

But why do you feel that he needs to be trained? Does he look or act as if he was unhappy?
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby gmgallen » Mon Jun 13, 2016 4:45 pm

I want to train him to develop a safe, hands-on relationship with him. One day, I want to be able to grab him, fly safely indoors, and have a bird that wants to spend time with me, instead of forced. The tricks are a cool novelty, but more importantly they're the start of building trust between me and my bird, like I've been able to do so far with Toby. Taming is the more important goal to me. Trick training is just to get the bird excited about coming out of the cage.

Miley feels safe in his cage and is too scared to leave the cage. What I'm really asking for is advice on helping Miley feel secure enough to be away from his cage. Like two feet away. The training perch that I'm using is about chest level to me so its not really a height issue.

I can appreciate that MIley is a very different bird than Toby and will need a different approach. What steps can I be taking to help him feel relaxed enough to come outside the cage?

Additional info: On warm summer days, I wheel the entire cage outside and sit with them for an hour or two and their cage has moved several locations around the house, so its not exactly like beyond the cage is an unknown abyss to him, if that can be taken into consideration at all.
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby liz » Tue Jun 14, 2016 7:02 am

liz wrote:He just isn't ready yet. He will learn by watching the other. He will probably be easy to train once he decides that you are not going to eat him.


I do not train my birds. They learn like babies do. I do encourage them to come to me as soon as it is possible. Rambo will call for "help" when he needs it.
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby Pajarita » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:28 am

Ahh, well, I am afraid that you are operating under a common misconception: training is not taming. As you have experienced, an untamed bird is almost impossible to train. Training, when done right (and that is the 'key' of the whole thing: the doing it 'right'), can deepen the human-bird bond but it doesn't create it. You need to get the bird to trust you implicitly so it's not only not afraid of you but also likes you and looks forward to been with you. That is achieved simply spending time with him, talking to him, offering him treats, etc until he comes to you. It is only then that you can start training.
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby gmgallen » Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:32 pm

Thank you both for the advice. I'll be working slowly to build some trust between us.
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby Wolf » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:00 pm

Do you have a smaller cage, such as you would use to transport them in? Do you have something like a play area that is separate from their cage?

If you have these items, then, my first suggestion would be to leave their regular cage stationary and use the smaller cage for taking them outside or to other rooms. I am not going to say that this will solve your problem, because by itself it will not, but parrots can be very funny when it comes to their nesting area. Their normal cage will be viewed by them as their nesting area. To them it is not supposed to keep changing location. They do derive some sense of security from certain things being the way that they expect them to be and they really do not like change, which is one of the reasons that routines and schedules work so well with them.

I think that I would try to take Toby to the other room if both of them will accept this degree of separation, while you work with Miley. If they will not accept this then just move Toby across the room in the smaller cage, but still within sight of each other.

If they accept the separation, then come right back and try to spend about 10 minutes with Miley just talking and singing with him and offering him a treat through the bars of the cage, no more than three treats during this session. Don't forget to give him lots of encouragement and praise during these sessions using his name. Names are very important to your parrots. The thing that you want to watch for is for Miley to start coming towards you before you get to the cage, in anticipation of your session and then further that he remains with you on his perch while he eats his treat. Once you observe these behaviors with Miley for at least two or three sessions then you can move to the main door of his cage. In this step you proceed in the same manner of talking, singing and giving Miley lots of praise, but under no circumstances should you reach into the cage during these sessions. The idea is to create enough trust in Miley that he wants to come to and spend time with you, so it is important that you only offer his treats at the entrance to the cage, he needs to come to you and then when he does and is calmly taking and eating his treat at the entrance, you start using your second hand to hold his treat so that he has to either step up onto your hand to take the treat or stretch to reach it. It may take a few sessions, but he will step up when he is ready. Then again he should also remain on your hand while he eats his treats. These are all small things to us but they are major steps in trust for the bird.

When you reach the point of moving to the cage entrance you may wish to begin target training Miley in his cage, but also in a separate session. The sessions that I just described should not exceed 10 minutes or occur more than twice a day and when I was done working with Miley than I would spend equal time working and playing with Toby. These sessions should be used in addition to spending time with both of them together.

I hope that you find these suggestion helpful.
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Re: Hormonal Cockatiel?

Postby gmgallen » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:39 am

Very helpful. Thanks for the well thought out advice!
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