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Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

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

Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby UWotAndTheM8s » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:27 pm

Hiya folks!

Yeah so, the first thing you think is that I probably was too aggressive in my approach, but she actually caught on fairly well until one day... she no longer felt like it.

Sorry this is lengthy. I'm trying to be as detailed as I can be

I have a fully flighted, female pacific parrotlet, about 9 months old now. She's been target trained, and all that stuff essentially within the first... 2 weeks that I got her. She's quite the cuddlebug and enjoys sitting in my hand, being held (though much less so as of late) and has even crawled under my hand at one point to be kept warm and cuddle. She still cuddles up against my hand, but otherwise she really enjoys sitting under my chin and loves scratches.

She enjoys training and gets very excited every time I open the drawer with the clicker and target stick, but as of late, she's too hesitant to get under my hand for training anymore and just... loses interest eventually. As if the sesame seed or millet isn't worth being grabbed.

I basically trained her like this:

I put my hand on the desk, pinky facing my girl, and held the target stick on the other side. I would wait for her to stick her head between my index and thumb, wait, click, and reward her. I would do that until I could do the same thing, but with my hand touching her. Eventually getting to the point where I could gently grab her around her neck. All well and good.

I eventually slowly moved on to grabbing her, flipping her over, and rewarding. Again, it was fine. I wasn't fully there yet, but she was ok with. Though not enthousiastic.

There were times where, even outside of training, maybe 3 tops, where she would let me grab her to move her and she did not resist or act phobic towards my hand at all.

And then one day it changed and now she's even hesitant to put her head between my fingers.

I'm trying to figure out what changed, to be honest. I stopped training it entirely for a few days and occasionally just fed her treats. I was afraid that maybe she, mysteriously, developed a negative association with my hand. But she still loves being scratched and doesn't seem too flighty when my hand is near. When I tried retraining it, innitially she responded ok and stuck her head through my fingers again, but suddenly she became too. And I'm afraid that I'm subconsciounsly becoming a little too assertive in my training.

I must note, I may have become too confident in her trust in me and may have too haphazardly approached her when I wanted her to step-up a few times. I'm working on that and I'm trying to dial back my body language, BUT, it doesn't really seem to affect the other areas of our relationship. She's super affectionate and has no problems stepping up or anything.

Another thing that may be an issue is the fact that she has started to get distracted by her knowledge of where I keep her rewards. So I am thinking that MAYBE, it's not that she's necessarily afraid of my hand. But that she knows where I keep her treats (she gets sesame seeds in a plastic container that she's learned to open) and she figures that it's easier for her to just ignore my hand and go straight for the container. That I constantly have to hide in a different spot so she won't get it. What I've tried doing tonight is just to not reward her with these seeds anymore, but with millet instead. Since I'm far more able to control the millet than the sesame seed and she's not distracted by the quest for millet instead.

I'd like her to get used to being grabbed to make her that little bit more handable and to make daily check-ups of her feet and wings less stressful. As well as get to the point where I can clip her nail myself . I also really want to harness train her. So at this point I'm feeling somewhat frustrated, which is something I'd like to avoid because Idon't want that to bleed into the training. So before that happens, I'd be curious to any feedback you might have. Thank you!
UWotAndTheM8s
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby Michael » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:10 am

You're doing fine. Just go back to what she can do well like target and repeat the steps to get back to where you were. Next time just don't rush the training and get the bird to be genuinely comfortable instead of just barely enough.
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Michael
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby Pajarita » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:38 am

You have an aviary bird that is now beginning to develop sexually which will make her not only more assertive but also less attached to you [aviary birds will always prefer another bird of their own species than a human once they become sexually mature and there is nothing you can do about this, it's the way nature made them].

You are asking a prey animal to put herself in a position that is identical to how a predator would grab it - I'll let you reach your own conclusion on this.

And, third but not least, when you start training them too young -as you seemed to have done, it always backfires when they become adults because you've 'burn' them out.
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby liz » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:21 am

I agree with Pajarita.
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liz
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby UWotAndTheM8s » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:44 pm

Michael wrote:You're doing fine. Just go back to what she can do well like target and repeat the steps to get back to where you were. Next time just don't rush the training and get the bird to be genuinely comfortable instead of just barely enough.


Yeah thanks! I've since started playing peakaboo with her again and she enjoys that -- she enjoys being covered with my hand and feels rewarded when I excitedly yell peakaboo. I've since stopped using sesame seeds to train her and she's no longer distracted away from my hand by the container. So it was definitely a matter of distraction and no phobia relating to my hand.

Pajarita wrote:You have an aviary bird that is now beginning to develop sexually which will make her not only more assertive but also less attached to you [aviary birds will always prefer another bird of their own species than a human once they become sexually mature and there is nothing you can do about this, it's the way nature made them].

You are asking a prey animal to put herself in a position that is identical to how a predator would grab it - I'll let you reach your own conclusion on this.

And, third but not least, when you start training them too young -as you seemed to have done, it always backfires when they become adults because you've 'burn' them out.


Uhm, no?

- Are you sure you're talking about the same species here? There's 3 genera with several species of , admittedly birds with the same recent common ancestor (to my knowledge, arini phylogeny is rather muddled), that are refered to as "parrotlet" but are you sure you're speaking about the pacific parrotlet? She started to develop at around the age of 5 months, in September. And pacific parrotlets are pair-bonding birds who tend to do much worse in aviary situations than most other small psittacines. It's exceptionally risky introducing them to other parrotlets due to their territorial nature, and the consensus view is that they should be caged individually. They get incredibly bonded to their human and can be very possessive of them.

-You're extrapolating a whole lot of false information based on very little that I actually provided (such as the age when I started training her... which is not mentioned anywhere in my post). It's rather odd.
UWotAndTheM8s
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby Pajarita » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:12 am

No, I am not extrapolating at all. You said the bird is only 9 months now and that you started training her within two weeks of getting her. It's always recommended that you bond with the bird first and that takes a few months to begin with - plus, she is only now at an age where you should have started the training but you have already being doing it long enough for her to resent it so, obviously, you have been doing it for, at least, some months. All of that indicates that you started way too early.

And it doesn't matter which species of plet you have, all of them are aviary birds. And it's simply not true that they cannot live in aviaries. They live in flocks in the wild so, obviously, they can all be kept in flock in an aviary [google pictures of parrotlets in aviaries and you'll see]. They used to say the same thing about lovebirds [their African counterparts] but we know now that it's all a matter of the right or wrong husbandry...
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby UWotAndTheM8s » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:14 pm

Pajarita wrote:No, I am not extrapolating at all. You said the bird is only 9 months now and that you started training her within two weeks of getting her. It's always recommended that you bond with the bird first and that takes a few months to begin with - plus, she is only now at an age where you should have started the training but you have already being doing it long enough for her to resent it so, obviously, you have been doing it for, at least, some months. All of that indicates that you started way too early.


She doesn't resent it. I just got done training her and she enjoys it and now she's floofed against my arm, beak-grinding. And she's started to volunarily crawl under my hand again. She always get excited when I reach for the drawer that contains her training material. The issue was specific to this one type of training, which has since been completely resolved. She and I are still completely bonded and she's doing well on all fronts. Again, you are extrapolating a little too much. No one said that resents training, just that I experienced momentary setbacks on one single aspect of her training. Not all of them.

Pajarita wrote:And it doesn't matter which species of plet you have, all of them are aviary birds. And it's simply not true that they cannot live in aviaries. They live in flocks in the wild so, obviously, they can all be kept in flock in an aviary [google pictures of parrotlets in aviaries and you'll see].


First of all, there are no pictures of them in aviaries. Only some pictures of YOUNG, prepubescent parrotlets in breeding environments. And even if there was a contextless picture of an aviary full of parrotlets, which in my searches, there isn't: that in and of itself doesn't say a whole lot about long-term parrotlet-husbandry.

Secondly: They're not "flocking birds" the way, for example, budgies are. They live in fission-fusion societies of small pairs that live in proximity with other pairs, who in turn live in proximity with more pairs. They co-exist, but they do not tend to interact intimately with the same pairs a lot, unless they are drawn to the same food or water source. The spectacled parrotlet's social behavior in the wild has been the subject of a number of studies. This is academic. Beyond living in loose groups with minimally maintained interactions, they do not really exhibit the swarm-like behaviors of, say, budgies.

Thirdly: you CANNOT, and I can't stress this enough, CANNOT generalize WILD BEHAVIOR to CAPTIVE and vica versa. You know how female praying mantisses are known for biting the heads off males post-coius? This barely happens in the wild. It's only common in a laboratory setting. Or how wolves supposedly live in strict, violently enforced dominance hierarchies with alphas at the top? A complete and total myth that is the consequence of observing captive packs of wolves. But this behavior is not seen in the wild. Scientifically speaking, this is a question of ecological validity: You can only generalize data of one population to one in a comparable environment. You cannot appeal to "wild behavior" and then draw conclusions on captive behavior or vica versa. Captive forpii in an aviary are forced to live in much closer to proximity to each other than in the wild, do not fly for miles and miles to forrage indivually or in pairs and have less opportunity to retreat into their own terrirory, which is likely to result in more territorial and aggressive behavior. Therefore, you cannot expect a captive foprus to live in a group when the environment is completely different from a wild forpus'. Yes, they will interact in the wild -- with various birds who leave and join the fission-fusion society on a whim. They can also much more easily choose not to. In an aviary, this is not replicable.

Pajarita wrote:They used to say the same thing about lovebirds [their African counterparts] but we know now that it's all a matter of the right or wrong husbandry...


Lovebirds are a completely different clade of birds, sharing a more recent common ancestor with lorikeets. Meanwhile, forpii are arini, sharing a more recent common ancestor with macaws and Amazons. That they share superficially similar features through convergent evolution doesn't make them each others' "counterpart" (which, without some serious qualifications, isn't really a useful thing to call any animal) when you consider that they're literally as distantly related to each other as a true parrots possibly can be. So you can't generalize lovebird behavior to parrotlet behavior just because we think they look superficially similar.

You have yet to provide any actual constructive criticism of any kind and have derailed the thread with some baseless claims. Please, if you are going to comment, be helpful. You shared what you thought a problem was without presenting a possible sollution. Unless you attempt to be helpful, I can only consider this spam. Granted, the problem has been solved since the beginning of the thread anyway, but try to keep this in mind if you are plannign to comment in the future.
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby Pajarita » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:15 pm

:lol: You are so sure of everything... I'll tell you something that I have found and this is that certainty in parrot husbandry and/or knowledge is indirectly proportional to the number of birds and years one has been caring for them. The more parrots you have and the more years you put into it, the more you realize that you don't know diddly squat! I always said that there is nothing more humbling to know-it-alls [and I used to be one of them!] is to keep parrots, so let me share with you something that I learned after many years of doing research and caring for many parrots: none of us knows that much about them and the only absolute is that we don't know more than nature. But we do know some things from observations by ornithologists, field biologists, etc. on wild birds, and one thing we know is that they live in flocks and not fission-fusion societies [there might be passerines species that, on occasion, have been observed having some of the same characteristic and which would require more research but, as far as I know and, please, correct me if I am wrong, no parrot species social structure has ever been classified as such]. As a matter of fact, there is a study done on a flock of spectacles that observed the parents using a crèche tree for all the babies of the flock so they would interact and bond between themselves in order to 'wean' them from the parents - and another one that observed flock members calling each other's names when they were separated [both typical 'flock' behaviors]. As to the lack of 'intimate' interaction between adult individuals that belong to different pairs in the flock, this is common to ALL parrot species that are more pair-oriented than flock-oriented and cannot be used as an argument for a fission-fusion grouping. And plets have been observed in 'swarm-like' numbers, too - I remember once reading a description of a flock so large that they refer to it as looking like 'smoke in the sky'.

Any animal that lives in the wild in a social group, can be kept in captivity in a social group IF DONE THE RIGHT WAY so it's not a matter of extrapolating wild behavior into captive behavior or vice versa, there is nothing that needs extrapolating, the behaviors are [or should be] the same, it's the environment provided by humans that fails. Of course that a single little aviary bird deprived of the opportunity to be raised and learn from its parents, tricked into imprinting to humans and kept isolated living with a human is not going to exhibit the same behaviors as a wild one! But, in my personal experience, even those birds will very happily revert to natural social behaviors if allowed to and kept the right way.

And the 'counterpart' argument... well, maybe you did not realize it but it was not meant to be taxonomic but merely aviculturist in nature and, if you are ever able to keep both plets and lovies, you will see EXACTLY what I mean. Going by the pair I have, they are VERY similar! So very similar, in fact, that they deserve to be kissing cousins, I would say :lol: And the reason why I mentioned it is that exactly the same things that you are saying about plets was said about lovies - only we've kept lovies as pets many years before we started with plets and had enough time to figure out that we were wrong about them... I never had a flock of plets but years ago, when I got the first lovebirds in my rescue and I asked the 'experts' how to go about making a flock out of birds that were kept in singles or pairs everybody said it could not be done. But I tried it anyway because one of my mottos in parrot keeping is always to emulate nature as much as possible and it worked like a charm! I ended up with a flock of more than 30 lovies and, even though the flock was comprised of ex-breeders, show birds and hand-fed pet birds of different sources, ages, mutations and even species, they all followed the same flock dynamics of the wild birds. Ergo, I have no reason to believe that it cannot be done with plets and, with all due respect to the individuals that offered the opinion consensus that it cannot, the only thing I have to say to them is that nature always knows best and that just because a bird was bred in captivity, it doesn't mean it doesn't have the same instincts and needs as the wild ones.

I am glad that you solved your training problem and that you are happy about it.
Pajarita
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby UWotAndTheM8s » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:14 pm

Pajarita wrote::lol: You are so sure of everything... I'll tell you something that I have found and this is that certainty in parrot husbandry and/or knowledge is indirectly proportional to the number of birds and years one has been caring for them. The more parrots you have and the more years you put into it, the more you realize that you don't know diddly squat! I always said that there is nothing more humbling to know-it-alls [and I used to be one of them!] is to keep parrots, so let me share with you something that I learned after many years of doing research and caring for many parrots: none of us knows that much about them and the only absolute is that we don't know more than nature. But we do know some things from observations by ornithologists, field biologists, etc. on wild birds, and one thing we know is that they live in flocks and not fission-fusion societies [there might be passerines species that, on occasion, have been observed having some of the same characteristic and which would require more research but, as far as I know and, please, correct me if I am wrong, no parrot species social structure has ever been classified as such]. As a matter of fact, there is a study done on a flock of spectacles that observed the parents using a crèche tree for all the babies of the flock so they would interact and bond between themselves in order to 'wean' them from the parents - and another one that observed flock members calling each other's names when they were separated [both typical 'flock' behaviors]. As to the lack of 'intimate' interaction between adult individuals that belong to different pairs in the flock, this is common to ALL parrot species that are more pair-oriented than flock-oriented and cannot be used as an argument for a fission-fusion grouping. And plets have been observed in 'swarm-like' numbers, too - I remember once reading a description of a flock so large that they refer to it as looking like 'smoke in the sky'.

Any animal that lives in the wild in a social group, can be kept in captivity in a social group IF DONE THE RIGHT WAY so it's not a matter of extrapolating wild behavior into captive behavior or vice versa, there is nothing that needs extrapolating, the behaviors are [or should be] the same, it's the environment provided by humans that fails. Of course that a single little aviary bird deprived of the opportunity to be raised and learn from its parents, tricked into imprinting to humans and kept isolated living with a human is not going to exhibit the same behaviors as a wild one! But, in my personal experience, even those birds will very happily revert to natural social behaviors if allowed to and kept the right way.

And the 'counterpart' argument... well, maybe you did not realize it but it was not meant to be taxonomic but merely aviculturist in nature and, if you are ever able to keep both plets and lovies, you will see EXACTLY what I mean. Going by the pair I have, they are VERY similar! So very similar, in fact, that they deserve to be kissing cousins, I would say :lol: And the reason why I mentioned it is that exactly the same things that you are saying about plets was said about lovies - only we've kept lovies as pets many years before we started with plets and had enough time to figure out that we were wrong about them... I never had a flock of plets but years ago, when I got the first lovebirds in my rescue and I asked the 'experts' how to go about making a flock out of birds that were kept in singles or pairs everybody said it could not be done. But I tried it anyway because one of my mottos in parrot keeping is always to emulate nature as much as possible and it worked like a charm! I ended up with a flock of more than 30 lovies and, even though the flock was comprised of ex-breeders, show birds and hand-fed pet birds of different sources, ages, mutations and even species, they all followed the same flock dynamics of the wild birds. Ergo, I have no reason to believe that it cannot be done with plets and, with all due respect to the individuals that offered the opinion consensus that it cannot, the only thing I have to say to them is that nature always knows best and that just because a bird was bred in captivity, it doesn't mean it doesn't have the same instincts and needs as the wild ones.

I am glad that you solved your training problem and that you are happy about it.


If you are looking for me to reaffirm your ego, and calling me a know-it-all because I don't reaffirm your know-it-all attitude, then you're at the wrong place. I came to have a practical problem solved and you purposely refraned from doing so from the beginning to stroke your own ego. Please if you see a thread of mine in the future, consider whether you want actually help me and my bird, or whether you're just looking to entertain yourself. if it's the latter, please look for another thread to spam.
UWotAndTheM8s
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Types of Birds Owned: Pacific parrotlet.
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Re: Parrotlet suddenly became aversive to training to be grabbed

Postby Pajarita » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:16 am

I am going to ignore all the 'ego stroking' bit because it truly does not help anybody... But you are not being fair because I WAS trying to help you by explaining the situation to you as I saw it. In my mind, by helping the owners understand what is going on helps the birds - and that's the only reason why I come here: to help the birds. I can assure you that I don't come here to 'entertain myself' :lol: I can find much better ways of doing that and I am fortunate enough to have the time and resources for it!

I am not going to promise not to post on any other thread started by you not because I want to antagonize you but because, in all honesty, I will not remember not to do it - I answer a lot of postings and only keep track of the people that come here often which you don't.

Just one word of caution: single plets are known to pluck once they reach a certain age.
Pajarita
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Flight: Yes


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