Here is the latest Kili tricks medley video. Unfortunately it was impossible to show every single one of her tricks in 2 minutes but this captures the essences of her trick capabilities at this stage. I think excluded are walk through ring, tube, slinky, target, card trick, coin tricks, and tri-color ring on peg. Seriously I am beginning to have trouble remembering what tricks she knows and going through all of them. Luckily she still remembers how to do them. The main thing is practicing the cues with her rather than the tricks themselves.
The above video is the high paced short version of the following two videos. The medley is meant for parrot owners and non-owners to simply enjoy watching some exciting parrot tricks. The following two videos are a bit boring because they show the way the tricks go through in whole. It is a bit repetitive but in the course of the videos you see how she gets better at it. All of these videos were recorded in one single session the same day and she was learning as we were going through it so it is really exciting to me.
This is flighted fetch for ball. You will see that I start by throwing the ball from near her to eventually removing myself from her area and dropping the ball and having her come to me rather than back to perch with the ball.
This article is meant to answer your questions such as how do I train my parrot to fly to me? How to train parrot to recall fly? How to get parrot to fetch ball and fly back to me? How to teach parrot to do flighted retrieve?
This video shows the flighted tricks I did with her. Since she got good at flying retrieves with the ball, I decided to try to have her fly to put coins in piggy bank, bowl, puzzle, ring on peg, basketball, etc.
It's really cool cause she picked up on those right away. To her flying is no longer a trick but a way of getting around. So if the puzzle piece or ring is on a chair away from the table with the receptacle, she just grabs it and flies over with it. She basically connected the dots between flighted retrieve of ball and flighted retrieve of every single other trick that requires a retrieve. Is is incredible because it practically doubled the size of her trick routine by making a flighted version of nearly every trick! Really smart bird. I taught her the basics but she realized that she can combine the concepts!
For those of you reading and wondering how I got to the tricks presented above, it didn't happen overnight. Let me take you back through the journey of Kili's training so it makes more sense how we got to where we are.
I started Kili out on tricks like wave, shake, nod, and turn around. Sorry I don't have any guides or videos on how I taught them but you can pick up virtually any parrot tricks training book to find out how to teach them.
Here's a quick lesson on teaching the turn around trick from Duke (budgie):
Then I came across the bowling gimmick and decided to teach her that. Seriously, it's an unbelievably easy trick to teach. The bird really doesn't have to do much besides getting the ball rolling by beaking it. But on the other hand it produces a very human like and stunning visual effect.
Next I taught Kili to play dead and made the Play dead and other tricks video on youtube which became a hit with Senegal Parrot owners. In this video you can see Kili's early stages of the fetch trick where she would run after the ball rather than fly. Also you see her lousy play dead. Since then I taught her to kick her head back and not to move while dead until released
Then I taught Kili the bat trick which once again doesn't really fit in with any other trick category but is really convenient cause it is very hands on. I can show people the trick without Kili being in a training mood cause she likes to hang upside down for the hell of it.
It took a very long time to teach Kili the wings trick because she does not have any natural behavior for just showing both wings in full. So instead I had to shape the behavior and here you can see that early on she wasn't very good at it. At this point she had picked up on the cue but just wasn't very good at showing her wings all the way:
For several months I continued to slowly work on and improve play dead and wings tricks. I just had to keep working on rewarding the instances of the trick that were stretching the furthest or laying still the longest. Teaching either trick took under 2 weeks but it really took nearly 6 months to get each trick to look good. It was that slow perfection rather than quick learning that was required. Here is how she does play dead now:
I taught Kili the piggy bank trick quite easily because she was already good at the retrieve and knew how to fetch coins. It was just a matter of her learning to walk around the piggy bank to face the slit the right way to be able to drop the coin in. Of course she now knows that trick so the new element is flying to get the coins.
It took a month of consistent daily training to teach Kili to complete the puzzle. It was definitely the most advanced trick she had learned to that point because it required her to not only learn to retrieve and place objects but also to figure out where they go based on color or shape. She has to really focus her mind 100% to be able to do this trick or she starts to get it wrong. However, to challenge her and to make sure she understands where the pieces go, I always drop them randomly around the puzzle so a pattern doesn't develop.
As Kili's feathers were coming in, I wanted to jump on training her flight before she discovered it first. I was worried that if she learned to do her own thing flying that might not coincide with what I think is ok. She was not properly fledged and was overclipped her first year so she neither knew how to fly nor wanted to find out. A lot of experiences of helplessly falling with little help from wings taught her not to even bother trying. I'm not the one who clipped her that way and I don't recommend it to anyone.
I could get her to step up onto my finger no problem but there was no way I could get her to fly to me or anywhere for that matter. I couldn't get her to hop 6 inches. So what I did was set up two perches parallel to each other only a few inches apart. I targeted her back and forth between the perches and progressively increased the distance until she was taking a very big step. When I spread the perches a little further apart and it was more than a step away she refused to go. No amount of coaxing would cause her to make the leap of faith. So I kept pushing them a little closer together until she would go again. Then I would sneak a tiny bit more distance in. Eventually it was so far that as she stepped she tripped and fell but she flapped her wings to catch her balance. From that point onward she realized that she had to do some flapping to help herself across.
I continued to work her back and forth on the perches progressively increasing the distance. By the end of the first day I had her flying 18 inches across:
On the second day I increased the distance even further and began introducing recall flight to my hand rather than a perch. I caught some slow motion shots to show what her flight looks like:
I continued to train my Senegal Parrot to fly recalls to me from bigger and bigger distances. Within a week I was having her fly 60 foot recalls across the entire room. In fact I noticed that she enjoys the longer flights better and has more incentive to make the flight cause she feels far from me and wants to join me. If I tried to recall her from nearby it was harder to get her to fly over because she figured she already had a good view of me.
Then, instead of having Kili fly from perch to perch I had Kili fly to another person. In many ways it is easier to teach parrots to recall from person to person because the parrot can be rewarded at either end and because if it is a little slow to take off it could be nudged. Of course for this reason perch to person recalls are so important and are more important to teach.
In preparation for training the flighted retrieve, I started to hand Kili her ball but then recall her to fly to me. I held up a cup that she knows to retrieve objects into and she would fly over and drop the ball into it. While she was great at flying these kinds of retrieves, I could not get her to fly to get the object herself. She did not have the confidence or motivation to fly down to the floor from her comfy perch.
I also began playing a hide and seek game with my Senegal Parrot. This involves being partially or completely out of site and calling the bird by voice only. I call out Kili's name and she takes flight to find me. She heads in the direction she last saw or heard me but only when she emerges around the corner does she spot me and head toward me.
I began developing a clinginess problem with my parrot. She would readily recall to me but then she would refuse to go back to her perch. She would cling onto my finger with her feet and there was no pushing her off. The problem was that was getting rewarded with treats and attention for coming to me and there was nothing in it for her for going back to her perch after the recall.
So I had a training session dedicated to return to perch flights. I had to work in closer proximity for these recalls than the long recalls I had gotten into the habit of training with her. The recalls we worked on this time were only 5-10 feet but it gave me the chance of walking up and rewarding her for going back to the perch. I introduced a variable frequency of reinforcement schedule for rewarding the parrot for going back to her perch. On some recalls I would reward her for flying to me. Other ones I would not reward the recall but only the return flight. Sometimes I rewarded both or neither. This teaches the parrot that she always has to come to me and go back to the perch because she doesn't know when to expect the treat.
At this point Kili knew how to recall fly, target fly, and fly to me with object in her beak. The problem was that I could not get her to fly to get the object to begin with. So I set up a training situation where I had her fly between the seats of two chairs to fetch the ball to a cup. I started with the chairs close enough together that she could just step across. Kili already knew the normal ground based fetch so this was no problem at all. Then I began creating a progressively larger gap between the chairs and as she has figured out that she just has to fetch stuff from one chair to the other she quickly replaced walking across to flying across. It seems that flighted parrots don't really differentiate much between walking and flying. It's just one way or other way of getting places.
Once she was flying from chair to chair to fetch I decided to try to get her to fetch from the floor. I had her on the chair and dropped the ball to the floor and she just continued in the success of her previous retrieves and went to the floor to get it. Once I could get her to retrieve from floor back to chair, I started having her recall the ball back to my hand after landing on me. At first I had to do this kneeling low but eventually worked my way higher and further away from where the ball would land.
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