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cockatiel eagle trick

Exchange information about how to teach specific tricks to parrots. Most of these techniques should apply to all bird species. Share your success stories.

cockatiel eagle trick

Postby licifuru » Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:25 pm

Hi guys, I am new here ! I have a hand tamed femalle cockatiel since 3 months and things are good so far.

She responded well to positive reinforcement and clicker training thanks to Michael videos on the subject. She learned to point at a stick (a chopstick XD) and turn around, now I want to teach her "the big eagle/show me your wings" trick.
But I don't know how to get her to open her wings, i tried the "satan horns" with my index and pinky under her wings but she didnt liked that and if I try the "fall" thing she fly off.

Any advices ? Thanks !
licifuru
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby Michael » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:20 pm

Cockatiels tend to put their wings out by themselves every now and then. Capturing is your best. When you happen to see it happen, click, say/show the cue and give a treat. The Cockatiel will start doing it more and more frequently knowing there's something rewarding about it and eventually you'll only reward when it's performed on cue.
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby licifuru » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:51 pm

Ok, thanks for your reply, love your vids man !

So basically you are telling me that cue can work even after an action ? I have trouble teaching her to recall to me too, I give her i cue "come", make her step up, click, and reward, but if I move away and try to recall her that way she just look at me clueless...
But if she come to me (velcro bird...), cue her, click and reward she can still learn ?

Sorry if my english is a bit broken, Im french.
licifuru
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby Michael » Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:57 pm

It's not the best way, but it is a way to start associating the cue with the behavior. The thing is that if the bird is flying to you because it's a velcro bird, that doesn't mean that the treat has much value and the bird will fly on command for the treat. The priorities are different. So, it is useful for capturing natural behavior that you can't provoke but can observe. But, when you are unable to convince the bird to come for treats, giving treats in response to coming because of being a velcro bird, is not positive reinforcement.
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Michael
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby Pajarita » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:29 am

Michael is 100% correct. You can teach a parrot what a command means by giving it after the fact and praising/rewarding the action but you need to catch it right at the precise time.

As to recall, I don't think you are doing it right. I am no expert (Michael is the trainer here) but several of my birds know recall and the way they learned it was by doing it in stages and not mixing commands. You say that you give the command "Come" and then make her step up - now, I don't know if you are actually giving her the command to step up or just putting your finger so she can climb on it but I would not do it that way because mixing 'Step up' with 'Come' can be confusing to them.

What I would do is put the bird on a table, sit down to it and put your hand out with a reward on it about 20 cms from where the bird is and give the command: 'Come'. Wait for it -even if it is a couple of minutes- and, when she comes to get the treat, click (I don't use a clicker, I simply praise them verbally), praise and allow her to take the reward. Once she is coming regularly to my hand all the time (make it so it happens 4 or 5 days in a row but NEVER train for more than 5 minutes each session and do not do more than two sessions a day - if you do, you will cause burn-out and the whole thing will backfire on you), put your hand farther and keep on repeating the exercise until she comes from a distance of about 1 meter regularly. Then start on the flying part. Put her on a stand that is as high as your shoulders when you are standing up and putting your hand out with the treat about 20 cm away, give the command and repeat increasing the distance, just as you did when she only had to walk on the table, until she is flying to you from a distance.

BUT I am warning you, you have a single aviary parrot, you do NOT have a companion parrot so you cannot expect the same degree of training that Michael has achieved with his birds. Parrots are all parrots but every species is different from every other species so you cannot expect the same from all of them. Your bird is young and everything will continue OK and more or less the same for now BUT once she develops sexually and becomes an adult, she will change because aviary birds are never completely happy with a human, they need others of their own species for that.
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby licifuru » Wed Apr 01, 2020 4:07 pm

Ok i get it ! And no I don't ask her to step up first, I just present my finger, actually I didn't even teach her "step up", she just do it.

I don't get the part about the "single aviary parrot and a companion parrot" whats the difference ?

And I dont want to have a fully trained parrot, him just spending some fun time with my cockatiel.
Do you think I really need to get another one ? Its my first bird ever and I dont want to mess it up, I heard so many people keeping only one bird and doing fine, I don't want to have multiple bird, working one a at time is fine for me and I don't want to loose the connexion Im making, she is really opening to me.

Cheers !
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby Pajarita » Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:44 am

Well, companion or aviary species is not a scientific classification but an avicultural one. Companion parrots are the ones that bond so deeply with a human that, given good husbandry (diet, light schedule, constant company, etc), do very well on their own with their human and can live content lives in captivity. Aviary species are the ones that even when they are hand-fed and imprint to humans, the bond doesn't last past the sexual maturity when they pine for a mate and/or companions of their own species - they can also do very well in captivity with the right husbandry and as long as the human has expectations appropriate for the species. It all goes down to imprinting (the process where a baby learns what it is -in terms of species- and with whom they can reproduce).

See, birds 'learn' they are birds and who to mate with when they are babies and, although we do know that the window to learn this is actually quite small and that it happens very early, we do not really know at what age this happens with any parrot species. There are two different types of imprinting in birds: sexual and filial. Filial is the one that 'bonds' them to their own species and sexual is the one that 'teaches' them what is an ideal mate. Companion birds, if raised correctly, have both oriented toward humans so they not only think that humans and themselves belong to the same 'family' but they also often want to have sex with their owners. African grays are famous for their deep imprinting to humans and is very difficult to get them to bond with another gray - even when they live together all their lives (I took care of a brother/sister gray pair for 9 months and even though they had been together all their lives, they never bonded with each other preferring their owners, instead). But, for some reason, it doesn't happen with aviary species. Even when the babies are taken from their nest and hand-fed by humans (who they learn to trust and even love), they are never happy once they reach sexual maturity. People think that all parrots are the same but they are not - not even within the companion/aviary classifications. You have aviary species that are intensely flock-oriented (like budgies and cockatiels, for example) and you have some that are deeply pair-oriented (like lovebirds and kakarikis, for example). And you have companion species that is almost impossible to make them bond with another of their own species even when they are of the opposite gender (like African Grays, for example) and you have others that are super easy (like amazons, for example).

Cockatiels happen to be very flock-oriented so, to them, the ideal situation is to keep them in a small flock (3 male/female pairs is the minimum for a 'flock' - I had a flock of over 30 of them for years) BUT given the difficulty of having the necessary infrastructure to keep 6 cockatiels healthy (they need to come out to fly for hours and hours and a VERY large flight cage for the rest of the time), a mate goes a long way toward relieving the unavoidable anxiety and stress of captivity (undomesticated animals are ALWAYS stressed out by captivity and this is not my opinion but a scientific fact and nothing anybody can do or not do can change this).

The problem with keeping a lone aviary species as a companion is that, eventually, the relationship changes for the worse instead of changing for the better as it happens with companion species. The longer you keep a companion species, the deeper the bond will be (think a couple that gets along well and has been married for many years) but the longer you keep a lone aviary species, the more stressed out the single bird will be and, eventually, it will slowly become more and more aloof toward its owner (like a couple that was never really compatible and, as time goes by, the gulf between them widens and widens). It takes a gradual protocol to get a parrot of a companion species used to a new parrot but, when it comes to aviary species, all you have to do is put them in the same room for a week in separate cages and, when you let them out, they gravitate toward one another and accept each other almost immediately. Why? Because they have no doubt about what they are (no confusion as to whether they are birds or humans) and they know what a 'proper' mate is supposed to look like. Why is the imprinting different in aviary and companion species? Nobody knows. But, most likely, it's because it either happens super early for aviary species (earlier than we can take them away from their parents) or because there is an instinctual aspect to it (like it is in cuckoos, for example).

Now, the other difference is the capacity for the bird to be trained. Parrots do not understand the concept of obedience or subservience because they did not evolve to live in a hierarchical society so there is no need for them to have a genetic trait that makes them follow the orders of another individual or pair. Parrots have no alphas, no leaders, no followers, no nothing - they are all perfectly equal and they all make decisions for themselves. Of course, there are stronger, bigger, younger and/or smarter birds (which get the most food and the best mates/nesting sites) and weaker, smaller, older and/or dumber birds in every flock but the latter do not 'follow' the former, they simply do not reproduce as successfully (natural selection). And that is why giving them rewards is the best way to train them - why? because ALL animals are food-oriented (survival). Personally, I do not find this to be an absolute because I do not reward my birds with anything but praise and do not hold training sessions, use a target or a clicker but they've all learned and obey a number of commands. I only have companion species at this point in time and because the greatest majority of them have bonded with me, they are eager to please me (and this IS an ingrained trait in parrots as they are mostly monogamous species that mate for life and care deeply for their mates). I simply use my praise as a high value item while trainers use food. And here is where the difference between companion and aviary species becomes manifest when it comes to training. As the aviary species matures and wants a mate of their own species, the importance of the human's praise and love will dwindle even if the bird is kept under perfect husbandry. Of course, you can continue keeping the bird responding to commands by sheer hunger but that's animal cruelty and make no mistake about it!

If you want a bird that will remained bonded to you and will not only learn but remain performing without undue stress, you need to get yourself a companion species. Of course, they are more expensive than aviary species and the reason for that is that aviary species (precisely BECAUSE they are aviary species) breed very easily and prolifically while companion species don't. Abundant supply means cheaper 'merchandise' while scarce supply means more expensive - it's as simple as that.
Pajarita
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17012
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby licifuru » Thu Apr 02, 2020 2:02 pm

Its a little bit complicated but if I get it right you mean that cockatiel are heavy flock birds and can't be keeped alone ?

Its a little bit strange for me because before getting a bird I did a ton of researches and decided to get a cockatiel because a lot of users across the net shared good stories with cockatiels living alone.

My mind is set like this, you can keep a single cockatiel if you give him lot of attention (teaching her funny tricks is part of the attention) and stuff to do when your not home.

I hope I didnt made a mistake... I don't think I can handle two birds (and don't want to...) and I don't want to give her away...
licifuru
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Re: cockatiel eagle trick

Postby Pajarita » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:54 am

Well, there is research and then there is research... Asking an owner of a single bird how his/her bird does is not really good research even when you ask a large number of people and I will tell you why. For starters, we all need to look and feel good about ourselves for our own happiness so our minds play tricks on us when it comes to that and we inadvertently convince ourselves that something is as we want it to be simply because the alternative is not acceptable to us. You will find that the greatest majority of parrot owners honestly believe their parrot is very happy with its life (something that any zoologist or biologist will tell you is impossible). Why? Because the alternative is to believe that our beloved pet is not happy with us and that is not something we are willing to admit to ourselves or other people - especially if we bought a baby from a breeder and especially if they tell us that the species we chose is not good for what we want it (that would be a double-whammy of guilt). Then there is another psychological trick our minds use: something called selective thinking or reasoning. It's when we are presented with examples of both sides: what we would like to believe and what we would not want to believe and our minds always believe that the 'proof' of what we want to believe is stronger than the proof of what we would not want to believe. The first goes down to scientific versus anecdotical evidence, the second to how objective one can be when presented with proof that what we want to believe is not the truth and, last but not least, you have something called 'the anchoring bias' which says that we tend to believe more strongly on the first piece of information we receive than any other after that. This one is, unfortunately, quite strong when it comes to parrots needs and behaviors because you will find that the greatest majority of the information that is easily available in the net and repeated over and over about parrots comes from owners and not scientific sources.

NO parrot is 100% happy in captivity. Not a single one. Not mine, not Michael's, not yours, not anybody's. It's inevitable because these are undomesticated species that were not allowed to be raised by their parents and learn necessary skills, that are not living in the right environment or the right social grouping, eating the right diet, etc. But within the drama of captivity, there are levels of unhappiness. Parrots that live alone are less happy than parrots that have others for company. Parrots that don't have mates are less happy than parrots that do. Parrots that are not kept under healthy conditions are less happy than parrots that are. Parrots that are made to work for their food are less happy than parrots than are not. Think about it, it's just common sense... Evolution decreed certain and specific conditions for these species to live under and we, in our arrogance, think that we can change pretty much everything and still get the same result. Unfortunately for our birds and us, it doesn't happen like that. Animals that belong to highly social species need to have the company of others of their own species to thrive. It's not a matter of opinion or what me or any owner, breeder, petstore owner or employee, etc. thinks or says, it is what nature decreed they need through millions of years of fine-tuning the species to thrive in its natural habitat and our love, desire or need for our beloved pets to be happy with us doesn't change evolution. The only thing that changes evolution is domestication and, with the exception of the English (aka Show) Budgerigar, no parrot species has been domesticated (and even they need other budgies). Parrot breeders breed for mutations and/or quantity, they don't breed to make any parrot species more comfortable or healthier in captivity. I wish they would but they don't (it's not economically feasible) and, even if there were many breeders trying, it would take MANY MANY generations to start achieving the beginning of change.

Also -and I hope you don't take this the wrong way because I am not trying to make you feel bad- but teaching tricks works more for the human than for the bird. I am not putting down training a bird, mind you! Training them to perform tricks is good human/bird interaction as long as the trainer does it correctly -which is not something that everybody can do even when they follow the 'rules' exactly. Michael is very successful but he has a formal education and personal experience in Animal Behavioral Science background, has companion species raised from babies and he has a 'knack' for understanding birds -and that is a VERY rare quality in humans because we tend to observe all animal behavior or need through our 'mammal glasses'. Birds don't do tricks or play with toys or even each other in the wild so these activities are obviously not necessary for their physical or emotional wellbeing... Most pet parrots would be happier to just perch on your shoulder and cuddle next to your neck, or preen your clothes or hair for hours than perform any trick we can teach it because what they crave most is company and learning and performing actions that are not part of their 'natural repertoire' is stressful to them.

This is your bird and what kind of life it has is entirely your decision. All I can do is share with you what I have learned about them through scientific research and personal observation and experience - how or even whether you choose to use this information or not is up to you. I am an animal rights activist and although I love all animals, birds are my passion. And when I say 'birds', I mean ALL birds so I not only love my own birds but every single bird out there, the ones that other people own, the ones in zoos, the ones kept as breeders, the ones living their life in the wild, the rare and the common - all of them. Most people do not like my advice and I am sure that a lot of people do not even try to find out if what I say is true or not (something I always encourage everybody to do) but if I can help one single bird to have a better life, I will try my best to do it. That's why I only rescue/adopt/rehome and not buy babies, why I post here and why I've been doing research every day but Sundays since 1994.
Pajarita
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Number of Birds Owned: 30
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Flight: Yes


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