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Basic needs

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#1 parrotntn


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Posted 15 January 2008 - 09:56 PM

**This list is formed from notes I made from experience with my birds. Each bird and its owner and home will have some variances. These are only notes I've made to myself from reading, observing and documenting progress or regress with Cleo and Dood. I'm sharing them with you. These are only meant as a guideline to help give you some ideas.

Basic needs

The bird's needs:

-Sleep: Research your bird and make sure it's getting plenty of sleep. Their natural habitat is noisy, so absolute quiet is not always necessary. Each species requires different amounts. Some cover the cage, some don’t. Do whatever the bird needs. Dood can get by with 8-9 hours of sleep and we can't tell a difference. Cleo, if she doesn't get 10-12 hours of zzzz's she's hateful, that's all there is to that: tired and grumpy bird.

-Food: plenty of it and appropriate for your bird species and clean water.

-Treats: find something that the bird WANTS to want. I have found that Cleo does well if I sort of "assign" treats. For instance, for "going home" her cue that it's bedtime, she gets a grape. (zons are prone to diabetes, so I go easy on the fruit). Find something portable, that can be put in your pocket for those spontaneous times that they do well and you wanna quickly reward em. Cleo did well with cockatiel food I kept in my pocket.

-Foraging opportunities. I can tell a big difference in Cleo if she is given something to work for. She has two foraging devices that occupy her time. Also, I have found a favorite of hers is to take the ole fashioned Dixie cups. Leave em stacked. Take four or five, punch a hole in em while they are stacked. Run a single string of yarn thru that hole, then string em out. No loops or knots, and put a pnut or cheerio or small treat and put it in each, then crunch the cup up. Hang it up in the cage. She see's em coming and gets excited. She'll work on those for hours. Of course, larger birds will take larger devices and smaller birds need smaller ones. Let the bird work some is the bottom line.

-Showers, baths, mistings make for a happier bird that is more easily trainable.

-TOYS TOYS TOYS...rotated, if they haven't destroyed them.

-Pay attention to when they are in a good, more trainable mood. Cleo does better, now, in the afternoon. If it’s pretty outside and she's feeling all "birdie" in the morning, she is not focused. and that's ok. She's doing what comes natural with sunlight and sleep. roll with it.

-Pay attention to things that set them off. For awhile, Cleo hated this red shirt I wore. She'd actually growl at it if I wore it, that's when I noticed it. Don't wear or put them in places that might cause them to be uncomfortable at the beginning. Since birds are preyed upon so easily, they could develop a fear response and become conditioned to that, inadvertently.

-Birds need FUN...make their lives fun. Animated voices, cartoons (if they are not napping) played in the background gives them fun, toys toys toys...do stupid, animated things with them. Have a great treat ready for a reward just for them being still and quiet. Cleo loves to do “big bird”. I actually stood in my living room, spread my arms, and flapped them and treated her from screaming and flapping on cue. Sounds stupid. I know. But, she likes to do it and she get’s a treat for it. It is a good thing because parrots get louder as you do. So, as I got louder saying BIG BIRD, so did she and then, on her own, started flapping and spreading her wings. But, it was easy and she got good feedback from me. If I’m working with her, I always end on something she enjoys.

-A cage large enough for that bird. with plenty of perches that fit their feet. Be prepared to take her to another area to work with them. Cleo does better if I take her away from her cage.

-Love. unconditional...just like your children, your mate or your friend. NO MATTER HOW HARD THEY BITE AND MAKE YOU SCREAM INSIDE. they need to know that they are loved and accepted into your flock. Love with a bird, is like with people, they know. My wife and kids and I, we talk to each other, communicate and interact. My best and oldest friend, Jeff and I don't talk sometime when we get together, we don't have to. We're simply "there" and it's understood. So, sometimes, it's good to talk and play and then other times it's ok to just be "there" with your bird.


-Your basic knowledge that birds work on conditioning, good or bad. For instance, if the bird is screaming its head off and you walk by and are eating peanuts yourself and you feel generous, you just drop a peanut in for them. Depending on the bird and your relationship with it, you could have possibly, accidentally, conditioned them that if they scream, they get good stuff. Chances are one time won't do it, but if you do it enough, they become conditioned.
Same goes for giving treats for good behavior. They're sitting quietly...reward em! It's hard to remember that because we take good things for granted in life. Cleo is sitting, watching TV with us, being good, she gets a treat: "Sitting quiet..peanut...mmm...I'll do that again..I like the peanut." It's the same as people. We're conditioned or we wouldn't go back to a good restaurant or to our wives or our vehicles. We like em, we go back. Only thing is you have to be reasonable and responsible for the birds conditioning. You like birds...you get them. You’ve conditioned yourself to be reading what I've written here. If you didn't like them, you wouldn't be here. You’re conditioned. (whether you like it or not. haha)

That's the basis for clicker training. They do something, anything and CLICK means "hey, a treat is coming! I'll do that again."

-YOUR ability to realize you might have messed something up with your bird. You must watch your bird, take notes, observe. See if changes in sleep, day length, diet or your attitude affect the bird. Watch nature at its best. You’re privy to that great gift of nature in your own home. Sometimes you may mess up with your training or the bird's routine. You then need the ability to look that feathered buddy in the pinning eyes and say "I messed up, sorry". Although the bird probably doesn't get the real apology concept, it does sense you care. AND it's important we realize as owners that we are only human. I was trying to get Cleo to stop requiring a treat to step-up and it really taxed her, I could tell she was frustrated with it. so, I stopped. I don't give her a treat every time, just sometime when it's required.
Bird training and psychology is so new, NOBODY knows! I've learned that by reading and talking with behaviorists. Views conflict still on so many things. So, be ready to take some hits on your method of training your bird. But, make sure your goals are reasonable and not just for your control. An example is I was cautioned that I was moving too fast to get Cleo to step-up. However, I had more than one behaviorist tell me that I needed to get Cleo step-up trained ASAP; to not wait...waiting was conditioning her that it was ok to not step-up. And once I got my head wrapped around what I had to do for her, it worked. Since she steps up, her trust has grown immensely from the domino effect. She steps up, she goes with me and gets good stuff: showers, trips outside, snacks at the table. So, you see it's a process and given her previous abuse, her ultimate trust was my goal. Speaking of goals:

-Goals: An example is some homes don't require or ask for step-ups and that is certainly their business. I require it. I may have to LURE her sometime with a treat, but that's ok. She's still learning trust. What do you, reasonably, want your bird to do? Or, for that matter NOT to do.

-EDUCATE yourself: Although avian training is relatively new, there is a wealth of information out there. Realize that online, anyone can write anything; just like I did. Challenge yourself to seek YOUR answers and notes for YOUR bird and YOUR home.

-PLAN for emergencies: Know how to unhook your hand in case you get nailed. I had JUST read a parrot book when Cecil, my other YNA I bird sat, nailed me. It was 100% MY fault, I misread him. Having just read the book, I knew to push back gently, and throw him off balance and release my hand from the hook. Natural instinct is to scream like a little girl and jerk you hand towards you. That would: tear the skin open from digging into the hook, possibly hurt your bird’s beak/mandible and reinforce the biting. Yea,it hurt pretty badly. Don't fuss, don't scream.
And for other emergencies it's your responsibility to have an emergency plan for weather/etc. I know I was so relieved to finally get Cleo to step-up and go in her carrier for a tornado drill last week. gooood girl. Otherwise it would have been bad in a hurry.
Understand basic medical needs for your breed. As in blood feather care, keep a styptic pencil/tweezers on hand. Keep your avian vet's phone number available. Establish a relationship with them when the bird is doing well. Don't wait until its midnight and the bird has a problem.

-Relax, have fun...the scars will heal. :tongue:

I hope this helps,

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