Training a parrot can be a lot of fun, and not all that difficult if you know a little about bird behaviour. Today I decided to start training Ord, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, to do a full turn on a perch which is a great way to keep him stimulated and healthy while maintaining a positive relationship between us.
I started by placing Ord on a perch that looks like the letter ‘T’, which Ord was already familiar with so I didn’t have to reward him with a few seeds
Using Ord’s favourite treat, sunflower seeds, I started to lead Ord around the perch. I held the seed so he could see it and had him follow it by moving my hand under the perch from the front to the back. When he turned the 180o I said ‘good’ and gave him a seed to let him know he did the right thing. I then lead him from the back to the front (another 180o), said ‘good’ and gave him another seed. I did many repetitions so Ord could learn and gain an understanding. When I say ‘good’ it marks exactly when Ord did the right thing.
Then I stopped showing Ord the sunflower seed, having him just follow my hand doing the 180o turns. After completing each half turn I then gave Ord the seed. It is important to note Ord likes these seeds because he only gets them when being trained, otherwise they’d hold no value.
When Ord was successfully turning 180o, I then increased what I expected of him and had him follow my hand the entire way around (all 360o) before saying ‘good’ and giving him with that sunflower seed. By doing multiple repetitions I taught Ord to turn in a full circle on the perch when cued.
It’s a little challenging if you haven’t tried this before, but give it a go and see if you can teach your companion parrot this fun and quick behaviour. A few 5-10 minute sessions over a couple of days and you’ll be cheering. Just remember, if your parrot looks confused or doesn’t seem to be getting it, it is ok to go back a few steps. This is about having fun with your parrot but always make sure they’re enjoying it too!