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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
I was thinking about clicker training my parrotlet and had a few questions for those of you who use this method. I've read the info that Andrea has posted on it and it sounds like a good thing for both me and my bird. But I have a question... the article mentions the wings being unclipped. My bird does have clipped wings from the breeder and I'm not sure how long they take to grow back. And I have no idea what to reward the little stinker with- he has absolutely no interest in food and barely gets excited about millet for a treat!! If I wait until his wings grow back fully will I lose a window of opportunity where he might be easier to work with? Or does that not matter?
thanks-
Courtney
 

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Hi! I am very excited that you are considering clicker training!

On the wings, don't worry about that. We just don't like to clip wings for training, yes it is not as easy, but I feel it compromises trust and that they are more confident as flighted birds.

You may expect 6 months to a year for a parrotlet's flight feathers to grow back in. Does this sound right everyone?

You really will just have to find the favorite treat. What is his current diet? It took me a good month and a half to find a favorite treat with the red bellied parrot in our program.

And no, you will not loose your window of opportunity. I recently took in two parent raised lovebirds, previous contact with humans was scary and they were fully flighted. Within about a day they were not scared of me, I forced nothing on them and did whatever I possibly could to not compromise trust. Within maybe a week they were choosing to fly to me! And they are just as sweet and fun as any lovebird that I have hand reared.

The book that I recommend really outlines it all for you, all the what if's and so forth and how to deal with different scenarios in bird personalities. It's "The bird school. Clicker training for parrots and other birds" by Ann Castro.

You'll have to visit our shop if you are ever on the NC coast!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey Andrea- I would love to stop in and talk to you sometime. Where on the coast is Newbern? I need to look at a map! We have a few stores in the area that breed birds but I feel like I've exhausted their knowledge (and patience!) with all my questions. But I like to know everything I possibly can :) .
The breeder clipped his wings- it's not necessarily something I will persue doing with him. Our tiel is fully flighted and once she learned the layout of the rooms she does fine. Beans gets around pretty good for having clipped wings, but he can only go about 5-10 feet before spiralling out of control, which can be pretty amusing to us but not so much for him.
He fights me on the food issue. He is currently on a mix of stuff in order to try to identify something he actually likes to eat. He was fed very small seeds in a parakeet mix at the breeders and that is all he will eat. He won't touch veggies, fruit, rice or pasta. I currently have Volkman's Parrotlet mix in one dish and Island Treat in another. I mix some roudybush crumbles in too. He seems to like the Island Treat, but again he only picks out small seeds and ignores the rest. It was recommended I buy the mix for medium birds, but I think I will pick up the small mix next time and see how he does with that. I also have Goldenfeast Australian blend on order with a store that I thought he might eat. In the pictures it looked like it was very small seeds and pieces. I've tried Beak Appetite, pepper seeds, sweet potato and various fresh foods- he won't go for any. He won't eat Nutriberries or Avicakes, even when I crumble them up in a treat dish. Sometimes I worry he's not eating enough because I throw so much food away every day. Every morning I give him just a spoonful in each bowl, but probably ditch more 75% the next morning because he's only eating the seeds!
Sorry- that's my rant on his eating. It's driving me nuts, mainly because I am concerned more about his nutrition than whether he actually wants fresh food, etc. This weekend I am going to bake some birdie bread with some ground up pellet crumbles and fruit/veg and see if that triggers him to eat.
How long do you do each clicker training session for? It sounds like it works great.
 

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I have a similar problem. My parrotlet doesn't have a favorite treat. He is only 3 months old, but only eats a small amount of mix and then he likes his millet. I'm thinking of taking the millet out for a short while to see if I can force him to try something new. Everyone says they love strawberries and he won't even look at one. I can see how the clicker could work great, but what if I never get him interested in a treat? Whoa is me!
 

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this may be a bit cruel and frankly i have not tried it, but it is an option: remove everything but the particular food you want your parrotlet to eat. once hungry, s/he will most likely be forced to eat what s/he has. please don't let him/her starve if s/he is that stubborn!

fortunately for me, my parrotlets eat everything i place in the cage so i do not have to use this cruel trick. ;)
 

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That is not a good idea. The Parrotlet needs to eat a lot. They are very active. They need to have access to what they are used to and also be offerred good veggies and friut as well as birdie breads, beak appetit, etc. Fresh food throughout the day is important.
 

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Definitely not a good idea to withhold food from a bird. They have very high metabolisms and need to replenish that energy by eating often. You can sicken or even kill a bird from withholding food.

Birds are not being stubborn or trying to get back at us by not eating certain foods we offer to them - those are human traits :p

Most birds don't recognize certain foods they are not use to eating as food and in turn ignore it because to them it is not food - you may as well have ripped up paper in their cup.

Young birds learn to eat all kinds of food because they are more adventurous than older birds and are more willing to try picking at new foods being offered to them and in turn learn at an early age what tastes good and recognize what we offer them as food. Older birds are more set in their thinking so to speak and eat what they know to be their food - usually food they have been conditioned to eating as young birds.

If given the opportunity daily and consistently and in creative ways - even an older bird will learn to recognize the kinds of healthy foods we want them to eat as food - but there is no need to withhold their regular food - doing so is dangerous as well as cruel.
 

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Same here. I saw the comments about how they all love strawberries....not my bird...he wouldn't even look at it. He's my only bird so I literally cook one small piece of brocolli and 5 or 6 mixed beans (not together), fresh fruit and all I do is throw it away when it wilts at the end of the day. I have one strange trick I use to get him to try something new. He likes to hang out around my closet doors in the bedroom because they are mirrored. Then he pecks around the carpet like he is in a barn yard, so I put some seeds that wouldn't try from his dish on the carpet in front of the closet doors and he eats them up. I haven't tried beans a fruit like that yet, but I probably will....I can clean the mess he makes.
 

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There you go Sue - being creative to get your bird to eat what he won't normally eat ;) -

My bird wouldn't eat vegetables at first so I just hung them in his cage like they were toys - and eventually he started to play with them and in turn started eating them and now they are a food he eats out of his cup - the vegetable cup is the first cup both mine go to first thing in the morning.

Not all birds like the same things equally - my last bird LOVED grapes - my current birds are not so fond of them - they love the bits left on the vine after the grape is pulled off but rarely I've seen them eating from the grape itself - all depends on the bird I suppose :D
 

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You can buy the food holders called Kabobs. I just ordered some along with a holder for seed bars yesterday. The kabobs hang and you add berries, veggies etc to them. You can put food in Tiki Huts or coconut toys. Chipper LOVES to swing and she eats there.
 

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Birds normallly learn what to eat from their parents after they are weaned. Most of our birds sis not have that opportunity. Why would they try anything new if they don't recognise it as food? They forage around all that strange stuff to get to the faniliaar stuff. Think of yourself as a parent, eat some of the food yourself, and offer your bird a bit of it from your hand. My bird has learned to trust my judgement when I offer her new foods that way.
 

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Re: Clicker Training

Andrea,
I have been doing a great deal of reading on this site about your clicker training and have finally purchased the book from your website. It said it comes with the clicker and the target stick. I am really looking forward to trying it.

Picasso is about 11-12 weeks old now, is that too early to start trying to train him? He is a very smart bird and he can even distinguish when we are talking to him versus the dogs and vice versa. Every day when I get home from work, we do laps...I put the dogs outside and put Picasso on the floor, I run across the living room, get on my hands & knees and call him, patting the floor and he comes running. He has his wings clipped, so he cannot fly successfully yet, but he runs well. I give him a treat and run to the other side of the room. We are up to 4-5 laps a day. I have found that he is very routine oriented. If I do not follow this routine with the laps, 1/4 of a pecan for snack time in my hand followed by scratch/cuddle time every day after work, he tends to let me know quite vocally. He is such a nut!:D
 

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Birds normallly learn what to eat from their parents after they are weaned. Most of our birds sis not have that opportunity. Why would they try anything new if they don't recognise it as food? They forage around all that strange stuff to get to the faniliaar stuff. Think of yourself as a parent, eat some of the food yourself, and offer your bird a bit of it from your hand. My bird has learned to trust my judgement when I offer her new foods that way.

Excellent point lily - they do learn what to eat and what not to eat from their parents and other birds in the flock.
The female I got after I had my male eats everything he eats. I never had to work with her to eat anything - she mimics him.
 
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