Cockatude 42 Solving the Mystery of Parrot Behaviors

Cockatude 42 Solving the Mystery of Parrot Behaviors

Cockatude 42, Solving the Mystery of Parrot Behavior, is an ambitious project. I did my best to explain the method that professional behaviorists use to solve the mystery of parrot behavior. My hope was to do this in mostly plain English.

I hope that you will find it insightful and to help in your world. Forgive me for my shortcomings if you find the material a little difficult to understand. I hope that it will make sense and feel free to contact me if there’s something you need clarified.

It is difficult enough to explain our tools in a classroom environment. Someday maybe you’ll get the pleasure of sitting in a room full of cockatoos and explaining something like this. Won’t that be fun?

This episode is an introduction. I don’t make any claims to cover these amazing tools and perceptions completely. If you want to learn the subject from the master herself, Dr. Susan Friedman PhD, I suggest you head over to and sign up for her professional course. I do recommend that you have a college background and good study skills. It’s not easy and your pocket book will be lighter but the rewards are out of this world.

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“It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.”— Epictetus CE 55-155

These links are to awareness tests that will surprise you. We think we know exactly what we are seeing but do we? Cognitive scientists say no. This videos prove it!

Awareness test:

Basketball test: No matter how closely you watch this video you will probably not get the right answer!

Teach Your Parrot to Fetch from a Perch | Parrot Training

Teach Your Parrot to Fetch from a Perch | Parrot Training

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Alright. So, Truman, my Cape parrot, is going to help us demonstrate how to fetch. I like to use a wiffle golf ball as the object. For a macaw, you might want to use a wiffle baseball. And for a smaller parrot you might want to use a little checkers piece, or something small that they can hold. Find something that’s easy for the parrot to grip and be able to hold in its beak.

The first step is to teach your bird to hold the object, and most parrots are inquisitive and will hold things in their beak just because they like to play with toys. An inquisitive bird that’s never held the object before may hold it for ten seconds, 30 seconds, a whole minute.

All you’re going to do is you going to have them hold the object, and you’re going to put the bowl under it, and just wait for them to drop it. This guy, he knows how to fetch already, so he’s waiting for the bowl to go under the ball. For a bird that doesn’t know how to fetch, they’re just going hold it, and they’re going to happen to drop it. And what you’re going to do is you’re going to hold the bowl under it, and just catch that object as it falls.

Your goal is to let the bird drop the object into the bowl, at any point when he gets bored of the object and drops it. That’s when you’re going to click your clicker and give it the treat. The goal from there is going to be to teach the bird to only drop it in the bowl and not drop it anywhere else. If you drop the object and it misses the bowl, that’s your chance to not reward the bird, and to differentiate that the bird’s only being rewarded for dropping the object in the bowl, rather than dropping the object altogether.

That’s the idea: the idea is to teach the bird to drop it right in the bowl and not anywhere else. So, at first, the bird’s just learning that it gets a reward for dropping the object. You’re giving it the object, it’s holding it, and it drops it at some point and that’s when it’s getting treats.

In order to teach it to actually fetch and to put the object in the bowl, as opposed to dropping it anywhere, is to occasionally hold the bowl out of place where the bird cannot get the object inside, and then it learns that it only gets the treats when it drops the object straight into the bowl.

The next step is to teach the bird to fetch the object to the bowl. So, first you’re going to just put the bowl to the side of it, make it turn its head to drop the object in. Good bird. Very good.

Alright. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you can get the bird to walk over and pick up the object you want it to fetch and walk over to put it in the bowl somewhere else, and then you can continue to challenge your bird. Have them go somewhere further like, say, turn and get the object. Then, maybe challenge him for a little bit of duration, have him try a little harder, hold it a little longer. Good bird.

The next step is to replace the bowl with your hand, because ultimately we want the bird to come and bring stuff to us. So, you have him fetch the object and instead of putting it in the bowl you have him put it in your hand by blocking the bowl, and putting it in your hand instead. The bowl makes it easier to learn than using your hand in the beginning, but once the bird knows to put it in the bowl you can use your hand to teach it to fetch.