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2016-Sept-Blog

 September 29, 2016 -  Understanding Behavior - Desensitization 

The following Vlog is a starting session with J and desensitization of a T-shirt.  I know I have not been posting videos lately.  I have been busy training two birds on desensitization of objects.  As I noted in the attached Vlog, I was working with J and I had a dark blue man T-Shirt on with a colorful salamander on it.  I noticed Jay doing
a head jerk (which is a behavior which means Jay is uncomfortable)  but at first I thought it was related to the dog entering the room, and just as I had made that thought, Jay jumps off his cage door and onto me (which was a first). Jay starts biting the shirt. Now luckily, I was prepared and was calm when the incident happened.  
It is always important to stay calm during these situation. Our adrenaline can get the best of us and we could hurt our bird and ourselves.  Now, that I know that color or something on the shirt could make Jay reactive, I need to start training ASAP.  

Heart of Feathers Education: https://youtu.be/sc-SsGqQc6I 
   

 September 8, 2016 - Nobody is Perfect

I know this blog is going to sound odd from a Certified Parrot Behavior Consultant but it is important to know that not everyday is perfect when having a companion bird. My birds teach me lessons all the time. I try to take those lessons to assist others in the same circumstance.

I have noticed, over the last couple of months, my buddy Tuque, a yellow streak lory, has been getting agitated around towels. I have been trying to quantify the behavior but when my husband brings a towel into the room, no issues. On occasion when I bring in a towel into the room, Tuque gets agitated but not every time.

I just started documenting what could be the antecedent (what starts the behavior) related to the towel:How the towel swings, how my husband and I come into the room with the towel, the color of the towel, etc...

Well, yesterday, I had Tuque out and without thinking, I went into the birds' room to clean a window (which had bird stuff on it). I had picked up a small towel and as I enter the room, Tuque turned quickly and flew right for the towel. I dropped the towel on to the floor to protect my hand because I could see the pinned eyes and feathers. I understood this flight behavior was not to come see me but a fright flight. The towel landed on my foot and so did Tuque. Tuque began to bite my foot. I backed out of the room and Tuque continued to bite my foot. I fell backwards and my leg caught tuque under me, as I fell.

When I finally got my bearings, I could see Tuque was hurt (yes, my foot was bleeding (because i did not have socks or shoes on)) but my concern was to my bird (I would live). I quickly checked Tuque to determine if he had any injuries. Luckily, he was fine. He was shocked by the incident. I wobbled to a bedroom with Tuque where we both rested from the incident.

Tuque has been trained with Positive Reinforcement so I was not worried the incident would cause any issue with our bond. We had a long cuddle time and all was better.

I did not get mad at Tuque for the incident, I did not slam him into cage, and I was not afraid to handle him. As you noticed, I did not post photos of my injury to shame him for his behavior.

I made the mistake because I knew towels agitated him. Since I could not reproduce the issue, I delayed putting a training plan together.

What did I learn from this incident? Yes, No one can bring a towel into the room or near Tuque. As I would do with any person I assist, I have identified the 'Undesired Behavior' and need to get a baseline.

Next, identify the desired behavior - Tuque not being agitated when towel is in his present.

How do I make my bird successful with a towel - start writing a training plan. There is no over night magic process, there is planning, consistency and training with small approximations.

This is the key in having companion bird. Birds are not born to bite. They learn this behavior. If we ignore the behavior, these undesired behaviors occur and can escalate. Guess what happens next? A label is set on a bird for being dangerous or aggressive. When an incident happens, step back and learn. Yes, you need to learn redirect the behavior.

My Famous quote "Behavior has history but history does not define the bird." 

With that, Step 1 of the Training Plan - Get a baseline.

https://youtu.be/WP50lvklpPQ <- Tuque safely in his cage and i introduce a towel. The video gives me a baseline.