CONFIDENCE GAMES FOR BIRDS
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM
The goal of these games is to try to promote a flock mentality in your household and to try to get away from any abnormal pair bonding or mate relationship that may already exist between you and your bird.
GAME 1: HOUSE TOUR
This game works well for hand tamed birds with capacity for vocabulary. It promotes proper social interactions and mimics the interaction between parents and young fledglings as they are investigating their environment. Birds learnt o react to objects in their environment by the way their parents or other members of the flock react. This can be very useful to teach birds about dangerous objects in the house or desensitize overly fearful or phobic birds.
Example 1: If you react with fear to the pot of boiling water or hot stove, your bird may develop a negative association with the pot of boiling water or the hot stove and avoid it. Conversely, this can work for overly fearful birds or work as an activity for developing proper flock interactions.
Example 2: Show your bird the clock and say “clock”. Show the bird the television and say “TV and so on… Eventually, some birds may associate the object with the word you use to describe it and will react to it in a similar manner as demonstrated by you.
After a while, you can go around the house and give pop “quizzes “. If you bird gets it right or reacts in a appropriate manner, reward your bird with praise and treat that he/she loves. Remember the grade is not what is important; it is the time you are spending with your bird.
GAME 2: FLASH CARDS
Another variation of the house tour is flash cards. You may have the cards that have colors, objects that have pictures that you or the bird may like. Again after being shown the cards, the bird may associate the object or color with the word you use to describe it. You may give pop “quizzes” and reward your bird just like with the house tour.
GAME 3: TRICK TRAINING
If you see a behavior or action that you would like to get on command, reward the bird every time he/she does it. At the same time you reward the behavior, associate the behavior with a hand signal, gesture or word. Over time the positive reinforcement will increase the frequency of the desired behavior. Again, this takes time, patience and consistency. As you and your bird’s confidence grow, there is no end to what you have on command!
GAME 4: WARM POTATO
This is a game developed by Sally Blanchard. Basically, it involves all members of your household and helps to promote a “flock mentality”. The basic idea of the game is that all members of the household stand in a circle and the bird is passed between all of the members of the family. The bird is gently handed off from person to person. As the bird is passed off, the bird is rewarded with a positive praise and/ or treat. Over time, the bird becomes familiar with all family members of the household and the chance of a pair bond relationship developing with only one member of the family is decreased.
Elgin Veterinary Hospital http://www.elginvethospital.com (803)-408-0383