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Dancing Senegal Parrot

Kili

Type: Senegal Parrot
Genus: Poicephalus
Species: Senegalus
Subspecies: Mesotypus
Sex: Female
Weight: 120 grams
Height: 9 inches
Age: 13 years, 5 months
Caped Cape Parrot

Truman

Type: Cape Parrot
Genus: Poicephalus
Species:Robustus
Subspecies: Fuscicollis
Sex: Male
Weight: 330 grams
Height: 13 inches
Age: 11 years and 9 months old
Blue and Gold Macaw

Rachel

Type: Blue & Gold Macaw
Genus: Ara
Species:ararauna
Sex: Female
Weight: 850 grams
Height: 26 inches
Age: 9 years, 5 months
Trick Training Guides
Taming & Training Guide
Flight Recall
Target
Wave
Fetch
Shake
Bat
Wings
Go through Tube
Turn Around
Flighted Fetch
Slide
Basketball
Play Dead
Piggy Bank
Nod
Bowling
Darts
Climb Rope
Ring Toss
Flip
Puzzle
Additional Top Articles
Stop Parrot Biting
Getting Your First Parrot
Treat Selection
Evolution of Flight
Clipping Wings
How to Put Parrot In Cage
Kili's Stroller Trick
Camping Parrots
Socialization
Truman's Tree
Parrot Wizard Seminar
Kili on David Letterman
Cape Parrot Review
Roudybush Pellets

List of Common Parrots:

Parakeets:
Budgerigar (Budgie)
Alexandrine Parakeet
African Ringneck
Indian Ringneck
Monk Parakeet (Quaker Parrot)

Parrotlets:
Mexican Parrotlet
Green Rumped Parrotlet
Blue Winged Parrotlet
Spectacled Parrotlet
Dusky Billed Parrotlet
Pacific Parrotlet
Yellow Faced Parrotlet

Lovebirds:
Peach Faced Lovebird
Masked Lovebird
Fischer's Lovebird
Lilian's (Nyasa) Lovebird
Black Cheeked Lovebird
Madagascar Lovebird
Abyssinian Lovebird
Red Faced Lovebird
Swindern's Lovebird

Lories and Lorikeets:
Rainbow Lorikeet

Conures:
Sun Conure
Jenday Conure
Cherry Headed Conure
Blue Crowned Conure
Mitred Conure
Patagonian Conure
Green Cheeked Conure
Nanday Conure

Caiques:
Black Headed Caique
White Bellied Caique

Poicephalus Parrots:
Senegal Parrot
Meyer's Parrot
Red Bellied Parrot
Brown Headed Parrot
Jardine's Parrot
Cape Parrot
Ruppell's Parrot

Eclectus:
Eclectus Parrot

African Greys:
Congo African Grey (CAG)
Timneh African Grey (TAG)

Amazons:
Blue Fronted Amazon
Yellow Naped Amazon
Yellow Headed Amazon
Orange Winged Amazon
Yellow Crowned Amazon

Cockatoos:
Cockatiel
Galah (Rose Breasted) Cockatoo
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Umbrella Cockatoo
Moluccan Cockatoo
Bare Eyed Cockatoo
Goffin's Cockatoo

Macaws:
Red Shouldered (Hahn's) Macaw
Severe Macaw
Blue And Gold Macaw
Blue Throated Macaw
Military Macaw
Red Fronted Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Green Winged Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw

Glossary of Common Parrot Terms

How Much Out of Cage Time

Comments (16)

By Michael Sazhin

Wednesday January 8th, 2014

A very common question parrot owners ask is how much time should my parrot spend out of the cage? Or they ask what are the minimum number of hours my ________ (fill in the species) needs to spend outside of the cage every day? The problem with this question is that it asks for a quantitative answer to a qualitative question. Here's my answer. It doesn't matter how long your parrot spends outside of the cage every day! What matters is how it spends its time out of the cage!

Too many parrots get their wings clipped and placed on a tree for hours at a time. The tree thus serves as nothing more than another cage! The bird cannot leave the tree and do what it truly wants (at least within the confines of the house). I'm not saying it's bad to put your bird into different “cages” throughout the day for variety but if the bird isn't free, this isn't “out of cage” time.

In the case of social companion parrots, the parrot wants to spend time with you do and do what you do. Putting the parrot down on a stand while you check email is no less boring to the bird than sitting in the cage. Out of cage time needs to serve as interactive time between you and your parrot for it to really count. The parrot needs to be part of what you are doing and you must be part of what your parrot is doing. No quantity of hours sitting out can replace this.

Parrots want to be in the middle of everything, the center of attention, and do what you do. They cannot be content being a passive part of your life.



Cage and tree
Cage vs tree

Cape Parrot on Tree
Is the tree not just another cage if the parrot isn't free to go elsewhere by flight? You wouldn't realize how much your parrot likes or doesn't like its tree unless you can observe it choosing to go there or choosing to leave. Despite how awesome I thought this tree is, it took Truman less time to get bored of it than it took me to build it!

The other issue is that some parrots don't really want to be out. In that case, forcing out of cage time only harms your relationship. Grabbing a parrot out of the cage with a towel to make it serve it's mandated “out of cage time” only makes the relationship even worse. It will only cause stress and distrust. The parrot will not enjoy that time and even though it received out of cage time, it entirely missed the purpose of that time. To achieve a great relationship, the parrot should want to come out and to spend time with you. When you use some of the out of cage time to serve positive interactive purposes such as trick training, it sets real goals for your parrot and reasons to want to be out.

If the parrot isn't enjoying being out, out of cage time is actually doing more harm than good!

Target Parrot from Cage
Use target training to teach parrots to enjoy coming out of the cage

Parrots out of cageParrots enjoying meaningful out of cage time (playing with toys) while exhibiting acceptable behavior. I want to encourage as much out of cage time like this as possible but put them away before they can get bored of toys and engage in nuisance behavior

Actually, I don't think there is a minimum amount of out of cage time. Rather there is a minimum amount of daily interaction, minimum amount of positive reinforcement, minimum amount of flying exercise, and minimum amount of a love that a parrot must have. These minimums aren't known so it is best to give as much as possible that your parrot wants to ensure you are not below minimum (as we all know parrots that don't get enough of these may resort to behavioral problems such as plucking).

In terms of good behavior, less is more. It is actually easier to set a maximum value for out of cage time for parrots than minimums. Although the parrot may wish to be out to interact and play as much as possible, if we let the parrot stay out too long, inevitably undesirable behavior will ensue. Almost no companion parrot can spend all day out of the cage without resorting to doing things that annoy us. Whether it's chewing up furniture, screaming, flying to us endlessly, nipping/biting people, or getting in fights with the rest of the flock, these are all the results of boredom from being out too long. To make the most of your parrot's out of cage time, perform parrot training and keep interactions direct and focused. However, put the parrot back in the cage before it has the opportunity to turn to nuisance behavior. If the parrot becomes accustomed to spending too much time out of the cage, it will be less inclined to be well-behaved and more likely turn to nuisance behavior to seek attention or entertain itself. You must use preemptive measures to keep the parrot trained or occupied. However, eventually these run out. The parrot is no longer hungry for training rewards, the parrot has had its fill of attention, etc. This is when the parrot turns to nipping the owner for fun or attention, chewing the curtains, attacking others, etc. Worse yet, whatever you end up doing in response to such undesired behavior (hurt parrot, put parrot away, yell at parrot, say 'no', etc), will only make things worse. The bad behavior is already learned and the parrot becomes reinforced to seek your attention with it.

putting parrot into cage
Put the parrot back into its cage before the onset of bad behavior. Work on increasing duration with time

Thus the parrot must be put away into the cage while things are still good. Leave some desire for next time to enjoy being out. Keeping out of cage time short but well-behaved is far better than long and chaotic (the parrot will hurt itself or the owner will burn out before you know it). As the parrot develops good habits during short but guided out of cage sessions, it will become more accustomed to behave that way whenever out. You can progressively have the parrot out for longer durations but the habitual good behavior will persist for longer spans of out of cage time!

For new parrot owners or owners with problematic parrots, doing short target training sessions for spans of 5-10 minutes and then putting the parrot away for a meal in the cage is a great way to start building up good behavior. You can progressively expand durations of time and introduce more play/interaction with time. Before you know it the parrot can be spending hours out where the parrot behaves in an acceptable manner to people and the parrot gets to enjoy the things it wants while out.

Parrot flying at home
Out of cage time provides room for flying

One of the top benefits of out of cage time to a bird is the space to fly. The cage almost never provides room to fly and even most outdoor aviaries are inadequate. However, in the space of your living room, the parrot has the space to stretch its wings and exercise. The parrot does not need to be flying all day long to get exercise but to make up for all the time on its legs in the cage, getting to fly while out is essential.

The other type of out of cage time we must seek to offer is out of [house] cage time. Taking your parrot outdoors is very enriching. The sights, sounds, smells, etc are all something different for the parrot to take in. Also the bird requires outdoor time for its health (vitamin D and calcium production). Use a harness to take your parrot outdoors as much as possible. Inevitably this turns into focused together time and is a top way to provide valuable out of cage time.

Parrots outside
Outdoor time provides some of the best benefits of out of cage time: fresh air, exercise, sunshine, enrichment

It is good to have a fair amount of predictable routine for your parrot when it comes to the out of cage time schedule. Give your parrot something to look forward to every day. But once in a while, break it up. Some days take your parrot out for longer, take your parrot some place outdoors, or leave it in its cage entirely. This helps the parrot adjust to a more varied lifestyle and prepare it for any changes. The parrot should enjoy out of cage time but it shouldn't be helpless without it.

So rather than imposing silly minimums like "A budgie should get at least 30 minutes a day of out of cage time, a conure should spend an hour outside of the cage, an African grey should get at least 3 hours of out of cage time, and a cockatoo needs to spend all day with you," you should put far more focus on the quality of time the parrot spends outside the cage instead. This is the out of cage time that truly matters. That said, try to provide as much out of cage time as you are able but instead of stressing about the exact amount, focus on making it more interactive, exercising, and stimulating for your parrot.

The out of cage time should be both enjoyable to the parrot but also to the owner. There must be balance such that both owner and parrot are happy for this long term arrangement to last. Keep early out of cage times short and sweet but stretch your parrot's endurance. Practice having the parrot out longer and longer but be sure to put the bird away before things can get bad. Having a well-behaved parrot that enjoys its out of cage time is a win/win for everybody.

Santina's Story - Adopting a Rescue Macaw

Comments (7)

By Michael Sazhin

Monday December 30th, 2013

On Monday December 23, 2013 I adopted Santina a rescue Green-Winged Macaw. But the story goes back a bit and I'd like to take this opportunity to share it with you.

I have been preparing to move to a new house for over a year now. The renovations have been ongoing and delayed. As a part of the move, I had a big bird room being built and this was an opportunity to house any sized parrot I could dream of.

About this time last year I began looking into acquiring a baby Green-Winged Macaw. I was on a waiting list for a baby once eggs were hatched. Infertile eggs and cold temperatures kept pushing things back until what was supposed to be my baby hatched in the spring. The plan was to acquire an unweened baby macaw to be trained for outdoor freeflight. By that point, I have been noting tremendous success indoor freeflying Kili & Truman and craved the challenge of flying a parrot outside. But according to most expert sources that I had encountered, the consensus was that you can only succeed with outdoor freeflight with a large parrot that was weened by the trainer. Furthermore the bird was to become a performer much like Kili & Truman and I was warned that anything but a baby might not be good for that purpose.

Note: hand feeding unweened baby parrots and/or outdoor freeflight bears a high level of risk and is complicated beyond the scope of any advice I can give. Virtually all pet parrot owners should not attempt either and those who do should seek out expert advice.

Unfortunately the baby greenwing aspirated while still under the care of the breeder.

During my preparations to freefly the baby macaw outdoors, I had done a lot of contemplation that led me to begin freeflying Kili outdoors. Kili was already on track to be a star free flier with her gym flying, harness flying, outdoor super socialization, nyc visit, and motivation optimization. In a way, it was the prospect of freeflying the baby macaw that got me used to and accepting of the idea enough to try it with my adult bird.

Bird Room
Big bird room and indoor aviary. Soon to be Santina's room

Cage Room
Smaller cage room and temporary setup for Santina


From that point on, everything changed. I released my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots. I was touring all around the country presenting my training methods. And I had done a lot of work with rescue parrots. The culmination of these factors, personal growth in training capability, difficulty in finding the right baby, and the importance of helping rescue birds lead me to seeking an adult macaw for adoption.

I don't believe in adopting rescue birds just because or simply out of sympathy. I see a lot of people in the bird community burn out because of these reasons. I think rescue parrots should be adopted on merit and benefit to bird and owner. There are too many reasons to go over here but there are definite pros/cons to adopting and there are plenty of cases where adopting a rescue rivals getting a baby. I may write another article later about how it turned out better to adopt Santina.

Finding the right rescue is not necessarily an easy matter either. You have to research around and find the right rescue with the right attitude and most importantly the right bird for you! This may require some distant travel but for a bird that will live with you a lifetime is not something to skimp on! I had already been looking nationwide for a suitable baby so distance made little difference on finding a rescue. When I learned that Lazicki's Bird House & Rescue is in Rhode Island, that felt like right in my backyard compared to the far search I had been making.

The first thing you want to learn when choosing a rescue (after all there are many bird rescues but you only have the ability to support one at a time) is about their reputation in the bird community. Talk to local bird clubs, people who have adopted from that rescue, and volunteers at that rescue to get an impression what it's all about. I was hearing about Lazicki's in the news, from other rescues, and from adopters so I already had a favorable first impression. The rescue had several Green-Winged Macaws but everyone thought off the bat that Santina would be the right one for me. Given that those people have been around the bird and I haven't it was wise to take their advice and then test it out for myself. The next step was to go and visit the rescue and the bird.

To an extent it does matter what kind of care the rescue provides the birds. Naturally supporters of rescues want to support the ones that do a good job and let the ones that do a poor job go bust. However, it is impossible to hold them to the highest standards. They do things on a tight budget, they have a lot of birds, etc. So discounting these things, the things to look for are that the birds are healthy, treated properly, and that the rescue's policies are acceptable. Things like cleanliness, out of cage time, cage size, etc can be discounted from ideal (as long as they are not abysmal) as the rescue is only a temporary location for the birds. You want to look for minimum standards being met at the rescue and use that as an opportunity to provide maximum ones in your own home.

I won't spend too much time commenting on the appearance of the rescue facility when I visited because they will have moved to a new location by the time this article is released. So there's no sense in analyzing the facility I was visiting that they were in the process of replacing. The things that I didn't like were much the same as would be the case in most any rescue: the birds are clipped, not trained, cages are too small, etc. What was more important was that the rescue was open to the ideas of training, flight, cage-free lifestyle, etc. What I would not accept is a rescue that would mandate me to clip the bird or engage in similar unacceptable practices. I did not have any expectations to find a flighted rescue macaw.

I visited the rescue a month prior to adoption to meet Santina and go over preparations I would need to make in order to adopt her. We discussed diet, space requirements, behavior, and medical care. Santina did not want to step up for me but Steve did put her on my arm. She gave me a few nips but otherwise was content to just sit on my arm and preen herself. What I found was that she is not aggressive but rather regressive. In other words she does not come over to bite you but if you come after her, then she will. This is a much easier situation to work with. Just don't do the things that make the bird have to defend itself (and that is usually unwanted handling).

When it comes to adoption fee, I was not particularly interested. I knew it would be less than I had already agreed to pay for a baby but more importantly I knew it would be negligible compared to the cost of keeping the parrot long term. In a single year that bird could chew through more toys, food, or perches than the price I'd pay for her at the rescue. In fact, without even knowing what the adoption fee would normally be, I offered $1000 to the rescue for hooking me up with such an awesome bird. I had since learned that I donated double what the adoption fee would have been. I'm glad that I did because the rescue can really use the help right now and they had done the best they could for what would become my bird! You can't put a price on a living/loving creature; you can only do your best to support the rescue/store/breeder for being a temporary care giver. This is why I want to encourage everyone to give as much as you can to rescues and don't look at it as a cheap alternative. Nothing about keeping parrots is cheap. (In making preparations with the avian vet for Santina's upcoming first visit, I learned that it would cost over $800 for all the testing she would require. I would have felt terrible if I had paid any less an adoption fee for the entire bird!)

Steve, the founder of the rescue, is a nice guy (even if he tells you that he doesn't give a damn about you as long as the bird is ok!). His heart is in the right place and he is foremost concerned about the long term welfare of the birds. He shares my view that flight is essential for parrots and that they enjoy working for food (even if they are unable to provide those opportunities at the rescue). On adoption day, Steve and I went over pictures of the place I'd be keeping Santina and took care of some paperwork. Then we went over to check out Santina. I could tell that she did not want to step up for me so I tried to divert the animosity by chatting with Steve nearby.

I learned that Santina was hatched on September 13, 1999, had a single owner who had to give her up for personal medical reasons, and that she had a tendency to hate men. Also it turned out Santina was previously named Santino and thought to be a male until she laid an egg at the rescue. Otherwise little is known about her past and I would be left to discover her behavior and personality on my own.



Santina did not want to step onto my arm and tried to bite. Steve forced her onto my arm and then Santina gave my arm a bit of a bite. There's no question why she bit. She did not want to go and then was forced to so she bit in order to not have to be on my arm. A large part of the problem was that the bird was bonded to Steve, had nothing to gain, and everything to lose by stepping up for me. She was already fed, uninterested, and defensive. She could not be sure if I was sturdy or safe so her best course of action was to bite rather than step up. This is one place I fault the rescue on not using socialization techniques to make visitors a highlight of the birds' day rather than a downside. It certainly makes the prospect and decision of adopting a parrot that does little more than bite you quite a difficult one.

The decision to adopt Santina was bitter-sweet. From a logical stand point she was a good bird, the right kind, and had a lot of potential. But in the introductory phase there was little bond or relationship between us that would be indicative of any sort of preference. Furthermore the rescue gave me little stimulation that the bird was ideal for me. Most of what I was hearing was about how I'd be ideal for the bird and little the other way around. What I had to remind myself of was the fact that a clever rescue could have just as well manipulated the situation (like a used car salesman) to make it seem like a good idea. Ultimately the decision and the risk was entirely mine. I decided that with my training capability I should be able to turn any bird around regardless if it chose me or not.

Santina did not want to go into the carrier. Let me rephrase that, she desperately did not want to go into the carrier and Steve had to do a double take to shove her in. Absolutely not the approach I'd wanna use but this was not the time to stand around figuring it out. I learned that Santina is phobic of carriers during that episode and also while walking her near a carrier since. Once in the carrier, I wasted no time loading her in the car and heading home.

The giant macaw clung to the bars during the span of most of the car ride despite the perch I put inside for her. At home I opened the door and tried to coax her out. After the bites she had given me at the rescue I was a bit leery of putting my arm in a confined space with her. Worse yet, every time I reached in her beak would come for me so I was unsure if she was using it to hold on or bite. Eventually I just bit the bullet and went for it and I was relieved to know that she was trying to step up rather than bite. I took her out and set her up in the smaller of the two bird rooms that will provide her temporary lodging. Since she has been accustomed to a cage for so long, I did not want to overwhelm her by letting her loose in the big room all at once.

Within 24 hours Santina has been stepping up for me, dancing, and taking scratches. This will be the subject of future blog posts so be sure to check back. In the meantime, here is the video of Santina at the rescue and coming home!

Cage Cleaning - Royal Cage Cleaner Review

Comments (16)

By Michael Sazhin

Friday November 22nd, 2013

I hate cleaning cages. I'd much rather be spending my time training or hanging out with the birds. I don't actually mind the "ick" of cleaning poop so much as taking the time to do it. But it's a fact of life when it comes to bird ownership and something that must be done. This is why I am keen on good cleaning products that reduce the amount of time/effort I need to spend cleaning.

Recall my Must Have Cleaning Devices for the Parrot Owner article reviewing cleaning gadgets. Well in addition to good gadgets, you also need good cleaning supplies. Paper towels do just fine, but on a tight budget washable rags are a good idea. I find that dish soap and bleach work very well for a thorough cage cleaning, however, it smells awful and takes a long time to prepare. Worse yet bleach stains and requires gloves for use. I'm so worried about the fumes that I have to lock my parrots out in the stairway. There has to be a better way.

Since I got Truman's Cage from Kings Cages I was already familiar with the brand. I've been using a bunch of their products for a while now and one of them is the Royal Cage Cleaner spray. This spray makes cleaning a whole lot easier. I just spray it on and wait 5 minutes, come back before it dries, and wipe off with a wet paper towel.

Royal Cage Cleaner

Frankly, I prefer my steam cleaner because it is an entirely chemical free way to clean and sterilize the cage. The trouble is that it has a very narrow stream so it takes forever, especially when it's a wide spread mess. For hard to reach crevices like in the grooves of a perch, I'd definitely go with steam cleaner. But on cage bars, grates, and particularly seed catchers, the spray is awesome.

I tried a different cleaner before, don't remember the name, but it was a citrus based cleaner. It smelled good and is supposedly very safe but it would leave a lot of residue after cleaning. I like the Royal Cage Cleaner better because it has very little residue. Wiping with a wet paper towel once gets most of it and a little more effort and it's all gone.



For the absolute worst messes I use a combination of my steam cleaner and spray. First I spray the area to dissolve the poop. Then I wipe what I can and blast the rest out with the steam cleaner. Works like a charm. For spot cleaning, $10 for the spray is well worth it. One bottle lasts me about a year because I combine with the steam cleaner.

I have one bottle of free Royal Cage Cleaner to give away. The contest is very simple. Just leave a comment below or on the Trained Parrot Facebook page telling me about what you currently use for cleaning your parrot's cage. Contest ends midnight Tuesday November 26th and a winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday. The only restriction I have here is that free shipping is in the US only. International winner must pay international shipping or decline the prize and another winner will be selected. Winner to be selected from either comments section or facebook comments at random. Thanks for reading and participating.

Making Parrots Go Back Into Cage Willingly

Comments (5)

By Michael Sazhin

Wednesday April 18th, 2012

A common problem that companion parrot owners face is the parrot being unwilling to go back into the cage after being out. I kind of end up taking it for granted that parrots just go back into their cages because the system I set up makes it so mine always go back in without protest. It isn't so much about the technique of how to put them in as the complete approach to parrot ownership and scheduling. First I'll go into my system that ensures that parrots always go back into their cage willingly and then I'll show how I go even further and vary the exact methods I use for putting them away to maintain maximum tameness. Note, this article is about how to get an already tame parrot that knows how to go into the cage (but doesn't want to) to be more willing to go inside rather than the initial taming/training. If you have a new parrot or one that never learned to step into the cage, refer to the taming article instead.

Many people complain that their otherwise nice parrot will start screaming, biting, flying away, or causing any other sort of trouble when the time comes to put it away in the cage. Let me tell you, it doesn't have to be this way. In fact it should never be this way because it causes undo stress on the parrot (and the owner). Having a little planning and self-discipline can take care of all of this. Here is the strategy laid out:

1) No meals outside the cage. I have absolutely no idea why people feed their parrots outside the cage. They don't need it and it makes it pointless for the parrot to go into the cage. If a parrot has everything it could possibly want outside the cage, then why in the world would it want to go inside of it? Treats for training or foraging are fine, but meals must be in the cage only.

2) Save the best toys for the cage. Unless you're at the stage where you are having difficulty getting the parrot to come out, you don't need to give the parrot the best stuff to stay out. Usually they are thrilled at the diversity of things to see and do outside the cage anyway. You should provide them with toys to keep them busy (and distracted from your stuff) but there's no reason the out of cage toys should be better than the in-cage ones. If your parrot likes toys, sometimes hanging a brand new toy in the cage right before putting it away provides a good enough reason to go inside and check it out.

3) Don't make it suck to be in the cage. As much as you should avoid making out of cage time be too good (so the parrot wants to stay out), you must avoid making the cage be a bad place. Never use the cage as punishment. Make sure that the cage is a safe/comfortable place for your parrot. Provide a desirable variety of perches, toys, and things to do. This also means making sure the parrots never feel unsafe in the cage. Never allow people to taunt or scare the parrots when they are in their cage. While many people recommend having cages in high traffic areas, I prefer the exact opposite. I find that (with at least my Poicephalus parrots) they need a substantial amount of quiet alone time during the day for things like relaxing, vocalizing, preening, playing, and napping.

4) Let the parrot get tired when it is out of cage. Basically let it fly when it is out of the cage (don't clip its wings). In fact make it fly so much (through flight training) that it is happy to take a break in the cage. Since my parrots associate the cage with peace/relaxation, they are very willing to go inside when they are tired.

5) Don't let the parrot spend too much time out of cage. Some people keep their parrot out of the cage all day and then complain that it won't go into the cage when they need it to. If the parrot is used to being out all the time, then it just tries to continue what it is most accustomed to. I prefer to have a balance. Rather than letting my parrots out for a lot some days and less others, I try to keep it more uniform based on what I can normally provide. So even if I'm home all day on the weekend, I don't spoil them with out of cage time all day. I may take them outside or on a trip, but at home they spend a typical amount of time in the cage every day.

6) Put the parrot away when it is time for sleep. Maintain a predictable sleep schedule for the parrot. If the parrot expects to go to sleep and is accustomed to sleeping in its cage, it will be willing to go in if not entirely on its own. I keep the lights in the parrot area on a timer to go off at the same time every night and then I cover the cages. This way they are used to the routine and want to go into their cages in the evening. For this reason the last time of the day when they are out is right before their bed time.

7) Provide in cage meals when the parrot is put away. First have the parrot without food or out of its cage long enough for it to get hungry. Don't provide food while it is out (except small treats). Then put it away to a meal waiting in the cage. The parrot will notice the meal and go in the cage for it. Instead of thinking how it doesn't want to be in the cage, it will instead strive to go in for the meal.

What it comes down to is that if the parrot wants to be in the cage, it will not create resistance to being put away! To sum up my routine: I let Kili & Truman out briefly in the morning to poop and then put them away to their morning meal as I am leaving. Some days I put them outside in the aviary in the daytime. By the time I need to put them back in the cage, they are happy to be reunited with their cage after being out for so long. I may take them out to the park in the evening. When we return they are very willing to go back into their cage because they are tired from all the excitement and flying they do outside. Finally in the evening I take them out for out of cage time and training. After this they are usually tired and just dying to go back into the cage for meal and sleep. By keeping their cage as a place of food, familiarity, and rest I can ensure their willingness to go in any time. They never protest going in because they are so accustomed that going back into the cage is a good thing even if that one time there isn't a specific reward for going back in.

On the flip side, I don't take any protest from my parrots either. Even if they were to bite, fly away, or give me any kind of trouble for putting them back in, I would not let it change my determination to put them away one bit. This is an important point because many people end up teaching their parrot to bite by giving in. If the parrot is rewarded just a few times for biting by being left out longer, it learns to bite whenever it doesn't want to be put away. There may be some occasional times when my parrots don't want to be put away and they may make it known through body language. However, it never gets to biting or anything else because they would never get away with it. Still, the main solution is making it so they want to go into the cage and not force. Because even if you can ignore biting, the parrot can still outfly you. You certainly don't want to get into a situation where you have to forcefully capture and cage the parrot because it will leave terrible associations both with you and the cage.

Parrot Step Up Into Cage

I used to let my parrots watch me pour food into their bowls outside the cage, come up to them with the bowl in one hand and have them step onto the other. I would fix their attention on the bowl and put them into the cage along with the bowl. Now, I just put the food in and they already know its there. Basically I would recommend the first method to people who have trouble putting the parrot away so the reward is on its mind and distracting from biting. However, if it's not the case then it doesn't matter much either way. I do not leave food in the cage though while they are out. I don't want them sneaking in, pigging out, and then coming back out. Then the lesson is entirely lost. Meals are only fed when out of cage time is entirely over. By the time the parrots are done with their meal, I'm sure they've forgotten exactly how they ended up in the cage to begin with.

I absolutely do not recommend letting the parrot climb into its cage itself. This is bad training. This teaches the parrot too much freedom that makes it difficult for you to circumvent in the case you truly must put the parrot away yourself. By allowing it to go back in when it wants to, inadvertently makes it not want to go in when you want/need it to. This is why every single time my parrots are to go back into the cage, it is through some form of interaction with me. Usually they really want to go into the cage so I get credit as the awesome savior that delivered them to their cage/meal. Other times there is no good reason for them to go in but they are so accustomed to going in whenever I put them in that they just go for it.

I never give treats for going back in the cage (although it's not a bad idea in some people's cases). Since mine have their food managed (at least to the extent that they receive exactly two meals a day), so to them a complete meal is already a super huge reward as it is. They clearly value it higher because they are willing to display more sophisticated behavior to receive it than for other treats. This is why it is so hugely successful for making them go in willingly. In fact is is so successful that I can recall the two parrots simultaneously and have them race across the room to land on my hand first! I always put whoever got to me first in the cage first as an additional incentive. False starts do not count though! This exercise teaches both patience (waiting for the cue) and cooperation! If one of the parrots does not fly, the other doesn't get the treat. With time they've each learned to come because that is the way to get the meal.

Parrot Being Put Into Cage

Since my parrots really want to go in the cage, I take this a step further and to my training advantage. I vary up the exact method that I get them into the cage in order to maintain maximum tameness. Sometimes I flight recall the parrots individually. Other times I recall them together. Yet other times I walk up to them, wherever they are, and have them step up onto my hand to be put away. Finally, I grab them from on top of their cage (or wherever they are) and just stick them in. Because this is rewarded with the meal inside (or the other reasons I previously mentioned), they always let me handle them this way and put them in. Sometimes I even combine methods where I will have them recall to be grabbed and put away. Whatever method I use, it is something that I want to maintain. Thus not only going into the cage is reinforced but also handling methods that I may use with them in or out of the cage!

By setting up this system of food management, environmental management, and scheduling I ensure that my parrots are willing to go back into the cage on a daily basis and at any random time that I need them to. I use going into the cage as a reward for other taming behaviors or flight recalls. This makes it easy for me to keep my parrots as pets and it makes their life less stressful because they get what they want. They still get to eat, spend time out of cage, etc but it is done in a way that I get credit for it instead of a pissed off parrot. This allows me to maintain control and the parrot to be well behaved around humans. It's a win/win for everyone. It doesn't even require a lot of training, just a rational approach to managing time and resources.

Training Parrots to Go Into Carrier or Travel Cage

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By Michael Sazhin

Thursday November 11th, 2010

Also the Parrots' Review of Kings Travel Cage


Just a day after completing assembly of the Kings Travel Cage that I bought for the parrots, I began introducing them to it. Actually I had already begun introducing them while my brother assembled it by having them sit on nearby perches and watch. When the birds see humans safely interacting with something, it gives them more confidence to try it themselves rather than be frightened by a newly appeared object they are expected to go into.

Don't just shove or force your parrot into the travel cage or carrier immediately. Ok, it's true that I did this with Truman the day I assembled it, but with good reason. The travel cage looks just like his big cage and he is young and ready to explore. So by putting him into it that way, it did not frighten him at all. He was more excited about checking out the toys. However, I would not have done the same with Kili or most other birds. Instead, use the following procedure.

It is important to maintain the carrier/travel cage experience a positive one. The simple fact of getting locked up in it and ignored for some hours (quite likely bumpy and uncomfortable) is quite unpleasant in itself. This is why it is required to do everything in your power to make carrier time be as good as possible to make up for that. If you don't make carrier time enjoyable for your parrot, it will quickly become scared of going in the carrier and resist by all means. It will fly away, bite, and make it really hard for you to get it in there. Let me remind you that good carrier behavior is not only necessary for taking a parrot out on social outings, but also for emergency vet visits and grooming. Unfortunately, most people only end up using a carrier in time of need. This is likely to be rushed and unpleasant for the parrot. So for all of these reasons, I recommend carrier/travel cage training before you actually need to transport the parrot. I urge everyone who owns a carrier (whether your parrot is already accustomed to it or never been in it) to go and practice some carrier time with your parrot in a pleasant way as I will soon get to explaining, I promise. If you don't have a carrier, please go any buy one and practice these techniques because you can't be certain when you might need to take your parrot some place.

Parrots on Travel Cage

While the first step to a successful carrier introduction is letting the parrot see it and see you working with it, next comes a more proactive approach. Don't just force your parrot into the carrier all at once. Instead, put it on top of, next to, or around the carrier/cage.

I started by carrying Kili over and putting her on the cage top handle perch. She wasn't too scared because the dowel perch looked similar enough to other dowel perches she had previously frequented. But more importantly, she has a clear path to fly away should she choose to because I did not immediately confine her in the cage. To get Kili more used to being there, I targeted her back and forth on that perch. Then I targeted her down to the cage top bars.

Targeting Parrots on Travel Cage

Meanwhile Truman was at a distance watching. Unexpectedly he flew over to join us. He wasn't going to miss out on all this fun. He landed on the cage top and wanted to play "target" too. So the birds took turns targeting to various spots on the cage top. I took Kili and brought her down to the cage level. I didn't make her go in but rather targeted her from my hand to the travel cage perch. She stepped right in and was thrilled to get a treat so effortlessly. I continued targeting her around inside until she noticed the new toys and went to check them out.

Parrots and Travel Cage

It didn't take any targeting to get Truman to go into the travel cage. The sight of new toys just drew him right in. Getting him away from those toys would probably serve a greater challenge then getting him to go in. If your parrot loves toys, definitely use this to your advantage by providing better than usual toys in the travel cage to make it more worthwhile. It is very important that your parrots actually like their travel cage or carrier. Just tolerating isn't enough. They have to like it because it will serve as their home away from home. They need to feel safe and comfortable in their carrier. Furthermore, for flighted parrots it is good for them to be super familiar with their cage or carrier so that they have a place to fly back to if they get scared when you're out. One more reason I want my parrots to become super familiar and love their travel cage is in the event they ever get lost outside home, I will put the travel cage outside to lure them back in (I know people recommend putting the bird's cage outside but Truman's cage is not going to fit through the door, so travel cage works great).

Parrot Playing

The travel cage familiarization was a great success, but how would the parrots react to being locked inside for periods at a time? I began with Truman by pouring a meal of pellets in the travel cage's food bowl and leaving him inside for an hour. Without hesitation Truman went right for the food and had an enjoyable meal. Once again, here is an example of providing a positive cage/carrier environment where something good happens every time the parrot is inside. For the next few days I let the parrots take turns eating their meals in the travel cage and being locked inside progressively longer to get used to being in it.

Parrot Eating in Travel Cage

I am very happy with the custom perch layout I configured. The perches came out to be at an ideal height and distance that either parrot can comfortably use the travel cage. Truman uses his beak to lean and step from perch to perch; Kili hops. Although the parrots can easily climb the cage bars, they have little need to.

Now that the birds were accustomed to being in the travel cage at home, it was time for a field test. The day I took Truman flying in an airplane, I brought him to the airport in his carrier, but I let him ride back home in his travel cage. He loved it. He was endlessly entertained by the toys hanging inside. He would make his way back and forth on the perch to play with the two toys. He held on well and never fell off his perch during the drive (even bumpy parts and steep turns). He was even able to balance on one foot while playing with a bottle cap in his beak and dominant foot. He was so busy playing the whole car ride that he did not scream or cause any trouble.

Parrot Traveling

Parrot on Travel Cage

Later that same day Kili got to spend some time and eat a meal in the travel cage while out as well. Both parrots did great in their travel cage and appear to like it better than their travel carriers. Truman didn't step in poop or his his tail on the sides. Although I found some faults in the set up, price, weight, and value of the travel cage, it was a major hit with the parrots. With the modifications I made and training I did, this travel cage is absolutely worthwhile for the parrots. From the bird's perspective, I definitely recommend this travel cage.

Rather than being some unpleasant form of confinement, I had succeeded in introducing the travel cage as a fun place to be. The parrots enjoyed eating and playing with toys in their new cage. They go in willingly and even fly over and land on top of the travel cage for the hell of it. Regardless of what cage or carrier you use for your parrots, just remember to make it a worthwhile experience. Good carrier training is the first step in being able to bring your parrots out for socializing to the rest of the world.

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Trained Parrot is a blog about how to train tricks to all parrots and parakeets. Read about how I teach tricks to Truman the Brown Necked Cape Parrot including flight recall, shake, wave, nod, turn around, fetch, wings, and play dead. Learn how you can train tricks to your Parrot, Parrotlet, Parakeet, Lovebird, Cockatiel, Conure, African Grey, Amazon, Cockatoo or Macaw. This blog is better than books or DVDs because the information is real, live, and completely free of charge. If you want to know how to teach your parrot tricks then you will enjoy this free parrot training tutorial.
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