Project Wildlife: Demand Accountability

Posted by Raz on Oct 21st, 2016
Oct 21


Project Wildlife euthanized the gorgeous Red-Tailed Hawk I brought them after Richard Hunter found it injured and in shock in the middle of a street in Oceanside. The bird was standing strong and tall that morning. Four days later it was dead. They will not disclose why the bird was euthanized.

Project Wildlife AccountabilityI had a long conversation with them when I was there to get their assurance I would be contacted if the injury was not rehab-able for release to the wild, to make sure every avenue for adoption by an educational program was explored. They said they had a list of rehabbers they used, but would not tell me who was on it. I left my contact information as well as a note on the bird’s chart. Their policy is to only update about an animal’s condition by email, and they said it was always backlogged weeks to months. I finally convinced them to allow me to check on the injury diagnosis in person, and I visited the following day. The vet tech said nothing was broken, there was a muscle/tendon tear, he was in ICU and expected to be able to recover for release. So I breathed a sigh of relief that we would probably not have to deal with the issue of suitability or availability of an educational home. I told them a group of bird owners in San Diego was trying to organize donations to help with his care. That was on Saturday. The following Tuesday when a local parrot welfare group contacted them for a photo to help raise funds for rehabilitation, they were informed the hawk had been euthanized. They would not give any other info.

Avian injuries can be touchy, especially if they involve bites from other animals, but if there was a good cause for euthanasia like a spreading septic infection causing illness, this information should be made public. In many cases, such as this one, the person finding and rescuing a raptor actually exposes themself to significant physical injury if the bird is fearful or panicked. They are a non-profit dependent on donations and volunteers for operation, which actively solicits donations for an animal’s care when it is dropped off. A mutually supportive relationship with the community should be a priority.

Please help demand accountability from this group. It is understandable in the spring when there are scores of baby songbirds falling from nests and time is strained to the limit. There is no reason for complete unaccountability with the much less common rescues of larger species. Click on the image above for Project Wildlife contact information, share this post, or otherwise spread the word.

In the meantime, consider taking any large birds to another facility or vet unless they are in critical condition and need immediate euthanasia. They do not do the actual rehabilitation of large birds in any case, only urgent care or euthanasia. I will drive or arrange suitable transport for any raptor (hawk, owl, falcon) or corvid (raven, crow) to the nearest publicly accountable rescue in the county if needed.

The Fund for Wildlife Animal Center has a large facility in Ramona and has rehabbed many large birds, including recently a gravely ill Bald Eagle. They provide much more information about their program on their website and I will be looking into their policies as well as other facility options in the SD area. eaglereleaseramona

Call or text me via the contact info on my Facebook page if you have a raptor or corvid that needs transporting (with assistance of one of the local licensed falconers if available):


Carly Lu is Missing – Possibly Stolen

Posted by Raz on Jun 27th, 2014
Jun 27

UPDATE: Link to NEW Carly Alert Poster. Please post on social media or anywhere around San Diego County.

Please help put the word out to help find Carly. She had been flying at the bay Tuesday 6/24 around sunset as we often do and a friend inadvertently allowed her to fly again after dark. She was last seen doing her normal loop around the park by the visitor center, and apparently went up to roost somewhere. This is why I don’t let them fly for very long after sunset. They will suddenly decide it’s time for bed and settle in for the night, and it can be impossible to find where they’ve roosted.

Carly will come to me immediately after daylight, or sometimes fly down to someone else if I’m not where she is. She wears a small dog tag with my phone number just in case she goes visiting, since she used to be so incurably social. But I have not been able to find her after exhaustive searching, and there have been no phone calls or sightings at all in the vicinity.

UPDATE: Many sightings now! See follow-up posts.

She and Piper have flown between the bay and my house many times, and their flying area is quite large (as you can see in the post below), so she is comfortable and knows her way around. In other words, she is not likely to be wandering around scared or disoriented. The metal name/phone tag is on a stainless steel screw link attached to her leg band, and she has never taken it off (even when I’ve forgotten to). You can see it in the photo of her and Piper below.

She is so gregarious, it is difficult to imagine her staying out for 3 4 so many days now without approaching someone. She visits with people at the park all the time with me. That said, she is not nearly as “people crazy” (or red-haired guy crazy) as she used to be.

My fear of course is that she approached someone early the following morning who was enough of a lowlife to try to keep or sell an animal that was wearing an ID tag.

I need to know if anyone in the San Diego area has seen someone with a new African Grey fitting her description, or has heard a new parrot nearby. The photos below are quite accurate for how she looks right now.

Additional info:

  • She is very friendly with people, especially men or anyone who has handled birds before.
  • Common vocalizations are:   What?     Nowwww what?     Porker!   as well as whistling tunes. She is especially fond of the “Bridge on the River Kwai” song (aka “Comet Song”).
  • Contact calls: a YOOHOO! type whistle, and a whistle like when calling a dog.
  • If she has been kept by someone she may very well have snipped her feathers down very short on her chest and shoulders.


Anyone with solid information who has seen or heard her on or after WEDS JUNE 25 can email me through my website CONTACT page. (Please forgive me if I don’t reply immediately to personal notes at this time.) There are posts on Craigslist, 911-ParrotAlert, etc., and I’m going around in person to pet stores and vets with her information.




Almost hilariously bad training advice

Posted by Raz on Jun 4th, 2012
Jun 4

I was just sent a link to a new membership parrot site, canned variety, where for just $10.99 you can get access to SECRET information like this preview!

How to tame your parrot

Taming your parrot is the first step towards training it. Taming your parrot includes making it comfortable in your presence and in its surroundings so that it doesn’t aggressively resist training. Our membership site tells you the secrets of taming your parrot. Here are a few pointers.

[You don’t want your parrot to resist training aggressively. Resisting passively requires less first aid.]

  • Clip its wings…
  • [Of course the first thing you want to do is make your bird totally dependent on you and unable to get away.]

  • Praise and reward it every now and then…
  • [Just every now and then. Avoid making it systematic or having any logic behind it because you might inadvertently teach him some behaviors.]

  • Carry it around your house or garden. Initially, wear protective gloves when handling your parrot…
  • [Don’t forget the protective gloves! Your bird can’t fly, so if he wants to tell you he’s had quite enough carrying around thank-you-very-much he will probably bite you, and then you won’t be able to keep carrying him around.]

  • Keep other pets at a safe distance from the parrot…
  • [Your parrot might fall off your hand and bite them, and they aren’t wearing protective gloves.]

  • If it behaves aggressively or bites, don’t shout or punish. A firm ‘no’, over time, does the trick…
  • [You would not want to punish under any circumstances, because by definition ‘punishment’ is anything that will decrease a behavior, so be careful that you say ‘no’ in a tone the parrot finds pleasant. Eventually he will realize that no matter what he does, you’re not going to stop carrying him around the freaking house and he’ll just give up.]

  • Let it roam around the house on its own at times. Just make sure it is safe…
  • [I personally recommend protective 4-toed gloves]

  • Introduce your parrot to other family members…
  • [Suggested introduction: YOU: “Parrot, this is Sally.” SALLY: “Pleased to meet you.”]

On the positive side, almost everything is spelled correctly.


Skills anyone?? [update]

Posted by Raz on Sep 1st, 2009
Sep 1

Since this blog is one of those places that makes flying outdoors look fun, I want to point out, again, that in addition to having a good recall, it’s critical to have good flight skills as well. If you want a bird that can stay alive that is. Good flight skills include: can maneuver well and turn sharply, can fly down from heights, has been flying indoors or in a controlled environment long enough to have developed some muscle strength, and does not have partially clipped or damaged wings. Things a predator will have a field day with (“predators” including dogs, cats, raptors, and cars, not to mention birds like seagulls, ravens and crows who can just be intent on chasing an intruder away): a bird who is not acclimated to being outdoors, has little to no ability to turn or maneuver, has never flown down from heights before, has wings that physically impair its ability to turn or fly fast, has never flown in wind, has little stamina.

No matter what position one takes on training recall, or the method used to train it, it is just supremely irresponsible to put a bird at risk by rushing the move outdoors when basic flight skills are not in place. And yet I see people doing just that, and encouraging others to do so.

I would really like to find a single serious trainer who believes this isn’t true. All it takes is one surprise stiff breeze or startle flight. Even with a bird who is ready with these skills the transition outdoors is a very risky time because it’s a totally new environment. Adding the handicap of poor skills is terribly unfair to the bird.

(Oh, gee, there I go being “negative” again!)

First, for those who are not familiar with free flight lingo, any flight outdoors without restraints is “free flight.” Just because you’re only asking for 2-4 feet does not mean that’s “recall training” and not free flight. If a bird has a spook flight or gets caught in an unexpected wind, that 4 foot recall you were asking for becomes completely irrelevant. I believe flight skills and recall should be trained together; that doesn’t mean you do the most rudimentary recall with a completely inexperienced, partially clipped bird outdoors. As much as possible should be done indoors — learning how to land, turn, make sharp maneuvers, fly down. The bigger the indoor location (or aviary) the better. For flying in wind I personally like using a harness for that on a windy day so the bird can get the feel of how to deal with it without being blown away. (Here’s Carly on an extremely windy day practicing.)

Secondly, those who want to comment under the guise of a false identity may want to consider methods other than pseudonyms and fake email addresses. The odds that three different commenters on this blog site (say, for example, “Dave,” “Ron,” and “Joe”) would randomly have the same address, even if they were all on AOL and all in the same region of the country, are more than 4 billion to one, going by the way AOL assigns addresses. When you add in the fact that IP addresses are generally recycled back to the same computer whenever possible, the odds are even slimmer. But then I guess 4 billion in one things do happen once every 4 billion times or so.

Comments have been closed on this thread since they are getting very off topic and rambly.


UPDATED UPDATE: Freeflight for Companion Parrots

Posted by Raz on Jul 11th, 2009
Jul 11

This is officially a Pout Free Zone. I write about positive influences on my training. As in my professional life, personalities are not the topic. We don’t omit referencing important publications based on our personal feelings about the authors, and I have the same standards here.

The “Freeflight for Companion Parrots” post is a warning, not a publicity campaign.

Jul 9

I’d like to address the topic of freeflight training for pet birds in a bit broader context than “how to.” After thinking about this for some time, I want to elaborate on a stance that seems contradictory to this blog, even hypocritical. And that is that I don’t advocate it except under very rare circumstances. I have been saying since the beginning of this blog that I feel it’s necessary to have a professional mentor one on one, in person, before attempting outdoor training, even though I didn’t have that kind of mentoring before I started flying Carly outside. But I think I need to clarify why that is my position.

In brief, what it boils down to is that it is much, much more complicated than it first appears, and it is almost impossible for someone to evaluate a trainer’s level of skill, or the bird’s level of skill, without being there in person and having a lot of interaction with both.

As well as the challenges of starting out (making the indoor-outdoor transition is a BIG one), there are continuing challenges when freeflying, especially when dealing with a very uncontrolled environment where the bird is not doing strictly cued A-B type flying. My goal has always been to let Carly fly as long as I can do it without excessive risk. That means having an excellent recall, so she can be called back if she gets too far away or if I see a predator or other danger before she does. (Yes, sometimes I do see it first, and she can be called back.)

These challenges have required using different training concepts, many of which I was completely unaware when I started out. Freeflight requires taking the training mindset into every single daily behavior, not just during recall practice. Flying to you – instead of sitting in a tree, flying somewhere else, exploring, etc. – is one of the most basic trust-requiring behaviors. Without that background of trust and self-empowerment in all daily interactions, it’s much more likely you will have a bird literally avoiding you when outdoors, either by taking “unapproved” excursions, sitting in trees and refusing to come down, or having actual flyoffs. You have to be THE most positive thing in their environment, every time you go outside, no matter what you encounter. Building this trust involves everything from seemingly tiny things (not compelling a bird to step up in your home) to much more obvious ones (not tossing the bird or refusing to let it land when outdoors.)

Here are some of the things I think were critical in allowing me to begin and continue to freefly, so far. And I say “so far” because there are always new challenges that can present themselves, or unexpected dangers that occur. And they will be different for every single bird.

This is long, and I’m not going to try to pare it down, because the point is, this is not simple!

  • Time I was fortunate to have a bird that was not already fledged. This may seem counterintuitive, but in my case it gave me time to get my training and behavior skills up to speed. I spent 9 months training Carly before her flight feathers had grown in enough for outdoor flight to be safe. (Note: her lack of fledging was more than compensated for by an eagerness to learn new skills, something that may not be true for all birds.)
  • Repetition During those 9 months we practiced recall twice daily, every day, for about 10-20 minutes per session. Talk about repetition! By the time we went outside she was a recall machine.
  • Confidence The repetitions from 9 months of training gave us a lot of mutual confidence, so much that Carly has really never done a panic flight from being startled. At most, it is just up a short distance and back to me. The same applies to when she has been involved in bad chases, such as the one with a huge flock of ravens. She did not fly away, she flew fast and evasively, and got back to me as soon as she possibly could.
  • Food management, not food deprivation All Carly’s indoor training was done with scheduled meals, with no weight reduction. When we transitioned outdoors I brought her weight down very slightly (2-3%) for a short time. I usually now fly within a small range of her at-lib weight (455-462 g). There are those who advocate no food or weight management, and those who advocate overly extreme food/weight management. I was fortunate to find information about how to use it intelligently and appropriately.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis Dr. Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with Parrots class and other writings have been incredibly valuable, even more so than I could have imagined when I started. I didn’t take LLP until the summer when I was first training Carly outdoors, and frankly much of it didn’t seem “new” or all that important to that training at first. But with each passing month, and the more I learned about ABA, the more I have used it. I credit that knowledge with single-handedly enabling me to continue to free fly Carly despite some very tough training challenges.
  • Behavior is Science! See above. There is a right and wrong way to train and interact with our birds, if our goal is well-adjusted, confident animals.
  • Input from mentors & experts I did not have the luxury of a local professional for advice and evaluation, but I made use of every contact I could, every group, blog, seminar, workshop, or even just the chance to observe expert trainers in action (as I’ve been taking ample advantage of with NEI at the San Diego Zoo recently). It’s not just at the beginning, but continuously, and not just reading or watching, but thinking and asking “how does this apply to situations I’ve encountered?” These are worth mentioning by name:
    • Dr Susan Friedman, Utah State University. Always asks the hard questions and teaches that what we do with our birds every minute of every day is training. It is important to understand behavior and work with it on that level for our relationship with our birds, and with outdoor flight it’s critical. Web site:
    • Barbara Heidenreich, of Good Bird Inc. Seeing her work with birds at a seminar concurrent with taking Susan’s LLP class was like seeing a live demonstration of ABA in action. A pivotal moment for me. Her Good Bird Magazine is a storehouse of good training info.
    • Sid Price, of Avian Ambassadors. Sid has become a good friend and his input and observations on training questions has been insightful. He has also taken an interest in the companion parrot world, which he advises through his Bird Behavior Blog with thoughtful posts on a variety of topics.
    • Steve Martin & Natural Encounters Inc. I have not had much direct interaction with Steve, but his talks and articles, and those of the other NEI trainers, have been an invaluable resource. Articles are posted on the NEI web site that are must-reads for understanding parrot-human interaction, as well as training techniques. What’s in It For Me is something we should all be asking ourselves (on behalf of our parrots) all the time. Watching training for their current show is also like a live ABA demo.
    • Various friends who freefly well: Hillary Hankey, Wendy Craig, and Ellen Aparacio were all influences for the better, just by watching how sensitively they interact with their birds and how they think through behavioral issues.
  • The right bird for the job Although Carly was clipped as a baby, she has always been assertive and calm, which are two wonderful qualities in an outdoor freeflyer. I always think of the word “unflappable” which seems odd to use with a bird. I don’t know if it is an innate personality trait, or if her early upbringing played a role too. I made sure to keep her well socialized and always used to encountering new things, well before we flew outdoors.
  • Keeping records It’s important not to rely just on memory for details like daily weights, training outcomes and other things that might be influencing behavior each day. Sometimes it’s only by writing things down that you can see patterns evolve. –> sample logs
  • Harness training I believe part of her calm outdoors is from being taken outside daily from the age of 4 months onward. By the time we started freeflying, she had been exposed to just about everything she ever would be: traffic, people, noise, crowds, construction, blimps, planes, helicopters, paragliders, kids, dogs. The one exception was other birds (seagulls, ravens, falcons) and she reacted calmly thanks to lots of practice with new things, and lots of repetition of our training. –> harness training
  • Tree practice I trained her to target by crawling through and down trees. This was a very useful skill when she first started learning to fly down from large trees because she could use a combination of crawling, swinging, dropping and flying if she got up too high, and it allowed her to learn flying down at her own pace. Many birds who are lost during the indoor/outdoor transition are lost because they can’t fly down and panic.
  • Emergency recall Training a super reliable and fast recall for situations where there is danger or the bird is flying fast and getting too far away. It employs “super bonus” treats, which makes it more strongly motivated than a normal recall in the face of distractions, and to be effective it can’t be overused.–>emergency recall
  • Luck When we first encountered our biggest training challenge, her tendency to go visit other people while flying, we were extremely lucky that the people she chose were honest and made an effort to find her owner. When she flew behind some trees and was attacked by a hawk we were very lucky that it was only a shallow talon wound.
  • Not relying on luck Any time we had a challenge with freeflying I tried to think through it using the tools I’d learned in ABA. Just a sampling of what some of the solutions involved:
    • recognizing very subtle “forcing” of behavior and applying positive reinforcement in more of our daily interactions
    • stopping freeflying to develop and implement a new training routine when her behavior regressed (more difficult than you might think to stop these outings)
    • watching her body language more carefully for signs of potential problem behavior outdoors
    • using bonuses strategically
    • using a “heirarchy” of treats
    • recognizing when food or weight is not the problem
    • “changing the antecedent” by not flying if I saw any warning sign that it was not a good day (also harder than you can imagine)
    • generalizing behavior so it is maintained in the face of distractions
    • “super-generalizing” behavior so it is maintained in the face of competing external reinforcers. –>generalizing
    • using small approximations to train flying in the dark
    • recognizing the “study of one” principle and taking much smaller approximations in outdoor acclimation with new flyer Piper –>acclimation
    • recognizing that every time I make a mistake outdoors (usually by setting up antecedents wrong) I am training Carly to do the wrong thing, and there are no “do-overs”.

. . .

I’m sure I’ve missed a lot here, but you get the idea. It isn’t just a matter of teaching recall in isolation of other behavior and the daily life of the bird.

I never like to discourage someone from a challenge, but I feel that some people who freefly minimize the work involved, and/or have lower standards for recall or safe flying. And on the other extreme some rely on weight control almost to the exclusion of other strategies. It’s always up to the individual how they want to proceed: how much latency is acceptable (sitting in trees), how much of a flyoff is acceptable, whether or not staying out overnight is acceptable, or if witholding food for one or more meals is acceptable. For me, any of those is a sign that we need to revisit and reevaluate our training routine.

I have had problems with sitting in trees during Carly’s first year flying. I have had times when Carly flew out of sight and landed on a stranger who took her home. Twice she has been out overnight (once when a huge truck pulled up its rear elevator as we were passing by right after dark and she spent the night in a tree outside my office – with me underneath it – and once when she was attacked by a hawk at sunset and hunkered down in a tree until morning. Both times she flew right down to me at the crack of dawn.) All of these were problems that could be dealt with through additional training for her (generalizing recall in the presence of competing reinforcers) or by training me (knowing when it’s not a good time to fly, and being aware of the environment). None of these has occurred this year, and I like to think I’m growing as a trainer. But I’m always ready for that next unexpected challenge because I haven’t been doing this for years and years. And from what I’ve seen, even the best, most experienced trainers are continually learning and open to input from others.

To close, here are some of my favorite pieces of writing about freeflight or training in general that I think are applicable to this discussion.
. . .

What’s in It For Me by Steve Martin of Natural Encounters Inc. Looking at things from your bird’s point of view.

Straight Talk About Behavior by Susan Friedman.

Food and Weight Management and follow-up article in Sid Price’s Bird Training Blog

The Mouse Went Down the Hole: Psychological Appetite, Nature’s Training Tool by Cassie Malina of NEI.

Strong Foundations & Adjustments: Keys to Training Success by Sid Price.

Don’t Shoot the Dog , by Karen Pryor. A bible of training and behavior for all species that can be read over and over.

Good Bird Magazine, edited by Barbara Heidenreich. A must-have subscription., Dr Susan Friedman’s website, has links to all of her articles. Her Parrot Behavior Analysis Solutions group ( offers free one-on-one behavior problem solving and lessons on Applied Behavior Analysis with trained tutors, and her internet or workshop course Living and Learning with Parrots (LLP) is the gold standard for parrot behavioral science., the web site of Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. The Behavior Analysis Glossary alone is worth browsing and rebrowsing.

Where to learn one-on-one about free flight training for parrots?
The Art and Science of Training Companion Parrots, level 2, at Natural Encounters. This is only an introduction to their methods so people get some experience with what is involved. (Part of the purpose of this workshop is to show people how easy it isn’t.)

Chris Shank’s Cockatoo Downs. Chris is a very experienced trainer with many different animals, and has a flock of free-flighted cockatoos in Oregon. There are annual workshops on a variety of topics, and Chris is also available for individual consulation.

There are many very qualified professional trainers, but none of them offer anything similar, generally because it is such a high-risk endeavor, and not one that can be taught in a short workshop. Some others offer freeflight instruction that I do not recommend for a variety of reasons. I do not support anything that’s offered by internet or video.

. . .

My non-professional* training models. These guys have that magic touch, and also the thirst for continued learning. (*At the time. Hillary is now an NEI trainer. Wendy has completed both levels of the NEI workshops.)

Hillary Hankey & Juice

Ellen Aparacio & Inca

Wendy Craig with Samantha, Fifer and Rubidew

UPDATE: I have been asked about people who may have been influences on my training that I do not mention here. All I will say is those I have mentioned are those whose training methods and philosophy are in keeping with the “most positive, least intrusive” principle that I believe in. I’ve been exposed to other trainers, but they use methods or strategies that I prefer not to follow, and they are aware of those differences.

Links to some other articles on freeflight training:
Recommended Articles on Freeflight Training


No sites are authorized to copy this blog content.

Posted by Raz on Jun 14th, 2009
Jun 14

Parrot “ezines” are not authorized to reprint
content of this blog.   I am not a member or “friend” of any external
sites, with the exception of ones on which this blog link is listed on
their blogroll. Sites who do this without linking to the original site are engaging
in a practice called “scraping” to get traffic to their own site.

Standard procedure is to publish a few lines of a blog’s most recent
post, with a link to the rest directly on the blog’s web site.   If
this is not done, it’s very likely that whoever is reprinting the
content is doing so without the author’s permission.

The real blog is located here:
Carly Lu’s Flight Blog


Internet Marketing Targeting Parrot Owners

Posted by Raz on Feb 18th, 2009
Feb 18

Barbara Heidenreich has published a position statement on marketing practices companion parrot owners may encounter. Buyer beware.

Internet Business Practices that Target Companion Parrot Owners

One thing that’s a sure giveaway that a “professional trainer” is more interested in making money than disseminating knowledge is a total lack of references to other trainers’ resources or qualifications, and claims to have the “secrets!” that others don’t. Respected professional trainers work together, not in competition.

— Carly Lu’s Flight Blog


New remarks on Bird Tricks by Sid Price

Posted by Raz on Dec 12th, 2008
Dec 12

Due to more unethical activity associated with the’s extensive marketing operation, Sid Price has recently published two blog posts about the issue.

One is a guest post at Best in Flock, Don’t Fall for Deceptive Bird Training Tricks .

The other is a follow-up on his own Avian Ambassadors Bird Training Blog,
Bird Tricks to Avoid

Many web site domains are actually owned directly, others are affiliates, and still others are now refusing to disclose ownership information which has normally been easily accessible by a web search.

As a part of my research on Bird Tricks marketing strategies I discovered that Womach Productions the owners of the Bird Tricks web site has in fact some 70+ Internet domain names (Internet locations) registered. This one fact alone explains in part how they have raised their Internet visibility. Now there is nothing wrong with this strategy; for anyone whose primary goal is a money making scheme using the Internet it is a great idea. The actual number of domain names registered to Womach Productions may well be even higher because as I researched various web sites I found a new trend, hiding access to the data records of who actually owns the site.

My web site name and blog post titles are being used by these web sites as a marketing tactic also, without links to the actual content posted here. Information requested from the site owners for identification has not been forthcoming, so there is no verification whether they are directly owned or affiliates. The Birdtricks operation claims that they do not own the domains, and cannot control any affiliate sites that receive compensation from sales of their products. However even without ownership, the marketers do have the sole control over who they allow to be affiliates and earn income from.

The bottom line is the training information being promoted on these sites is at best of poor quality, at worst antithetical to reputable professional training standards.

Please spread the link to this post or Sid’s posts directly, in your blog, forum, or by email. This will help spread the word about how to spot those self-proclaimed trainers and/or affiliates who are just out to make money by exploiting a targeted “niche market” they think will be too naive to notice.


How Not to Tame a Bird

Posted by Raz on Dec 3rd, 2008
Dec 3

Sid Price just posted on his blog about the practice of “flooding” as a training technique. It is is response to the Birdtricks people posting recently about the so-called success of the method (which they call “perching”) with a blue and gold macaw. In this instance, the person put the bird on a chair back in between a wall and a refrigerator, so it could not escape, and forced it to be petted with a stick until it complied. This is a classic case of teaching by force, and through learned helplessness. They claim this method is good because it can be done by beginners who are not good at reading parrot body language. They also fall into the old, old trap of thinking that parrots must be dominated, and not allowed to make their own choices. In this antiquated training philosophy — utterly discredited by behavioral scientists — the birds are viewed as trying to “intimidate” people by biting.

Perhaps we should be teaching beginners how to read parrot body language instead, and earn their trust, and not how to just force them into submission? Birds learn to bite because it gets a message across — namely “NO!” to whatever you are doing. The Birdtricks method essentially says to the bird, your wishes do not matter, what matters is that I want to pet you whether you like it or not.

Submission is not the same as trust. It works not by building trust, but by breaking spirit. The result — at best — is a compliant, passive bird (likely with other behavior issues) not an active, trusting companion.

Sid’s post here: The Real Secrets of Training Success and Where to Find Them.

There are many articles by Dr. Susan Friedman and others on how real behavioral scientists and reputable trainers address these issues. See listings in the Training Directory (Most of this information is also free — not only free of charge, but also free of hard-sell marketing tactics that treat consumers like 2-year-olds.)


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