I'll start by saying I am not sure how regularly I will be posting the updates.
Today I decided to start trick training some of the birds. Let's say the thought has been lingering at the back of my head for a while but I never did anything about it (lack of time and other things I guess). Anyways, when we were at the Canadian Parrot Conference last November, we went to one of the seminars given by Barbara Heindereich on positive reinforcement. After her talk, my boyfriend and I visited her booth and he proceeded to buy one of her DVDs on training.
We watched the DVD for the first time today (like I said, lack of time and we had other preoccupations of late). Positive reinforcement is something we've always been doing in a general sense; rewarding good behaviors. However, we didn't try to trick train them (aka wave, turn, retrieve, etc) using positive reinforcement (we didn't try trick training at all).
First thing I noticed, I need a proper training perch. My Java stands are nice and all (I love them), but aren't suited for trick training; too many distractions in one small area. Second thing I noticed, I tried getting Zuri to do two tricks (targeting to my hand and turning around)after I watched the DVD. Targeting worked kinda well, but there wasn't much motivation since they had recently had breakfast and weren't hungry. What can I say, I was eager to start and thought I might be able to bribe them with treats.
Anyways, I tried again later in the day, an hour or so before I would put them back in for dinner. They were much more receptive to training. They, because I had trying to train Shade and Zuri. I initially wanted to focus on Shade, but since we were all in the living room and that food was involved, Zuri wanted in on the action. Having read some articles about using two birds to trick train as "competition" (this is most likely the wrong word) helping the learning process, I figured this wouldn't be a bad thing to try. Shade was much faster to pick up what I wanted initially but Zuri, once she got it, was much faster about doing the trick near perfection (less approximations to get there). Oddly enough, I also realized that both birds would turn around in opposite ways; Shade had an easier time going time going counter clock-wise and Zuri going clockwise. I did my hand gesture in the counter clock-wise fashion, but when I realized that Zuri had some hesitations, I changed the hand motion for her and she picked it up much faster. While Shade was mostly ignoring Zuri, Zuri would keep an eye on Shade and her progress and what she did to get treats. At one point, Piper also jumped in and started to turn around and, I think, picked it up faster than the other two. The session ended when Shade obviously didn't want to do it anymore. The ease with which they picked the trick up impressed me.
I'm thinking that, if I continue with this during the week, that I will do the training sessions when they come out when I come back home from work; this is their pre-dinner time so they might be motivated by food. I'll just have to wait and see.