The population of the term “bird brain” is being used less and less these days, as studies done on different species of parrots are revealing the true strength of the bird’s minds.
In truth, many parrots (such as African Grey parrots and Cockatoos) have the brain power of a two-three year old human child. A popular African Gray named Alex had a vocabulary of hundreds of words, could count, determine colors and shapes, and even understood the concept of zero. And though Alex was studied and trained in a strict laboratory setting, there are many ways you can use the power of the parrot mind to teach your own pet right at home.
Here are three simple voice commands you can teach your parrot to make training and time together more enjoyable for you both.
Step up is one of the most common and useful voice commands to teach to birds. Many owners do it without meaning to.
To teach your bird to step up, simply repeat the phrase as you press your finger against your birds lower chest (right above your birds legs.) When your pet steps up onto your finger, lavish him with the praise of “Good step up!” and a favorite treat or scratch.
The benefit of this command will last the entire time you own your bird. With the command you will be able to have your bird step onto any surface, from any surface, which can be very handy when trying to get a clingy bird off your finger and onto a surface such as the floor.
Many people are under the belief that it is impossible to potty train a bird. And while it may not be fool-proof, it is very possible to train your bird to go on command, or even alert you as to when he needs to go, eliminating many shirt changes and messy droppings.
To teach your bird to potty, (or any word you choose to supplement with) you must be consistent. Remember that birds eliminate often, with smaller birds usually going more often (as often as every 10-20 minutes).
Each time you remove your bird from his cage, hold him over the surface you would like him to eliminate on. Remember that choosing a surface such as a newspaper can confuse your bird and lead to dirty books or papers you had wanted to keep clean.
As you hold your bird over the surface, repeat your phrase until your bird goes. When he does, praise your bird the same way you would praise him for stepping up, and then let him go play. Every 30 minutes to an hour (depending on your birds size), return him to the toilet area and repeat the process.
As a word of warning, it is very likely your bird will learn to repeat this phrase whenever he eliminates, even inside the cage. Choose something you will not be embarrassed to have your bird repeat in front of guests.
Go Home can be a handy phrase to teach any stubborn parrot.
Each time you return your parrot to his cage, say “Go home” in a happy voice. Then, promptly after placing your bird in the cage, reward him with a favorite treat.
This command has been useful for me for two reasons. My parrots would be happier to return to their cages after this was said, as they knew what was happening and knew a treat was coming. And often, a bird who didn’t want to be out at the time would command “Go Home” until I placed him back in his cage. (Though this command can backfire as well, if a bird hears it and doesn’t want to go to his cage.)
With consistent training, these commands can lead way to more complex tricks and words.
Remember to use treats that aren’t high in fat. Treats for parrots are much like treats for children, and shouldn’t be overused.