November 13th, 2005

Clicker training - Conditioning of clicker day 1

I first checked on the weight of the mash left in his cage from the day before. Since he woke up earlier than me and may be hungry, he should take the mash as tested earlier.

The weight of YS bowl was 38.7 and weight of control bowl was 36.0 indicating no change from the last weighing just before dusk. YS clearly did not eat that heated mash. I thought it was a good idea to get rid of the water from the mast by heating it. Seemed that YS did not share that sentiment and refused to eat it.

I weighed YS to be 33.8 gm. Since the natural weight of shama ranged from 28 to 32 gm, he was not in danger of starvation. I had deliberately fed YS a lot in the last few weeks to bloat that stomach. So that he would few hungry when I eased off the insect feeding as his stomach got used to the larger amount even if his weight was high.

But that never will work for long. As his stomach got used again to the lesser feeding, and his weight still higher than normal, he might chose not to eat the mash as even though I reduced the insect diet, he was full enough. There might be something in the heating of the mash in the griller overn that he did not like.

That is why I was so frantic in getting an sccurate weighing scale to be sure his health was not in any danger.

I measured approximately similar new mash I got from the freezer for him.
2.2 gm into control for total weight of 37.2 gm and 2.3 gm into YS bowl for total of40.1 gm.

Since YS was so responsive to me yesterday, I decided to start on the "conditioning of clicker" for him this morning. I also realised that would mean the mash experiment would be affected as he would be getting more insects now.

Read Clicker Training in

I had actually wanted to delay further clicker training. I used to have lots of clicker, but left most of them with Yu in Taiwan. I had dug around and found only one clicker left with me in a dark blue color. I would rather have a bright yellow or bright red or some color more visual than dark blue. You have seen the bright orange clicker I used with Tinkerbell. I wanted it bright so she could easily see it and be reminded of the lessons and as a visual cue to come to me.

But the thought of hunting around for clicker got tiresome.

Just being in proximity and spending time with the bird is not enough for bonding. That will just degenerate to the point you look at each other and each wondering what was that for. Bonding will require interactions with each other. Clicker training is Operant Conditioning, that your bird, parrot, dog etc has the choice to do what you like it to do.

Of even greater importance, the clicker training provide the bridge to each other mind. (go read the stuff I wrote on 'clicker training and bonding' and 'thoughts on clicker training' in

So I took that clicker with me into the flight room. There were lots of newly emerged white mealworm beetles(referred to from now as whitey). I also dug up some peatmoss loaded with lots of suris into a small box from the main suri box.

YS was on the cage door waiting for me. I click and hold up a nice white beetle. He was stunned by the noise and stayed on his door. So I walked over and handed that to him that he of course took looking strangely at me. He was not use to the clicker.

I want him to associate the sound of the clicker with good things such as food.
(you better read Clicker Training in if you do not know what I am talking about)

He finished and looked at me again. I clicked and hold up a white beetle. He flew over and took it and flew back again to soften and eat. When he looked at me again, I clicked and offered a suri.

He lost his fear of the clicker and clicking.

So that how it went. I read my book, and sporadically, click and offered him a treat. If he flew to me when I click and said 'YingShiong come here", he got the treat. If he did not fly to me , I walked over to give him.

When I dug around in the small box for more suris to be transfered to even smaller holding box, he flew over in eagerness. By turning my hand around, I refused him access to my finger holding the suri. Then I click and offered to him.

It was as simple as that.

By lunch, he got the idea.

He knew he would not get the treat until he hear the click at least.

I added variation. I click , called him, but walked over to the wobbly perch to drop a whitey into the feeding bowl there. He watched me and flew to wobbly perch to get that whitey.

If he tried to hijack a treat without the clicker, he would find my fingers twisting that away from him.

I periodically leave him anyway. After some time, he would always chair chair chair to ask me to go back. I knew he liked me , at least in his own way. I decided to make myself a treat to him. So before I get into flight room, I click and enter.

I changed the music. Nice as the Sarawakian sape music was, I got tired to listening to that music set to repeat and repeat. Shamas are known mimics of other bird calls. Thats why I kept playing music.

I need to seriously look at good recording devices. YS did not copy the sape music. What is more incredible is there is a song that he particularly liked on that CD. When he sang, it was not imitation. I almost can say he sang as accompaniment to that trance music, in the same style of tempo.

I switched to the flute music of Peru this morning. In late afternoon, YS song clearly changed. It might be my wishful thinking. But his singing matches that of the tempo of the Peruvian flutes. I really need to record and let you guys hear and tell me if YS songs followed the sape when sape is played and the Peruvian flutes when the flute CD is played. YS sing in a different way when no CDs are playing. YS would sing very softly inthe past when waiting for me to dig up suris to give him. But with the intro of clicker conditioning, I felt sorry he remained silent instead of singing so softly to be as before.

Then at about 615 pm, at least 90 minutes after our last clicking and trating, I weighed him. That 90 minutes should give enough time for him to digest and shit out and regurgitate the exoskeletons. YS weighed in at 35.4 gm. I know! Bloody fat and overweight. But it was fun pampering him.

I checked the control and YS bowl. Control was 36.5 and YS bowl was 39.4
with similar loss in weight indicating YS did not eat the mash. With the weight he recorded, I must have bloated him with treats to the extent he was not hungry enough to take mash.

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