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Tinkerbell Legacy - Living with a flying parrot

Our daily routine and Riamfada into 'Touch target'
This is the daily routine more or less with Riamfada to date.

I would wake up at 611 am, to sound of alarm, and sometimes aided by the foot of my darling wife as she kicked me out of bed. "Riamfada calling you" she would lie to me to prompt me off.

I then brushed my teeth etc, and then I would go to Riam's room to say hi to him. He would be on the parallel bar , and sometimes, he would fly to my hand there and then. I removed his mash bowl from cage, washed it and filled it with a heaped tablespoon of mash. When I returned to room, he would be on top of his cage, and when the mash bowl was replaced, he would stuck his head inside to gobble away.

I then left him for 30 mins or so.

Since I was out of bed before wife, kitties then bullied me to give them their kibbles. I then took care of them. By which time, my wife got my coffee ready for me.

I have that coffee, and breakfast, and ciggie and watched a bit of news.

Then I go back into Riam's room, and go through training of step up, recalls etc. He would do that all very nicely if I was not in his doghouse like after the turtle watching trip. Then he decided enough of all of that , and he wanted his head rubs.

He then refused to step off my hand onto cage or bar. He then walk sideways along my hand, in other words, crab walk to nook of elbow. My wife told me I written crap walk which is very wrong. I told her the rest of you folks knew exactly what I meant. That you all got used to the way I mangled the English language in both grammar and spelling. She 'huh!' at me in a snotty way saying you folks would think Riam was walking in her poop. So here I am, explicitly telling you that you should not think the way my wife did.

If only her driving skills be a quarter as good as her backseat reading-of-my-blog skills. That was why I was so flabbergasted when she revealed to me (blogged in April 2008 Taiwan trip) that she had a valid driving license that she passed at the first seating from the most draconian country (to pass driving and other matters) of Singapore. Since Singapore driving license not recognised here, she had to take lessons and to take the driving test here in Oman. The last time she told me of her driving lesson here, her Omani driving instructor was clutching his chest and moaning "my heart! my heart!" in between other phrases he made in Arabic.

If you think I kid you, see what my wife wrote of her driving lessons here.

I warn you all her driving lessons memoirs are not for the faint hearted.

Then all too soon, I had to leave for office in the morning.

When I got back for lunch, I would go to see Riam, say hi to him, and washed out the remnants of the mash to give him fresh mash. He would stick his head in the bowl and I could close his door, go get my lunch, my ciggie, avoid the kitties still trying to kill me with their figure of 8s around my ankles.

20 mins or so later, I be back with Riam to be with him and to train together with him. All too soon, I had to leave to go back to office.

After work, I would go into his room, remove his mash remnants, clean his bowl and give him fresh mash. I would switch on the lights in his room as it was getting dark early.

We then do our things, go out for dinner, do grocery runs etc etc. Then at 8ish, Riam would be wheeled out of his room in his cage. I think he liked his cage to be in living room. He then had extra place to go to.

Sometimes, I felt too lazy and just took him out to the living room bar perch. But I sensed he liked me to work harder and preferred his cage out as well.

Riamfada getting very used to flying. He would fly off on his own from cage to bar, to back of sofa, to back of my chair. That was in addition to all those flighted recalls that we did. In between my playing of chess, my hopping out to patio to smoke ciggies, to watch TV, we would have our training sessions of about 5-8 minutes.

If we go out for longer dinner with friends, then we be back later, and his time with us shorter. Such as this evening when we would be out for usual Monday night dinner with good friends.

I wanted to go into the next stage of clicker training, that of touch target. Most books on clicker training mentioned a chopstick is ideal to use as a target. Those books were obviously not written by a Chinese. We use chopsticks the way you Western folks use knife and fork for meals. The thought of parrot divebombing on my chopstick during my meals did not appeal to us. Being a creature of habit, and as I used a cocktail stirrer as target with Tinkerbell, I liked to use that for Riamfada.

Problem was that Oman is a Muslim nation that frown on drinking and cocktail stirrers were not on sale in supermarkets. I did not drink much or I would have gone to a bar (major hotels only), order a cocktail, and pocket that stirrer.

So last night in the grocery run, I saw a garish orange pen and decided that would do as the target. I bought that pack of 5 pens, gave the other four to my wife, extracted and threw away the center stem, and I got my target stick.
'Touch Target' would start on the next morning.

In the first few days after I broke the ice with Riamfada, my wife would be able to get him to step up and to give him head rubs. She complained to me last night Riam was listening to her less and less. I told my wife she should spend more and more time with Riam.

So I tried to coach my wife. If she approached Riam ont the bar, I could see him walking away from her. He would come when I asked him 'head rub', and then would allow my wife to give him head rub. I told her to periodically bribe him with a seed or two and gave her some seeds for that.

Then my wife had this brilliant idea that she would get him to step up through unprincipled bribery. She hold the seeds in clear view, and used her other arm for Riam to step on. Riam backed away as she moved in on him.

To the point he could back off no more on the parallel bars.

Riamfada then flew off. Over her arm and her head , to land onto me.

Even though I had no seeds on me as the seeds were visibily in my wife's hand.

I told my wife it was all in the heart. CAGs are empaths, and if you do not approach them in friendship and open heart, interactions would be very difficult. That did not pleased my wife. But what more can I say. I was hoping Riamfada as a male, bond with my wife. But that seemed not to be.

Today morning, 10 November 08, I started the 'touch target' process with Riamfada.

I hold the target pen next to her and requested her to 'touch target'. She moved her head, and beaked that pen.

I clicked, said 'good boy' and gave him his seed.

I knew the first time was not that he understood me. He being curious , would beaked that pen so close to him.

But that click told him what he did was correct, to that sound of the new words of 'touch target'.

I offered the pen again, and requested 'touch target'. He did that, and somehow, I knew that he knew this time.

I offered the target so he needed to turn to the left. He reached for that and was clicked & treated. Target was above so he need to reach up. He was c & t. Then target was to the right for him to reach right to be c & t.

I hold the target below him so he needed to reach down. At cue, he did that for his c & t.

So in space of 5 minutes on morning of 10 Nov, he was deep into 'touch target'.

And most important of all, I knew he enjoyed that. The same way as I enjoyed doing that with him.


If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust


or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice

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