shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Tinkerbell Legacy - VH parrot and Clicker Training Rant 06 (clicker training)

Tinkerbell Legacy - VH parrot and Clicker Training Rant 06

You MUST know more about clicker training. You can get more information
from two very good groups on clicker training for parrots. I urge you to join
one or both the groups below.

Today will be my last day in Luang Prabang. I will be going on a 5 day trip by river
and other transport deeper into less travelled regions of Laos. I wonder now
if I will find Internet cafes as well.

For earlier encounters and photos of that Vernal Hanging parrots, please refer to my blog
for entries prior to 26 Feb.

Yesterday was another day with LS and the VH parrot. He picked up the lesson very well. I am pleased
to report that it was much easier to take her out this time. He also decided to give her a name. Folks, she is now called TieuTieu. Tieu is Laotian for green. TT will refer to TieuTieu.

I told him that TT is likely to moult and be fully flighted within 3 months. He told me he will not clip the wings and take this 3 months period to try to bond tightly with her. Since the mate hang around making periodic visits to TT, LS was ready to have both of them as fliers with him or let them leave. As the VH parrots are local parrots, they will just go back to natural living. He agreed that with me after I spend an evening talking and indoctrinating him in clicker training. He recognised in clicker training he will have the tools to bond and do recalls with TT in the future. I made him repeat back to me in his own words to make sure he had the basics of clicker training as English is not his best language.

That brought me to clicker training. Clicker training is much more than what I will be writting here. That is why it is better for you to join the groups I mentioned above.

Your parrot may be frightened and bite you or bored and unable to communicate with you or you want to teach your parrot tricks to interact with her. You can also lead your parrot into new activities and new behaviours in place of behaviours you do not wish her to do. It is a truth enshrined in stone that you can never force a parrot to do what she does not wish to do. But you can teach her new behaviours that she likes to do instead.

Then you have little choice but to turn to clicker training.

What is clicker training. The best book to start with will the the book "Do not shoot the dog" written by Karen Pyror. Do get your hands on this book.

A clicker is an inexpensive toy that children play with. When you press this, it will make a loud clicking sound like that of a cricket. If you do not have a clicker, you can use anything that makes a consistent clicking sound like that of a ball point pen.

When you want your bird to do something. you must have the means to let your bird knows that what she is doing is correct and something that you wanted. You can just say 'good girl', or 'yes'. However, your voice may differ from time to time. You need a sound that will be exactly the same every time, and that is why you use the clicker especially at the very beginning. The clicker sound will be the cue to her that what she did was correct. The act of clicker training also meant you must observe her to a level you probably never did before. You will know more of her body language and behaviour then before.

At a different level, you are communicating directly to the bird. This communication works both ways to me. Your bird will also know you are trying to communicate to her and she can use this way to communicate to you. I go more into this later.

Any tricks you have seen performed consist of a series of actions. You can split the actions, train her one at a time. You indicate via the clicker that she is correct and later join those series of actions into an act that you can cue her to do.

Your parrot should be weaned and taking solid food before you do the clicker training.


After she is weaned and taking solid food, there must be something that she absolutely like to eat. Make a note of that and stop giving that to her regularly. Her favourite food will be kept separate from the rest of her diet and given to her as treats and when you are doing clicker training with her. This special food will be used for the next phase of what we term ' Conditioning the Clicker'.

It has been said that it is better to restrict the feeding of the parrot so she will be hungry and more ready to 'work' for her treats. When I first saw my Tinkerbell, she was digging in a dish of sunflower seeds husks chewed almost to powder. There and then, I made a mental promise that never ever will I let her be hungry again. She had food constantly available at all times. I never felt any problems with her. In case of misunderstanding from LS, I never let him know this point of food restriction. TT is so small and not likely to have much fat reserves. Food restriction is a fine line from starvation.


Your parrot now need to know that the clicker, or more accurately, the sound of the clicker is a good sound. It does not matter if she is in or not in the cage. So if your parrot is a biter and kept in the cage, this is a good way to make peace with her.

You called her\his name, press the clicker, and give her a bit of her favourite food or treat. That is all to it.
Then you leave her alone or talk to her or play with her. After a while, you press the clicker and give her the treat again. At her level, she hears the clicker sound and she gets something she likes to eat. She will get the idea that the clicker sound is a good sound.

It does not matter if she does not come to you and in her cage. Press the clicker and place the treat in her bowl. You can talk to her or walk away.

Please do not view this as a form of Pavlovian conditioning. You demean your parrot as an unthinking automaton and you demean yourself. Are your university or other education a form of Pavlovian conditioning for yourself? This is your bridge to understanding with your parrot and a portal into her mind. At a later stage, you will realised that this clicker training is a portal into her mind.

You should not rush this process of conditioning the clicker. Neither should you remain too long at this stage.

For a minimum of a week, you will walk up to your parrot, call her name, click the clicker and give her a treat. That should be done at irregular intervals. This is to let your parrot knows that sound is a good sound. If your parrot is fearful of you at the beginning, I would think in a week or so, she will accept the treat from your hand without trying to bite you.

Since they are very intelligent you must move on are they may get bored. So not later than 2 weeks, you should move on to TOUCH TARGET.


Touch target is the next important exercise. You can get a small stick which will be called the target.

In many cases, you can use a chopstick. However as I do use chopsticks to eat with, that will not be a practical target for me. Tinkerbell may fly to me in the middle of a dinner to 'touch target\. As I seldom drink, I use a cocktail stirrer. But if you do that, make sure your friends request cocktails that are shaken and not stirred.

You hold that target near her head. Her normal reaction will be to bite that stick. You get ready for that. When her beak touches that stick, you click to let her know that her action is what you wanted, and then you give her the treat.

You noticed the timing is so important. Giving of treat is somewhat delayed. But by using the click just at the point of her action, she will know the action is what you want even if the food is given later.

This was what happened to me amd very significant to myself and may be interesting to you.

When I approached Tinkerbell for the first time with the target, I was slightly nervous about it.
I kept my mind quiet and extend my senses to her. I had been doing martial arts and meditation for many years and much into combat taijichuan.

What was striking was that she looked at the target, reached out to touch it, and I clicked just at that moment. She then looked at me, and at that point, I knew that she knew that I knew, as if for a moment, there was a mind to mind connection between the two of us, that I was trying to communicate to her. Later on when I get to distance recall training, I will talk more on this mind to mind.

I hope it may be the same with you. You are done with clicker conditioning and on the first use of the clicker to communicate intent. You just relax, place the target near her, and wait for her to touch it. When she does so and you click, maybe you can sense that too.

Do not forget to pour your happiness in your heart together with that clicker sound. I do not know, but I strongly suspect that matters as much if not more than the treat itself.

You then place your target a bit higher to make her stretch to touch target. You click and treat.
You place that target to the left, up, and down. You click and treat at all times.

This target and clicker will the the key to other training.

But I need to go and get ready for my long trip and I need to end now.

Warmest regards


editted on 14 June 2011 to include further details on clicker training, touch target and beyond touch target

To Shanlung-Charlie and clicker training

Charlie and clicker training - beyond touch target //LiBai on finger and in slow motion videos —

free webpage hit counter

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.