Bird training has changed a lot in the 21st century.
Eighteen years ago, when I adopted my first parrot, a cockatiel named Laverne, I read and reread “The New Cockatiel Handbook?to prepare myself. This “new?handbook was first written in 1989 and is published by Barron? Educational Series. In addition to the physical book, I also spent many hours at the bird store with the owner learning husbandry, enrichment and how to interpret behavior.
Now in the 21st century, bird caregivers have a surplus of resources that are unique to the iGeneration. “This has created a wave of avian enthusiasts that are spreading the word about force free approaches to influencing parrot behavior,?said Barbara Heidenreich, animal training and behavior consultant. Heidenreich is the proprietor of the popular companies Good Bird Inc and Barbara? Force Free Animal Training, both of which emphasize science-based training and positive reinforcement.
“It is amazing to see how the typical advice has changed,?Heidenreich said, reflecting over the last 15 or so years. There is still work to be done, but luckily, “Many of the traditional heavy-handed training methods are now replaced with force-free based suggestions.”
Although there are limited number of quality parrot behavior and training instructors, their information, through the help of new technology, can help caregivers who lacked access or funds previously. Avian organizations, conferences and consultants are having a positive impact on more caregivers and birds than ever before. It? hard to imagine what future technology will bring.
Heidenreich has a number of ways caregivers can learn more about training their parrots and addressing behavior problems. These range from live workshops, online videos, DVDs, Books, ebooks, PDFs of back issues of Good Bird Magazine, blog posts, YouTube clips, Facebook chat group and her mailing list, all of which can be found here.
Trust Your Sources
“The Internet can be a wonderful source of information and a good way to connect with fellow bird owners,?said Patricia K. Anderson, PhD, CPBC. Unfortunately anyone with an opinion and little-to-no actual expertise can share their perspectives and sometimes flaunt their unethical products and methods. “When approaching the Internet for help, one must be careful,?Dr. Anderson added.
Another con that Heidenreich sees in these 21st century ways of learning is that information can become easily pulled from others and misrepresented as their own work. “Plagiarism is rampant and almost impossible to control,?she added. She wrote an in depth article about these challenges a few years ago which can be read here.
One unique way you can learn from Heidenreich? expertise and experience is through her topic specific webinars. The groups are kept small to allow for one-on-one attention.
“I wanted to take the time to really dive deep into things like addressing screaming for attention and aggressive behavior,?she explained. “Usually when I teach a day-long live workshop we have so many topics to cover in a day. In a webinar I am only taking a short time out of your day and it is from the comfort of your home.?
She says that people who would most likely benefit from webinars are those who are looking for an affordable convenient option for learning about parrot behavior. Her audience ranges from veterinary professionals, zoo professionals, parrot rescue and foster professionals, behavior consultants, trainers and many parrot caregivers. The webinars include a PowerPoint, video examples, text chat discussion and a tiny window in the corner to see Heidenreich via webcam. Participants receive access to a recording of the presentation for future reference, such as in the example below.
In addition to the six webinars that are coming up in the next few weeks, she also offers webinars as virtual presentations for bird clubs, veterinary clinics, rescues and schools. All you have to do is plug the computer to a projector and the webinar can be presented live to a group ?so 21st century.
Although she was hesitant at first to try webinars due to enjoying live workshops, she is pleasantly surprised at how personal webinars can be and wishes she had started doing them sooner.
“The feedback has been great and I am thrilled to have this technology to help more people and their birds,?she said.