What are the 3 most important things to teach your bird?
Beautiful macaw parrot in a zoo - zoo photography

What are the 3 Most Important Things to Teach Your Bird?

Thank you for once again allowing us into your inbox. Because I add motorcycling and swimming to my weekly activities in the summer months, I end up with a little less time for blogging and newsletter writing.

 

I’m sure after a long harsh winter you want to enjoy the summer sun too.

 

That said we’ll keep these things a little shorter and hope we will continue to be your go-to coaches for caged bird care. It’s essential for anyone who has an exotic bird to take the time to practice the trifecta of essential bird training. 

 

  1. Stick training
  2. Toweling
  3. Travel carrier rehearsal

 

Stick training
Using a “stick” which could be anything from a conventional perch to a broom or mop handle is useful in two specific applications.
The first is getting a biter to “step up” onto anything other than your hand thus avoiding the bite. Biting birds can take up an entire post so for this discussion, we’ll focus on the second reason.
Let’s assume you have a great relationship with your bird. It’s flighted or mildly clipped (and perhaps can fly horizontally). “Stepping up” to your or any family member’s hand is a slam dunk.
So why would you need your bird not to be afraid of “the stick”?
Hypothetical: Your bird is calmly preening on its play stand in your family room. An asteroid slams into the house next door OR the neighbor kid hits a grand slam, into your patio door.
The strike doesn’t break the glass but startles your bird who then flaps their wings frantically and somehow ends up behind your entertainment center, refrigerator, sectional sofa – take your pick.
The dilemma becomes – you can’t get your “hand” any closer than 12 inches to your “hand trained” bird. This is not the time to introduce a “scary stick”. This is the time you want that perch, broom handle, or mop to be friendly and familiar.
Something that your bird who is 12 inches away from your hand gladly steps up to and climbing into it, making rescue easy while reducing the chance of injury.
Toweling
“My bird hates toweling” is not an excuse for a few hundred grams of feathers and hollow bones to avoid a necessary and inevitable procedure. 
Toweling is essential for anything from nail trimming to wing clipping, removing a blood feather, or a simple weekly exam. Your vet is going to towel your bird for simple wellness visits so why make the experience traumatic?

The second half of this video walks you through the toweling process

Small birds like Parakeets and Cockatiels can be “toweled” with a paper towel sheet. Larger species will need a fabric towel, preferably one that doesn’t catch toenails easily like looped terry cloth.
The point is, if you wait until a time when your bird needs to be restrained, the familiarity or lack thereof with the said towel will make a huge difference in your quality of life at that moment.
Find a towel and get your bird familiar with it. Keep it clean and accessible for when you need it most.
Your bird, budgies included, can live anywhere from a quarter to a full century. During those decades, let me ask you if the following may occur?
  1. A trip to the vet
  2. Bringing your bird to a bird club meeting
  3. Take your bird to work
  4. Go on vacation with your bird
  5. An earthquake
  6. A power outage
  7. A fire
  8. Flooding
  9. Painting a room
Let me ask you, do you want to fight with your bird as the floodwaters rise, the walls come tumbling down, the house chills because it has no power, you need to get to work on time? (disaster is a big buffet) 
There will be a time in your bird’s life that they need to get from point A to point B. Your bird’s travel carrier should be friendly and familiar. Something that they easily and calmly enter. 
Speaking of traveling with your bird, it’s a good practice to not only stick train, towel train, and place your bird in its carrier on a regular basis, but to prepare your bird for terrestrial vehicular travel.
Speaking of which I’ve seen painfully long threads on Facebook talking about all sorts of solutions for birds who get car sick.
I’ve never seen a bird get car sick and it really goes against the grain (in my mind) for an animal that can fly but apparently it does in fact happen.
It’s amazing how many homeopathic remedies people have found. I’ve even seen veterinarians write about the subject saying “make sure the bird has eaten and has had plenty of water to help them remain calm”.
In that I have found no studies that defined the proper amount of things like “ginger” any given species of bird can tolerate, I’ll offer you this simple solution.
If your bird does get car sick and regurgitates while being transported in a two or four-wheeled vehicle, simply withhold food for 4 to 6 hours prior to travel.
Your bird won’t starve but it will have an empty crop which means there will be nothing to regurgitate, thus avoiding the trauma for your feathered companion.
Enjoy the wonderful weather.
Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

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