Not All Reinforcers Are Created Equal

Just the Right Treat

My bird doesn’t like treats!

My bird doesn’t like treats! They just aren’t food motivated. When I offer them a sunflower, they run away. My bird loves me but doesn’t really like any treats!

Now is the time to look deeper

Sit with a note pad and write down everything your bird does when he is most active. What is he doing? Playing? With what? Preening? Singing? Eating? What’s that cute little bird up to? Set a timer for 5 minutes and write it all down.

Next, take a look into their daily food bowl

What is actually being eaten?

Scatter a bit of the food on a piece of paper. What’s being eaten? Only the yellow pellets? Only the safflower seeds? Only the millet or oats?

Take a close look at the top 5 things in your bird’s every-day food bowl, and note which items disappears first. Add this to your notes.

Look Into The Chop

What’s in your chop? What’s being eaten? Only the corn pieces? Only the grapes? Only the sprinkled seeds?

Take a close look at the top 5 things in your bird’s chop, and note which items disappears first. Add this to your notes.

Test It!

Once you have a list of things your bird does and things your bird eats, you can start testing.

Place small piles of options on one spot

Use a bowl, plate, or neutral surface. Allow your bird to explore on their own.

Note Which item is eaten first

Be a good observer! Watch carefully. What item is eaten first? What is eaten second or third? Write it down!

Everyday Foods

If they eat it, it’s reinforcing

Regular Diet

Their normal owl of pellets may be all they need to receive

Reserve favorite Foods

If your bird loves the sunflowers or safflowers in his regular seed mix, try removing them and saving them for training time.

Bowl of parrot pellets
parrot seed
Zupreem fruitblend pellets
Chopped vegetables in a bowl
Coffee on a desk

‘Illegal’ foods

Foods that are “illegal” can be modified for bird training. Bird wants to

dive in your coffee? Try warm water in a mug. Bird wants your gummy bears? Try

an organic fruit leather cut into teeny pieces. Bird loves peanuts? Try organic

almond butter licked off a spoon.

Modify for health

The allure of cooked pasta, fruit leather, warm tea, or potato chips could be options depending on the food item and bird health. Refer to your veterinarian for safe alternatives!

Non-food Reinforcers

There are MANY non-food reinforcers, such as touch, toys, attention, dancing, singing, mirrors, companions, etc. That’s the topic of the next blog post! Follow for part 2!

spaghetti bowl

Need ideas?

If you are still struggling to find something reinforcing to your bird, send me an

email. I love brain storming. I’m sure we can find something that is motivating

to your bird so you can join in on all this TRAINING FUN!!

Be sure to sign up for the Parrot SOS course “Bird

Training Basics”! This FREE course shows a video on selecting a favorite item

as well as other useful tips to help you start training, even with the pickiest

of birds.

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In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, we honour and acknowledge Moh’kinsstis, and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations – Indigenous and non – who live, work and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.

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