I had previously written about teaching Truman how to make small flights by luring him from training stand to training stand. Since then, I had about three more days of training flight recall to Truman. He is catching on very quickly so I am not using a target stick or clicker to teach him recall. Why bother if he's learning what I want from him? I will of course apply the clicker for more advanced tricks but when it comes to recall I want to do it with him so much that it becomes automatic and he does it just because. I want flight recall to be the most practiced trick in his repertoire so that is why I am teaching it before anything else.
First I lured Truman from perch to perch. Then I began hiding the treat and just tapping on the perch I wanted him to fly to. I extended the cue to my arm instead of a perch by tapping on my arm. Then I stopped showing the tapping cue and made the cue just extending my arm and calling his name. Thus I developed the basis of a flight recall in less than a week. It certainly does help that Truman loves human attention and is practically begging to be on me, but even without it is still very manageable.
In the meantime, Truman is not very treats oriented so for some recalls I give him a toy rather than food. I almost have to force him to take the food sometimes because he seems to want to fly to me just for the hell of it rather than to get the treat. Of course his recall is nowhere near reliable and he won't come from a long distance, but this is certainly good progress considering how recently we began practicing this. I'm sure I could push him to learn quicker but I don't feel the need as we are bonding in the process and just having fun. Eventually I'll pick up the pace with training but right now he is learning much more about living and the environment than just the trick training.
This same process can be used to train any species of parrot to recall to you. This works especially well with baby parrots that were never clipped. However, it can be used to train a refledged parrot who's wing feathers grew back out. I am certain a Budgerigar, Cockatiel, Sun Conure, Ring Neck Parakeet, Amazon, Eclectus, African Grey, Cockatoo, or Macaw could learn flight recall based on the same techniques. I have experience recall training a Senegal Parrot, Cape Parrot, and Budgerigar and I can tell you that the process was essentially the same with all the parrots because it is based on operant conditioning which all parrots (and even other birds) are capable of. Here is a video from a few recent sessions of flight recall training Truman the Brown-Necked Cape Parrot:
At the end of the video you may have noticed that I gave a treat to both Truman and then Kili following the long recall. The reason is because I had Truman fly close into Kili's territory so I wanted to not only reward Truman for recalling to me, but also Kili for not getting aggressive in her cage. I have been making extensive efforts to maintain peace between the parrots and tomorrow I will post an update about how I am introducing them to each other.
I personally love it Michael!
The only thing I'd love is more step-to-step instructions on how to do things or even a time line, how long it took you and what you did each training session to show real time as well as the progression of things?
I am really thinking I need to get a new camera or webcam so I can make videos myself, but I'll probably start up a blog sooner or later instead for Tobi for anyone who is interested in his antics
Seriously it all happened very quickly and was just so easy that it's hard to give micro detail. Seriously, it only took two weeks and I wasn't even working with him every day. I was more concerned with getting him to eat and I was just messing around with him hopping from perch to perch out of nothing better to do. So ballpark timeline would be:
1) For a couple days I had him walk back and forth between two training stands by luring him with a treat or toy.
2) He learned to flap on his own when crossing the gap as the result of slipping and flapping to catch balance
3) He began flying across the gap and I practiced this for a few days (1-2x 10 minute sessions per day)
4) Instead of getting him to go to another stand I put my arm out and used my tapping cue to get him to fly to my arm
5) I abandoned the tapping cue and luring and just used the arm cue (he just figured it out gradually after a few days).
6) I began extending the distance
Mostly it's been an issue of managing motivation. At first he really wants to fly over but later he wants to do other things and doesn't do it. He isn't very food driven and I want him to eat and grow as best he can so I'm not holding back on food. I would have made more videos and shared more detail but really there isn't much more to it. I didn't do any formal clicker training or target training to teach Truman to recall at all. It really was that easy.
Awwe,I'm still looking to clip him when I first get him, he'll be out in the living room and I'm way to scared he'll somehow get out the front door if one of my roomies opens it and he is out (one of the girls smoke and is CONSTANTLY going in & out)
I have full intentions on allowing him full flight in about a year or so when I'm out of residence and in my own place though =)