During my recent visit to Ginger's Parrots Rescue in Phoenix, there was one bird in particular that I had trouble recognizing. She had no trouble recognizing me as we'd become friends during my previous visits and she even participated in my seminar. This was Ubee, a 16 year old female Senegal Parrot.
Ubee is a sweet little Senegal Parrot but can be very bratty and requires a firm hand. She is one of the smaller Senegals I've seen yet with a huge personality. She can be quite the little terror if given the opportunity. I recall a story where Ubee (while still originally clipped) jumped off her tree, casually strolled across the floor, climbed up Ginger's husband's leg, got on his shoulder, and then viciously attacked him! That's the kind of bird Ubee is and the reason she is being rehabilitated at the rescue.
Anyway, the interesting thing is that the last time I saw Ubee, she was half black on her wings. Her plumage was covered in stress bars and she sooner looked like a black parrot with green specs rather than the other way around. She was very easy to tell apart from the other Senegals because of this alternate appearance. Yet this time when I visited, I could no longer tell Ubee apart by color. I had to get used to telling her apart from the others mainly by size alone. Her vest is also more orange than the others but that is harder to see at first glance.
So what is fascinating is that after less than a year primarily on Roudybush pellets (converted from a different/colored pellet prior) this Senegal Parrot's plumage has taken a 180 and really cleaned up! Not only are the stress bars gone, but the plumage is brighter, crisper, and cleaner looking. Aviculturists and Veterinarians seem to be able to infer a lot about a bird's health by its plumage so I think it is pretty reasonable to correlate that this parrot not only appears visibly better but is healthier as well.
To me, seeing these kinds of visible results is by far the biggest reason to use and support a Roudybush pellet diet. Seeing is believing. It's one thing to postulate that one pellet is better than another based on ingredients, etc. But it's quite another when you see brilliant plumage (and particularly in contrast to how it was on a different diet). Furthermore, Roudybush has years of research and data to back it up. Regardless, nothing is more convincing than seeing actual improvement.
I realize the color/flash in the photos is a bit different but I really want to point out the clarity of the plumage in the second photo. Notice all of the black in the wing feathers as well as tail feathers. After being converted to Roudybush, the plumage has become more uniform as well as vibrant. I can vouch that in person I noticed the plumage to be a brighter shade of green than originally. It went from a dark leafy green to a more iridescent sort of green that I am accustomed to seeing on my own Poicephalus parrots.
The interesting thing is that this parrot was already on a pellet diet, just of a different kind. Seeing improvement when a parrot converts from seeds to any pellet is pretty obvious. But it is much more surprising to see this much improvement from a parrot going from one pellet to another.
Here are a few more reasons I think this is a pretty objective demonstration of the value of the diet change. The rescue keeps parrots on a predominantly pellet diet (80%+) so it's almost impossible that the change is due to beneficial supplemental foods. Unfortunately the rescue birds do not get outside much (which I am hoping to change) so the role of natural sunlight did not play a role at improving feathering. Although it is impossible to compare stress levels between the prior home and rescue, I doubt that stress at the rescue decreased. If anything, I would guess that stress increases (in a healthy amount) because the birds are trained and have to fend for themselves in a flock environment. Also the parrots' food is managed so food stress certainly is not lower. Yet the plumage of all of the parrots has improved while on the Roudybush Maintenance diet. Improvement has been noted in all of the parrots, however, Ubee's case really stands out because it was so drastic and quick.
I am first to admit I don't know much about parrot nutrition. I don't think any individual can claim to know what foods a captive parrot needs and in what proportion. The problem is that the fresh/human foods we can offer are not natural to parrots, the proportions are arbitrary, and the results are difficult to measure. If you offer a mix of fruits/vegetables to your parrot, you can't tell which ones are helping or hurting because you only see the net result. If feeding an all fresh diet is better than pellets, at best it is only marginally so. I see excellent plumage and health results of parrots that have been converted to Roudybush. But going with a fresh diet is risky. Since you don't have the knowledge of how to properly balance the diet and since the parrot does not either (remember in nature is is balanced by availability and species are evolved to subsist on that availability), there is a greater risk of something necessary being left out. For example if you decide to mix seeds and pellets and let the parrot choose, the parrot will eat a lot more seeds then pellets and effectively be on a seed based diet. Likewise with fruits/vegetables, if the parrot eats all the ones it likes and leaves the others, it may just be on an all fruit diet and be missing out.
Reading the research and hearing good things about Roudybush convinced me to try it for my parrots and to recommend it to the rescue. Seeing the improvements first hand (much more starkly in the rescue parrots because mine were on ok diets prior), has even further solidified my opinion that a predominantly Roudybush diet is a reliable starting point when it comes to parrot diet. I may have expected some improvement but I am actually a bit surprised that the advantage is so extensive and visible. Perhaps there is something better out there or a better fresh diet, however, seeing how good the plumage on a Roudybush fed parrot already is, it would be very difficult to observe and demonstrate this. Until someone is able to do so, I will stick with what I know produces reliably results. On this basis, I will continue to recommend Roudybush as an excellent staple diet for companion parrots.
Here is a video of me target flying a bunch of Ginger's Rescue Senegals for Roudybush pellets as treats.
Since I got Truman back in 2010, both of my parrots have been on a Roudybush Maintenance Pellet diet. Before that point, Kili had been on a Purina pellet diet that she was weened on at the store I got her; Truman was on Pretty Bird. I did not want to feed two separate diets and nor was I thrilled with either. I was faced with the choice of what diet both of my parrots would be on from then forward.
Let me begin by saying that I don't know much about parrot diet and nor does anyone else. Anyone who says they know everything about parrot diet actually knows little. The most respectable people that I have talked to about parrot diet fully admit that we know very little and to take it with a grain of salt. The problem is not only that little research has been done but also that there exist over 300 species of parrots that all have vastly different diets. For starters we are dealing with parrots from 3 isolated continents, 2 different families, and over 90 generas. Habitats range from lush rain forests to savannahs and deserts. Clearly different parrots are eating completely different foods.
Now let's add the fact that none of the foods we feed to captive parrots are anything they would encounter in the wild. Whether it's fruits, vegetables, nuts, or seeds (with few exceptions) these are entirely human foods and have nothing to do with the foods these birds would naturally encounter. For this reason, you can't argue that an apple or sunflower seed is a natural food for parrots while a pellet is not. The parrot would eat neither in the wild. So instead of trying to find the foods that are natural to a certain species of parrot (actually impossible because they aren't cultivated and cannot be sourced), the next best solution is to learn their nutritional requirements and appeal to those. Though there are variations in nutritional requirements, they are far more similar across species than specific foods consumed.
Before I can make the case why I chose Roudybush, I have to begin by explaining why pellets in the first place. You see, parrots are picky eaters and tend to eat the most caloric foods while leaving behind the more nutritious ones. The reason for this is pretty simply, in the wild the highly desired foods are seasonal and limited. Eat those first while they are available and when they are not, revert to the other stuff. The seed mixes we can buy are already premixed. So the supply of sunflower seeds or whatever else never runs out as it gets restocked daily. Furthermore, the vitamins and minerals are simply sprinkled on the seeds and not actually in them so who knows how much the bird is actually getting? On the flipside there also exists the possibility of a parrot overdosing (which can be as dangerous as not getting enough) by eating too much of a certain seed or drinking water with vitamins mixed in. Pellets on the other hand are thoughtfully balanced. Since the parrot is eating the same thing in each bite, there is no chance of getting the wrong amounts of things while ensuring that the bird gets a healthy dose.
One thing that really convinced me that pellets are a superior food for parrots was a discussion I had with Truman's breeder about pellets vs vegetables and fresh foods. She is a firm believer that pellets are food and everything else is just play stuff. In other words, pellets are for health and the other foods are just fun/tasty for the birds but not important. She explained to me that she used to be a firm believer in giving fresh foods to the birds and would spend hours every day preparing them until her mother became ill. She had to take a year off from the breeding business to care for her mother while entrusting her birds to the husband. The birds would be canned during this period and just bare essentials done until her return. What this meant was no more time consuming fresh foods. The birds were put on an all pellet diet. After a solid year on nothing but pellets, the birds appeared healthier (not only to the breeder but the vet as well) but more convincingly yielded greater offspring. Unlike beliefs about which foods may or may not be better, this is actually some very objective evidence. Since learning about this, I never again felt bad about leaving my parrots on just pellets when I'm away and predominantly feeding them a pellet diet. When I feed vegetables to my parrots, it's to make them lose weight and not to make them healthier.
Some people try to go with all natural or less pellet dominated diets. The problem I have with these is how do you know what to actually feed your parrot, in what quantity, in what balance, and how to ensure they are actually eating that and not other things? It seems to me that most people just make up what they think is healthy and feed it to their parrots rather than actually basing it on any rational evidence. For example I've heard great arguments for why frozen vegetables are healthier than fresh and the other way around as well. How am I to judge which arguments have better merits? Instead I feed a bit of either to the birds but only as supplement to pellets which are actually proven to work.
Pellets provide ample and balanced nutrition. Once accustomed to them, parrots eat them whole heartedly. My parrots have never been on seed or other diets, but when viewed by vets they are always complemented on having a very healthy appearance. On the flip side, looking at similar parrots that are on unhealthy diets, the difference is quite apparent. So given that I am very convinced that pellets are the best diet available for parrots, the big question when I was getting Truman was which pellet to use? I had no special attachment to Kili's Purina pellets except that was what she was weened on so I continued using them out of habit. Truman was weened on Pretty Bird but I did not want to use a colored pellet. All the silly shapes aren't necessary either, a hungry parrot will eat regardless how entertaining the food looks.
I researched different pellets on the market before coming to my decision. I ruled out colorful and sugary pellets up front. Not only is it safer to avoid using colored foods but also it allows you to monitor droppings for abnormalities. Sugary pellets and other globby treat ball type products were out of the question as well. The last thing a captive parrot needs is refined sugar. They already have more energy than they can expend sitting in a cage and flying in the confines of a home, so getting hyper off refined sugar is not only detrimental to their health but also their behavior. If you are unsure if what you are feeding your parrot is sweetened, I urge you to taste it to find out. If it's sweet, you should probably look for an alternative. Also, keep in mind that sugary pellets are more prone to spoilage or causing yeast infections.
When it comes to healthy, unsweetened, and actually researched pellet brands, the list becomes greatly narrowed down. Simply put, many pellets on the market are junk. It was pretty easy to eliminate the pellets I did not want to use but much more challenging to pick the one pellet to feed out of a few good ones. I considered organic pellets but found that the benefit comes at a disproportionately greater cost. I eat non-organic processed food with preservatives so I figured (as long as it's not detrimental) my parrots can do the same. Roudybush in my mind is the best of the non-organic pellets and I didn't feel like having organic soy or corn really makes that much of a difference through all the processing and treatment it undergoes anyway. Furthermore organic food is much more prone to spoilage and has to be used quicker. I think organic food can potentially do more harm than good because it can carry bugs/diseases resultant by the lack of preservatives and pesticides. This means it is more critical to use organic food quickly and older food is best discarded and replaced. This makes the cost of organic even higher than just the package cost.
Roudybush comes out ahead in the bird food market as the optimal balance of good nutrition, research, quality control, preservation, and cost. It is one of the more expensive pellets but quality seems proportionate to cost. Yet it is still far cheaper than organic or specialized diets. Roudybush pellets have been in use since 1981 and have gone through rigorous research and testing. I feel that for such long living birds, having time tested results is essential. We may not know long terms side effects of newer diets on kidneys/livers of parrots. Having a diet that has been researched and successful for this long is evidence I'll take any day over a hunch feeling that something is a healthy food for my birds.
Here are aspects of the pellet that makes Roudybush superior.
· Nutritional balance is achieved through years of study · Pellets contain no coloring · No sugar/sweeteners · Bird safe preservatives prevent spoilage/toxins · Steam Pelleting yields less nutrient loss and greater concentration than extrusion · Good shelf life · Time tested (going on 32 years)
I have heard complaints about the ingredients such as corn/soy basis. However, I have not read evidence for why this is bad or a better substitute. Thus in the meantime I do not have a problem with this. It's not surprising that my birds like Roudybush pellets though because they love corn. At least, unlike eating corn straight, the pellets ensure that they get a balanced nutritious diet in the process rather than just empty calories.
The place where I disagree with Roudybush (and really all the pellet manufacturers) is the concept of freefeeding the product to parrots. Of course the manufacturer has no reason to tell you otherwise because they make more money from all the overfeeding and waste. My biggest problem is with the overeating, followed by the mess, and only in last place the excess cost. The excess cost of spilled pellets is not the end of the world but still something to consider. The mess of unnecessarily spilled pellets is a bigger pain because it requires frequent cleaning. Watch the time lapse of Kili & Truman eating their pellets at the end of the video and you will see how they neatly eat over their dishes. All crumbs fall into the dish (remember there is a grate at the bottom of the cage so anything spilled elsewhere is gone forever) and then the birds lick their dish clean not leaving a single crumb. I find feeding medium pellets (which are considered suitable for much larger parrots) optimal because it allows me to count the pellets out quickly. Kili gets 5-10 per meal and Truman gets 5-20 per meal depending on weight. This is a quick amount to count out and it encourages the parrots to use their dexterous feet to hold them.
Roudybush Maintenance Pellets are the type that I would have no hesitation in recommending to other parrot owners. I feel that it is a safe, reliable, healthy, beneficial, affordable, and nutritious diet. It is the best balance of price, quality, and benefit in the market. It may be difficult to find in stores but order in bulk online, freeze, and use at your pace for greatest savings.
I am happy to share that Roudybush company values the training and educational work I am doing with parrots and has agreed to sponsor Kili & Truman with their favorite brand of pellets. I had already made up my mind and been using their pellets for several years now. But lately I've begun capitalizing on Kili & Truman's fame by getting manufacturers to sponsor them. I was thrilled that Roudybush agreed because it was already my first choice diet.
In addition, I ensured that my favorite rescue would also be taken care of with a matching contribution. Not only will my flock benefit, but so will the parrots at GingersParrots rescue. Up until six months ago the parrots had been on all kinds of diets, not to mention colorful/sugary ones. But since my first visit to the rescue, I have convinced Ginger not only to try Roudybush but also to consolidate all of her birds onto the same diet. I got her birds to try some of the pellets from Kili & Truman's stash and most of them took right to it so conversion was a non-issue. She didn't try converting them off the colored pellets because she didn't think they could do it. All it took was actually trying and now her flock is on a much healthier standard diet. So I'd like to thank Roudybush for caring about the health of rescue parrots.
Here is a video of Kili & Truman receiving their first sponsored package and enjoying their Roudybush pellets followed by GingersParrots getting their first shipment.
The first time I heard that someone else's Senegal Parrot could crack almonds, I was simply astonished. It just did not seem to me by the look of that beak that a Senegal could take an entire almond shell in its beak and snap it in half like a nut cracker. Likewise I was surprised that my Cape Parrot with quite a suitably sized beak for the job couldn't crack almonds either. Read on to find out how I taught both of my parrots to crack almonds on their own and how my Cape Parrot can even crack open a walnut now.
At first though I could give the parrots a nut and they would play a little bit but then eventually discard it. They were not motivated to spend a lot of effort chewing the nut because they were unaware of the fantastic reward inside. This is where I needed to provide some help.
I learned that baby parrots do not come with the knowledge required to just break open a nut so some assistance is required on our part. The first step is to introduce the parrot to the food within the shell itself. By letting the parrot play with it, it will quickly realize that it tastes good and want more. The next step is to let the parrot play with the shell. Parrots are destructive and naturally enjoy breaking things so no doubt they will enjoy chewing up the shell itself. Use a nutcracker to break a nut and just give the shell to the parrot to experiment with.
Next start introducing the parrot to the concept that there is a tasty nut inside of the shell and it requires breaking open. At first try to break the nut directly in half and let the parrot eat the nut out of the half shell. Once it is has figured this out, you should be able to crack the nut progressively less and less until you no longer need to crack it at all. When introducing your parrot to its first uncracked nut, try to find the smallest one possible and that has some defects pre existent in the shell (such as small chips/cracks). If the parrot can succeed at breaking an easier nut on its own, it will be more motivated to spend long spans of time working on the difficult ones.
It turns out that my Senegal Parrot can crack open an almond and my Cape Parrot can even crack open a walnut. I realized that they do it somewhat differently than a nutcracker. Instead the parrots learn to chew open a hole in one side of the nut and then use the tip of their beak to scoop out the nut from inside or chew the hole wider. This is why parrots can still eat a nut that would otherwise seem too large to break with their beak. So go ahead and give it a try and just make sure that the parrot continues being rewarded all along the way.
This process probably happens naturally in the wild. Young parrots learn about nuts and difficult to reach foods by watching other parrots eating them. Furthermore the juveniles can find leftovers discarded by older parrots and nibble out what's left from the shells cracked by adults. We can simulate this same process by letting them watch us consume nuts and pre-cracking some for them to try.
My World Record 20 Parrot Tricks in 2 Minutes has now received over one million views on youtube. I would like to thank everyone who watched that and my other parrot videos. But most of all, I would like to thank my regular readers and youtube viewers because if it weren't for them, I wouldn't be making all of these videos. It is because of their continual support that I have been motivated to put in all the work of capturing and presenting the parrot training that I normally do for my own pleasure anyway.
Actually, the footage was seen much more than a million times. Between all the unauthorized copies of the video floating around the internet and the fact that it was featured on Japanese television, I wouldn't be surprised if it had been viewed at least another half of that outside of my youtube channel (or more, really not possible to count). Here is a small selection of websites the twenty parrot tricks in two minutes video was featured on:
I'd like to answer a few of the frequent questions I received about the video. I am going to try to paraphrase them from memory:
How long did it take to teach Kili 20 tricks for the video?
The video was taken in early January of 2010 while I acquired Kili in September of 2008. This would mean that I would have had Kili for about a year and four months by the time the video was recorded. Considering I didn't start training her immediately and that she had known these tricks for some months before I made the complete video, basically it took one year of consistent training to get her to that point. I estimate an average of an hour of training per day across that range would mean that I spent around 500 hours training her to be able to do that. Please don't forget that she knew 25 or closer to 30 behaviors by that point but I chose not to include some for lack of time.
Why did you choose to do 20 tricks in 2 minutes?
I wanted to create a high paced medley to show all of the tricks that Kili knew up till that point. I was having a hard time counting how many tricks she knew in total but I was certain she knew at least 20. I thought it would sound nice to do 20 tricks in 2 minutes and I knew it couldn't take much longer or I'd lose the viewers' attention span. So I simply set this as my goal and attempted it. I had no idea if it was possible or not until I began rehearsing it and doing some time trials with Kili. Originally it was taking closer to 3 minutes but with mistakes here and there so I was convinced that if I could move quickly and organize all of the props in order, I would be able to make it in 2.
How many takes did it require to make the video
It took around 30 tries to get the performance required and in time. One of the difficulties was that she would have to do all 20 tricks accurately and quickly. If she messed up just one trick, whether in the beginning or the end of a run, the entire video was compromised. I wanted to show the entire sequence in a single uncut video so that people could see that a single parrot really did all those tricks in such a short time and without any fancy editing.
What was the hardest part about making the 20 parrot tricks in 2 minutes video?
Actually, believe it or not, the hardest part was for me to remember the order of all the tricks I had to cue Kili and when I could give her treats. I made a list of the tricks in order and highlighted the ones when there would be time to give her a treat. Unfortunately it wasn't big enough and I couldn't see it while I performed it. So I was messing up a lot at first with the order and that was slowing me down. One of the reasons we had to practice a lot was so that I could get the order right. Also I wanted Kili to get a bit accustomed to the order so she would be able to do it quicker as well. She was actually performing very well at first but beginning to lose focus by the time I got the take I would use. This is why I was caught assisting her with hand cues on a couple of the tricks cause it was the only way I could encourage her to do them quicker. I think it was on wings and turn around that I showed a hand cue in addition to verbal. In earlier takes I had her doing them strictly off the verbal cue but by the take I used, she wasn't opening her wings wide enough unless I showed her the signal.
The training was complete by this point and Kili knew all the tricks well. The challenge was sooner to have her stay focused and perform quickly rather than demonstrate knowledge of the tricks themselves. Under a little bit less pressure and slower pace, Kili was able to perform all the tricks flawlessly. In fact I was a bit peeved that she did a fantastic run during practice but then wasn't doing as well for the video. There were a couple rough spots in the routine that ended up in the video. I would have liked to have perfected those but I was really tired and so was Kili after so many takes. I really didn't want to have to leave all the props out in their spots for yet another day so once I got a workable run through, I decided to call it quits.
What's the song in the background? Was it playing during recording?
The song is called Paradigm Shift by Liquid Tension Experiment. They are an instrumental offshoot from Dream Theater and make some incredible music. I chose the song to match the high paced excitement of doing the routine so quickly. The music was not playing during recording but was mixed in afterward. While the distraction may have been a concern, it was mainly that it sounds better if mixed on computer rather than through the microphone. I have trained Kili in the past with music playing or noisy environments so I know that she could do it. As long as she can see me and hear the cues she will perform if she is motivated enough.
Who was holding the camera?
My then girlfriend, Kathleen helped me record the video. Following all of the action was no less of a challenge than performing the routine with Kili itself. I configured all the tricks around a semicircle so that the camera could follow me and the bird around and have the tricks be sequential. This was the only way to keep things moving quickly and show it all uncut. It took several takes to learn the camera tracking but fortunately that was perfected by the time the bird improved at the routine.
Did you intend for the 20 parrot tricks video to become this famous?
While I didn't have specific intentions or guesses at the magnitude of the popularity, I did hope this would be my most popular video. I was actually pretty disappointed that my Flighted Parrot Tricks Medley did not become popular. That was a well developed video that demonstrated a lot of advanced tricks involving flight but for some reason it just did not take off. It was meant to replace my Play Dead and Other Tricks video as an update of Kili's talents but just wasn't happening. So I set out to make an even more awe inspiring video.
Surprisingly, the 20 parrot tricks in 2 minutes video didn't take off immediately either. Viewers liked it but didn't really give it much thought. It took over half a year until the video got really noticed and went viral on the internet. Now people are acting like they made an incredible discovery when they post the link. But really the video has been around a while and just wasn't so noticed before. Also it by no means Kili's most complicated video. I have videos where Kili does a four piece puzzle and another where she does 4 rings on peg by color. And these videos came way before 20 parrot tricks. So in some ways I actually had to dumb down her routine in order to be able to meet the target 2 minute time frame. I couldn't show the puzzle because it takes nearly a minute for her to complete. I reduced the rings on peg by color to just 2 for the video so that it still demonstrates a knowledge of colors but eliminates the delay.
What treats are you feeding the parrot?
She likes many foods so I can use any of a number of things. Often I just giver her seeds and stuff out of a typical parrot seed mix. Other times I'll give her apple, banana, almonds, peanuts, oatmeal, bread, popcorn, or even pellets as treats. She's not that picky. She just likes getting rewarded. However, in the video I think I mainly used little peanut crumbs as treats because they were the fastest treat she could swallow whole and yet motivating enough for her to work for them.
Why did she take so long to flip the card?
The issue was that it was getting too repetitive. I had run through the entire routine with her many times trying to improve the timing or get a perfect take. She was figuring out on which tricks she was getting the treats and which ones she wasn't. She knew damn sure she was not getting it after the card so she didn't want to do it. I later began making the rewards more random but it was still difficult to do because there were certain tricks I couldn't reward after in order to maintain the flow. The ideal way to do this is to practice with the treats coming completing at random so that the parrot has to attempt all the tricks to see when it gets the rewards.
Is your parrot special or can any parrot do tricks like this?
I don't believe that Kili was born with any special capabilities that any other Senegal Parrot would lack. She's a pretty ordinary parrot but I just took the time to teach her one trick after another. I'm not sure how the speed would work with other species but I think any parrot can learn 20 tricks. Duke the budgie had learned over 10 tricks and demonstrated 8 in under a minute. So if a parakeet can learn so many tricks, I don't see why any parrot couldn't do at least the same.
Is the world record official? Is it in the Guinness Book of World Records?
No, it's not an official. I don't know of any record keeping in regards to parrots anyway. I simply thought it would be cool to call it that because I have never seen any parrot come even close. I have not met or seen a video of another parrot that could do 20 tricks period, let alone all 20 in just 2 minutes. Most parrots used in shows are actually far less skilled. They are often taught just a few tricks and then they interchange parrots based on the trick they want. However, with Kili I wanted to show that a single parrot can know so many tricks and do any of them on cue. If anyone knows of a parrot that can do more than 20 tricks and/or quicker than in 2 minutes, I would definitely like to know.
So what's next? Are you going to try to beat your own record?
I am putting a lot of focus into training Truman right now and would like him to eventually be capable of the same routine. There are some new tricks I am testing on Kili but in the future I would like to do 15 tricks in 1 minute and using only a single treat. This wouldn't be a greater number of tricks shown but would demonstrate a quicker pace, fewer mistakes, and variable ratio reinforcement at its max. Ideally I'd like her to do the tricks for the sake of doing the tricks.
How can I teach my parrot the 20 parrot tricks in 2 minutes routine?
Well you've come just to the right place. I started the Trained Parrot Blog to share with everyone (for free) how I teach Truman all of the same tricks from the very start. You see with Kili, I never really recorded the training sessions. She was my first experience so I really didn't even know if the tricks would work. I simply recorded results as they came. However, having succeeded with Kili and Duke, I feel that these same techniques should work on Truman. He's become used to cameras/lights from the day I got him so he's by no means camera shy. I simply record all of my training sessions and then share the results here on my blog. So keep checking back and I will show you how I train Truman the 20 tricks routine all from scratch. There's no need to spend a fortune on books, dvds, seminars, or online programs because I'm willing to show you how I do it just for the hell of it. Feel free to subscribe to the blog so that you can receive email updates when new articles come out. I would recommend you get a set of parrot training perches because they make training much easier (particularly for flight) and you can see that I used one for the first portion of my trick routine in the video.
Have you ever wondered what the bird food you are feeding tastes like? I suppose I have but I've never really given it much further thought. Howeverr, recently someone on my parrot forum was asking about the smell of a certain pellet. So I took up the challenge and even went a bit further and sampled each of the three brands of pellets that I feed my parrots. Ultimately my goal is to select the best one and consolidate both parrots to eat the same pellet.
Kili was originally weened onto a Purina Chow pellet. It doesn't have added sugar or coloration so I had no problem continuing to feed her this since I got her. Truman on the other hand came weened on Pretty Bird so I wanted to switch him to a color free pellet up front. In the course of just over 2 weeks I switched him to Roudybush. Kili took it up on the first try and seems to prefer it to the Purina but Truman was a bit more work cause he preferred the Pretty Bird.
First I sampled the Roudybush. It is definitely quite smelly with the scent most closely resembling vitamin pills. The shape and look of the Roudybush further resembles the "all natural" kinds of Vitamin pills as well. The pellets are compact and shatter when chewed rather than being crunchy. For the most part this pellet is pretty tasteless but once again the taste most closely resembles a vitamin pill. The smell is definitely more unpleasant than the taste. Eventually I gagged and had to spit the pellet out but I don't think it was because of the taste itself but either the smell or texture. The pellet definitely doesn't have any sweetener or coloring additives.
Next I tried the Pretty Bird pellets. They most resemble a fruity children's cereal. The pellets come in an assortment of colors and shapes and the smell is sweet and fruity. The taste is actually surprisingly bland and for the most part the scent is misleading. The pellet is nowhere near as sweet as it smells. It is more crunchy, once again like a cereal, and it leaves a slightly sweet after taste. So it makes me guess that it isn't loaded like sugar like it may seem from appearance, however, I'm sure that the absence of extra sugar, scent chemicals, and colors can only benefit the parrot.
Finally I tried Kili's Purina pellets. These are small brown pellets approximately the size of millet seeds. These had the weakest smell of the three which was a bit salty. They also were the most tasteless out of the pellets sampled as well. This may just be because they are so small that it's hard to pick up a taste on them though. I just now that Kili prefers the Roudybush to the Purina but Truman prefers Pretty Bird.
It seems to me that the Roudybush are most natural and that less effort is put into hiding the natural smell of it. The Pretty Bird pellets are probably the best alternative to a bird that strictly refuses to eat uncolored ones because it's more about appearance than taste. However, it makes sense now why transitioning Truman from Pretty Bird to Roudybush wasn't too hard. It was more about getting him used to the appearance rather than taste of the new pellet. For the sake of convenience and economy I'm getting both parrots onto a single pellet. Once I feed off the remaining other ones, I will stay with the medium sized Roudybush for both Kili and Truman.