It's been nearly six months since I adopted Santina from Lazicki's. The progress since then has been monumental and this is an update to mention most of it. I have gone from a bird that wouldn't even step up for me to being able to take my entire flock out to Coney Island wearing harnesses.
Here's a list of the things Santina learned during this period: -Step up (inherited) -Touch her (inherited) -Head scratches (inherited) -Go in carrier -Target -Grab -Flip over -Take medication -Open wings -Getting along with other birds -Put on Harness -Socialization (don't bite others)
Santina was already known to be able to step up and cuddle with certain people, but this certainly wasn't the case with me on first encounter. So not only did I work on inheriting those qualities she already had, but I improved them to the maximum extent. I improved her step up reliability to 100%, got her comfortable being touched anywhere as necessary, and went on to do a lot more with her. I set lenient goals and always exceeded expectations. For example I was ready to have to take weeks to get her to step up but she was already doing so within a few days, I was ready to take a month to harness train her but did so in under a week, I hoped to be able to take her to Coney Island before the end of the summer and was already doing so a few weeks since harness training her. All in all, progress has been very efficient and she is doing stupendously.
Santina has been learning to get along with the other birds
I would estimate that I spent an average of 10 minutes twice a day training Santina. Some days sessions were as much as 30 minutes but other days I skipped training entirely. It's not a lot of time but it was always a focused and goal oriented time. For each specific thing I taught her, we would have a burst of focused training and in between training new things we would just take time off or review known behaviors. The time off between training to let things sink in is nearly as important as the time training itself.
This DVD features Santina and covers the entire harness training process from start to finish. You can see the exact steps I took to teach her to want to wear the harness and assist me in putting it on. The DVD covers 6 days of training and the 50 minute section of harness training equates to about 1/4 scale. In other words, some repetitions were cut out and the real training was only about 4 times as much as what you see in the DVD. Put a different way, that's just 3 hours of training or 6x 30 minute sessions. That's nothing! In a single outing, I can spend more time out with Santina wearing a harness than all the training that it took!
The secret is, well watch the DVD for secrets. But what I want to say is that you really have to see the DVD in conjunction with my book. The DVD is strictly about harness training and does not teach how to do training, how to manage motivation, etc. The approach demonstrated in the DVD presumes a moderately tame parrot that is capable of at least step up, being touched, being grabbed, targeting, and having its wings pulled open. All of these things are covered in my book and are absolutely mandatory requisites to even think of beginning harness training. I don't know how some people think they will stick a harness on a bird that bites them and won't even step up. Not gonna happen.
But all things said, I taught Santina all those requisites in about 4 months really taking my time. Then I taught her to wear a harness in under a week and spent another week or two getting her used to going outside. Some days I would take her out twice just so she would be more used to being outside and wearing the harness. In 2 months since harness training Santina, I had already gone so far as to take her to Coney Island (a really busy amusement area), on the Subway into NYC, and out with my other two parrots at the same time. This article and video aren't meant to teach you what to do but rather to inspire what you can do with your birds. All you need is some love, time, patience, and some Wizard's tools to help you in the process.
The newest accomplishment I would like to share is finally putting Kili's cage back to the bird area. For the last month while Truman was here, as well as several months before his arrival, I had Kili's cage in a different area in preparation for quarantining Truman. While the quarantine failed as the result of parrots flying around, I still kept the cages separate for some time to prevent aggression and to prevent Truman from bonding to Kili rather than me. After a month of tremendous progress, bonding, and safe introduction to Kili, I decided that putting their cages together at this point will be just fine. And it certainly has been going just fine. Kili does not make any aggressive advances to Truman when they are in their separate cages and they seem to be getting along just fine. I had them in much closer range when I trained them on a single perch, so the natural unsupervised distance is much greater. The move was gradual but quick. For about two days I moved Kili's cage halfway toward Truman's. For one day I had her cage in the bird area but as far away from Truman as possible (about 3 feet). And then finally I went all the way and brought the cages together to their long term spots.
To even go a step further, I let the two parrots play on top of Kili's cage. I was curious to see if Kili would exhibit territorial aggression or not (as they had been previously introduced on neutral territory). The good news is that for the most part they got along just fine. Truman was more concerned with playing with Kili's toys and Kili just wanted attention and petting. Kili has been molting a lot lately and loves petting like never before. She even bent her head down to Truman invitingly. Truman took up the invitation and walked over to preen her but the moment he got close Kili snapped at him. She's a tricky little devil.
I am glad to have my apartment back in order with the birds a bit away from where I spend my time. They seem to be getting along just fine with only an occasional squabble here and there. I think Kili finally found her match.