Different species (sometimes even different individuals within species) can vary greatly in temperament, noise, and talking ability. For example, Pionus parrots generally have a reserved stance, while at the other end, large cockatoos need at least several hours of attention daily. However, it should be noted that an individual bird's upbringing and genetic inclination plays a major role in determining its disposition, regardless of species.
Many of the larger parrots are unsuitable in an apartment setting due to noise level. Although all parrots will make some noise, species that are generally less noisy include parrotlets, budgies, cockatiels, Pyrrhura conures, Pionus, caiques, African Greys, and usually Poicephalus. Many of the other species of conures can be loud birds. Cockatoos, and many Macaws and Amazon parrots can be very loud, though normally only at certain times of the day. Care should be taken to ensure a parrot does not learn to scream for attention.
Some parrot species such as Greys, Eclectus, Quaker parrots, male budgies, and some species of Amazon parrots, Macaws, and Psittacula are often good talkers, but there is no guarantee that any individual parrot will talk. Some other species are poor talkers, but popular for their affectionate or playful personalities.
Budgies, cockatiels, lovebirds, and parrotlets have been bred in captivity the longest and are popular and readily available in many color mutations; by some definitions they are domesticated. Budgies have been bred as pets for over 150 years, exist in two distinct breeds (American and English), and generally have excellent pet qualities. Although small parrots are usually easier to care for than larger species, they are still intelligent birds that need attention and interaction.
Most parrots can bite quite severely at times, for many different reasons. Their instinct for survival causes them to be very wary and easily startled. Even very tame parrots can bite and harm humans, so it is wise to keep them in a cage around small children they are not familiar with. They can also bite strangers who try to feed them, and the larger parrots such as Hyacinth Macaws can do quite severe damage even when someone tries to feed them through the bars of the parrot cage, so be very careful when someone unknown to your bird wants to feed it. This is also a good reason why having a bird on your shoulder (shouldering) is not recommended. A parrot bite to the face can do severe damage, and destroy the trust between owner and bird. Sometimes these bites are not intentional, for example, if the bird slips from the owners shoulder, it is likely to try and grab the nearest thing to hold on to, which may well be part of the owner's face.
It is also very important for your parrot to have a cage large enough to exercise in. Parrots love to stretch their wings, so ensure you have a cage big enough that your bird can climb and stretch. Without exercise, your bird will tend to become obese and unhealthy.
Though very trainable and intelligent, parrots are a prey species and naturally much more cautious than predatory species such as dogs. They often must be trained more slowly and carefully. Parrots can, however, eventually be taught many complicated tricks and behaviors, and remember them for years. Trained parrot shows are found at some zoos and amusement parks.
Parrots need socialization. Training parrots tricks help make them a much better pet and teaching them tricks have been linked to solving behavior problems. Bird trick training requires patience and time and a commitment to working with your parrot for several minutes each day. Working positively with parrots to train them bird tricks means short bursts of time that meet your birds intellectual and socialization needs.
Positive training puts you in the coveted leader position. Thinking games lower bird angst. Your parrot will begin looking to you for cues on how to behave. By using positive reinforcement and keeping bird training sessions fun, your parrot will try to please you to get positive attention as a reward. According to Irene Pepperberg's famous avian research, pet birds have the intelligence of a 3 to 5 year old child. They require mental stimulation to remain emotionally healthy. Bird trick training exercises the bird's brain with the benefit of owner and parrot bonding more closely.
Training a parrot with positive reinforcement techniques focuses on using rewards to strengthen or increase the frequency of a behavior. Positive reinforcement is a trust-building training technique.
Examples of positive reinforcement training with a companion parrot are to take a parrot who is afraid of stepping up onto its owners hand, and rewarding it with a desired treat when it shows relaxed behavior next to the owner's hand. The parrot would then be rewarded for allowing the hand closer and closer, and finally, would be rewarded for stepping up. Another example would be for an owner to wait until a screaming parrot is quiet for a very short time, and then immediately reward it with praise and attention. The owner would then gradually increase the amount of time the parrot must be quiet to receive the extra attention.
With this type of positive reinforcement approach to training, the parrot is only rewarded for behaviors that bring it closer to the final desired outcome (stepping onto its owner’s hand). For this technique to work effectively, it is common to have to reward a parrot several times for making very small amounts of progress; like rewarding the parrot ten times in a row, just for taking one step closer to its owner’s hand.
Training a parrot with this type of positive reinforcement approach is the least abrasive approach to training parrots, and often the most effective parrot training technique to use when a companion parrot owner desires to use a training technique that will develop a stronger emotional bond with their parrot.
Positive reinforcement is also very useful for trick training. A desired trick behavior can be shaped gradually, rewarding a parrot for approximations to the desired behavior. Trick training is generally considered to be very positive for parrots; it is a good way for an owner to bond and interact with their bird and provides enrichment and challenge to the parrot.
Clicker training is a particularly popular form of positive reinforcement training. In clicker training, a parrot is taught to associate a click with receiving a reward. The click noise can be used to mark the instant a parrot does the desired behavior, making for more efficient training.
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