Robin’s Training Tips

Taking Teeny Tiny Bites

When working with out birds, we often give them food as a reinforcer. This is a great way to say to your bird “Hooray! You did a great job! Here’s a reward!”

Well, how many rewards can I give my bird in one day? My vet says too many nuts are bad for him. And that’s true, nuts are full of fat and too many nuts would be very unhealthy for our birds. So where’s the balance here? I want to give my bird a reward for being a GOOD BIRD… but if I can only give him one or two rewards then that’s not going to get me very far.

I want you to take your food, in this case a raw organic CASHEW and start with as big a piece as your bird needs to say “sure, gimme some of that please”. For some birds, that’s an ENTIRE cashew. That’s fine. Let him have one. Then cut the next one in half.

There are 7 cashew pieces in this picture. Let’s number them 1-7, left to right. Each one is cut in half, then in half, then in half again, and so on.


So Cashew #1 is an entire cashew. But, #2 size is half of that. Would your bird take it? Is it good enough? Try only giving him #2 size cashews for a day. The next day, try a #3 size. And so on and so forth getting smaller and smaller.

It is surprising how many of our birds will readily accept a slightly smaller size of nut if they know there’s another one coming around the corner. Try getting your bird to do a small trick or known behaviour like a kiss. Give him a #3 size. Ask again. #3 size reward. Ask again. #3 size reward. Repeat. This gets the ball rolling. “Sure, I’ll eat your tiny cashew (you cheapskate) because I know you’ll be right back here giving me another one. So I win.” In this, we all win.

Slowly work your way down to giving your bird #6 or #7 size. Chances are, if you ask for a few cute bird tricks in a row, he will be happy to take it knowing there’s the opportunity to earn another one right around the corner. Your bird’s health will thank you, your vet will thank you, and your pocketbook will thank you (cashews are expensive!!)


  • Robin