Training Tidbit – Learning to Look
Look at these two photographs. This is Jenny, the Congo African Grey Parrot. She enjoys going out on adventures with her human Kanya. Both photos show her in beautiful places. She looks like she’s having a great time! What a lucky parrot!
Look at the photos again. Look at Jenny’s body language in each photo. What sorts of things is she telling us?
I’ll tell you what I see. In the first photo I see Jenny with her feet wide apart, gripping the hand tightly. I see her feathers slicked in. I see her wings held slightly away from her body. I see her head and neck stretched out. I see her eyes large. And I see her leaning towards something off to the left. I would say from all of these observations that she is most likely NOT comfortable.
In the second photo, I see Jenny with her feet closer together, and not gripping tightly. I see fluffy cheek feathers and relaxed body posture. I see wings, head and neck in neutral positions. I do not see her leaning in any direction. I would say Jenny looks much more comfortable.
Why is this a training tidbit? Because being able to see the non-verbal cues our birds give us is critical to making sure they are willing participants in training. An animal can only learn when they are comfortable in any given situation. When we see body language that indicates unease, leaning away, gripping tightly, and looking to avoid a situation, we need to listen. It’s our job to create an environment that our birds are comfortable in. The second photo shows how comfy Jenny can be on her adventures. Good Job Kanya! Great work with Jenny and making her at ease!