Training Tidbit – capturing cute crow noises

How often does your bird make a cute noise? Would you like to hear cute noises more often? Would you like to be able to put that noise on cue, and impress all your friends? Today’s tidbit is about capturing those cute noises!

Recently my grey Quentin started making CAW CAW noises to tease the crows outside. It was hilarious, and really cute! I thought “hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could put that on cue? Like those greys on the internet!” That’s what we did! We came up with a plan.

  1. Get him to make the noise A LOT. He was already going CAW. What would help him do it more often? Quentin likes attention, and he likes nuts (cashews). After every CAW we would jump up and run over to him with a “Good boy!” and a cashew. Pretty soon he was going CAW all the time.
  2. Quentin soon learned that every time he CAWs he gets a nut. Then I became the nut dispenser. Every CAW got a nut. Every. Single. One. I think that was his favourite part. I think he ate nothing but nuts one day. It became so frequent I could predict that he was about to CAW, so…
  3. Once it is predictable that the CAW was about to happen, add the cue. For us, we used “SPEAK CROW”. So, right before the crow noise was about to happen anyway, we said “SPEAK CROW” -> “CAW” -> nut. Slipping in the cue right before the caw creates association. Repeat!
  4. Now that “Speak Crow” and “CAW” are associated, the next step is to STOP reinforcing any caw that happens without a cue. Only reinforce the ones that are “Speak Crow” –> “Caw”. Be careful that the association is strong enough, and if you need to, go back to step 3 until the association is solid.

We took about a week to get Speak Crow -> CAW on cue. We are still working on his discrimination, he will still sometime try going CAW to see if I’ll give him a nut. Can’t fault him for trying!

Extra bonus points for Quentin… when we started step 4 he wanted to see EXACTLY how this process worked. He knew the CAW should get him a nut… so he improvised. Quentin said “CAW” and got nothing in response. He decided to take things into his own… beak… and said “CRRRROW!!”. We killed ourselves laughing. Yes he got a nut. You bet I’m gonna reinforce the heck outta that!

  • R