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Ambient Learning and Birds by Micki Coatsworth

Most of us are familiar with the concept of "patterned learning" for training purposes. Take your bird to a neutral room & practice; step ups and downs, several times a week. This ensures continual compliance to our commands and flock leadership.

Those of you with a multi-bird household can also benefit from "ambient learning". What I call: birdie see, birdie do.

Even if you are the proud flock leader of "the best behaved bird in the world" ALWAYS use the step up and down commands and PRAISE for the compliance to your directions. When you do this in front of your other birds - everyone will want to get in on the action.

Those birds also in the room, but not being praised at the moment want to be your "GOOD BIRD!" also. Use this to your advantage in ambient training. It can be a very successful method of reinforcing the patterned learning of desirable behaviors.

If 2 of your 3 birds are carrying on at a noise level beyond your tolerance - ignore them. Go to the quiet bird and LAVISH PRAISE on that one. Go over board "you are so special to me. I'm so proud of what a quiet bird you're being." Sounds silly - but it works. Remember; we're talking flock animals here - and the ones you are ignoring for the moment are not part of the flock! After your time with the good kid, leave the room ignoring the rowdies. As soon as anyone else is quiet - go back and praise them extensively.

The same sort of positive reinforcement can be used in many different situations. "What a good bird you are for staying on you tree". Do this after you have calmly & without fanfare, picked up the naughty one from the floor and returned her to her cage. Or, maybe, it's "Look at you eating all your veggie's - you'll grow up to big and strong".

Remember, birds have the intelligence of 2-5 year olds and the same emotional level. They All want to be the center of your universe, and to be a loving part of your flock. It's up to you to show them how.

This type of method of teaching can be used for things other than behavior modification. The others can watch you play peek-a-bird with the one that gets how to do it, or let them watch you play tickle bird or "oh no dead bird" with the guys that let you hold them on their backs. As they see the trust and compliance of the "good birds", it will help them learn to be the best bird they can.

Remember the "Birdie see - Birdie do" instinctive behavior of these flock animals can be a wonderful development aid for you and your bird.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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