I have a golden rule in flock negotiations. I say negotiations rather than "training", because quite frankly that's what is going on. The question is always the same; "Where can we meet on this idea?" The golden rule defines the negotiation tactics for me. It's simple, and yet so incredibly slow and at times, taxing. The golden rule is as follows; I promise never to use deceit in my negotiations. Because a parrot never forgets the moment you deceived them.
Tricking or forcing through coercion, a parrot into a situation or location or action for a speedier outcome may get you that outcome faster; once. Enjoy that once, because it will not happen again. And you will have added a slight thread of mistrust on the matter.
I'll use an example that sits in the back of my head and torments me. I witnessed this event and was powerless to change it at the time. This event was the catalyst to serious changes in my work and career plans. This event forged my sincerity and verve toward advocacy and education and flockcall.com as it evolves and grows. It was such an example of deceit and impatience it left me breathless, and still does when I think upon it. And it feeds my drive to create that place for every one to benefit in knowledge and community sharing so that every bird every where is happier, in a home and understood. Yes, this moment about killed me emotionally.
An individual brought their two young macaws to a location I was photographing. The groomer and the parrot owner (I use owner, because this person did not see these macaws as companions, but rather objects) discuss a wing trim for both. The owner did not bring a towel for the birds. There was no toweling material available to safely secure these two parrots for the wing trim. It was obvious they were stressed already. And from the demeanor of the owner I could tell she had most likely gathered them like laundry and tucked them in the dog carrier without too much notice.
My heart sank when the groomer said, "Well, if you still want to do this I can try."
The owner, opened the carrier door, and grabbed a macaw (yes, grabbed), the macaw howled in defense and won the struggle and ran away into a closed off area, cornered this baby howled. The second macaw buried itself to the back of the carrier.
Now let's break right here and agree that the grooming should have been cancelled, and better, refused by that groomer. Do it proper, or do not do it. Additionally, the owner did in no way ever communicate with these two parrots. They were an issue to be handled, an item to be checked off at best.
Deceit and confusion are the only elements in this moment.
The groomer quickly approached this parrot and intimidated it into a corner of the room with no where to go to escape, the groomer grabbed a wing and literally just chopped their way through the wing feathers of the first wing. The groomer then grabbed the second wing with alot less success as the bird was now fighting back. Again, with no where to go to escape, the groomer just chopped their way through those second wing feathers. Now let's not forget there is a second baby in that carrier, and she is just as upset as her friend.
The groomer scooped up the terrified parrot and put her in the carrier with her friend. Complete and utter failure on both these people's parts. They did not attempt to clip the second bird. Why? Because EVERY ONE was stressed and upset and frustrated.
I've talked about routines, transitioning, expectations and negotiations. We've talked about understanding, empathy and trust as only time and companionship can build. None of these elements existed that day in that place.
Positive reinforcement is a term thrown about as the way to "training". I've been told I have great articles about positive reinforcement. Which confuses me, because I do not consider anything I do as positive reinforcement. I consider my advocacy and approaches to be parrot biased practices. I consider a bird as an individual that requires a personal understanding of them as an individual, and a personalized approach to their care and companionship. I start with what nature created and add the personality tendancies on top to get a full prescription of their personal preferred communication.
I think often on those two macaws. I think about where they are now in their lives, and if they've been forced back to that groomer to complete the owners objective. Those thoughts gnaw at me.