Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No More Handicaps!

Bucky is now fully flighted!

This means the master fort maker has been able to 'un' handicap the budgie fort!

The flying is non-stop, and I'm really enjoying watching them have fun and learn the new traffic routes of the revised set up.

Of course, Bucky does have some catching up to do with his skill set, but he is highly motivated and has excellent mentors and incentives.

So all perches and stations have now been returned to its previous height.

(You would think that with all that room they wouldn't need to sit on top of one another maybe?! Apparently not!)


Saturday, September 26, 2009

From Bad To Worse

It would seem she has been toying with the idea of making me some sort of piece of 'clothing' with this stuff... apparently no one in town is buying tents?

I might be color blind, but I'm not 'ugly blind'!

Some one quick - take the knitting needles away from her!

(On the other hand, it is a slight improvement over the pink harness...)

I don't know why she doesn't make the green parrot clothing - this would definitely be Coco's color.

I, on the other hand, will require extra snau'sages if I am forced to wear anything other than doggie-camo!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Nicky Met Rosie!

The Friends List Posts are a way we get to know one another's birds and hear their wonderful stories!


It is time for another 'Friends List' post!

Today's post is the story of how Nicky Met Rosie, as told by their mom, Arlene..
I know you will enjoy it as much as I did when I read it!

As all good stories begin....

Once upon a time....
there was a happy budgie couple by the names of Nicky and Guido. Although Guido turned out to be a girl, she was still our Guido. They were happy as larks (except for the usual night time ordeal when she turned into the notorious "Queen of the Cage").

On the morning of March 1, 2009, Guido was found laying at the bottom of the cage. There was no sign of injury. The day before she was happy and healthy.

Nicky was terribly distraught, and looked for her, calling non-stop. But his little friend would not return to him. All he could do was sit, looking around, calling to her. He quickly became quite sullen, perching himself near the window where he would quietly stare outside for hours. I imagined he was hoping against hope that she would come back. It was unbearable to see him so sad; we were all sad. This was the second friend he had lost.

We went right to the pet store in the hopes of finding another budgie that might be able to bring some light and happiness back into Nicky's life. There were perhaps seven or so birds. As watched them, we would think... maybe that yellow one? Maybe that green one over there? Maybe...

Then suddenly, we noticed a little one that was playing and just acting totally silly. A real clown! She wasn't what some might consider a rare beauty... but it seems you just know when it's right.

It didn't take us long at all to realize that this little bird was going to find a home with us. In the few minutes we had watched her antics, she had already made a path to the center of our grieving hearts.

We couldn't think of a name for her right off ... as is often the case.

But then suddenly - it came to us from out of nowhere... 'Rosie'. Yes, Rosie it would be! It seemed perfect!

Rosie was quite playful, happy and chirped quietly. In the days of quarantine, I do not believe Nicky even knew she was around.

Then came the happiest of days - the day for Nicky to meet Rosie! We could hardly contain our excitement! She was in her small quarantine cage, and when we placed it near his condominium, Nicky immediately leaned across the perch to visit her!

'Hey, little lady - want to move into my place?'!

Talk about instant karma - it was love at first sight as they say! New birds meeting for the first time can always be a little tense. But, not this time! The two met each other face to face, and haven't been apart since. In fact, I think I may have heard the theme from 'Love Story' playing softly in the background as they introduced themselves to one another!

Nicky had always been the quite shy guy, and rather afraid of everything. Playful, fun-loving Rosie was the mirror image of Nicky - and this turned out to be a a gift from God for him. In an instant, Rosie has turned our little Nicky into a different boy! Suddenly, he wanted to do everything that Rosie did!

I could have never imagined that Nicky would ever come to sit on our shoulder or hand. This had not been Nicky's way pre-Rosie. But when Rosie did it... suddenly, Nicky thought it was a great idea too! Now, not only do we have wonderful Rosie in our life, but it is as if we are getting to know Nicky all over again, bonding in ways we had never dreamed.

He also plays with toys now - something he had never done before, and even ventures to explore areas of the room where he previously had no interest. This new found curiosity, spurred by Rosie's support, is so enjoyable to watch. If Rosie does it, he does it! Each time I see him having fun, I still can't believe the change in him. He is so happy with her - what a difference she has made!

When they are in the cage napping together, Nicky now chirps and sings quietly to himself - just the happiest little budgie-man in town. I often think he may be singing his special lady and nap-time lullaby or perhaps their special love song. As soon as Rosie leaves his side for even a moment, he must find her. It is as if he is telling himself that he is not going to let this one get away.

Of course, at night Rosie (like Guido before her) demands her choice spot in the cage by pushing Nicky around until he settles in behind her. He might squawk for a second, but he always lets her have her way. I believe inside he is smiling from ear to ear.

Each night before they go to sleep, I am sure to tell them "Good night, I love you two". I never want to forget that they are not promised a tomorrow. Yet, each day that we share, and especially as I witness their mutual joy, I realize that to live each to the fullest is a blessing without compare.

I love you guys. I will always love you. Love never dies.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enjoying Grains and Veggies

I have received a number of questions on the boys (budgies) love of Beak Appetit, how much they eat, how far it goes, how I make it and store it, etc. So - of course, a few pictures! (When my sister gave me a digital camera for my birthday 3 years ago, she had no idea how much use I would get out of it!)

The container I purchased holds about 4 oz, and the instructions are to cook it in the microwave in the tub provided, store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze. This does not seem practical to me, and I prefer to serve it freshly cooled, so I take a different approach.

The mix comes in a plastic bag, and I use a small amount for each meal served.
A handful (approximately 2 -3 tablespoons) is more than ample for the 3 boys.

I then seal it back up.

Enough water to float it is added, and then it is microwaved for about 1-2 minutes.

It then sits until it is completely cool. Any remaining water is drained off prior to serving.

Now comes the fun part! Watching them enjoy it!

Strider loves to grab a favorite piece and then run away with it, eating it in complete privacy. Penske, Mr. Shy Guy, is usually last to dig in, but he still makes sure he gets his fair share! You would think this was pure millet the way they go for it!

Oh, and check this out - Bucky is finally getting some flight feathers!

Of course, Strider is not the only one who will get a choice veggie and sneak away to eat it! Strider is just to the left of Penske, almost out of the picture eating his stash in a private area.

They almost look like they're posing!
Over the next few weeks I will be adding a variety of frozen, thawed, pureed vegetables to the mix to add even more variety and nutrition.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cleaning, Cleaning!

It is not time for spring cleaning, but I have been in a bit of a cleaning mood lately. Perhaps it is the subconscious realization that I am about to be cooped up in the house for the entire winter... it suddenly needs to be neat, tidy and as dust-free as possible! (Please do your best to hold all invitations for me to come over and visit your houses - with my cleaning rag!)

For all of us, keeping our bird areas clean is a must. I have been reading many posts lately on the various bird boards I frequent of sick birds. This is not to say that it is a result of a lack of cleanliness. However, we do know that overcrowded, dirty conditions will breed bacteria and disease. Keeping our birds areas clean is simply a part
of the daily lives of those of us with birds. And inasmuch as we provide them with nutritious food, clean water and lots of love, it makes us feel good to know that the space they share with us is as clean as possible. Especially for those who sleep in the same room with their birds. Since the flu season is upon us, and from all accounts has started early and may potentially last longer than usual, I want to again mention that our birds do not get the common cold from us, nor regular flu, pig flu or moose flu! ;) (Yep - I made up that last one - clever, huh?) !

However, it is always a good practice to wash hands before handling birds and their items, whether or not someone is sick, but especially when sick. During times of illness, we can end up with secretions on our hands that contain bacteria and could create a potential risk. So that thing about cleanliness being next to Godliness...

Speaking of cleanliness - the Fort Designer has made one additional change to the Budgie Fort that has made a huge difference! Just this past week, he installed 4 inch high pieces of plexiglass at the bottom of each of the panels. It really cuts down on the amount of feathers and such that end up on the floor. So I am very pleased with this new feature.

Here is a little snippet just to give you an idea - it is very unobtrusive, but oh so effective!

Since I am in such a cleaning mode, I decided I should also write about it today! To clean the entire bird area - both budgies and Coco - takes 20 minutes (or 30 minutes, if I lolligag). For me, it has all been a matter of creating a routine, following the same steps each time, and this also benefits the birds as they know what to expect. Given the large area, I do not view 20 minutes a day for cleaning to be overly burdensome, and it does give me great satisfaction when I am finished - that is, until they start trashing the place again!

So I have created a little story in pictures for you!

I always begin with the Budgie Fort. So as to not feel rushed or concerned that they will fly past me, I place the handy-dandy divider that the Fort Designer recently made. When they see me coming with the screen, they will all move to the opposite side of where I am standing. I open one of the dutch doors and hook the screen into place. In doing so, I can move more efficiently when I am not concerned about where they are and what they are doing.

Oh what a mess 3 cute little boys can make in only one day! The ladder gets removed and washed in hot water and soap in the sink, giving it time to dry while I finish the rest of the cleaning.

The papers are removed and tossed with the feathers and such being vacuumed up.

I mix up a bowl of very hot water and Murphy's Oil Soap, first wiping down all perch and wooden areas. They rarely 'look' dirty, but all wood gets a thorough cleaning daily as does the one sand perch located in this area.

I then wash the base flooring.

While I am cleaning the first half, all bowls and toys have already been removed and are soaking in the bathroom sink - very hot water and soap. Sometimes I will add bleach if there are no metal parts - but just a touch.

A quick wipe dry with a paper towel....

And the newspapers may be replaced. Properly placed food dishes and toys keep those newspapers where I want them to be. ;)

At this point, it is time to get the bowls and toys out of the sink. They are thoroughly rinsed and air dried.

With one half done, it is time to have the budgies switch sides for me. They are very good about it; as soon as they see me move over and roll the screen up part way, they fly to the opposite side... such good little boys!

Again, a big part of this is routine. We do this 6 days a week - in the same order.

Now, my budgie work is half done; the other side is just as trashed, but it won't be for long!

...with a fresh bowl of very hot water and soap, again the perches and wood are washed first and the flooring last.

That was quick! More toys and bowls are placed perfectly so that they are not in the 'poop line', but they are able to hold down the newspapers. This is really important; 6 wings flying back and forth can rustle the newspapers quite a bit if they are not properly anchored. I have experimented with not using newspaper, but it really does make clean up quicker.

The budgies are happy to see the screen completely removed so they can once again enjoy their entire area.

It is rolled up and placed below so that it is ready to go for tomorrow!

A final (3rd) fresh bowl of very hot water and soap is mixed up for Coco's area, the newspapers tossed, everything vacuumed and wiped down, and the newspapers replaced. Her area is the easy part. I only need to watch that she doesn't step down and start walking around on my back while I am bent over! Coco does not have a food bowl since she forages for all of her food, but her water bowl is washed separately from the budgies bowl and toys. All of the birds have multiple bowls so that they can be replaced and washed later if needed.

A final vacuum of the entire room and we're done!

I think it takes me longer to write it down than it does to actually do it!

Now, it is time for me to relax... only one problem....

Can I have my
chair back please??


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bon Appetit!

I am happy to report that Strider, Bucky and Penske have decided they like vegetables! (Well, sort of...)!

I broke down and purchased a container of 'Beak Appetit' the other day. When we do these things, we can never quite be sure if it will be money well spent. I purchased the Apple Carrot Harvest flavor, especially designed for smaller birds (little chunks), and wow, was it a hit! It contains:

Cous Cous
Hulled Millet
Cracked Wheat
Rolled Oats
Rolled Barley
Red and Green Bell Peppers
Kelp Powder

Now, these are ingredients a mother can love - and all with no preservatives or words I cannot pronounce or identify!

For about an hour, the 3 boys eyed it - quite suspiciously.

This is an important part of the process.

It must first, and foremost, be determined that there are absolutely, positively no budgie-eating or budgie-killing ingredients in this bowl.

Apparently, one can never be too careful or cautious!

Strider was the first to try it. Then, monkey-see, monkey-do... it was a free for all! They ate and ate... Gosh, I loved seeing that!

Now I am able to add additional veggies and puree them together with the Beak Appetit... they'll never know it!

(Hmm... I sure hope they don't make me 'eat' my words!)

The 4 ounce container cost around $4.00. The directions call for adding water and microwaving in the container provided, cooling and serving, with the leftovers refrigerated up to a week or frozen.

Since my 3 are not going to consume large quantities of anything, and I prefer making fresh, I opened the sealed plastic bag, poured a couple teaspoons into a bowl, added about as much water as I would if I were making oatmeal, microwaved it for several minutes and then let it sit until completely cool. I closed the plastic bag, and sealed it in an additional zip loc bag for extra freshness.

Last night they received another helping, and this time they flocked to it immediately! Interestingly, the first thing Strider did was nab a nice chunk of red bell pepper and ran to his own private corner to savor his stash!

Such good little boys - I was so proud of them!

(I mean, once they were sure that it contained no budgie-killing ingredients...!)

I know many birds who love Beak Appetit, and many who will not touch it with a ten foot feather. For those of us with birds that love these products, it opens up a wonderful route to expanding their nutrition and variety of micronutrients as well!

Bon appetit to my Three Musketeers!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Update on Coco

Awhile back, someone made a comment on one of my posts, where I had referenced the challenges I have had with Coco over the years, and indicated she would like to hear more about those challenges. Well, Coco is presently giving me one of those challenges, so I thought now would be a good time to write about it!

She is an amazon parrot, and they are known to be tricky to handle shall we say. Despite her being a yellow front amazon (generally thought to be less volatile in personality and hormones than the yellow nape, double yellow head or blue front), and despite being hand raised by me from the age of 3 weeks, and despite being a female which are usually a bit easier than the males, she's still challenging, spunky and predictably unpredictable. She always keeps me on my toes, and reminds me that watching body language is where it is at. Failure to do so can result in a bite if one is not careful. Since I've handled amazons for 30 years, I know the drill, and enjoy the challenge.

I must accept that she will have days where she doesn't want to be bothered with anyone, including me. I give her what she wants - space - in addition to carefully observing her body language. At these times, often body language comes quickly and in the twinkling of an eye; failure to react accordingly could result in a bite. If I sense she is on edge, I will give her opportunities to gain a treat for a little 'trick' such as a wave, moving from one perch to another, etc., and I have no hands on contact. Just some simple, straight forward interactions. Even her clamoring to step up on me can be what she wants one minute, but if they next minute she is on me and changes her mind, I could become the rod for her lightning. So I must be careful to give her a wide berth.

Coco's first challenge came when she was 3 years old. She went through what we loosely call puberty. It is hard to quantify it, but she was not herself for a number of months. This also occurred during a move, and thus there were many changes during this time.

The subsequent years have brought me a more mellow Coco. She still has her moments of over excitement (she is an amazon after all), and I still have to watch her body language like a hawk. She experiences what is called 'amazon overload', where due to hormones, excitement or both, the bird becomes too excited and has a tendency to be out of control for lack of a better word. When a parrot is in overload, and especially amazon overload, the advice is to step away. Far away. Unless you want a free piercing.

An amazon in full overload may actually stalk, hunt and chase someone attempting to spar them like a rooster. A few moments later, they could act like nothing ever happened.

Around the end of January, early February of this year, Coco began going through another 'transition' shall we call it. It has all the trappings of hormonal issues. I am not one to like to blame everything on hormones. And even if it is hormones, we still need to maintain our positive reinforcement techniques and do the other routine things that she is accustomed. However, hormones do play a part in all of our lives, humans or birds. But we cannot conclude that all the ills and behavioral issues have an etiology in hormones. However, during a hormonal period, relationships and behaviors can be strengthened or broken. It is a time for caution.

She has had a hair-trigger excitement level, is beating the living daylights out of her toys, sometimes 10 minutes at a time, she has not wanted interaction with me for the most part, she has had a seeming chip on her wing - just not herself again. It has been a long year for us.

The important thing will be to keep our relationship intact during this, so that the strain of this time has the least affect on the relationship as possible. This means me giving her the broadest distance, and keeping my eyes open at all times.

Depending on what you read, amazon parrots can deal with sexual maturity and related issues between the ages of 2 and 12. Coco just turned 13 in May, although she may have failed to read the book to know that she is supposed to be ok now! Silly me!

She is now going through her second molt of the year... oi - I need a new vacuum! She is eating everything that is not nailed down (her food intake tripling over the past several weeks), and she is shredding everything that is not food-worthy. You will note that several months ago I wrote about her redecorating her fort - that continues - and then a week or so ago I showed a picture of the egg crate she shredded. She has gone through two of those in the past week or so.

So, since I've been dealing with this behavior off and on since February, I thought it was time to reach out and ask the expert a few questions. I have someone that I go to when I need expert advice on my amazon parrot or amazons in general. Someone I trust and have the highest respect for - a woman whom I feel knows the amazon species as best as is possible for any of us. She has a troop of performing amazons (a brave woman, no doubt!).

This is the second time in 13 years I have had to reach out to her with a question on Coco, and she has immediately and graciously responded both times. I really wanted to confirm whether what I have been seeing off and on since February is in fact hormonal behavior, and what, if anything, I need to do differently. I don't want to use hormones as an excuse if there is something I need to change in my interaction or training with her.

This expert of all experts in my book is Joanie Doss. She also has excellent books on body language, as you know a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I highly recommend any of her books, especially on body language.

I wrote a lengthy description of Coco's behavior and experiences since February. Joanie confirmed my suspicions. Her opening sentence in response to my email was:

Your bird is definitely showing signs of hormonal behavior.
This behavior can be year long if your environment is right.
She should be getting 14 hours of darkness and cool evening

Her response was quite lengthy, and I won't bore you with all of it (amazon owner talk - commiserating as we do and understanding that there are some unique challenges with amazons as well as unique joys). But the most important point: my bad - she has NOT been getting 14 hours of darkness. The cool evening temperatures I have little control over (although each evening gets a little cooler). But as you recall I recently moved the computer into the bird room, so I could spend more time in there, and some nights I stay up later than I should. So the past couple of months, her darkness schedule has been about as consistent as mine - not. So that is one thing I have changed right away.

Joanie also made another excellent suggestion, which I can pass along to all of you whether a bird is having a direct problem or not. She suggested I keep a daily journal of all of her activities - food consumption types and amount, chewing wood type activities, hours of darkness, general behavior, attitude, etc. etc. This I have also begun doing.

These are things I knew to do, but at times it takes an outside person to remind us of what we already know - we know that our birds need at least 8 hours of darkness, and more if hormonal, of uninterrupted quiet sleep. We know that journaling their activities, training progress, etc. can be quite useful. But I had forgotten what I know, and it was really nice to have this gentle reminder that I need to get back to basics with her. I need to break the cycle of hormones, and finish out this period of puberty (or whatever it is), with a positive relationship between me and Coco!

Now, the only bit of a disappointment is that Joanie shared that she has a 22 year old amazon that still experiences periods of difficult hormones that can last for several months.... hmmm.... didn't want to hear that! She believes some birds just seem to handle their hormones a bit easier than others. But since the last 10 years with Coco have been good, I am going to bank on this being a difficult year - a last hooray before she returns to her old, spunky and only slightly unpredictable self! Although I know that she will always have an amazon-edge to her.

It is always great to write about the wonderful things our birds do, and how well training is going, and how wonderful it is to be their companion. And, that it is! But since this blog is about 'living with birds', I know I am not the only one who has birds that go through challenging times. No different than if a puppy starts chewing on a piece of furniture, or has a set back in house training... we still love them, but they can present a few frustrations in between! It is frustrating, it can be hard to remain consistent in our training techniques, keep a positive attitude, and on top of it all, remain hopeful and patient. What is most encouraging is that I know that positive reinforcement works, and that I have laid a foundation of it for Coco. Since I know that this type of challenge passed once in her life at age 3, this time it too shall pass. (Although, I would have liked it to have passed a bit quicker than it has!)

These are the places the rubber meets the road in bird companionship. Now, who would think that this pretty littl' princess could be a handful, huh? Wow! :D


Friday, September 11, 2009

Increasing Desirable Behavior

Back on the previous discussion of Increasing Desirable Behavior post!

We left off with the discussion example:

A-Dog Barks/human cues bird to say 'pretty bird'
B-Bird Says Pretty Bird
C-Bird Receives Valued Reinforcer (treat)

The desirable behavior selected (bird says 'pretty bird') was selected as a behavior to reinforce. It would be desirable for the 'pretty bird' to replace the scream that was following the dog barking.

What would be really spectacular:

1. The very first time the dog barked, the human cued the bird to say pretty bird, the bird actually said pretty bird immediately, and received the treat; and

2. From the point forward, every time the dog barked the bird would never scream, but would always say pretty bird and the human would be there ready with a treat in hand!

That would some kind of "It's a Wonderful Birdie World" Christmas movie! I don't know about your birds and your household, but mine don't usually work quite that way, and certainly not the first time around!

So, let's look at some practicalities.

In our scenario, we selected the 'pretty bird' phrase because it was one that our pretend bird could already say. This is important.

In preparation, I would want to start with simply reinforcing the behavior itself (absent the dog barking):

A-The Human Cues for a 'pretty bird'
B-The Bird Says 'pretty bird'
C-The Bird Receives
Valued Reinforcer (treat)

Then, we continue on to the regular training:

A-Dog Barks/human cues bird to say 'pretty bird'
B-Bird Says Pretty Bird
C-Bird Receives Valued Reinforcer (treat)

If the bird screams in response to the dog barking, it does not receive the treat. But if it says pretty bird, it does receive a treat.

One thing about working with positive reinforcement is that it does not always yield instant results. Notably, punishment can at times, be a much quicker road to behavior change (just ask my dad). However, it holds great potential for damage to a relationship.

First and foremost, we identified a behavior that we wanted to see increase, one that was an alternate behavior to the screaming, and one that we could positively reinforce.

I find we often do this by nature with our children, but may need to work a bit harder to remember to do it with our birds. For example, we teach our young toddlers that if they want something, they must say 'please' first. This is an alternate behavior to 'throwing a fit', screaming, crying or any other undesirable behavior!

When we look at it from this perspective, it can become challenging and quite interesting to contemplate alternate behaviors to train for our birds. And enjoy the sense of accomplishment in watching them grow.

Just as we must often remind our toddlers "now, what do you say?", the same consistency is important in our birds lives.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How Do You Like Your Toys?

Lately, Coco's clear choice has been:


I've never seen such a thing in all her 13 years.

We're saving on electricity, though.

Instead of shredding important documents, we just stick them in Coco's house!

The 'object' you see center stage (in case you cannot recognize it) is actually an egg carton. A poor, unsuspecting egg carton that never did anything to nobody... minded its business... held a respectable job carrying toys and foraging food...

It probably never knew what hit it!

Thankfully, there are more egg cartons where that one came from!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Hide the Snau'sage?!

Whose idea was it to make me work for my snau'sage?

I think mom is taking this 'foraging' thing a bit too far, don't you?

Birds forage...

But I don't think dogs are meant to forage!

She stuck a snau'sage in my rawhide!

If only my tongue were a little longer...

I'm nuthin' if I'm not determined...

I can still smell it - I know it's down there somewhere.
Can someone lend me a thumb?

What does it mean when your people say, "That should keep him 'busy' for awhile?"

I've discovered that foraging is hard work!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Very Own Signature!

Just ignore the 4 itty, bitty tiny little specks on the edges of the picture... it's finally all about ME!

(Thanks, Arlene - you're the bestest!)



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Working With Penske

Those of us with more than one bird, and especially my many friends from Talk Budgies that have several budgies together in one area, know of the challenges of working with the birds individually or together.

As you may have noticed from my most recent video of Bucky and Strider, the two of them are more than anxious to come to me for a tasty treat. They have learned that when my hand is near or in the cage, good things happen, and I can hardly get them off of me. Penske, however is a bit of a different story; he has been happy to sit back.

My main objective at the present time, for all 3, is to provide them a wonderful place to live in community with one another. I do not have a desire to turn them into shoulder budgies; they have too much fun with one another! And my fun comes from watching them interact happily and enjoy their friendships.

There is, however, a huge advantage to each having the ability to comfortably step onto my hand or a finger. This would enable me to easily move them to a travel carrier for vet visits, get a close up look at them, and much more. So I really would like each to have this ability.

With Bucky and Strider all over me, it presents a challenge in working with Penske.

Removing Penske from the fort to work with him 'alone' is impractical for two reasons:

1) Since he will not step up, removing him to a separate area would be tricky since I have no desire to use a catching, trapping or coercive method; and

2) I would then be working with him in an area other than the fort. Any progress I made may or may not translate to the fort area.

Since it is my desire to have him comfortable getting on my hand in the fort area, I want to work with him in that environment first and foremost.

Removing Bucky and Strider from the fort area is also not a practical or desirable choice. I do not want them to start learning that every time they perch on my hand for a treat they end up in a travel carrier or other place they desire not to be. This could degrade their step up behavior, and I certainly do not want to train a step up behavior for Penske only to degrade the step up behavior for Bucky and Strider!

So, we need a 3 bird solution!

Therefore, Fort Designer Hubby to the rescue! Explaining my dilemma, he immediately thought of the exact same solution I was going to suggest! (The difference being that he has the ability to create and implement the idea!)

Because the fort is large enough and has two separate doors, it makes sense to create a divider that can be added as needed when I am going to work with Penske alone. Since Bucky and Strider will 'flock' to my hand for a treat, it is easy to get them both on the same side of the fort. They will allow me to walk around with them on my hand, happily munching away at a treat. Steve has installed two hooks in the center edges of the cross bar and designed a roll down screen divider!

When I want to work with Penske, I need only offer Bucky and Strider a reinforcer for stepping onto my hand, and move to the opposite side from Penske. Steve hooks the roll down nylon screen divider into place, and I am then able to switch sides and work with Penske. (We are not leaving the roll down divider in the fort at all times as it would be too tempting for little beaks to chew on the nylon screening.)

This solution enables me to:

1) Work with Penske inside the fort environment;
2) Bucky and Strider are able to remain in the fort environment as well;
3) Bucky and Strider receive a reinforcer for coming to my hand (so their step up behavior is not at risk of degrading);
4) The divider is an easy, workable solution;
5) The birds are able to have a visual of one another.

The ability to find a way to work with Penske 'alone' is really a 'where the rubber meets the road' type of challenge - one that those of us with more than one bird can understand.

So, I'm looking forward to the next video (on Penske's time table) showing his progress at learning to sit on my hand or finger for a reinforcer!

The 3 Musketeers at bedtime... awwwwww!