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!


1 comment:

Arlene said...

This sounds awesome.
I notice from your videos that Penske keeps in the background.
I would like mine to come to my hand in the event they need to go into the travel cage.
Nothing worse than trying to catch a bird to put him in that little cage. I think it's as much strain for the owner as the bird.
Good luck with the little loner. :-)

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