Friday, November 20, 2009

Penske Progress

Penske and I enjoyed some nice progress last evening! I, like Arlene (see her comment on yesterday's post) spend a lot of time being with the budgie-boys, hanging and giving them opportunities to see that my hands mean them no harm. Not to mention that they have the ability to bring wonderful treats!

I saw that Bucky and Strider were loft-sleeping - - a golden moment to give Penske a choice to receive some millet from my open palm while he was down and alone (without the extra competition) at regular height.

He was mildly curious...

That is, until Bucky came down. Then the allure of monkey-see, monkey-do became irresistible.

Penske began showing more interest.

Bucky immediately jumped on my hand. Shortly after, I asked Bucky to step down, he did, and I placed some millet dust into a cup. I moved my hand and the cup toward Penske. He then hopped onto the edge of the cup and began eating!

After he jumped onto the edge of the cup, I was able to slowly move my hand toward me while he continued happily eating. Holding the cup at less than an arm's length from my face, I spoke sweetly as he enjoyed his just rewards. Very nice...

Several minutes into our interaction, Bucky flew over and landed on the cup beside Penske. The cup is not that big... thus a bit of an uncomfortable moment ensued... But the boys have all displayed great relationships, and any tension is fleeting.

It seemed to me that perhaps Penske had worked too hard for his turn, and was not going to be dissuaded so easily. Standing tall, he postured and challenged Bucky with confidence. Bucky received the message loud and clear, exiting stage left.

It is so rewarding to be reaching the point where they will all be equally comfortable flying to me for a reinforcer. Of course my little boy Penske has been the most hesitant, and this progress has been 4 months in the making.
The cleaning session that followed brought an extra bonus. After the millet, I spent some time with Coco, and then returned to the budgie fort to give it the usual cleaning. While Strider will sit on a post and pay no attention to my bumping, cleaning, moving and disruption, Bucky and Penske will usually retreat to the opposite side. Tonight, all 3 remained stationed. Strider had the swing, and Bucky and Penske were on either side of the goal post, happily watching and chirping through the cleaning show.It is such a delight to know that as each day passes, they continue to learn that my hands, head and upper body inside their area - leaning, making noise and even bumping their perches - is simply of no concern! I want them to have that confidence and assurance.

Just a couple examples of some things I do with the boys to help this process:

Move slowly and with intent while cleaning their area.Much singing, whistling or talking while I take care of business.Following similar routines in the manner and order in which I do things to give them the ability to predict my behavior and movements.Sitting near them while reading or doing other activities, talking and interacting from a bit of a distance.Offering plenty of opportunities for them to gain reinforcers.

For 4 months Penske has watched Bucky and Strider fly to me, land on my hand, and receive reinforcers. His body language clearly expressed his desire to stick his toes in the water, but he was unwilling to take the plunge. Tonight, I gave him the opportunity to gain the reinforcer incrementally. Since he was not ready to eat the millet out of my palm, I offered it in a cup instead. This worked for him, and resulted in a very delicious experience.

I predict it will only be a matter of a day or few before he is sitting in my palm, flying to me and past that which was blocking him from going for the millet that he wanted all along.

It was a very important step in Penske's progress, the way in which he sees me as part of his daily experience, and as a bringer of good tidings!


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