A bird’s sight is their primary means of communication amongst the flock and especially true of Parrots.  Although their calls can be heard for miles in the wild, when settled in their roosting place with their mate, offspring or siblings they continue to communicate through body language.  The head will go down when they want to be preened, a wing goes up when they want to get cozy or a foot stretched out to show others to stand clear.  A parrot will even pin or flash their eyes to ward off a mate or their human caregiver.  Our ability to see these sometimes subtle movements helps us communicate better with them.  It allows us to respect their space when asked or move in when they beckon us, building the trust that is essential when keeping Parrots as companion pets.

To become a better communicator with your Parrot you need to be able to see them at all times.  This means no more shoulder bird.  While you are entertaining yourself by reading a book or watching television, your shoulder bird may be trying to tell you something and give you a peck to get your attention.  Your reaction is enough to reinforce that new “word” in his visual vocabulary.  

If you need to retrain your Parrot off your shoulder, then just as he starts to run up your arm, simply raise your forearm higher than your shoulder.  All Parrots love to be at the highest point so be prepared to make it better where you want him to stay by rewarding with a tiny treat while slowly lowering your arm.

Another way to help improve ones ability to communicate with their Parrot is to ask for behaviours rather than give commands.  Most people only communicate with words.  When we ask someone a question and do not get a reply we naturally start looking for an answer.  When we do this with our Parrots, we start watching their body language for their response.

Start with asking your Parrot to step up.  Place your hand or arm half way between yourself and him, then ask “do you want to step up?”   If the foot comes up move your hand/arm within his reach and once both feet are resting on your hand reward with a small treat or head scritch.   If you do not see any response to the question and hand cue, drop your hand and eyes for 5 seconds then try again two more times.  If he still does not understand your new form of communicating, wait 20 minutes before asking again.

Once your Parrot knows it has a choice be sure to always reward with small treats and you will find that he will be more willing to do what you ask.

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