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Bird Whisperer

(ASNSW Meeting - March 2005)
(Printable Version - PDF file - Free Adobe Reader download)

(Brief description:  Notes taken by our editor, Paul Henry, for the April 2005 issue of the Avicultural Review.)

Presented by Jesse James

Jesse gave a talk about the training of pet or companion birds.

Jesse was born in England and later immigrated to South Africa then again to Canada.  This is where his parrot training skills were honed.

The name bird whisperer originated from a horse trainer who Jessie met, who specialised in non-violent training of horses.  He thought if this man can train horses this way I can train parrots the same way.

At this stage no one he spoke to knew what made parrots tick or why they behaved as they did.  It must be remembered that the majority of parrots are only first generation domesticated.

One of the first things a person must understand before buying a large parrot for a companion bird is that they may live for eighty years or more, longer than the owner in the majority of cases.

From an early age they develop the mental age of a human child of about four years, but this does not change however how long they live.

Basic Requirements

Before you buy a large companion parrot make sure you can tolerate these conditions.

The major requirements, including the bad habits, of companion parrots are:

Do you have room for a large cage?


The first requirement is to trim the wing of all companion parrots, this is a must for training.  The wings must be trimmed so the bird can't gain height when it flies.  The preferred method is to trim the last seven primary flight feathers so the bird can glide or fly to the ground without injuring itself.  Use a sharp pair of scissors.  The birds toe nails will also need trimming at times.  Do not use nail clippers, use a Dremmel drill with trim attachments.  If you do accidentally cut the blood vessel in the toe nails, dip the nails in corn flour to the stop the bleeding.  Never trim the beak.

Some Do's

Some Don'ts

Bad Behaviour

There are many ways a bird can develop bad behavioural habits.  Any of the following points could lead your bird into bad behavioural habits.

Certain behaviour is innate to a bird, you will never change this behaviour. Some examples of this behaviour are:


In the old days we used to give sunflower seed and monkey food (peanuts).  I'm a great believer in pellets but they can be very boring on their own.  So give fruit and vegetables every day, but remember parrots are different in their taste so you may have to experiment to find out what your bird finds most enjoyable.  Also parrots are great chewers, so branches or sturdy toys are good for chewing on.

Remember birds are normally lactose intolerant so no dairy products.  Also no alcohol or junk foods like chips or crisps which are high in salt.

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