Friday, January 13, 2012

Be gentle now, quakers!

My quakers are not always the, erm, nicest, finger-wise, anyway. Frank, for his own personal reasons, is very unpredictable, but Lola is fairly normal, a bit grouchy with her age, and she always was cage territorial, but it should be made clear she is not in the same category as Frank! Either way, the point remains the same- how do you redirect their energy when you need them to do something and they are not in the mood? There are many methods, spoken about in length in books and online, mostly focusing on having certain behaviors so well trained that you can always fall back on them. Stick training, for instance, or a trick, such as a wave, to distract them. And while I do have to go through some of Frank s repertoire of tricks every couple of minutes when I am interacting with him to keep him engaged and in a good mood, I have one specific routine I do whenever I need to get either one in a good mood so I can move on to whatever the necessary task may be.

Both Frank and Lola love giving kisses. I had Frank first, though, so I developed this with him. I gave Frank kisses all the time when we were interacting (ie, during highly positive moments) and this eventually turned into a bit of a trick. I ask him to give me a kiss, and either offer my finger or my forehead (above the hairline- he cannot do much beak damage there) and he leans forward, touches me with his beak, and makes a kissing sound. He often initiates it himself now by asking the question. This became, and still is, above and beyond his very favorite thing in the whole world, loved more than anything else, food, head scritches, singing, clapping, anything. In fact, I now use it as a reward training other tricks! More importantly, though, because this routine is so highly valued by Frank, I can use it to get him out of a depression or break an attack rampage, or get him away from something he should not be chewing on. He really loves it that much! I have now added another version of the kiss game, so when he shakes my finger, I tell him to be a gentleman, and he leans down and gives my finger a kiss while still holding it. Sometimes he gets a bit carried away, though, and becomes positively French (or Italian?) giving me many kisses up and down my finger! Hard to believe he is the same bird that can be so unpredictable and rather dangerous.

Lola, like many parrots, also came knowing a kiss sound. Hers was different from Frank, and she loves getting lots of little whispering kisses in a row, to which she responds by bouncing her head from side to side, looking at you with first one eye and then the other, while imitating you with her own kisses. She still loves this, it is one of our special things to do together. However, through Frank, she learned the kiss game, and now loves it (almost) as much as he does. I can not say whether it would convince her to stop chewing on an electrical cord, since she is so well behaved anyway, but it does get her to stop protecting her cage or Frank so vigorously so I can pick either one up or mess with their cage!

As you can well imagine, the kiss game has huge cuteness factor. I mean, is their anything cuter than a little green fluff ball leaning over and giving you a big kiss? Yes, my friends there is- a little green fluff ball asking his beloved (other) little green fluff ball if she would like a kiss, before leaning over a giving her one. That certainly takes the cake!

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