Letters


Dear Parrots magazine,

Other options for loud Amazon

I was somewhat taken aback by Bob Mann’s response to Dexter Bailey’s question about his nine year-old screaming Amazon in the December 2012 issue. I believe other avenues should be explored before potentially rehoming the parrot to enable it to breed, and acquiring one of her babies instead.

What will happen when Dexter starts afresh with the baby and the same thing happens nine years later? There would be an awful lot of re-homes at this rate. There are other, far less drastic options, to modify an unwanted behaviour.

Parrots scream for long durations because it serves a purpose, most often human attention delivered intermittently, which of course makes the behaviour even more persistent, just as the intermittent reinforcement of a slot machine builds persistent gambling behaviour.

Dexter said the only way he could stop her screaming was to cover her cage. Using punishment like this will only serve to erode the trust Dexter has carefully built up with his Amazon over the years. Instead, set her up for success, build on that trust – catch her being good! Reward and reinforce all desired behaviours and sounds other than the screaming, at every opportunity. Rewards could be praise, treats and activities she enjoys. Teach her new behaviours and games using positive reinforcement.

Have a look at the information on Dr Susan Friedman's website: www.behaviorworks.org and in particular the article in the Success Files, under Written Works, and titled Success with Lee: Rockx: Loud Repetitive Vocalisations. I would also recommend any of Barbara Heidenreich’s books or DVDs on behaviour.

Roz Paterson, London

 


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