Birds have favourites.
Birds have likes and dislikes.
A reinforcer is something your bird likes. It is technically “something added to the situation to increase the probability of that behaviour happening again”. A reinforcer is something your bird wants and is willing to put in some effort to obtain.
Make a list of the top 10 foods your bird likes. These are the things he will try to steal from you. Things he would jump over the moon to get.
Here's a list of Quentin the African Grey's top ten foods (in order):
- Sweet Potato
- Corn chips
- Mashed Potato
- Warm tea (birdsafe)
These are things that Quentin will happily take from me. Or steal from me! I keep these items in reserve, that means they aren’t offered for “free” in his bowl usually. He earns them as reinforcement for doing things that are good, like staying on his tree or making cute noises.
Now that you have your list of top 10 foods, can you think of 5 more things that ARENT food? Toys? Places? People? Activities? Here's Quin's:
- Being in the bathroom
- Getting a shower
- looking out the bay window
- sitting on your knee while you're on the computer
- Headrubs at bedtime
Each one of these items can be used to reinforce behaviour. It doesn't always have to be food! Let me know what your birds favourite reinforcers are!
Not too sure? Do a test! Take a dish and put 6 different options for your bird to choose from. Which one does he ear first? Second? Last? This type of testing will help you learn the value of each reinforcer for you bird.
Be sure to use all types of reinforcers and give them to your bird often when he’s doing good things. Reinforce what you want to see! It’s like giving your bird treats, with added bonus of reinforcing good behaviour.
Need more help? Send an email to [email protected] and we will assist any way we can.
Happy Training And Bonding!
- Robin Horemans KPA CTP IAABC Parrot Div Chair