Ask Lafeber

Question:

March 30, 2021

Conure behavior


How do I persuade my sun conure to return to its cage willingly?


Answer:

Hi Linda,

Birds respond well to positive reinforcement and really do not learn from punishment. With any training, sometimes it’s best to go back to basics. It often ends up being a mistake when you let a bird come and go from its cage at will. It’s best to teach your bird to step up on your hand or a stick in order to come out of the cage. And you may already be doing this. But a common mistake is to then place the bird on the cage or playstand, and then not picking him up again until you are ready to put the bird in the cage. You need to work on stepping up but give him a treat or praise each time and take him to another room or just sit and hold him and give him attention. If there is one treat he really enjoys, save that for when it is time to go back in the cage. Show him the treat, place him in the cage, and give him the reward. You can place the treat in the cage first. But, always place him back in the cage – don’t try to get him to go in for the treat and then close the cage door. This is a trick and he won’t fall for it every time. He needs incentive, but he also needs to know you are in charge and he gets the treat by behaving and doing what you ask him to do. It’s also important to recognize when he is going to bite, if that is what he does when you try to put him in his cage. Once you can predict the bite, you can avoid the bite. When you see he is about to bite, give your hand the slightest wobble – just enough to get his attention. This is not a form of punishment, this can be enough to distract him from the bite so that you can work on getting him in his cage and rewarding him. I’ll give you some links that should help you with training and recognizing what his behavior means. One link is to one of our recent pet bird behavior webinars, where Chris Davis discusses biting and demonstrates this subtle wobble you can do to distract the bird from biting.

Teaching Your Bird

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

This begins at the point where she talks about biting

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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