Ken Globus

The Bird Whisperer




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Are You A Booster?


by Ken Globus


One of the problems people encounter when trying to teach their bird to do step-ups is caused by the very human instinct to try and help the bird up by boosting it with the finger from which the bird is stepping.  This boosting actually has the opposite effect.  The bird feels the strengthening of the lower perch, the one that it's supposed to be leaving, and "lays" back on that solid, lifting perch.  Why leave something solid for something unknown?  

Instead of boosting you should be doing just the opposite; make the old finger/hand melt away while the new, proffered finger becomes the strong, trustworthy perch.  That way the bird will be comfortable committing to it.


By the Numbers

You can teach a bird to do step ups in a very short time with a combination of three, subtle maneuvers:

1.  Offer the hand or finger upon which you want the bird to step, putting slight pressure on its body, just above the feet if it's a small bird, on the lower chest if it's a larger bird.  This pressure should be toward the back of the bird, NOT upward. 

2.  The hand from which the bird is stepping rolls slightly away from the new hand.  This is a technique I call the "log roll." Picture yourself standing on a log.  When it rolls backwards, you have to walk forward just to stay on top of it.  Much like that "Log Roll" a slight roll of the finger/hand will encourage your bird to lift a foot just to stay on top of that finger/hand.  This, coupled with slight backwards pressure from the new finger just above the bird's feet, does the trick. 

3.  When the bird's foot makes contact with the new finger, don't let it waver.  And instead of boosting with the other hand, have that "old" perch melt away.  In other words, lower it gently.  This encourages your bird to do a clean, committed weight shift and not lean its weight back on the old finger.  Thus, the new perch is strong; the old perch melts away.  The bird shifts its weight forward to the strong, rising perch.  Be ready to accept its weight and give your bird a rock-solid place to step.   Don't let your finger wobble under its weight.    This makes it less trustworthy. 

 As you and your bird repeat this behavior, the two of you will learn to work together to make the weight shifts smoother, faster and more natural.  Remember, you want as clear and precise a weight shift as possible to encourage your bird to trust the new perch.  Although these techniques are subtle, they have enabled me to teach hundreds of birds that had never stood on a hand before how to do step-ups in a few minutes.

Don't help the bird up - let it step up


























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