Based on conventional bird wisdom it's
easy to understand that my hands-on
approach to bird taming is
controversial. What's also clear is that
because of that same conventional
bird owners who have fearful or
aggressive birds have been made to feel
helpless to do anything about it.
While the experts in the
bird world contribute greatly to our knowledge of
bird care and behavior, many of them have inadvertently
paralyzed bird owners. They
espouse "rules" like, "Never take a bird
out of its cage until it chooses to come
"Never use gloves." (more on this in the
article, 'The Biggest Myth')
"Never make a bird do ANYTHING it
doesn’t want to do." And
The biggest problem with these
rules is that they reflect an
idealistic approach to working with
birds that, in many cases, just isn't
effective. Once bird owners have tried
everything they know in the realm of
patience, and still haven't made any
significant progress, they are lost.
Their bird doesn't improve, yet guilt
and political correctness prevent them
from doing anything that they're told might upset
their feathered friends. So, bird
owners sadly, patiently and helplessly wait for
their frightened birds to decide
to trust them.
The sad fact
is that a great number of these birds do
not come around. Ever. The
experts know this.
owners around the world know this.
Bird Sanctuaries, Adoption & Rescue
Centers know this. Yet, other than
setting up adoptions
unwanted birds, no one is giving owners
any clear, practical solutions.
day I get emails from people all over
the world, tormented by their inability
to get close to their birds. They
write things like, "Help! I can't
get my Amazon to stop biting me."
"I try to get close to my African Grey,
but he's terrified of my hands."
Or, "I've been trying to get my
parakeet to sit on my finger for seven
months and he won't. Please help
me." Seven months of patience and
no progress? Yet the experts
insist that theirs is the only approach.
So, where does that leave people and
their terrified birds? Nowhere.
Many birds are
abandoned, neglected, or shuttled
from place to place simply because their
owners don’t have any effective tools to
get beyond the fear and
aggression. But the
tools DO exist. I use them all the
they're not that difficult to learn. I
demonstrate them in private sessions,
programs and workshops around the
country. In virtually every case, my
hands-on techniques achieve clear,
In a bird club program in Salt Lake
City, one of the birds they brought for
me to work with was an adult,
wild-caught Orange Wing Amazon brought
in by a local bird rescue center.
The Orange Wing had been around for many
years (someone said it was 25 years)
They said that it was a wild caught
adult and had never been tamed.
Had never perched on a hand.
After about 20 minutes of handling not
only did I get that Orange Wing to perch
nicely on my hand and teach it to do
step-ups, I was also able to nuzzle my
face in its neck and pet it all over.
Everyone present could see the light go
on in that bird's eyes as it realized
that the contact it had been avoiding
all those years was actually
unthreatening, even pleasurable.
This is a bird that had been branded
un-handle-able. If I had listened
to conventional wisdom and followed the
accepted "rules" of bird taming, I
wouldn’t have even taken that bird out
of the cage. And its life would
have continued as a "rescue bird."
In a mere half hour that bird was
liberated from its prison. I have since
heard that it was placed in a happy home
the next day.
to that program several audience members
emailed me, thanking me for "giving them
permission" (that’s how powerful a grip
conventional wisdom has on people)
to do something about their
exception, everyone who had seen the
program and tried this new approach with
their birds saw immediate,
improvements in their
relationships with their birds. With the
right handling not only can you change a
bird’s behavior in a very short time,
you can open the door to an entirely new
relationship. There are clear, simple
techniques to help frightened birds
learn to trust.
So, when I hear
people moaning about not being able to
touch their nippy budgie I become
exasperated. That kind of behavior
can be improved in a few minutes.
And many other such behaviors, as well.
With the right techniques, in a very
short time, birds and owners that have
spent years living in mutual fear can
learn to live happily together.
What an unconventional concept.