Parrot and The Brain Brain Brain Brain…

Here’s another gripe of mine when dealing with the so called, “parrot people”.  Trainers.

There are a certain percentage that follow some type of training theory.  At worst they can range from teaching an animal to act ridiculous for our own amusement.  At best, they argue that it “enriches” the relationship with our birds.

Let me say now, my relationships with my birds are healthy.  I let them do what they want, how they want, when I’m able.  They’re all happily content in their lives and enjoy being around my wife and I.

Training, to me, cheapens the entire experience.  It’s designed to cater to the lowest form of behavior and manipulate the animal to do what we want them to do.  It’s the age-old scientific conundrum about always asking “could we do this” instead of asking “should we do this”.


Yes, great, bravo, you can manipulate a creature that has little understandings of our internal brain functions. Here’s a cookie.

Now, there are two types of training we can talk about and I should clarify.  One actually engages the bird’s intelligence to develop a free will and get them adjusted to situations.  It’s pretty much identical to the same as a human development; children see something that gets a reaction so they continue to do it until they learn how to get what they wanted.  The child is happy for accomplishing the task and the parents are happy to have a child that thinks for themselves.

The other type of training takes the bird’s rudimentary level of intelligence and manipulates them to complete a task.  Imagine how empty this accomplishment would be if you translated it to humans; teach a baby to throw a wad of paper in a garbage can and give them a piece of candy every time they accomplish it.

People making a livelihood off of the latter version of that training aren’t providing the world of parrots or Animal Rights any help in their efforts.  They pretty much give people a free pass to say “look how cool I am because my bird can do this neat trick”.

If you look at Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s work with African Greys and really see how much of the birds’ understanding goes into learning new things, then all these cheap, gimmicky tricks and clicker training techniques will almost look insulting!

My advice to future/current/potential bird “guardians” is to be wary of trainers who’s emphasis is placing their/your own needs above the birds.  If a bird is screaming, or biting, the bird is more distressed than you are.  Find the root cause of that and solve both of your problems instead of glossing over it with a cheap parlor trick for your own sanity.


I am an animal advocate. I not only love, but respect animals... all animals. I have spent several years of my life dedicated to working in animal rescue and now have very little left to lose in expressing my true thoughts and ideals on the subject.

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Posted in Animals, Parrots
One comment on “Parrot and The Brain Brain Brain Brain…
  1. avianstudent says:

    Could not agree more, especially the last paragraph. I have major issues with some trainers who push trick training and ‘glossing,’ and this perfectly articulates why! Training is important, yes, but the right kind – the kind that helps a parrot learn and develop.


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