To celebrate Earth Day, why not teach your bird how to recycle?
Although today April 22 marks Earth Day 2015, everyday should be Earth Day. The United States and 100 other countries have been celebrating the earth and a promise to protect it for a little more than 40 years. “Reduce, reuse, recycle?has been the motto and with the alliteration it is easy to remember. Luckily it is also easy to follow.
Everyone should be recycling. It is easy. Just think of it like throwing away garbage, but in a separate can. Most towns even provide a recycling bin. So there is no excuse. Recently I learned the some states in the North Pacific provide huge recycling containers and small garbage receptacles to persuade the residents to recycle even more. I do know that I am preaching to the choir, since all of the BirdChannel readers are environmentally friendly and want to protect it for their pet birds and bird relatives. If, however, you find an acquaintance or friend that doesn? practice recycling there is a solution. Show them. Show them how easy it is; even your bird can do it.
Writer William Arthur Ward once said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.?Our plan will not just tell our friends how to recycle but demonstrate how simple it is by having our pets inspire them.
You will need a receptacle, a thing to put in the receptacle, treats and your bird. The bin could be the real recycling bin you use, your pet? toy box or a cardboard pizza box.
I trained a green-winged macaw to do this behavior in one 24-hour period. Pebbles, is a very quick learner and your pet can be too. To start with I showed him a plastic soda bottle. He approached it and took it with his beak. I waited for him to drop it and then gave him a small piece of nut, one of his favorite treats. After this I introduced the bin. I gave him the bottle again and right before he dropped it I placed the bin under the bottle about eighteen inches so that it would catch the bottle. I repeated this step for five sessions. Each time he would drop it I would make sure it would go in the bin and would reward Pebbles with a piece of peanut.
For the next phase, I placed the bin a little to the right or left of the bottle. Many of the times the bottle would hit the edge of the bin and fall in. On those instances, the bird would get a treat. On the times it fell to the ground, nothing. By the fifteenth repetition I saw that he was leaning towards the bin to ensure the bottle-bin connection.
Each session lasted around 3 to 5 minutes and within that time I was handing him the bottle five to ten times. Then I would take a break for an hour or two and then go back to where we left off. Each session ended with Pebbles getting the bottle in the bin, with a treat following the behavior. If he had missed putting the bottle in the bin a few times, I would make the bin closer to increase the chance of him being successful.
By the next morning I was able to present the bottle anywhere on the play stand. Pebbles would come over and take the bottle, and then climb around to get to the recycling bin.
Making it very easy in the beginning and gradually raising the bar will make this behavior fun and manageable. Having your bird show off their newly trained behavior throughout the year will not only show off your training skills, but also you and your birds love for the environment.
Want to train another animal? To train a dog, cat or small mammal I would go about it in the same way. If your dog, for example, isn? interested in retrieving an item smearing a little peanut butter or wet dog food on it might entice them. If you have the opposite problem, with them not wanting to let go, showing the treat before the behavior is completed will often do the trick.
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