Interview with Barbara Heidenreich but before giving way to the interview we learn a little to Barbara Heidenreich:

"Prestigious parrot trainer specializing in behavior, writer of books and published many important articles in leading journals of parrots."

We thank you personally for your kindness in accepting this interview.

Leer entrevista en EspaƱol

1) How did your interest in the parrots? Why?

I had budgies as a child, but in 1987 my blue fronted amazon parrot Tarah came into my life. Over the past 23 years this parrot has taught me a lot and also was part of my inspiration to officially become a bird trainer over 20 years ago. I always knew animals were my passion, but Tarah helped me to appreciate birds most of all.

2) What species are causing a greater interest? What would you highlight these beautiful birds?

It is difficult to say one species is more special than another. They all have qualities that are fascinating. I do have a fondness for amazon parrots because of my years spent living with one...and now two. I also have a yellow naped amazon parrot named Delbert who is an excellent singer and talker. But many bird species interest me. A parrot that I think is spectacular and I hope to have the chance to see one day is the very endangered Kakapo. Being nocturnal, flightless and huge they tend to be the opposite of what most people think of when they mention parrots. I also enjoy other New Zealand species such as the kaka and the kea. These highly intelligent parrots learn so quickly.

3) Are all parrot species are suitable for free flight? What species are recommended for free-flying?

In my opinion, it is the not the species that determines whether a bird is suitable for flight. It is how the bird is raised. Good candidates for flight training are ones who never had their wings clipped and who have lived in an enclosure large enough that they could practice flying, especially during fledging. Flight is a learned behavior motivated by instinct initially. Just like humans have a window of time in which they learn to walk, parrots have a window in their development when they learn to fly. When you take that away from them, their ability to fly or learn later diminishes tremendously. That is why many adult bird who were clipped during fledging only fly when scared. These birds are very difficult to train for flight unless they are light bodied birds like cockatiels. However for free flight (flying outdoors) I recommend only working with the best candidates. In my opinion a good trainers will try to reduce risk to a bird that is flying outdoors. Besides a good training plan, one of the best ways to do this is to start with the right candidate.

4) The feather picking in parrots. What types of pecking are more frequent? Can you explain some?

Unfortunately feather picking is a very complex problem that can involve many factors. No single approach is the cure. I highly recommend people first see the help of a qualified avian veterinarian to rule out medical problems if possible. Lack of enrichment and stress can be contributing factors from a behavioral perspective. But there are so many medical causes and many unknowns on feather picking that I rarely come to the conclusion that the problem is just behavioral. I often refer people to an article by Dr Tammy Jenkins to get them started in trying to solve this problem. http://www.featherpicking.com/Basics_of_FP.htm

5) What types of parrots as pets you recommend? What species is more special behavior?

In general I don´t not think one species is better than the other. What makes a great parrot is training and how the birds are raised. I personally prefer to work with a breeder who knoA cockatiel I have that came from a breeder who used force still is hesitant around hands despite lots of good training from me. The difference between a bird raised with a positive reinforcement approach and a bird raised with force is like night and day. Training with positive reinforcement is what makes a great parrot in my opinion, not so much the species or genetics.ws about positive reinforcement training. Baby parrots are learning so much when they are still hand feeding. A breeder who knows about training can start teaching that young bird during feeding sessions. My parrot Delbert came from such a breeder. When he arrived he already knew how to step up, hop onto a scale, fly to me, allow nail trims and more.

6) What difference in behavior between a hand-reared parrot and a parrot raised by parents? Are they both fully recommended as pets?

Again I would say it is more about what happens when someone works with the parrot. A parent raised bird that is trained with positive reinforcement can be an excellent companion. A hand raised bird that is trained with force can be very difficult to teach to trust people in the future and vice versa. Parent or hand raised does not necessarily determine the best outcome. It is actually the training strategy that will make the difference.

7) How far can the intelligence of a parrot? develop the intelligence to draw attention?

Intelligence is something that is difficult to measure. As a trainer I define it as how quickly the animal learns. In general parrots do tend to learn quickly and some species have a tendency to learn faster than others such as the kaka and keas mentioned before. But that is based on my experience and not on any scientific study. In the animal world I think species who need to problem solve to acquire food tend to be fast learners.

8) Hybridization. What do you think? What about cutting feathers?

I personally prefer to keep birds flighted. I greatly enjoy watching a bird have the ability to choose to go where it wants. I use my positive reinforcement training strategies to safely manage a flighted bird in my home and have written several articles for my magazine Good Bird on how to do this. However I understand this is not always an option for every household and have certainly met many clipped birds who seem very content.

I am not involved in breeding birds so don´t really have much comment on hybridization. In my opinion every bird can benefit from training with positive reinforcement even if they are a hybrid. I highly encourage parrot owners to take advantage of positive reinforcement to create a great relationship with any bird in their life, no matter what the genetics.

9) Can you tell us some experience with parrots?

I recently had the pleasure of training two young parrots for a company that does education programs. I wrote about my experiences with them in my blog http://goodbirdinc.blogspot.com/ . It is a great story to follow for someone who is just getting started with their own bird. I include video clips on the birds´ progress. It can give new parrot owners some guidance on what to do with their own birds to raise a successful companion parrot.

10) What advice can you give a person who wants to buy a parrot?

First I recommend finding a breeder who trains their babies with positive reinforcement. I also recommend learning as much as possible about positive reinforcement training before you bring your parrot home. This will allow you to start using the appropriate methods as soon as your new bird arrives. I also recommend learning about common behavioral problems people encounter. If you know about them in advance you can do things to prevent problems before they happen. Or you will know what to do the moment a problem happens for the first time so that it does not happen again.

11) What will your next book? When do the sale?

Right now I am getting ready to release another DVD. It is called The Basics of Parrot Training. A Live Workshop. It is a live recording of one of my seminars on parrot training. I will be working on another DVD later this year. There are always new products coming out. Please visit www.goodbirdinc.com to see what is new or sign up for the mailing list to be notified when a new product is available.

12) Any target in the world of parrots is to meet soon?

My goal is to help more people discover the wonderful results you can get when you train with positive reinforcement. These kind and gentle methods will help people have a great relationship with their parrots. Positive reinforcement is gaining in popularity, but there is more work to do. I always ask people to be sure to tell your friends how positive reinforcement helped you and your bird. This way we can help other people become interested. In the long run, many people and their parrots will benefit.

comments powered by Disqus