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Fun With Your Bird

If you have built a good rapport with your parrot or parakeet and he trusts you, you may be able to teach him some tricks. How intricate these tricks are depends on the type of bird you have. Parrots are highly intelligent and can be taught more complex tricks than parakeets, for example. Parakeets can be taught simple tricks. While some small birds like canaries and finches are more ornamental, meaning that they should be admired and kept for their beauty and not handled, trained parrots can be interacted with and handled. Parakeets can be handled as well, but they are smaller than parrots and therefore more fragile.

Mold Proper Behavior

When training your parrot, you may find yourself in a situation where you must correct some negative behavior. If so, discipline him, but don't punish him. Discipline requires you to guide and mold proper behavior, while punishment simply means that you're correcting a problem behavior, usually by force. Your parrot is a very clever, sensitive creature, and any sort of temperamental outburst on your part will damage the trust your pet has in you. For this reason, it's important to never lose your temper with your bird, and never hit him.

Many parrots respond to a stern glare and a firm "No." Others are sensitive to changes in their owners' voices. If neither works, try ignoring your bird for a few minutes. You can place him in his cage and turn your back. Ignore any screams or shrieks. Because many parrots crave their owners' attention, ignoring your pet can be an effective way to modify his behavior. Take the time to discipline your parrot properly in the beginning, and you'll be rewarded with a better-behaved bird in the long run.

With a parakeet, the use of positive reinforcement will mold him into the well-behaved animal you desire. Speak softly to him, and handle him tenderly. Don't force him to do anything he doesn't want to do, and respect him as you would a good friend. A bird who sees his guardian as a friend is more likely to become tame.

Talking Up a Storm

If the simple tricks a parakeet can learn don't really interest you but you have your heart set on teaching him to do something, it may be as easy as talking to him. Parakeets are arguably the best talkers in the parrot family, able to learn hundreds of words and phrases, perhaps even thousands. They don't speak as clearly as other, larger parrots, but their vocabulary can be massive.

Repetition is the key—always talk to your parakeet. Eventually he may very well talk back to you. You'll be surprised at how clearly your parakeet will begin to repeat words if you teach him how they're meant to be pronounced. Keep some things in mind, though —pairs are less likely to talk than a single bird, and single birds with mirrors are less likely to talk than ones without them. (A bird may think that his reflection is another bird.) Also, males speak with more frequency and will learn more words than females.

Parrots can talk as well. Apply the same approach as mentioned earlier to get your parrot to speak. Please note that there are no guarantees that any parrot will actually talk. It all depends on the individual bird.

Your Bird's Hidden Talent

By studying and learning your bird's natural behaviors and then rewarding them, you may be able to teach him a variety of tricks. For example, if your bird enjoys picking up things with his beak, he may be a good candidate to learn how to drop coins in a bank or become a basketball star and slam-dunk a ball into a miniature hoop. If he's a chewer, you may be able to devise some sort of card trick for him to do. Perhaps he loves to endlessly climb over his perches and up and down his cage—he may be able to learn how to do gymnast-style twirls or how to slide down a pole. Some parrots can be trained to ride small plastic vehicles.

To learn more about the tricks your bird can learn, read books, search the Internet, or attend local workshops.