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Behavior Basics for Teaching Parrots Positively

    • Behind every parrot behavior is a reason; behavior serves a purpose.
    • To discover the reason look at what happens right after the behavior, its “consequence”.
    • Parrots naturally choose behaviors that provide them with desirable consequences called positive reinforcers.
    • The tricky thing is that every parrot is an individual and has a personal parrot point of view about which consequences are positive reinforcers.
    • To learn what your parrot’s positive reinforcers are, carefully observe favorite activities, people and food treats.
    • You can increase your parrot’s good behavior by giving reinforcers immediately after each behavior.
    • The bad news is you can unintentionally reinforce problem behaviors too, for example, petting a screaming bird to quiet it.
    • To avoid problem behaviors, take care not to reinforce them in the first place; and, arrange the environment carefully to make the right behavior easier than the wrong behavior.
    • Reinforce only the behaviors you want your parrot to do more.
    • You get what you reinforce so catch your parrot being good!


By S.G. Friedman, PhD, Utah State University, BehaviorWorks.org