Stick Training Parrots
Search the blog...
Recent Blog Posts

Stick Training Parrots

Published on Friday, 8th February 2019
I recently had the pleasure of watching the results of some great positive reinforcement training with a Cockatoo.

The Parrot in question unfortunately had some not so great experiences with stick training in his past. For many Parrots sticks or dowel rods become a problem when they are used to force a Parrot to step up for transport to another location. It is an easy situation to fall into.

A caregiver needs the bird to step up, a stick is pressed against his chest and eventually the Parrot gets on it. Overtime the bird learns to hop onto the stick right away to avoid the pressure against his chest or feet. 


This is a very straight ahead example of negative reinforcement in action. The problem is that it is usually not too much fun for the Parrot. The Parrot complies. However it is because he has to, not because he wants to. What can often happen is the bird ends up showing a fear response or aggressive behaviour towards sticks. 

This was the case with the Cockatoo in question. Getting on a stick often included biting and attacking the stick. His caregivers wanted to create positive associations with sticks. One of their strategies was to teach him to orient his head towards a target. In this case they used a closed fist as the target. The Cockatoo learned following the target with his head earned him his favourite treats.

This made it easy to teach him to walk towards the stick and step onto it willingly. (You can learn more about how to train this behaviour from my Parrot training DVDs.)

Another clever strategy this team used was to teach the Cockatoo to keep his head upright when he stepped onto the stick. In the past he used to bite at the stick. The target was used to prompt him to keep his head up away from the stick. This was then reinforced with treats (which you can buy here.)

Keeping his head upright and biting the stick are incompatible behaviours. The Parrot cannot do both at the same time. This is a great way to address certain problem behaviours. 

It was a pleasure to see the incredible progress this team made with this Parrot, just by using some simple positive reinforcement training strategies. Best of all the Cockatoo can now look forward to stepping up onto a stick because he knows it results in wonderful consequences.
Barbara Heidenreich

Copyright Good Bird Inc 2010
This was originally published on Barbara’s blog in 2010.

For more on training and behaviour please click here.

To be the first to read blogs like this, plus exclusive offers and the latest Parrot news, sign up to our newsletter. If you have a friend who you think may find this useful, feel free to share
Sign Up
Have You Seen...
Assorted Jelly Cups Jelly Parrot Treat
From 3.99
In Stock
 4 out of 5
(69 Reviews)
Kaytee Bird Greens Pro Health - Chia & Sweet Potato 28g(1oz)
In Stock
 4.8 out of 5
(18 Reviews)
The Percher - Portable Parrot Training Perch
In Stock
 4 out of 5
(10 Reviews)
Training Clicker for Parrots
In Stock
 4.9 out of 5
(11 Reviews)
Buffet Party Ball Creative Foraging Toy for Parrots
In Stock
 4 out of 5
(29 Reviews)
Harrison`s High Potency Coarse-Complete Organic Parrot Food
From 11.99
In Stock
 4.6 out of 5
(140 Reviews)
  • Show Prices
  • Inc VAT
  • Ex VAT
Email A Friend
Recipient Name:
Recipient Email:
Sender Name:
Sender Email:
Report problem on this page
Sender Name:
Sender Email: