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Old 04-28-2020, 01:39 PM
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Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

I'm always on the look out for new things to teach Cairo. He's a very fast learner - it's just a matter of whether or not his teacher (yours truly) is any good at teaching As a result, I like exploring new approaches to training. You can get a bird to wave, but there are many ways to teach it. I know Salty learned a very different way than Cairo did, but hey, it works for both of them

So I stumbled across this: https://myreadingpets.com/

Now, I'm not going to expect Cairo to learn to read. I'm just hoping to give him an easier way to communicate his wants and needs.

He already says "fly-fly" to go flying outdoors, and that's easy enough. But that's all he really cares to say. He's selective with his words and loves to practice words that he finds fun or seem important to him.

He flies to the kitchen faucet or the bathroom sink when he's thirsty. But my partner doesn't realise it for the cue that it is. I have to run over and turn on the water for him. And yes, it means he wants water because, as they say, you can bring a horse to water....

I just want Cairo to be able to have another alternative to communicate his needs. He already brings my partner his pens for treats ('give pen' results in a treat reward). Every time I turn on the tap for Cairo to drink from, I tell him "water", but he doesn't always like to talk. But I know Cairo can easily bring me and my partner either cards or other tokens without hesitation.


So this video makes sense:

We're in the middle of teaching him colours now, and it's just been a matter of whether both of his trainers are consistent (my partner and I do have very different thoughts when it comes to methodology - I feel like he skips important baby steps).


Then I saw this video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=464112840639715

So the video by itself just is basic colour training, not impressive. However, the comments are what I'm interested in.


From the trainer:

Quote:
Initially they don't - you have to 'pair' the concepts - the vocabulary word with the behavior. So I start out by having her touch a treat, and I say, "Treat." So she learns that there are words for objects - a treat is called "treat". Then I have her touch the green card - and say yes. So she learns the 'name' of the green card is yes. Same with red card (which means no).
Then I ask her if she wants the treat, and I hold up the cards - she has no idea what to do - but since they're in front of her, she'll probably touch yes or no
If yes - she gets the treat, hooray! And we repeat it over and over again until she understands that "Yes" means she's given something. If she picks "No" she doesn't get the treat, but she has the opportunity to try again - and when she picks yes, she does get it.
Quote:
You teach vocabulary - it's really easy! You saw the pairing? Where you hold up the green card and say, "Touch yes!" - that's pairing the card with the word "yes". You do the same thing to all kinds of things. You can hold up their favorite foods and teach them the labels - "Touch apple! Touch apple!" and have them touch the apple repeatedly, while you say the word. Once they learn the word, you say, "Do you want an apple?" and hold up the yes/no cards.
My guys like reading books, dancing, taking showers, learning vocabulary and math, etc., and all of those things have labels now. I'll attach a video that shows how to build more vocabulary - in that instance, they were learning colors.
Once you KNOW your bird has learned yes and no, and they are communicating it regularly and with consistent accuracy, you can ask them more complicated ones - like showering. (I think it's important to train them to like showers if they are afraid/resistant to it. I try to be force-free as much as possible.)
If they have a squirt bottle, you hold it close and say, "Touch squirt! Touch squirt!" until they've touched it a bunch and they know the vocabulary word, and then you say, "Do you want a squirt?" (hold up the yes/no cards). Isabelle sometimes says yes, and sometimes says no.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yscyOWPrFyI
Quote:
I taught two vocab words as well, treat and water. Then I said, so you want treat? If they picked yes, they got it, if no, they didn't and I'd try again. So they learned yes gave them something and no didn't.

From a viewer:

Quote:
It's not easy, though.
There is no compelling evidence in these videos for that pairing occuring. Very often even when teaching simpler behaviors we think we are pairing two things but are in fact pairing other things. This is no exception, rather the likelihood of that happening is very much increased!
The point is, from these videos, we do -not- know that they have learned the concept of yes and no, nor the labels of the objects/events that they refer to.
For example, in one video where you ask Ellie if she wants a cuddle and says yes, she displays very clear body language of not feeling comfortable with the cuddles, indicating that a) She didn't know that she agreed to something, or b) She thought she agreed to/wanted something else.
Like I've mentioned previously, I love concept training and I'm very convinced parrots have many unexplored capabilities, so what I'm doubting is not their ability to understand concepts. But this approach shows a very confusing setup and a lot of bias in how their responses are interpreted. As I've stated previously, I'm also all for people doing more with their birds, but we should be extremely careful with things like this as it can potentially do a lot of damage when we interpret too much in to answers that may not be there.
Quote:
In the last video where Ellie is supposedly choosing to read a book for example, I don't see how we would rule out that she is simply choosing randomly until something happens. All I see is a bird that is obviously very interested in something, displaying mildly aroused body language and displacement behavior. She is pacing mildly, staring intensely at what is in your hands as if anticipating something, fluffing up from time to time, and she's also biting the perch (or feaking), without any obvious function, something that they will often do as displacement. This is body language we would otherwise see in a parrot that is mildly frustrated due to uncertain criteria, or one that is hungry, during a training session.
What is it that tells us she is choosing here and not just randomly targeting?

Now, I agree with the viewer, so I'm curious to know your thoughts on how to improve the process. What can I do to make things clearer for Cairo? How should I train differently than what they show in the video?
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*He grew up in a Malay-speaking family, so we have to respect his name and preferred pronunciation

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Laurasea Supporting Member (06-24-2020)
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Old 04-28-2020, 02:04 PM
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Re: Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

I didn't read this whole thread, but I agree with teaching vocab. You could easily associate cards or textures with words...so like, if you say "water", show him a card that you want him him identify with water. You say "water", he touches the card, you give him water that second--like, immediately. You say "cage", show him the card that represents that, and if he touches it, take him to his cage. Then try mixing cards and terms--show both, say water. He touches cage, nothing happens--- repeat...Not sure if that would work, but it could.
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charmedbyekkie Supporting Member (04-29-2020)
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Old 04-28-2020, 10:39 PM
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Re: Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

WHat I have a problem with, the way the video is presented and described by the trainer, the parrot, if they choose the negative response, gets another chance. In my mind that only trains the bird to choose the positive every time. The bird training site I belong to IAATE,a primarily raptor training board, has lots you might be interested in, although they are more into the operant conditioning method, rather than anything like Pepperberg was doing. I think the Pepperberg result is more what you are going for? More of a communication tool rather than a learned response?

When I start a new trick with Salty, first I see how he reacts to the prop. If he is shy about it, the first step is to reduce his apprehension to it. We are starting that now with a skateboard. He was like NOoooo I don;t like that at first. So the first few lessons have been getting him to step first over it to get his treat, and now putting 1 foot on the skateboard. Thats where we are now on lesson #3. Some tricks he gets in 1 or 2 trys, like stacking 3 soft rubber alphabet blocks,he is so proud of himself whn he does that one, you can tell.

I've tried to do representational things withhim, using kitchen magnet alphabets, A for Apple, B for bananna, C for carrot, but we never made much headway. I'll be interested in how you proceed with Cairo.
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charmedbyekkie Supporting Member (04-29-2020)
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:33 AM
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Re: Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

Thanks for the heads up on IAATE - had no clue they existed. I'll explore more around there to see what I can pick up


Luckily, Cairo is pretty fearless with most things; in fact, he wants to engage with most things I show him.

I know he can put 2 and 2 together, metaphorically speaking. He understands "fly-fly" means to go flying, so if we tell him "fly-fly" he's excited for the harness and stepping up and independently will ask for "fly-fly" himself. So I'm hoping flash cards or something similar will help. I actually thought about learning a bit of sign language to use with him, but it seems very one-way. Am hoping he'll be able to select a card and fly it to us to convey wants and needs (just like he picks up his cups and brings them to us).

I'll update here if we get anywhere with it haha
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*He grew up in a Malay-speaking family, so we have to respect his name and preferred pronunciation

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Old 04-29-2020, 01:50 PM
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Re: Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

I just remembered about this: https://www.hungerforwords.com/

A speech pathologist trained her dog to push buttons to communicate different wants and needs. Her articles are pretty interesting in terms of not forcing the dog to touch the button, but letting the dog observe her press the button. So by observing, the dog learned and attempted herself.

I won't use buttons with Cairo - I'm thinking more along the lines of what Salty is attempting (maybe not magnetics, but maybe small coloured hoops or small token toys) that I get him to take and give me before I give him, say, the water that he's asking for. I'll definitely keep saying the associated words with it as well, but hopefully we can leave small coloured hoops around the house that he can pick up and fly over to us.
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*He grew up in a Malay-speaking family, so we have to respect his name and preferred pronunciation

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Old 06-24-2020, 06:16 PM
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Re: Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

FWIW, Salty is now at the point where he stays on the skateboard and lets me push him around on it. And when he is done, he knows to pick it up and hand it back to me.

ANd Yeah! he now sits on the bicycle with his feet on the pedals and stations there. Next is to push him a bit so the pedals work. THen make the pedals go round. Then lead him on with a treat, so he works the pedals himself.

I wish we made as much progress with letters. Thats been a bust so far. We try every once in a while though.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 06-24-2020, 06:23 PM
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Re: Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

What she is doing is logical---it's what we would use with kids learning to be verbal, only we would pair it w/ preferred object (e.g, touch millet). I have used it with Noodles with high rates of success...it's what I am programmed to do, so it's easy to continue it after work...I didn't watch the whole thing,but as a U2, Noodles is pretty well-behaved, and I do attribute that to ABA.

Last edited by noodles123; 06-24-2020 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 06-24-2020, 09:20 PM
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Re: Thoughts on improving Parrot Kindergarden/ABCs?

I really wish I could make headway with Salty. Maybe we'll try again. He might be lisdexic.
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AL & Salty - hard at work.

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http://www.parrotforums.com/amazons/...now-salty.html

The Crew:
Salty - Yellow Shoulder Amazon (YSA) - hatched 8/15/15
Tinker - Cairn terrier, 4/15/08
Geri - Blonde haired Queens wife, birthday 4/25/19??
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