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Casper Day 5

This was the first day that no one was home, with everyone being at either work or school. I looked in on the cameras several times just see what was going on and found it pretty quiet, aside from Bo's beeping and booping.

When I got home it was bath time. I put Casper outside and let him adjust for a while before I turned on the misters in the aviary. He really wasn't into it. He avoided the misting sprays so I used the spray bottle and he wasn't a bit fan of that either but he did shake his tail a couple times and seemed like he might enjoy it at some other time. He has pretty good feather condition and doesn't seem to be have a plucking problem which is a good sign. His feet need some attention, in particular his nails, several of which are in bad need of a trimming but I will wait for a vet appointment to address that problem.

Diet wise he is slowly progressing towards a pellet based diet. I saw him crunching on some Zupreem Natural today and was eating some of the chop but it is hard to tell just what. I saw him eat a corn nibblet and he tried butternut squash several times but each time he ate a bit then tossed it away. He certainly had a messy beak so he was eating something in the bowl. He is said to like pasta and rice so this weeks chop has some long grain and brown rice in it, next week we will try pasta.

Casper also started with target training today. Target training is an easy way to ease a bird into training and is very helpful as well. If you can get a bird to move to a target you can then "station" them to stay in an area. Very helpful if you have a cage aggressive bird and you need to reach in to change water or something, or need the bird to go back into it's cage. I use a simple chop stick with the end dyed red as my target. The object is simply for Casper to touch the stick with his beak. If he does he gets a treat. Every time he does it right I use a clicker as an audible signal that he did it right and give him a treat right away.

Above was his first time and he was a bit afraid of the end of the stick and bit further down which isn't exactly what I want but close enough. I'll refine the behavior as we go. A lot of people use words like "Good" instead of a clicker which is every bit as good if not better, but I have a terrible time being consistent in what I say. I will often say "good" one time then get excited and say "great" or something else the next. Also Jen and Jamie often work with the birds also so a clicker helps us all use a consistent audible "bridge."

After a few times he is starting to get the idea. Here he is just gently touching the end of the stick to get the treat so we are already refining the behavior. We still haven't found an ideal treat to use for Casper as a reward. Right now I am using the Dave's bread as a reward as my usual variety of treats have been rejected. It isn't ideal because he tosses away small pieces and wants a larger chunk of the bread. I don't want him to eat to much of it so the training sessions are short.

Jamie is getting in on the training more often now and does a really good job. You can see the other helper, our dog JJ, who keeps the floor clean by getting every scrap that should happen to fall. Note the air purifier under the window in the background that is practically a necessity for cockatoos as they are really dusty!

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