I am so excited because our Severe Macaw Buddy just learned to play birdy basketball. He learned this really cool skill in about a month. Now when I say he learned in a month I mean he put all the steps together in about a month. Here are the steps that I used to teach him to play.
Step 1: I taught him to come to me from one end of a bridge table to the other end. I used a clicker to click when he came to me and then I gave him a treat. I did this twice a week for 2 to 3 weeks. By the way, at first Buddy was scared of the bridge table itself so that took a little time as well.
Step 2: I introduced Buddy to the basketball. I then had him put the ball in his beak. Sometimes he would drop the ball and sometimes he would push the ball after he dropped it back over to me. I did this for twice a week for a week or two. I worked with him until he would hold the ball in his beak and walk over to me on the table. I would click and give him a treat.
Step 3: I now had to introduce the basketball hoop. When I first put the hoop on the table Buddy ran for the hills. I realized that he was scared of the hoop. I knew that if I could make Buddy taller then the hoop he would be less scared. I proceeded to put the hoop on the floor and sit with Buddy in my hand above the hoop. I would click and give him a treat. I then gave Buddy the ball and moved him directly above the hoop so he could not miss. He would drop the ball into the hoop and I would make a big fuss and click and again gave him a treat. I did this for only 2 weeks.
Step 4: After Buddy became less scared of the hoop I moved it onto the bridge table. Now Buddy had to learn to carry the ball to the hoop. Buddy’s treat happened to be cheese since he loves it. (You can use a grape or any other treat that you would like….Keep in mind that if it is a more unhealthy treat like cheese it should be temporary until you can swap it for a more healthy treat) I stuck a piece of cheese on the metal part of the hoop and made sure Buddy was watching. To my surprise Buddy went running down that court (alright it is only a bridge table) with ball in beak. He leaned over and put the ball in the hoop and grabbed the cheese. I did this only once. I clicked and gave him another treat with of course lots of praise. I again placed Buddy at the end of the table but this time I did not put the cheese on the hoop. I then said “Buddy put the ball in the basket!” To my amazement he came running down and put the ball right in. I clicked and gave him his cheese. He now had all the steps down to playing basketball.
Since then Buddy just loves to play. I think he just loves his cheese!(lol). If he misses the basket he knows he will not get his treat so he keeps trying till he gets the ball in. Once Buddy became fully confident in how to play I swapped the cheese for a healthier treat that I know Buddy loves (a grape).
The experience of teaching Buddy to play basketball has really bonded us. Buddy was an adopted bird and when he first came to us he was on the nippy and defensive side. He is now a little mush. I believe in my heart that giving him this special time has helped us to get closer then we have ever been.
Here is a video of Buddy playing basketball:
Leave me a comment and let me know what tricks you have taught your birds.