Barbara discusses common myths about talking parrots, which species make ideal candidates, effective ways to expose your parrot to sounds you want repeated, proven methods for encouraging your parrot to vocalise and how to train your parrot to talk.
Also included is an appearance by Einstein, the Talking Texan Parrot, plus an interview with her human companions. Bonus CD rom includes recordings of a variety of species of parrots vocalising to inspire your bird to talk.
Having been an Amazon owner for a few years now I must admit that while ‘talking’ ability has never really rated highly on my criteria for choosing a parrot as a companion animal I’ve certainly developed a sincere fascination with the mimicry skills of those species particularly inclined to talk, whistle, sing and engage vocally with their owners.
I also have to admit to being a complete failure when it comes to training my parrots to talk or mimic sounds on cue. I was therefore especially keen to unwrap the new DVD resource from Barbara Heidenreich, Train Your Parrot to Talk. I was hoping to gain some clear and well-supported insights into the most effective ways to add successful mimicry training to the suite of enrichment options I can offer my birds and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. This DVD presents an absolutely fantastic coverage of the processes involved in achieving a linguistically skilled psittacine.
The program dispels some of the common myths surrounding talking parrots before noting some of the species most commonly regarded as having a strong natural inclination to mimic sounds and ‘talk’. Barbara then offers an insight into seven key elements that she considers form the best approach to acquiring a parrot that has been set up with the early environmental experiences which may result in a wider vocabulary becoming established during its early development. This is a section of the DVD that parrot breeders can tap into for some excellent ideas to implement and then consider offering as a value-added marketing strategy when rearing parrots as future companions.
Barbara’s approach to ‘implanting’ sounds actually takes advantage of the natural biological processes that many parrot species go through as fledglings and later when developing their vocal expression. The example of Barbara’s own Yellow-naped Amazon Delbert provides a fascinating study of the effectiveness of her approach. Once the sounds have been ‘implanted’, the next phase is implementing strategies for stimulating or ‘triggering’ vocal expression and mimicry of those sounds. Barbara outlines 11 ideas that the parrot owner can try with a view to encouraging successful vocal expression from their bird. It’s at this stage that some very cool training insights are delivered for the viewer providing a clear and easy-to-digest overview of how desired sounds are ‘captured’ through the delivery of positive reinforcement.
A further highlight is the explanation of the use of ‘bridging stimulus’ during training— something that is often poorly understood by companion bird owners. While having a parrot that can talk and mimic sounds is great, it’s a real treat being able to place those sounds on a ‘cue’. Barbara explains how this is achieved and there are some great examples of how training to talk on cue has been applied to achieve the sort of ‘communication’ skills that viewers may be familiar with from birds in shows and on the Internet.
Also included in the package is an additional CD that features over 10 different parrot species recorded in MP3 format to support vocal stimulation in your bird (including commonly kept species such as Budgerigars, Cockatiels and Eclectus). These sound files can be used during the ‘implantation’ phase of vocal development, support improved stimulation of vocal expression and are recorded as playback CDs that can be played to parrots in the absence of the owner.
Aside from the concise training insights, excellent technique explanations and delightful brilliance of the loquacious Delbert, I found the interview with owners of a particularly outstanding African Grey named Einstein a wonderful affirmation of the potential value of parrots as human companions when they find themselves in a dedicated and enriched environment with owners that fully integrate their bird into their lives.
This DVD is yet another absolute ‘must have’ for both companion parrot owners and breeders alike. No other resource will set you and your birds up to succeed in achieving a two-way talking dynamic in your household better than this. Highly Recommended!
Reviewed by Jim McKendry BAppSc BTeach