Yesterday was pretty cool with the birds - Peepers had a great time working on flight stuff, and Sparky showed me she could work under some very distracting conditions.
I started with flight work with Peepers, flying between perches on cue, and I started work on discriminating between a recall and send. I decided to get started on this because Peepers has been starting to go to the perch no matter where I was or what I was doing. My cue for flying to something is to be facing in the direction of it, with my inside arm (the one on the side of the bird) held out. My cue for come has me facing directly at Peepers, with my arm held in front of me in position for him to land on it. There's also verbals, but I have learned doing agility with the dogs that I can easily use the wrong verbal, but the correct body cue, and the dog will follow that. I think the birds will be more or less the same, so I am teaching both verbal and body cues for most behaviors. In any case, Peepers struggled a little bit with the idea. At first, he would fly to the perch if I was off to the side of his flight path, no matter which way I was facing. But he was enjoying the lesson so much, we worked for what must have been a 1/2 hour on it, and by the end of it, he was doing the correct behavior when cued. Of course we will need to work further on it, but it was a really good start. Peepers wanted to keep going with this, but his feet were so so hot that I thought he really needed to take a break. My sister has volunteered to come over and tape some of these sessions, so hopefully soon I'll be able to show everyone what's going on.
Sparky got her turn next, and while I was setting up, some people showed up to work on the apartment that's on the property. They parked right next to the doors that open on the bird room, and started unloading, setting the dogs off. As i was trying to get them to quiet down, I also asked Sparky to work a little and she did, really with no problem. She has started to put her head a little bit into the harness, I think for her this is going to take a little while. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7CFcjxC1FY
I tried to come back to Peepers and his harness training. I've decided to back up a little bit because Peepers is a little hesitant to work with it now, and I want him to be confident with this step. So, my plan was to just lay the harness nearby and ask him to do other things near it. He came into the session still worked up over his flight training and also a little put out by the people outside. Coupled with his not so positive feelings about the harness right now, it wasn't a very good session. He did very few behaviors, mostly stomped around and messed about. What he did do, though, which I was pretty pleased with, was continue to do his cued behaviors even when he stopped taking treats. I ended the session on one of those reps, because I really wanted to be able to effectively reinforce what Peepers was doing, but I didn't know exactly how to do it in this situation. I'll figure something out I am sure for the next time this happens :). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5NDTL7jxBk
On another good note, the flight building is now wired in, and I have cleared out the innards of the chicked coop. All I need to do is get rid of the outer walls of it, and fill in the hole, and it is ready for use. I am very excited to have this opportunity to not only teach Peepers some more skills that need more space, but to be able to offer it to anyone who would like to give their parrots the opportunity to fly in a larger area, and potentially with other parrots. I can't wait until I can post that the building is ready for fun and games!