How much time does it take to teach my bird?
Reading and learning exercises can be fun and interactive experiences that bring out your bird’s intelligence and strengthens your trust bond. Thus, the time allotment is really determined by both of you – how much time do you have available? And what is your bird’s learning style? Some birds learn best with more frequent, shorter trainings. Others enjoy longer learning sessions, with more material covered. And sometimes Mom or Dad only has time for a five or ten minute learning session. While parronts can engage in gentle learning play activities, young birds may not yet have reached the developmental stage of being able to process complex cognitive functions. All of these factor into your parrot’s reading timeframe.
Goffin’s cockatoo Ellie was four when she began learning, and two weeks after she first learned the letter “A”, she read her first words. Jen engaged in learning play activities with two-year-old Isabelle for a few months before beginning to teach her to read—and then she too was reading within a few weeks. Jen aims for twenty minutes per day, five days per week, for homeschooling each bird.
The Fundamentals course is designed to teach you to introduce both play activities and beginning reading activities to your parrot. By the last class, you will introduce your parrot to their first reading words.
Can birds really learn to read?
The preliminary results from university research seems to indicate they can! Animals are astonishing scientists all the time with their abilities and skills. Koko the gorilla can communicate over 1,200 words in sign language and understands a vocabulary of more than 2,400 words. Researchers at the Goffin’s cockatoo lab in Vienna have published on parrot abilities previously thought to be only ‘uniquely human’ skills, such as inference by exclusion… and nobody thought birds could dance to synchronized music, until Snowball hit the scene!
While reading is a complex cognitive process, at its heart it is simply the ability to memorize the sounds and symbols of 26 letters… and then to correlate those sounds and symbols to objects and ideas, building vocabulary. Goffin’s cockatoo Ellie and Umbrella cockatoo Isabelle both learned all of the uppercase phonetic code and lowercase letters, and within weeks of learning “A” they read their very first words – BALL and BELL. Jennifer is collaborating with two other researchers to publish her methods and findings in a scientific journal. Dr. Clubb and Jennifer also submitted a manuscript to the peer-reviewed science convention, ExoticsCon. Their manuscript passed peer review and they have been selected to present their research and findings at ExoticsCon in September, 2018.
Can any bird learn?
Good question! This answer has two parts – the very first in reference to your bird’s type, and the second relating to your trust relationship. We believe all larger species parrot types, many medium-species types (including cockatiels and conures), and pigeons can learn the principles taught in the Fundamentals Course—consent (yes/no flash cards), basic vocabulary development, and simple learning games. The bird’s readiness for the Basic Literacy Development course series can be determined at the end of the Fundamentals course, when the birds have been exposed to a small amount of phonics and their first reading task.
But… is reading the best fit for YOUR bird? We recommend our courses for parrots that have already established a trusting relationship with their owners – for instance, a bird that enjoys interacting with people, and can be held. Target training is also a pre-requisite for the Fundamentals course, and you can learn to teach this to your bird by watching our complimentary webinar.
What is their accuracy rate?
We aim for an accuracy rate of 70%. On new and challenging tasks, Ellie and Isabelle’s accuracy rate is often higher – up to 90%. They love to learn – and they don’t shy away from hard work!
What is consent, and how does it help my bird?
Consent will change your life! … and your parrot’s! Consent is simply your parrot’s ability to tell you “Yes” or “No” in plain English. How much frustration could be avoided if you could ask your parrot yes/no questions without trying to guess their answers through charades. How rewarding would it be to receive clear and unequivocal responses to your questions such as:
• “Do you want to watch TV with me? … or stay in the office with Dad?”
• “Do you want a nightlight on in your room?”
• “Do you want to sit on the patio with me? Or keep playing here with your toys?”
• “Do you want your birdie bread warmed up?”
• “Do you want to stay in your room until company leaves? Or come out to play?”
Parrots that have been given the power of expression often engage in significantly fewer “problem” behaviors because having the ability to consent increases their feelings of security and control over their experiences.
Yes/no flashcards make teaching consent a fast and easy process. We can teach you not only how to engage your parrot in the process, but also how to build their vocabulary—making communication an easy and rewarding process.
What happens if I miss a live webinar class?
Life is busy, and stuff comes up – we get it! If you are unable to join us for one of our live classes, we will provide for you a link to that module in the webinar series so you won’t miss a beat!
When can we start?
We are excited about working with you! Our live courses have very limited seating—we recommend snatching them up quickly as they are filling quickly for the entire 2018 year! The course list, syllabi, and start dates are here. And if you’d like to get started sooner or work at your own pace, our webinars and modules are here.