I have my Jenday Conure 10 years now and it still amazes me the level of his intelligence. As their vocabulary is not as high as the larger birds, I have taught him several words that he repeats, but he understands much more than he can speak. He responds to so many words and phrases and he knows the difference from what he likes and dislikes. My teaching technique has worked through the years and sticking to a daily routine makes a huge difference in their health and development. I am going to share with you some teaching techniques that may help you, whether you purchased your bird as a baby , purchased them from a pet store or rescued as I did. Since my little guy was around 3-4 years old when I got him, I had to teach him everything.
Tip #1- Teaching them their name Repeat, repeat, repeat! Say their name every time you interact with them. In the morning after you remove their cover, when taking them out of the cage and returning them to their cage. Even if you are in the other room, call their name out several times, when you approach their cage again say hello and repeat their name. You will see in a short period of time they will learn their name and respond to you when you call them!
Tip #2- If you want to teach them a word or phase, you must follow through. Example: “want to take a bath”, before I would give him his bath I would say this phrase several times, fill up the sink with warm water and place him in the water. While he was playing, I would repeat take a bath. I did this each time over a couple of weeks, one day he was playing in his cage and I asked “do you want to take a bath’? He came running, stepped onto my finger and I brought him to the sink and put him in. Amazing, he loves it and even if he is occupied in his cage, when I say want to take bath here he comes.
Tip #3- Words and actions go together! Several keys words he has learned as well as the actions, Example: “gimme kiss, no and peek-a-boo”. This was a lot of fun teaching him these words and actions. They really mimic what we do, what I find amazing is he knows the phrases and whether he likes the actions or not. I learned how to file his nails since he doesn’t like having them clipped. He actually let’s me take a nail file and one by one file his nails. Now he really doesn’t like it but he will let me. I tell him ahead of time “going to get your nails done”, then I get the nail file and there he goes runs and hides. So funny, so now we play the he hides and I coax him game. Eventually, he comes out from hiding under his blanket fussing the whole time, then I put him on my lap on his side and one by one file his nails then turn him on the other side and repeat.
Gimme kiss, no and peek-a-boo were easier words to teach him. “No” was pretty easy, when I first brought him home, he had nipped me on the finger not hard but still in a way he shouldn’t. I waived my finger at him saying no no, then he did something else and again I said firmly no. Shortly after that the next time I said “no” he repeated me with a short no and moved his head forward when saying no! Peek-a boo was fun too, he plays in his cat cubby at night, several times I would sneak up on him from the side of the cubby and say peek-a-boo! He liked this, I would hide on the side and then go to the opening again saying the phrase. With a few weeks of practice, he repeated me when we played the game… peek-a-boo.
Gimme kiss, this he usually does the first thing in the morning after I take his cover off. I greet him at the cage and say over and over gimme kiss and make the kiss sound. Finally, he got it! When he wants something like a treat or go back in his cage, I will say gimme kiss he will gesture his beak towards me and give a kiss then I will put him in the cage or give him the treat.
Tip #4- Getting ready for bedtime his has his routine down packed, alter his routine and he will let me know he’s not happy. I dim one of the lights by his cage and take him out of his cage saying time for night night! I sit on the couch and he goes in his cubby to play and hides under his blanket. I let him play for a little while, then I will reach in and find him under his blanket and say “ok”time to go night night. He comes out then has to sit with me under a blanket nestled under my shoulder and he falls asleep. I take him out saying “ok time to go to bed”, then put him his cage and he goes in his hanging bed and I cover his cage,,, bedtime is done!
Tip #5- He knows his toys! I taught him to ring his bell on command, he will be in his cage or his play cubby, I say “where’s your bell or get your bell”. He will go to his bell and ring it with his beak. I would practice this with him every day, I would ring the bell and repeat “get the bell”. He loves Yucca Chips, he shreds them as part of his daily activity while I am at work. I place them in his hanging cubby inside his cage every morning and when I return from work they are all shredded. I repeat to him every morning, “get your toys” and he watches me put them his cubby.
Tip #6- As I mentioned in tip #2 when teaching something new, always follow through. When it comes to eating time I always feed him when I eat, especially dinner time. He knows when I am cooking, he starts his calling out as to say don’t forget me! I have small dessert size cups that I put his special treat in during my dinner time and he will sit quietly and eat his. He loves peanut butter, fresh small slices of apples and fresh vegetables peas are his favorite. Please read up on what they absolutely cannot have that is dangerous for them, such as chocolate, caffeine and dairy. In the morning before I leave for work he gets his daily parrot food, fresh water and in his special dish a small cut up slice of banana. I place his dish in a holder inside his cage and he will eat that when I leave. Remember fresh water in the am and pm daily. Your bird will get to know this routine and look forward to it every day.
Tip #7- When you leave the house tell your bird where you are going. You will see he will start to recognize the difference of going to work vs going to the store. I taught him this and he reacts differently based on what I tell him. Example: Going to work he realizes I am going to be gone longer then going to the store. I will tell him I going to work while he is in his cage, he comes running and wants to cuddle, when I’m going to the store he doesn’t put on such a fuss. Sometimes I will tell him: Mama’s getting ready for work, he will climb out of his cage to the top where I can’t reach him. I will attempt to take him down and he will run from one side to the other or climb behind the cage where I can’t get him as to say catch me if you can. He will do this for several minutes, then I will walk away and continue to get ready and eventually he goes back inside the cage. I tried to trick him one day, he was on top of the cage and wouldn’t come to me, I was running late for work. I used the phrase” you want to go outside”, he came running but I didn’t take him to the window I put him in the cage instead and went to work. The next day he did the same thing, I tried the trick and nope he wasn’t buying it he wouldn’t come down. So I had to walk away and let him go back in the cage by himself, so I learned always follow through with what you say, wow how smart are they!!
Tip #8- They love our things! I had left my pocketbook on the couch, he was so curious he wanted to climb all over it and go inside. Of course I had to tell him no that’s my pocketbook and took it away. I decided to take an old pocketbook and put it on the couch, there he went to investigate. He was talking to it and climbing on it. I let him keep this to play with on the couch. Over and over I would tell him go get the pocketbook, I would move it to another location on the couch and he would find it and go inside and play. I added a few of his yucca chips so he could play inside the pocketbook, he loves it!
Tip #9- Recognizing different people, they are certainly aware to someone different in the house. Your bird will become very loyal and protective to you if you are their primary care taker. So be cautious introducing new people to them. When I first brought him home my daughter lived at home, he went to both of us. When she moved away he hadn’t seen her for quite sometime, when she returned to visit she could no longer hold him as she had done in the past. Now he knew her by name so he would respond when I said she was coming, but she has to keep her distance as he is protecting his mommy. He actually draws a line on the couch to let her know she can’t cross that line and he will fluff up his feathers to let her know. All is well as long as she doesn’t sit on his mommy’s couch!
Tip #10- Introducing something new in the house – You think they don’t know if something new is in the house you are sadly mistaken. This year I purchased a real Christmas Tree, when I first brought it into the house he yelled and didn’t like. The next day I decorated the tree and kept repeating to him “see the Christmas Tree”. I brought him over to the tree to inspect, at first he wanted no part of it. Over the next couple of days, I would say; “want to see the Christmas Tree” and now he would go with me and he would look at the lights and touch the branches. One day he was playing in his cubby on the couch, I heard him talking to something in the living room. I came out from the kitchen and there he was under the Christmas Tree sitting next to Santa. Check out the photo below! Too cute!!