Tinkerbell shanlung's Tinkerbell photoset
Friday, August 19th, 2005

7:28 pm More old letters of Tink - Clicker training and bonding
and freeflight When I first set up the webpage, I must have wanted to
put in a lot more than I actually did.

I went and updated the "Some thoughts on Clicker training". Then I
checked again and found a bunch of other letters I should have
included into "clicker training and bonding"

The first letter is here, and followed by others as well. So for
friends of Tinkerbell, here they are . ....

From: "shanlung9" <shanlung9@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Dec 4, 2002 3:17 pm
Subject: CT training for bonding

Hi Yvonne, Diane and Melinda,

C/t training someone as intelligent as a full flighted CAG require so
much understanding on both sides. What is really surprising is the
feedback from Tinkerbell.

As much as I feel about making clear my likes and dislikes to her,
she is clearly reciprocrating her own views to me. As she has the
option of cutting classes, the onus is on me to make our encounters
to be fun for her as well and to note that she will decide on the
training. I become one that just click and treat almost putting
myself out of the loop.

I noticed that she likes her own time to do as she pleases, like
preening herself, flying around the room, perch to perch, doing her
gymnastics on an overhead ring before re-noticing that I exist.

She made it clear she is not interested in flying to me by the simple
act of ignoring me or to fly to my wife when I ask her to 'come
here'. Going by the ancient wise saying that 'If the mountain does
not go to Muhammed, Muhammed will go to the mountain' , I will go
over to her, bring up the target near her and ask her to 'touch
target' to c&t her.

She will always do that once. She will ignore the target the second
time. In about ten minutes later or so or when she is ready, she
will call to me as if to signal she is ready for my silly classes.

She will then go through all my requests to fly away to various
places and recall.

It does not matter if I am busy. I got to drop all that I am doing
to play with her. Should she perceived Halftail is engaging my
attention, she will carry one of her foot toys and divebomb HT away.
If I watch the TV, she will fly to my shoulder and nibble my ears or
snatch away my glasses until I take the clicker out. I have to
ignore any phone calls during lesson time. She will go frantic
against the phone if I pick up any calls. I got to hang up the phone
during lessons to avoid having to answer the phone.

When she thinks she had enough, she will come at my recall to touch
my hand and bounce off immediately to fly to another perch. Any
other requests from me will get a screaming at me if she feels good
or cold shoulder as she is not in a good mood. She then does her
thing until she thinks it is time to train me again.

Now that I am also c/t Halftail, the contrast in their comprehension
is breath taking.

Tink caught on to 'touch target' within 2-3 attempts.

Halftail is not stupid. Yet she needed 3-4 LESSONS before she caught
on to 'touch target' to get her treat and only got to understand that
last night.

I cannot imagine HT to give me feedback on the squirt gun that Tink
knows, decided and act to let me know in no uncertain way I
overstepped that line. That she knows what I dislike and that she
does it to tease me. That I am to accept teasing from her if I am to
be her real friend unconditionally. She is not going to accept any
bullying, even if inadvertantly.

I take that in the manner it was given. That we are companions and
equal and if I can express my likes and dislikes to her, she is
entirely within her rights to do likewise. That will be the only
true foundation for real friendship and companionship.

The other two benefitted too. Tink is making me reassess my
relationships with them and with any others that may join us.

With warmest regards



From: "shanlung9" <shanlung9@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri Dec 6, 2002 8:41 pm
Subject: Re: CT training for bonding

Hi Cris,

Tink gets very annoyed with the telephone only if it rings during the
training with her. When she is doing her thing, I can answer the
phone or call out without any problems.

What made matters really bad is that Taipei is having elections for
mayor. So I get many phone calls from all the different parties to
push for their candidates.

When I get a call on the handphone during training, Tink gets even
more spectacular. She will fight me for the handphone and snatched
it away a couple of times. It is amazing that she can fly off with
it, circle round the room looking for Halftail and divebomb her.

I am glad Nokia make their phones well as Tink misses HT and the
phone end up bouncing on the floor.

That is one reason why I hesitate to teach Tink to pick up objects as
advised by Melinda earlier. Tink is already having a great time in
taking all kinds of pens and stuff and flying off with them to chew
or to throw to/at the other two. There are consequences of teaching
Tink things that I need to consider through very carefully.

Zorro loves to drag those thrown stuff under the sofa and all nooks
and corners. I am onto my 2nd clicker. The first clicker is
somewhere in some obscure corner that I will be sure to find should I
look for something else that goes missing.

Warmest regards



From: "shanlung9 <shanlung9@yahoo.com>" <shanlung9@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Dec 11, 2002 7:45 pm
Subject: Re: CT training for bonding

--- In Bird-Click@yahoogroups.com, "shyann16" <shyann16@n...> wrote:
> Hi Shanlung,
> Thanks for all your great insights.
> Cris and Abu (TAG)

Cris, (and all others too)

My mind kept going back to your ending remark.

Considering the agonising I am going through as to how to proceed
with Tinkerbell, I cannot really accept what I have ever said here as
great insights. I do not know if I am right or not. If others think
my insights are great, they may be hesitant to say otherwise even
when I am wrong.

I only got Tink 5 months back or so and my progress with her seems to
be a foot forward, two feet sideways, 11 inches backwards and another
foot sideways. If any that I said have been of use to you, I am very
happy for you. If ever I seen anything further, its because I stood
on the shoulders of some of the giants here and have learned from
innocent remarks of novices as well.

Back to my main point.

There will come a point in time when I will take Tinkerbell out to
the open and let her fly where no doors or mosquito screens is
between her and the great outdoors.

The focus of my training is that she will return to me at my recall,
That the bonding between us is such that she will return to me.

I rather be proven wrong here which will give me to chance to alter
my training to maximise the odds that Tinkerbell will be with me for
a long time to be passed on in my will to others to take care of her.

I have said that I train her 'when she is ready for training' and
stopped 'when she indicated to me she wants to stop'.

Wendy, Melinda (and all others too),

What are your thoughts on that.

Am I giving in too easily to her?

Should I proceed to train for recall (or other training) even if she
is reluctant to do so? I have step up nearer to her and give her
recall cues that she still followed with lots of screaming at me.

Will that reinforce her recall to me?

Will forcing her to proceed with training weaken the bond that I am
trying to nurture?

Should I end as I do on a good note including stepping to her to cue
touch target to treat her until she indicate she is ready for me

Warmest regards



From: "shanlung9 <shanlung9@yahoo.com>"
Date: Mon Dec 16, 2002 4:59 pm
Subject: Re: CT training for bonding

--- In Bird-Click@yahoogroups.com, "Melinda <clicker@i...>"
<clicker@i...> wrote:
> > Should I proceed to train for recall (or other training) even if
> she is reluctant to do so?
> No -- I don't know how you can. If she's unwilling to eat treats,
> then the session is over. It's best to quit before the bird is
> or bored with the training session. Remember the famous
> saying, "Always leave them wanting more." It's also nice to end on
> a jackpot if we can. Bob Bailey said that they learn faster if we
> have short sessions more frequently rather than longer sessions
> frequently. Are you keeping treats tiny so that she'll take lots
> treats in a session? It looks to me like you're doing fine,
> Shanlung.
> Melinda Johnson

Thank you.

Your reply in timely. I will be just the one that click and treat
while Tink will be the one to decide on the training and how the
training will proceed.

I feel that she already learned very well her recall cues. I
continue on with those exercises to keep them 'fresh' and to give
myself excuses to pamper and treat her.

The last couple of days, there have been some changes in Tink. She
does all the recall and targeting and handshake exercises. However,
after a few times, she will just take the sunflower seed and drop it
and bow her head instead for her neck rubs.

When she does not want either the seed or rubs, I stop until she
decide my training is to be resumed.

Warmest regards



From: "shanlung9 <shanlung9@yahoo.com>"
Date: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:34 pm
Subject: Re: CT training for bonding

--- In Bird-Click@yahoogroups.com, "Melinda <clicker@i...>"

>I don't know if I communicated this clearly, so let me try again.
>As the trainer, I decide when to train the bird. I also have a plan
>in mind for what I want to accomplish, and I can write that plan out
>on paper before I start training, or at least I should be very clear
>on what I want to do and how I intend to do it. I try to pick a
>time when I think the bird is hungry and will be interested, and I
>keep treats tiny so that I can give out lots of them before the bird
>gets full and isn't interested any more. If the bird isn't
>interested in doing behaviors and taking treats, I quit and try
>again later. If he is interested (and he usually is if I'm doing my
>job right), I train him. I then try to stop the training session
>while he is still interested. That way he will look forward to the
>training sessions with me. If I always train until he's full or
>bored and loses interest, he may be less likely to be interested in
>training next time.


> Melinda Johnson
> BirdClick Admin ^v^

Hi Melinda

I guess you are now used to my late replies. Evenings and weekends
are spend with wife and pets and I normally write only from office
during some free moments.

Your kind reply was overtaken by events.

First, Tink will never be hungry.

My coming back home is very irregular so I dare not have regular meal
times for her.

She will have a gravity fed hopper of dry parrot food (Kaytees. In
addition, she has a variation of Mikes Manna Mash (Thank you Mike for
that wonderful recipe) nicely warmed up for her when I get back.
That is given with a big blop of cherry tomato/fresh carrot puree I
prepared for her.

She has another bowl of commercial parrot mixed seeds/dry fruits as

My first memories of her pecking in a bowl with some sunflower seed
husks have been too painful to allow her to go hungry ever again.

I mentioned in the first letter I tried to flow with her rythmn for
training not knowing if I was right or not.

During last weekend, I tried to 'intensify' her training hopefully to
ingrain into her better her recalls. After her usual signalling to
me that training time is over by flying to me and turning away to
another perch without landing, I thought I force the issue on her.

Instead of just walking to her with target stick to let her have a
simple touch target, I got up from the couch to walk nearer to her to
ask her 'come here'. She looked at me with amazement that I forgot
myself and stepped beyond my station in life, ignored me and proceed
to preen herself. I walked even nearer to order her to 'come here'
with my arm just a foot away. She stared at me and flew off to
search for my wife in another room. On getting there, she refused to
touch target or even to do a simple 'step up'.

My wife had to take her to the living room to place her on the ring
that she clung on and did her gym stuff without any more attention to

I suffered her contempt for an hour until she call to me from her TV
perch. All recalls got her coming to me before veering off either to
my wife or back to TV basket. Even requests to step up were rebuffed
by her with lots of sqwarks.

Thex next day I went back to that old routine as her well trained

She sweetly did all thats requested, going to the ring, going to the
cage, going to the stand, going to the TV, going to my wife and
coming to me on recall.

I accept her ending of sessions humbly going to her to request and
accept her 'touch target' until next session.

That will remain the pattern with her for a long time to come.

Warmest regards



From: "Melinda <clicker@...>" <clicker@...>
Date: Sun Dec 22, 2002 5:04 am
Subject: Re: CT training for bonding

Shanlung, she may be hungriest right before breakfast, so that might
be your best time to train -- you'd have to experiment to know.
There's nothing wrong with taking her food out of the cage at bed
time, either.

Nobody here would ever suggest depriving a bird of food, but there's
something to be said for using some psychological advantage. If you
know there isn't much of your favorite food left at a party when you
arrive, you're more likely to grab what's left and eat it quickly.
But if you know there's tons of your favorite left, you'll be much
more ho hum about it and probably take less. If Tink sits around
looking at way more food than she can eat 24/7, then you can't
expect her to be very excited about working for food; the only
reason she's probably interested is because she enjoys the game.

When you start wanting an outdoor recall, you will need 100%
reliability, not to rely on her mood. You can train in that
reliability with a high rate of reinforcement now, and by taking
some control of this situation. You might think about giving Tink
the same amount of food she will normally eat every day, and at the
times she likes to eat, but not leaving her sitting around looking
at 10 times more food than she can possibly eat all the time. We're
talking a psychological difference, not a difference in what she
consumes every day. The choice is yours, but if you're going to
free fly her you'll need to know you can trust her to come to you
every time you call; you can't rely on her whim outdoors. She needs
to come when you call every time without pausing to think about it,
like a good habit. When you ask her to come and she refuses, you're
building the opposite of what you want.

It's best for all of us to stop a training session before the bird
stops it -- before they're either full of food or bored. Always
leave 'em wanting more, as the famous saying goes, and they'll be
more eager to train next time.

Melinda Johnson
BirdClick Admin ^v^




I included another letter below that was directed to me. They were
so right.

The only thing I was lucky about was that I stumbled onto the use of
the harness and designed the harness to the point Tinkerbell could
come out with me.

Liz, I thank you now! But if I heard you and Melinda, it may have
turned out even worse for me.

I came to know of 'spook zones' , and returned to tell all with Tinkerbell
still with us. And Tinkerbell found the Yu family.

> The choice is yours, but if you're going to
> free fly her you'll need to know you can trust her to come to you
> every time you call; you can't rely on her whim outdoors.
> shanlung...
> melinda is so right about this!! i volunteer with a group that free fly
> hawks, and we never free fly them if their weight is too high or if they
> aren't a little hungry. does this mean the birds are starving? NO WAY!
> does it mean they get less for dinner the night before we are going flying?
> yup. being a little hungry guarantees they'll come back to glove as they
> are trained to know GLOVE=FOOD. (we wear gloves because of their powerful
> talons! this is not needed to free fly parrots).
> alot of folks on the list will tell you that they either pull their birds
> food before bedtime, so the birds are a little hungry in the morning and
> they can train...or they pull it mid-afternoon so by dinnertime they are
> hungry and can train. none of them are being neglectful or hurting their
> birds...they are just insuring that their birds will want to train. and we
> all know a well trained bird is the very best companion there is!!

My reply

From: shan lung <shanlung9@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue Dec 31, 2002 3:30 pm
Subject: CT training/shanlung

To Melinda and Liz,

I hear what you say about feeding slightly less so
Tinkerbell will be more 'interested' in her rewards
and training.

Now assuming that I want to try that, I have a BIG
problem in imposing a diet on Tink.

Do remember the state I first saw Tinkerbell, pecking
and pecking away at the bottom of her dish of
sunflowerseed husks. My wife Joy was there with me
too and it affected her just as much.

I did ask earlier if c/t can be used for training wife
to be more obediant. None of you offered me any
detailed instructions as how to achieve that.

In addition to the dry parrot feed and Mikes Manna
Mash and tomato/carrot puree Tink gets from me, she
gets whatever my wife is eating. My wife will turn to
me and say Tink begs from her.

To tell my wife not to feed Tink is easy. To get her
to obey me, well, is a lot less easy.

I learned to live harmoniously with my wife by
adapting to what she does. In the same way, I learn
to train Tinkerbell by training her when she feels she
likes to be 'trained' and at other times, I content
myself just being the perch for her while she preens
herself or being ignored totally by her while she
butter up herself to my wife.

At any rate, you know by now that I will be going for
a vacation in Australia for a month and training of
Tink is less of a priority than lessening the shock to
her that she will not see us for some time.

With warmest regards and a Happy New Year



All in all, I have no regrets about not having gone ' the correct way'.

We all are creatures shaped by circumstances and where the heart just
over rule the head. I cannot convey adequately the first impression
when I saw Tinkerbell scrapping about in that bowl of sunflower seeds
chewed to a fine powder.

Her flight away from me was due more to the nearby airport as you have
read from the "Playing music to ducks". That flight was followed
almost immediately by an attack from another bird as I related.

That escape triggered two events that became crucial to us all. I had
to develope the harness and leash which enabled us all to go out
almost everywhere and her riding on motorbike with me.

The incredible relationship and love between me and
Tinkerbell would never have been. It was a relationship
of equal with equal, and I like to say, love with love.

And we found the Yu family. Where even if Tinkerbell
is not with me, I know she is with a family that loved
her and looking after her until one day,
we be together again.