Clicker training cockatiels, the start

We were on our vacation (cruise to Bermuda) and aboard our ship was the parrot-training magician Dave Womach. To say that Lily and I were smitten with the shows is an understatement. It was so fun to see them perform and hear how much they were cared for. Lily raised her hand high at a Q&A session and asked the magician, “have you ever trained cockatiels?”

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And so it began…

We arrived home and promptly picked up some spray millet and a clicker. Clickers are typically used for training dogs, but they can be used for training any animal with ears and a drive for positive rewards.

Our birds are Squeak, a 1.5 year old hand raised female who is sweet as pie, and Brutus, a 12+ year old grumpy scaredy cat who was found flying around outside 11 years ago. In my past I also had Spike, a wonderful normal grey cockatiel, who lived with me for 20 years, from my ages of 6 through 26. He was the best pet I’ve ever had.

So, clicker training our cockatiels…

Day 1: Offer millet to Squeak. She is leery and barely gives a nibble. Offer millet to Brutus. He is terrified and nearly falls off his perch.

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Day 2: Offer millet to Squeak. She eats it happily! We begin associating a nibble of millet to a click from the clicker. We spent no more than 5 minutes doing this on and off; our goal is to keep these sessions short and positive. We also offered the millet to Brutus and he didn’t fall over, and he actually almost took a bite, but chickened out at the last minute. Baby steps 🙂

Future plans: train to track their attention to the end of a chopstick or knitting needle so we can start to direct the behavior into tricks (spin? fly? pick up toys and put them into a cup? so many ideas!).


Try Something New Every Month: BIG QUILT

I got the idea for this blue and white half square triangle quilt about 6 months ago and immediately set out collecting fabrics and making a ton of HST blocks. I ended up playing with different layouts and scouring the internet for inspiration on what I wanted the final top to look like, and finally settle on a big ol’ star.



I finished the top and wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to do for quilting. I’ve never quilted anything quite this large before. I’ve done Lily’s full-sized quilt, but the way her bed is it’s really much smaller than a real full-sized…there’s only a very tiny drop on all sides of the mattress.

I looked around for local quilting services but it appeared that hiring out would be quite cost prohibitive, especially with how many quilt top ideas and projects I’ve got bouncing around. So I set out to quilt it myself on my little Janome Magnolia…such a far cry for a long arm!

I stuffed and fluffed and stuffed and fluffed and rolled and stuffed and made my whole body pretty darn sore on multiple occasions of quilting this huge thing.

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After a final marathon of a Saturday I powered through the final quilting and finished the edges (I just turned them under instead of traditional binding). It was so late at night by the time I finished that I made it through a quick wash and into the dryer and was able to wake up to my new pretty scrunchy quilt!



I LOVE IT. I’m not exactly eager to quilt something of that size again, so I’m reconsidering future and planned quilt tops…perhaps they should finish up smaller than 80×80, or I should really budget for a quilting service.

See what other bloggers tried this month: