sunflower chips

A Guide to a Successful Training Session

Training birds, or any animal for that matter, can be done by essentially anyone who’s willing to put in the time but there’s a few things that many people tend to overlook.  The difference between a trusting, responsive bird and one who may learn slowly or only preform under certain circumstances lies in these fine details.


 Motivation is how much the bird desires to work for you, whether you use a primary motivator (food) or a secondary motivator (stimulation) your bird has to be motivated to work for it!  This typically means reducing those motivators from their every day lives and using them solely for training.

If you’re using physical touch or a toy as a motivator this means letting the bird play with the toy less so they look forwards to playing with it during training.

For food, it can be a little more complicated depending on how you do it.

 The preferred method of food reward if to just alter the feeding schedule, do training first and feed meals afterwards, I wouldn’t be interested in working for cake if I just had a three course meal, would you?  I prefer this method because it’s safer, you don’t risk lowering their body weight or making them ill.  The most common method used is weight management, reducing up to 5% of the bird’s regular meal and filling that 5% with treats during training.  Using the weight management method requires careful attention paid to their weight through weighing them daily and recording their weights, ensuring the weigh does not drop below 5% it’s original weight and definitely no lower than 10% as that risks serious health issues.  I don’t like this method because of these risks but for some birds, they will just continually eat and gain weight which puts them at risk of other health issues (like fatty liver disease) at which point that method becomes necessary to allow the bird to stay at a healthy weight and train effectively.

Behaviour and Communication

 Watching your bird’s body language and how you are able to communicate with the bird is the only way you’ll be able to teach a concept, if neither of you know what the other is saying you will get nowhere!

If your bird is starting to play more than it wants to train, is looking around, chewing the perch, and overall seeming disinterested, that’s you bird telling you that they don’t want to do this anymore and it’s time to end the session before they get grumpy.  If you’re trying to teach a trick that involved being in close proximity to your bird and they’re starting to nibble your hands or show defensive behaviours, that’s them telling you that they aren’t ready to move that far yet and you need to back up and slow down the process until they’re ready for you to get that close.  Pushing a bird past these obvious lines of communication will more than likely result with them flying away or just biting you.

Along with you understanding how to read the bird the bird needs to understand how to read you.  How do you accomplish this?  Start off with basic concepts like target training and clicker recognition, these simple things allow the bird to understand how to do something for a reward, they start to acknowledge your body language and how it’s directing them to preform and action and will help them know when they’ve done something right as well as how that progresses in to a larger concept.

 A consistent bridging device is the best way to communicate a correct behaviour to your bird.  A bridging device is a word or sound that can be repeated consistently and is always followed by some form of positive reinforcer (food, stimulation, etc.).  Consistency is important, if you make a different sound every time the bird does something right they will struggle to understand what marks the correct behaviour.  A bridging device must sound at the exact moment the bird did the correct behaviour, this helps the bird pinpoint exactly what they did correctly and increases the odds of them repeating that behaviour.  If you’re making a different sound every time they will not know what your bridging device is and won’t think they’ve done something right until they’ve got the treat in their mouths, this can mean that them standing around or reaching for the treat (whatever they were doing when being rewarded) is the behaviour they will believe they did correctly and is the behaviour they will repeat.

Rewards and Jackpots

 This is by far one of the most helpful things when training a bird, if a bird doesn’t like what they’re being given they won’t work for it, if they have the same thing every day they’ll get bored of it, a key to a good reward is variety in substance and quantity.

Establish what your bird loves best, many birds change their favourite foods around frequently so it’s important to note when they start to lose motivation for the reward you are using and change it up. Good food reinforcers include hulled sunflower seeds, millet, banana chips, oat groats, anything that can be consumed rapidly so they don’t forget what they just did to earn the food, a good stimulative reinforcer may be a favourite toy, sounds, or physical touch.

Simple enough, but what’s a jackpot?  A jackpot is something you reward the bird with when they’ve made a larger step in the right direction, anything that’s better than what you’re already feeding them (this can mean more of the same treat or just a better treat in general).  A jackpot helps the bird understand that what they just did was better than what they were doing before and increases the odds of them repeating that behaviour to earn the jackpot again.  An example of this would be: If I’m teaching a bird to step up and they’re just leaning over my hand, all I’m rewarding with is millet then suddenly they put a foot on my hand I’m going to reward with something better, like sunflower seeds, the bird will want more of those sunflower seeds and start to put their foot on my hand more frequently to earn them.

Session Length, Session Frequency and Ending the Session

 Birds all have different attention spans, it’s important to watch their body language for signs of boredom and lack of interest.  If you push a bird past their reasonable limit they will lose interest in training all together and may learn to hate training!  The average training session should not go any longer than 15 minutes, when just starting out many birds will only be motivated long enough to work for 5 minutes.

The more sessions you have the faster the bird will understand this concept, this is true but there’s also a risk of overdoing it and stretching the bird’s attention span too far causing them to regress.  According to the various CPBT-KA’s (certified professional bird trainers, knowledge assessed) the best number of sessions to have for one concept in one day is 2, one in the morning and one in the evening.  Some birds are equipped to handle three sessions, some can only handle one, you have to evaluate your bird and determine what works best for them.

How you end the session is important, you always have to end on a positive note so the bird looks forwards to coming back the next day.  If you end with the bird tired, overworked, frustrated and confused, they won’t want to work with you and will refuse any attempts by you to get them to participate.  Have the bird enjoy the session and end it as soon as you see them getting bored.

Positive and Negative Reinforcement

 The two most common methods that work best with birds are positive reinforcement and negative punishment (not to be mistaken with negative reinforcement and positive punishment ).  Positive reinforcement is the action of encouraging repetition of a behaviour through some form of reward, negative punishment is discouraging the repetition of a behaviour by removing something positive from the environment.  

An example of positive reinforcement: The bird lifts it’s foot on to my hand, I reward it with food, the bird wants to earn more of that food so it will look to repeat the behaviour of putting it’s foot on my hand

An example of negative punishment: The bird starts to nibble at my hands instead of stepping up, I slowly move my hands away and pause, removing the opportunity to earn the desired reward.  The bird doesn’t want the opportunity to earn a reward taken away, the bird will reduce repetition of nibbling on my hands in order to continue earning treats.

Negative punishment is not the same as positive punishment, we are not harming the bird in any way or initiating a negative response from them.  Positive punishment has been linked to numerous behaviour problems including feather destruction, screaming and aggression. Birds can not correlate an action with positive punishment and understand that their action caused the punishment, positive punishment causes regression and emotional harm to the bird. Do not use positive punishment on a bird.


 How quickly you pace sessions is determined by the bird,  when teaching a concept you have to break it down in to steps so it is easily understood.  These small steps are extremely significant, birds who learn behaviours by jumping right to the end behaviours commonly forget what they learn and the entire concept must be relearned from scratch.  When taught through a variety of smaller steps a bird may forget different steps and only have to be retaught a few of those last steps to accomplish the end behaviour, the constant repetition displayed through smaller steps also solidifies the concept in their brain and makes it harder to forget.

How many steps you need is dependant on your bird, if you make too many steps and the bird is jumping ahead of you the bird may become frustrated and confused, it’s your job to keep up with the bird’s pace.  If you have too little steps and the bird is stuck it’s your job to break it down in to smaller steps so the bird can accomplish the end goal.

It’s long, I know, but incorporating all of the things listed above can drastically improve not only the bird’s ability to learn and responsiveness but also the bond and communications you are able to have with your parrot.  It might seem like a lot at first but it’s really worth it to see just how excited they can be to work with you, training has become my girls’ favourite part of the day and it’s obvious to me just how much more they enjoy my interaction after working to connect, communicate and bond with them through training.


Alejandro Nieto was killed by police in the neighborhood where he spent his whole life.

(by Rebecca Solnit | theGuardian | photo credits Gabrielle Lurie)

On the evening of 21 March 2014, Evan Snow, a thirtysomething “user experience design professional”, according to his LinkedIn profile, who had moved to the neighbourhood about six months earlier (and who has since departed for a more suburban environment), took his young Siberian husky for a walk on Bernal Hill.

As Snow was leaving the park, Nieto was coming up one of the little dirt trails that leads to the park’s ring road, eating chips. In a deposition prior to the trial, Snow said that with his knowledge of the attire of gang members, he “put Nieto in that category of people that I would not mess around with”.

His dog put Nieto in the category of people carrying food, and went after him. Snow never seemed to recognise that his out-of-control dog was the aggressor: “So Luna was, I think, looking to move around the benches or behind me to run up happily to get a chip from Mr Nieto. Mr Nieto became further – what’s the right word? – distressed, moving very quickly and rapidly left to right, trying to keep his chips away from Luna. He ran down to these benches and jumped up on the benches, my dog following. She was at that point vocalising, barking, or kind of howling.”

The dog had Nieto cornered on the bench while its inattentive owner was 40 feet away – in his deposition for the case, under oath, his exact words were that he was distracted by a female “jogger’s butt”. “I can imagine that somebody would – could assume the dog was being aggressive at that point,” Snow said. The dog did not come when he called, but kept barking. Nieto, Snow says, then pulled back his jacket and took his Taser out, briefly pointing at the distant dog-owner before he pointed it at the dog baying at his feet. The two men yelled at each other, and Snow apparently used a racial slur, but would not later give the precise word. As he left the park, he texted a friend about the incident. His text, according to his testimony, said, “in another state like Florida, I would have been justified in shooting Mr Nieto that night” – a reference to that state’s infamous “stand your ground” law, which removes the obligation to retreat before using force in self-defence. In other words, he apparently wished he could have done what George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin: execute him without consequences.

Soon after, a couple passed by Nieto. Tim Isgitt, a recent arrival in the area, is the communications director of a nonprofit organisation founded by tech billionaires. He now lives in suburban Marin County, as does his partner Justin Fritz, a self-described “email marketing manager” who had lived in San Francisco about a year. In a picture one of them posted on social media, they are chestnut-haired, clean-cut white men posing with their dogs, a springer spaniel and an old bulldog. They were walking those dogs when they passed Nieto at a distance.

Fritz did not notice anything unusual but Isgitt saw Nieto moving “nervously” and putting his hand on the Taser in its holster. Snow was gone, so Isgitt had no idea that Nieto had just had an ugly altercation and had reason to be disturbed. Isgitt began telling people he encountered to avoid the area. (One witness who did see Nieto shortly after Isgitt and Fritz, longtime Bernal Heights resident Robin Bullard who was walking his own dog in the park, testified that there was nothing alarming about him. “He was just sitting there,” Bullard said.)

At the trial, Fritz testified that he had not seen anything alarming about Nieto. He said that he called 911 because Isgitt urged him to. At about 7.11pm he began talking to the 911 dispatcher, telling her that there was a man with a black handgun. What race, asked the dispatcher, “black, Hispanic?” “Hispanic,” replied Fritz. Later, the dispatcher asked him if the man in question was doing “anything violent”, and Fritz answered, “just pacing, it looks like he might be eating chips or sunflowers, but he’s resting a hand kind of on the gun”. Alex Nieto had about five more minutes to live.

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Goodmorning! ⛅🌻🌈 Consuming protein throughout the day is super important for sooo many bodily functions, but most of us skip protein at breakfast time! One way I’m getting around this, is making a big batch of Granola on the weekend (I make mine with oats, buckwheat, quinoa flakes, quinoa puffs, rice puffs, buckwheat puffs, LSA, cranberries, raisins, banana chips, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, chopped almonds, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, and vanilla) and having it with fruit, or smoothies, or taking it to uni with me. Just like cereal, but full of the good stuff 😉💖 @therileydann

One of the best things black people ever came up with was eating sunflower seeds and chips in the same bite. @ my nonblack followers- you’re fucking welcome.

very banana bread

I have a few go-to banana bread recipes. This one is simplest: requires no eggs and packs a lot of banana goodness.

Usually I bake banana bread with eggs. But finding eggs that don’t come in environmentally repugnant styrofoam containers is extraordinarily difficult in Ann Arbor; Trader Joe’s is the only place I know that carries eggs in paper cartons, but TJ’s is a bit of a trek and I don’t have time to go every week. And so a recipe was born.

The recipe below is for pure, simple banana bread. If you’re like me, you’ll want to toss in some nuts or sunflower seeds; see note after the recipe.

very banana bread
yields one 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf

½ cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
3 very ripe, medium-large bananas
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1-½ cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Soften butter in a mixing bowl (the microwave is your friend).

Add brown sugar to mixing bowl, and cream together (i.e., mix) butter and brown sugar. Pop open the bananas and add to mixing bowl. If you’re using very ripe bananas, they should mix easily into a smooth batter. If you’re using just ripe bananas, spend some time mashing them until you have a chunky but smooth batter.

Add in salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix well. Add flour, and mix until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Scoop batter into greased loaf pan. I use a 8.5 x 4.5 inch pan, but a 9 x 5 inch pan should work as well, though the loaf will be shorter. Bake for 60-80 minutes, or until done. Check that the loaf is done by poking a chopstick or toothpick into the loaf; if it comes out clean, you’re done! Allow loaf to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy the wonderful aroma of caramelized bananas while it lasts!


I always add sunflower seeds, walnuts, chocolate chips, and/or raisins into the batter before baking. Banana bread is very versatile, so feel free to toss in whatever suits your taste.

I love the taste and smell of butter, which is why it’s used in this recipe. Oil would work fine, but you’d miss out on the buttery aromas. It’s worth noting that at room temperature, butter is solid, while oil is liquid. Using oil in place of butter will result in a moister bread once the bread has cooled down, so there are advantages for each.

This recipe works pretty well with whole wheat flour; you’ll get a nuttier taste, but the texture will be slightly grainy-er. Using half all-purpose flour, half whole wheat flour is a good balance.

anonymous asked:

There have been FOURTEEN women who love women who've died on tv since January 1, 2016, and it is April 7, 2016. Go ahead and stack those up against every single other heterosexual death on tv, then go and calculate how many characters of that gender+ orientation exist on tv in general, then see the percentages for how many survive. Then ask yourself if there's a little bit of a numbers skew, here.

Imagine you have a big bag of peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds. There are 1000 in total.

There are:

  • 940 peanuts
  • 4 sunflower seeds
  • 30 raisins
  • 26 chocolate chips

You take away 100 peanuts. That’s only 11% of your peanuts! You still have 840 left over.

You take away 2 sunflower seed and now you only have 2 left!

You take away 5 raisins and now you have 25.

You take away 14 chocolate chips and now you only have 12. You took away 54% of your chocolate chips.

Although only 14 chocolate chips were taken away, they made up the majority of your chocolate chips despite making up a minority of the overall bag. And although you took away 100 peanuts (a lot more than 14!), you still have 840 left! The majority of your bag is STILL filled with peanuts. Their absence is barely noticeable.

Harbinger of Spring

In honour of the OQ first kiss anniversary, have some feels - angstier than I intended but hopefully worth it. As today is also conveniently merylisoneofakind‘s birthday (good call! ;)), I dedicate this story to her - happy birthday, Karola! :)

It makes its first appearance the day after Regina has tucked the tattered, taped-together page XXIII into the drawer.

It’s both too early in the morning and too early in the year for such a thing. Yet there it is again: a single chirp, as if the bird were warming up, and then a string of sounds, bright and cheery and impossible to ignore now that she’s no longer asleep. Dread stirs in her belly and spreads, and she struggles to breathe, to resist the urge to rush over and yank the drawer open just to make sure the page is really there. She rubs her fingers together, testing the pads for residual glue. The bird flaps its wings and hushes.

At last, she thinks, it’s gone, she can go back to sleep (if only she could) but she’s too busy dealing with the tears suddenly welling in her eyes.

With tremendous self-denial she rolls over, pushes herself up and cracks the drawer open, quite certain now that the whole quest to gather and reassemble was but a dream, that the drawer contains nothing but neatly folded scarves.

It’s there, page XXIII, peeking out shyly, eager to soothe but equally ready to torment.

The bird twitters and trills, won’t leave her alone with its incessant canting just like the picture of alternate Robin and alternate Regina lingers even after she’s slammed the drawer shut.

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