Frage für Ann Castro bitte

Diskutiere Frage für Ann Castro bitte im Clicker-Training Forum im Bereich Allgemeine Foren; To all those on this forum, I apologize for posting in English but sadly I do not know any German. All I can do is attempt to translate simple...

  1. #1 William Astor, 14.09.2004
    William Astor

    William Astor Guest

    To all those on this forum, I apologize for posting in English but sadly I do not know any German. All I can do is attempt to translate simple sentences in German by using an Internet Translation Engine. For more complex sentences, it is inadequate.
    I am asking my question to Ann since she has already answered me in English in another forum. However if anyone else on this forum can answer the question I am putting to Ann, feel free to answer me in either English or German. Thank you.

    Hello Ann,

    I have seen a video tape on African Grey parrot training. The basic idea is that you use cues and you reward the bird every time he responds well to the cue you give.
    At the end, there were two professional trainers who seemed to be using words as cues. So when they told their African Grey parrot to do something like say his name or micmic a telephone or sing a song, he would do just that. To me, this is no sign of intelligence because any circus animal can be trained to respond to cues, be they words or body signs or mere objects.

    I recall Dr. Pepperberg’s parrot, Alex saying on television “ I don’t feel like doing this “ when she asked him on one occasion to tell her what shape the object she was holding had.
    Or another time, he told her “ I want a nut “ or “ I want a grape, please “ when she persisted with asking the same question regarding the shape of the object she was holding.

    Notice he did not respond to the cue of the object in front of him AND the words of the question that Dr. Pepperberg had spoken to him at all.

    INSTEAD HE IS TAKING THE INITIATIVE. Alex is telling her that he does not feel like answering her question...!!!

    Now this to me this is a sign of intelligence because he is not responding like a machine to a given cue like the other African Grey parrots were doing.

    My important question to you here is... in your experience do you know of African Grey parrots that take the initiative or even start a conversation with their owners ?

    I think this is what makes Alex so incredible.
    I would appreciate your feedback on this very much.

    Also can you please tell me what your opinion of Pionus parrots is, if you happen to know. I have heard some people praise them an awful lot due to their intelligence and gentle behaviour.

    Thank you.

  2. #2 Ann Castro, 15.09.2004
    Ann Castro

    Ann Castro Guest

    Hi William!

    Those are some very interesting questions. The ability to say "no" is a rewarded behaviour the same as making a turn on cue.

    If an animal were rewarded for making a turn, he would show more and more turns. This is the basic privipal of shaping any behaviour, whether it is done intentionally or not.

    I know that Alex was given a treat only, if he chose the right word and said it clearly. So he has a strong motivation to say grape, because he learned that not saying grape would earn him nothing. Any living being after all will exhibit those behaviours which ultimately prove worthwhile.

    A big advantage that Alex has regarding most living beings is the ability of speech which was trained, so he can express himself more clearly than any. At one point he must have learned what "no" means AND it must have been rewarded in some way or another (e.g. audience laughing, him getting away with it), because otherwise this behaviour would have become extinct.

    Most trainers would have squashed such a response. Thus many trained animals do not show it.

    Do parrots initiate conversations? Well, mine certainly do and I know of many cases where they do so with their owners. In this context I am defining conversation as communication. My birds are not speech trained, but they certainly know how to communicate. Most of them interact with me verbally if they want a treat. Depending of which one from the flock it is, they say "hello", "High five", ah.

    Two of my birds say "water" when they want something to drink. And the brat prince Jack, certainly knows the meaning of the word "no" and utilises it when telling me that he does not want to do something.

    Then there is the non-verbal communication. Most of my birds will lift a foot and very pointedly stare at where they want to go (they are flighted, but it is soooo much more efficient to get a ride....). This is not trained, but a skill which I believe they picked up by observing each other. Then there is the abruptly bent neck, to solicit a scritch. And many more cues for me to do something.

    Some things were first trained behaviours, but are now intelligently employed to get them what they want.

    And lastly, IMO the ability to learn is also a sign of intelligence.

    Training is not neccessarily turning the bird into a machine. In clickertraining, which we teach here, the bird is very much encouraged to show initiative and offer behaviours. And they do. I have seen some amazing logic reasoning by animals to justify getting a treat.

    Regarding the Video: If it is a training video, it has surely been edited to take out those parts where the parrots willfully did something else. Also giving a treat everytime is less effective than, switching to variable reinforcement, when the behaviour itself has been learned and needs strengthening.

    >Also can you please tell me what your opinion of Pionus parrots is,

    Very quiet and a little boring. I have not seen any astounding signs of intelligence in them. However, I have only seen them on visits and never owned any.

  3. #3 carola bettinge, 15.09.2004
    carola bettinge

    carola bettinge Guest

    nur kurz: was heisst den "cue"?
  4. #4 Raymond, 15.09.2004

    Raymond Guest

    wenn ich es richtig verstanden habe meint Ann >cue< stichwort
  5. #5 carola bettinge, 15.09.2004
    carola bettinge

    carola bettinge Guest


    (und noch weitere zeichen....)
  6. alpha

    alpha Foren-Guru

    Dabei seit:
    Cue - ich nehme an in diesem Zusammenhang ist das "Kommando" gemeint.

  7. #7 carola bettinge, 15.09.2004
    carola bettinge

    carola bettinge Guest


    hab ich das jetzt richtig verstanden: auf einem trainingsvideo sollen graue auf einen befehl hin etwas sagen (namen/telefonklineln). ein grauer namens alex, sagte darauf hin "nö, mag nicht". die frage war, ob das nicht wirkliche intellegenz bedeute.
    und ann meinte daraufhin: auch nicht mehr als das sagen des namen auf befehl. das "nein" sagen wurde bestärkt z.b weil die leute lachten, oder er den befehl tatsächlich nicht ausführen musste.

    hab ich das richtig verstanden? wenn ja, schließ ich mich anns meinung an.

    i just asked , if my translation is right (my english is very bad). if i have understood the text, i also think like ann.

    (war das jetzt verständlich?)
  8. #8 charlotte, 15.09.2004

    charlotte Guest


    thank u for these questions, william. this is very interesting.

    of course these discussons are always depending on u're definition of intelligence.

    anyhow, the ability of saying "no" is a "new" level in the setting of training. normally the trainee executes the order (on a cue) or not. in this case saying "no" is an alternative reaction, which brings a new veriety in this communication.
    the next interesting question would be, if the parrot could transfer this reaction to other situations. simple transfer to other training or, more complicated, on situations with diffrent connex (e.g. say "no" if he doesnt like a specific food..) do u know anything about this, ann or anyone else here??

    :0- :0- from rainy vienna
  9. #9 Ann Castro, 16.09.2004
    Ann Castro

    Ann Castro Guest

    Wg. Cue

    Im Englischen wir zwischen Kommando und Cue differenziert. Viele Trainer mögen das Wort Kommando nicht, weil es einen negativen Beigeschmack hat. Es impliziert, das das Tier im militär-stil herumkommandiert wird. Statt command wird deshalb cue or prompt benutzt. So we in I them prompt him to come here. Das ist sanfter. Man gibt dem Tier ein Art Stichwort, damit es das Verhalten zeigt. In Deutsch ist mir noch kein gutes Wort eingefallen.

    Back to the topic......

    re. transfer thinking

    A while back, I had a training session with Jack (GW) that is a good example of transfer thinking in parrots:

    In that training session, we had first practiced going into the transport box, as he was at that time undergoing prophylactic inhalation therapy against Aspergillosis and I did not want him to link the transport box to something negativ. So I put a treat bowl at the back of the box and clicked him for going fully in there, just before he got to the bowl.

    After that we practiced retrieve – with a shoe....there was a reasonable reason for this LOL. Jack had recently taken a liking to chewing on shoes (he obviously still thought he was a puppy dog <grin>), so I thought, he better learn to do something more productive with that shoe. So he was rewarded for dragging/carrying the shoe to me by its strap and putting it into my hand.

    At the end of the training session, I said “thats it”, but Jack wanted to go on. So he dragged over the shoe a couple of times, but I only praised him – no treat. He then went into the transport box – but the treat bowl was empty also. Coming out, he paused, and I could see the steam coming out of his ears – he was thinking sooo hard: “ shoe in hand = treat, bowl = treat. Shoe in hand = no treat – what does she want me to do”.....and then he drew a brilliant conclusion.....very excitedly he dragged the shoe into the transport box and properly placed it on top of the treat bowl.....needless to say I was so amazed at this that he did get a full blown Jackpot for this <grin>

    On another occasion he pointedly looked at me, placed the shoe on top of a bag of treats (which are forbidden to him (which he knows). He pointedly looked at me again, took the shoe down and placed it besides the bag, and then proceeded to "ravage" the back, as according to his reasoning he had earned at reat.

    Re. "No"

    I never practiced it, but Jack certainly uses "no" in contexts that are different from my use.

    Nikita used to say "aua" before she pinched hands (which had been said by me), but later when she stopped pinching hands, she used it before pulling ones hair.

    Water sbeing used to get a drink. Hello is used to get a treat.

    Jack tells me he loves me when he is very pleased with me - like when I took him flying in the attic for the first time, or when we moved into the bigger house with loads of flying space.

    I could go on and on, there are so many examples of transfer thinking in my birds.

  10. #10 William Astor, 18.09.2004
    William Astor

    William Astor Guest

    Hi Ann and Charlotte and Raymond,

    Thank you for your interest in my question.
    Thank you for your answers Ann.
    I have looked up the word cue so that people on this forum will better understand what it means in English. The word cue is often used in English both by actors and scientists.


    A signal, such as a word or action or object, used to prompt another event or type of behaviour in a performance, such as a gesture by a conductor signaling the entrance of a performer. Or a gesture made by a parrot trainer to prompt their parrot to behave in a certain way usually followed by a food reward.

    So a cue is basically a signal.



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