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Dear Parrots magazine,

Clipping is not for training

In response to Beth Paterson’s article, Wing Clipping (Issue 202). What a shame Beth Paterson, who studied Animal Behaviour, decided to clip her Orange-winged Amazon’s wings as a training aid.  She implied she hadn’t made much progress using positive reinforcement alone.

Combining a positive reinforcement strategy such as shaping (successive approximations towards the goal behaviour) with other non-invasive methods such as systematic desensitisation would have surely led to success as it did with my own “fearful” Orange-winged Amazon, Ollie.

The worst possible reason to clip a bird’s wings is for training purposes.  It is used so that a bird cannot escape; it has no option but to comply with the human’s wishes.  The important reinforcer of choice has been lost.

I do not understand how clipping provides more enrichment?  Using positive reinforcement correctly can enrich the animal’s life considerably by introducing it to new experiences and objects.  Plus choosing to work for the desired consequence itself is enriching.  No wonder trainers, professional zoo keepers, and other such people are making tremendous progress with positive reinforcement training or as Barbara Heidenreich calls it, Force Free Animal Training.

Rather than take that choice away, let’s empower our parrots!

Roz Paterson



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