One is never supposed to gush. It’s just not done, not if you want to be cool. Luckily, I’ve never been so constrained, so…. wait for it…. I’m going to gush.
I’m mid-week into the Natural Encounters Animal Training and Management Workshop with Steve Martin and Dr. Susan Friedman, and my brain is smoking. In the best of all possible ways. Steve and Susan have created a remarkable learning experience, using lecture and hands-on training to apply the science of behavior analysis and positive reinforcement to train corvids and parrots. Half the day is lecture, half is training a crow or our own Macaw. My Macaw, a Scarlet, is named Iago… rather an unfortunate name for an animal with a beak that can break your finger, so I’m going to call him George. (Why George? I don’t know. Hey, it’s five o’clock in the morning, the only time I have to write this before starting lecture and training again today.)
I’m able to be here because I retired from teaching my University course and can afford the time, and because I’ve seen Susan Friedman talk and think the world of her knowledge, presentation style and perspective. A dear friend, Meg Boscov, came last year and raved (yup, more gushing) and came again this year because she had enjoyed it so much. Best BFF event possible for an animal trainer, you definitely want to do this next time if you can possibly manage it.
The week is brilliantly designed and balanced beautifully between lecture and hands-on training with a coach right beside you. (Thank you Wouter!). Working with the parrots, no surprise here, is amazing. Even for those of us who know a lot about learning and operant conditioning (which describes all the participants, it’s a fascinating and highly educated group, about 1/2 dog trainers, 1/2 zoological park trainers), we can all learn more. Which I am, lots and lots, as you’ll read in many articles to come. I am also loving the opportunity to work with a different class of animals. I’ve done a little bit of work with parrots, but never so much (and never Scarlet Macaws or crows), so I’m pretty much in animal trainer heaven.
Time for me to go over my notes from last night, but here’s a collage of photos from the first three days.
Meanwhile, back on the farm: Jim is holding down the farm and taking care of all the animals. As always, I miss them all terribly. Jim would love it here, but I’m afraid the vocalizations of several hundred parrots, corvids and raptors (ear plugs are provided) would turn the Border Collies into jelly. But all is well at home, including these lovely eggs from some dear friends and neighbors, resting in a bread bowl crafted by one of them.
Here’s a photo of a lovely sunrise that Jim sent: