The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots by Michael Sazhin
Michael Sazhin is a parrot owner and trainer. As far as we know he doesn't have any fancy qualifications other than experience and shrewd decision-making. We've evaluated his book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots, and we're here to give our professional opinion.
BTW, Downstay is not being compensated for this review.
Our copy of this book was self-published in 2013. It's got some weird cover art that one of our panelists described as "unnerving", and there's a lot of navy blue and purple. More than some of us are comfortable with. Although it looks amazing with our office decor here at Downstay.
The things we love about this book are 1) clicker training, 2) overall parrot care, and 3) a very honest section on how parrots aren't right for everyone and will basically take over your entire life if you let them. Most of the parrot training books we've read use force, but Michael uses gentle targeting and yummy rewards. We can't stress enough that Michael's approach absolutely works, especially with parrots who are already burdened with aggressive or other undesirable behavior from past failed "training" attempts. But we're not pointing fingers--we didn't always know what we know now about how learning works. Since parrots live a long time, there's a lot of time for misunderstandings to accumulate.
We have implemented these techniques with our own and our clients' parrots, and they really do work. Parrots love clicker training. Don't expect your crabby 40-year old Amazon to agree to do all the tricks Michael suggests, but working towards more realistic goals with respect and snacks will deepen your bond with your bird in ways you couldn't have imagined.
There is one section on food management that Michael rightfully acknowledges may be controversial. We haven't found that food management is necessary to get parrots to do tricks--simply withholding treats except during training has worked fine for us. If you have a parrot species/genus known for their love of food (ahem, Pionus) motivational food management may be secondary to food management in the context of weight control. However, we don't object to this practice on principle as long as you consult an exotic veterinarian about your specific case first. Weight loss can be risky for old, young, and sick birds. Keep in mind that parrots often mask their illnesses until they're about to fall off their perch and die.
Two points for which Michael's book often in dinged in reviews, which are accurate: non-existent copyediting and only 26 black and white photos in the entire 295-page book. The typos were a little distracting but the content is so valuable that we were able to get over ourselves. The lack of photos might have been a little rough, except that Michael also has a YouTube channel where he demonstrates many of the techniques in the book.
We recommend this book for people thinking about getting a parrot or who have a parrot now and no experience with clicker training birds. It's a modern approach that will result in happier, less bitey parrots that can't wait to spend time with you.