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A Word About Information Sources

This page is intended to be a caution against relying on internet information available from internet marketers claiming to be professional trainers.

First off let me mention some legitimate trainers and information sources that we do endorse: Bob Bailey, Sid Price of Avian Ambassadors, Barbara Heidenreich of Good Bird Magazine, Steve Martin of NEI and Dr. Susan Friedman of Utah State University. We do not always agree with them or they us but we feel their overall level of knowledge and experience make them good resources for all parrot owners. Please read the information here before reading further. This is another link about the same group. I highly encourage you to look over these links. It is my opinion that is a similar internet marketing group. And based on the comments I have heard from other professional trainers and from numerous bird owners, they are well known in the bird community for copying information and presenting it as their own as well as engaging in other questionable marketing practices. Many people have expressed concern to me over the advice given in the DVDs they sell as educational material. Three articles from Sid Price you should read: Bird Tricks to Avoid and Best In Flock article, The Real Secrets of Training And Where To Find Them. I highly encourage you to read these articles. If you have read these articles you will know to carefully check any bird related website to see if the links to the recommended “bird training videos” lead you to a website with birdtricks or Chet Womach. If it does, it is my opinion the site is probably one of dozens of such websites owned and/or created by Chet Womach of birdtricks or is one of their paid affiliate websites, each designed to make it look like unbiased people think their worthless videos are worth spending money on. It is my recommendation that when you find such a website, immediately close the window and do not return to it again.

We made the mistake of allowing Dave and Jamie Womach of birdtricks to join us here in Moab Utah to help them fly their young African Grey in April of 2008. We picked them up and dropped them off at the airport, let them stay in our home and all for free. While here Dave and Jamie told us this was their first venture into freeflying parrots. 18 months later they have expanded their business to include selling their “expert advice” on freefight training. For $5000 they will provide personal instruction on flying parrots, including personal training with the person’s bird here in Moab, at the very locations we took them. We recently ran into them at two of those locations. The first encounter we were polite and agreed to fly our birds with them. But after listening to their birds begging for food due to their hunger level we chose not to fly with them the next day when we encountered them again. Though we instead selected a spot to fly several hundred yards away from them, we could still hear their birds crying for food. It was painful to hear and really emphasized for us why we set up this website – because inexperienced bird owners like the birdtricks people should not be training others about freeflight.

I encourage you to also read what Sid Price said about the use of hunger in response to a blog article from Dave and Jamie Womach of birdtricks. Visit Sid’s blog and search for the entry entitled “The Misuse of Weight Management, August 20th, 2009”. The original blog post in question was entitled “Are Pet Shop Birds Trainable?” Posted by: Jamieleigh on: August 10, 2009. Read these two articles about our position on the use of hunger. Unfortunately because many professional trainers proclaim how difficult it is to train flight, the Womach videos of flying their parrots at locations in Moab make them look highly skilled. But the truth is that if you approach flight training correctly, as we outline on this website, nature’s built in flight training system does most of the work for you and it is fairly simple to do.

Dave and Chet Womach are internet marketers and entertainers presenting themselves as professional bird trainers. At the time of writing this, they had very little actual experience training or flying parrots. I guess it should be no surprise they are known to have deceptive practices when you consider Dave makes his living as a magician, an occupation designed around becoming skilled at deceiving people (normally in a fun and harmless way). So what happens when you apply that mentality to internet marketing parrot training videos? You get birdtricks.


From an academic stand point a huge reason to avoid any birdtricks material is that they use non standard terminology. By doing this they can appear to create a new term or name and then claim they invented the idea. Their term “the power pause” is commonly known as a “time out”. Many scientific terms of operant conditioning are also renamed and claimed as their new discovery. Beside the unethical nature of renaming known terms to claim them as their own invention, it also puts the student at a significant disadvantage when communicating with credible animal trainers, when learning from credible written papers, websites and textbooks.

Please be careful following information and instruction from such people who are so new to training and freeflight. Especially be careful of relying on information from ethically challenged people. The Freeflight concept is a great experience for both bird and owner. Freeflying in any style is great fun, but it is also very serious since birds can easily be lost or killed, especially when Sport Flying.

To be clear here, we do not endorse birdtricks or the Womachs and do not wish to be associated with them in any way. We recommend that you not purchase any training material or courses from birdtricks or anyone who in any way promotes or sells their materials.  

Another similar site is It is another one of those ‘pay for training’ websites run by a nice bird trainer who has owned birds for the past 12 years; her name is Nathalie Roberts or so they would have you think. Nathalie Roberts is Sumatra Roy, a 23 year old (when first set up) “internet entrepreneur” who lives in India; he doesn’t even own birds nor has he ever. Read here for more info. or will bring people to this page. Please help new bird people avoid birdtricks by sending new bird owners a link to this page.


19 Responses to “”

  1. Hi Chris, I just recently found your article exposing and I am very sorry for what happened. Before I found your article, I was a big fan of and was actually interested in their freeflight training course until they told me it was $6000. The fact that you and Susan picked them up and dropped them off at the airport and gave them a free stay and them going around and really just stealing your idea and selling it as their own just makes me really enraged.

    I’ve watched your videos and I’m actually a member of the yahoo freeflight group and I just wanted to thank you for posting that article exposing birdtricks for what they are. What you do is awe inspiring and I just want to let you know that your work is very much appreciated by those that have a true passion for parrots. I aspire to someday become as great a bird trainer and educator as you are. Please keep doing what you do.

    With kind regards,


  2. Hi Chris
    I have heard from many people that it is OK to train your adult parrot by taking the food out of their cages for 6 hours, and then stick your hand in the cage with treats on it. Now I think that this is wrong, because you are basically starving your birds. Would leaving the food in the cage, and then putting in your hand with treats on it work?

    Thanks, Yorek

  3. I am just saying this to answer your question it could work but it is very unhealthy birds eat all the time in small amounts 6 hours locked up they would eat seeds out of a dogs mouth they would literally be starving birds digest and poop out their food about in an hour

  4. Our birds do often go six hours between feeding and we often do training during that time frame. They are not showing behavior of being overly hungry and no they are not starving. The term starving suggests physical deterioration due to insufficient food intake. Our birds are kept at what in the falconry community is called “free weight”, meaning their weight is what it would be if they ate as much food as they wanted, which is what they do. There is more to getting motivation to participate than just food intake, which is one of my reasons for discouraging weight management. People need to learn to use those other factors, not just dropping the weight, which can be dangerous for the bird. There is difference between weight management and food management. Make sure you understand the difference. I would recommend you read A Little Motivation Is A Good Thing and Building Interests In Food Rewards. Chris

  5. Greetings,

    I find this discussion very interesting. I can understand why you would be very offended by the Womacks’ actions, and would discourage others from purchasing what they offer. Even if they had perfect expertise and knowledge, their having credibility issues would kill any desire I would have to accept what they have to offer.
    On the other hand, the argument that they have “only” been flying birds since 2008 isn’t necessarily a bad thing– it is now 2011, and this is not rocket science. It takes “only” 4 years to become an electrical or mechanical engineer at a university… it stands to reason that one could become a competent bird flyer in 2 or 3 years.
    That being said, who on earth would pay $6000 to train a bird that only costs $1000 or so, if that? Seems a bit exorbitant and unreasonable.
    I own an Anfrican raven/crow hybrid which I would very much like to train to fly free or at least on a tether (jesses). Am also soon to purchase a baby African grey. Does anyone know if techniques to train parrots can be used with corvids? Does anyone have any advice on how to start raising the baby with free flight in mind? Should I not clip her wings at all?
    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Norfolk, VA

  6. I generally try to avoid doing any business with people I have reason to believe are ethically challenged. That is just me.

    As to using similar techniques with ravens or crows, I believe the same process would apply. No do not clip the wings at all if you wish to fly the bird outdoors. The last thing that bird needs to be handicapped when facing a difficult situation. It is best if the bird has its full capabilities, both physical and mental, when flying outdoors. As to how to start training the baby bird for freeflight, there is some information on this site but to really want to go into this in depth to take one of our flight training classes. Chris

  7. Hi Chris: you said,

    “I generally try to avoid doing any business with people I have reason to believe are ethically challenged. That is just me.”

    That’s not just you, mate. This is an excellent credo and I’m right there with you.

    That said, my “Chester” – an 8 y/o Greenwing — has been clipped all his life. I suppose it’s too late to train him to safely free-flight, but he sure does like life more when I elongate the trim intervals. Any advice how I can go about the trimming more intelligently?

  8. It is not necessarily too late to flight train him but it will be more difficult and take longer. It really depends on how much interest he has in flying. If he shows interest and competence then that is a good sign. Otherwise you have to set him up to learn to use his wings by giving him time and opportunity to do so at his pace. We go over this during the classes. Another way to motivate him to fly is by letting him become friends with a flighted bird. So if you were to obtain another baby and flight train it, then he may try to keep up and thus be motivated to attempt and practice new skills. There are no guarantees though that the two will be friends.
    I hope this helps. Chris

  9. […] on yahoo. Yeah.. I found a few articles online about why to avoid them. This is one of them: | __________________ "If it is possible to be hurt by another, then it is possible to be […]

  10. Just a comment about corvids. I once had a crow who had fallen from his nest as a baby. He could not stay where he was because many people let their dog loose in that area. I picked him up and hand fed him (tins of cat food will do nicely for a crow). He quickly became very tame, hoping up to total strangers to ask for food. He learned to flap his wings when he wanted to jump up high but he never learned to fly.

    I could walk with him outside and he would follow me, quite happily, even as an adult. He got distressed if I walked faster or further than he felt comfortable hoping, so I often had to wait for him. I tried running fifty meters (60 yards) away from him in the hope he would try to fly but he only hoped and made distressed calls. I tried gently lifting him up and throwing him in the air. He flapped his wings but did not progress towards flight. If I insisted, he got fed up with the exercise and sulked for a while.

    I cannot generalise from a single example. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if there was something wrong with this bird. The vet said there was nothing physically wrong with him, but he never got over the baby-like behaviour. People suggested he had no motivation to fly because food was available on a regular basis. I never had the heart to keep food away from him for a long period of time, so this opinion is unchecked.

    I gave him to a retired lady who had a very safe environment to offer and they are now great friends.

    So if you adopt a crow with the intention of teaching him free flight, be aware that you might be faced with the additional issue of teaching him to fly at all.

  11. […] on here, on If you’re looking for simple explanations of bird trick-training gathered […]

  12. […] may be worth reading in regards to Birdtricks training… as well as another one I came across. | Is Chet Womach a Clicker Trainer? (Updated 6/08) | Karen Pryor Clickertraining I probably should […]

  13. Um, well, I have used Birdtricks many times for help but never buy material or Items from them. I just read their blog for some “helpful hints” beacause to me they a re perfectly fine. Just tell me? Whats the harm I’ve asked questions about Talking birds and I got free advice.

  14. Chris, another mention would be Barbara H’s recent paper titled, “What Makes an Expert an Expert”. Thank you for helping get the word out there about being “tricked”. I’m just sorry we cannot sue them and/or class action is unwilling to come forward.
    Best of luck.

  15. Caitlin, just because you can get something for free does not mean it is worth having. Supporting the womachs in any way causes harm to the entire bird community. Whenever some behaves in a dishonest manner there are ripple effects to others. In this case, not only do people who rely on birdtricks rely on poor quality information, they also help stop the flow of quality information by people who actually are professional trainers. chet womach is an internet marketer, not a professional bird trainer as he claims. What he does is go out onto the internet and find an article he can rewrite. Sometimes he changes so little that the actual original author gets notified by an alert reader. This causes the rest of the bird community to no longer want to put out information. Which means you lose. And when you “learn” their made up terms for ideas that have long standing scientific terms, you also lose. By making up a new term for an existing concept, the womachs make it look like what they are selling you is all their creations. When all they are really doing is taking an existing concept and claiming it as their own. To the uninformed this might make them look like they know what they are talking about. But what it really does is confuse the student and make them look really dumb when they try to use these made up terms with others in the community who know the original terms. Anyone who tries to use the womach term “power pause” instead of the commonly used term “time out” will get some interesting looks if talking to a real animal trainer. Please don’t support this kind of dishonest behavior. It is not good for any of us.

  16. When I first brought home my Senegal I started scouring the internet for any and all info, but I kept bouncing off Chet Womach at every click. I said to my husband how bizarre it was, they reminded me of an internet pyramid type spam scam except for parrots. I shouldn’t be so shocked, I suppose, people are trying to make a quick buck everywhere. I have been all over the web searching probably 500 or so different bird related terms and sentences yet this is the 1st time I’ve pulled this site up. I’m back at the drawing board now with a Yellow Collared Mini that’s pulling out some interesting behaviors now that the honeymoon is almost over. Interesting is putting it super nicely. I’m glad I landed here though.
    I’m happy to score another point for listening to my instincts and see you confirm Birdtricks as a marketing scheme more concerned with profit than parrot. I’m thrilled to read some of the reputable trainers and articles found on this site. Ones that aren’t withholding the “valuable, secret, and, not to mention, magic” information until I whip out my Visa. Thanks for being true!

  17. I fell prey to the womach’s birdtricks site and bought their program….and after watching it, returned it. I would never starve my birds! I’d rather not train them.

    … here I am again online…..skeptical, looking for real help…… and finding your site….what a gift!


  18. Hi Chris,

    I also visited their website and blog more than once. My gut feelings tell me this is a website being set up to sell their services and products…. all the articles that posted in are only to serve ONE purpose – get you to buy from them which is fine to me as this is just an marketing tactic! They are out there to do business not there to give out information for free. BUT……..

    To pretend or create an false impression that the knowledge/technique they’re selling is ORIGINAL/AUTHENTIC, that’s what disgusted me!!!

    Here’s a comment from a parrot forum: “im not sure about the stealing training techniques but let me put it like this There are only a few ways to train a bird,how else can u train a bird (do u clicker train,target train)? Does this mean your stealing the techniques???? Who invented the clicker trainer ? Does that mean everyone else stole from him or he have it to the public to use?”

    I completely disagree with this comment!!! If was selling their freeflight course by using the technique they had acquitted from Liberty Wings, they should notified their customers. By pretending this is an original idea of themselves is equivalent to thieving and lying to whoever that buying their product!!
    And about the clicker device and it’s training, everyone knows it was started by Karen Pryor. Nobody who is using clicker training styled themselves as the original inventor!!

    Chris, if you have not copyright your freeflight technique, I suggest you to do it as soon as possible as there are a lot of people like to play with gray area instead of the black or the white!!

    I wish you all the best!!

  19. You cannot copyright a concept, only the exact wording to describe it. That is why so few professionals are producing DVDs these days. Just as soon as they have it on the market, a certain pair of brothers produces a similar DVD of their newest inventions.