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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 02-22-2020, 11:42 AM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

Ugh, I can’t stand Mikey and his owners. But that’s neither here nor there.

That’s clipped to the harness, not the legs. It’s hard to describe but when you use those leads outside, like you see there, you’re doing very short flights, like they are doing. In the course of free flight training, you start indoors so that when you are finally outside, the bird isn’t likely to startle when around the training perch, making fly offs unlikely. They wouldnt yank the lead if the bird flies off - they’d move WITH the bird coushioning the restrain and making for a much softer landing.
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Old 02-22-2020, 11:53 AM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

oh ok! That makes more sense. Lol why dont you like Mikey?
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Old 02-22-2020, 11:58 AM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

Yeah... no. Don't do leg chains. They're very common where I live, but even then birds keep going to the vet (if they're lucky to have owners who will bring them) due to broken legs.

You can, however, use an Aviator harness, which is one of the best harnesses to fly with. If you're looking to go flying, don't use a Feather Tether or any other than has metal clasps and doesn't allow for the connecting leash to swivel. The Aviator harness doesn't have any points that can dig into the body (like a metal clasp might) and allows for the leash connection at the waist to swivel (unlike a single point connection).


As for conures free-flying, yes, in my country free-flying is very common. While macaws are the most popular (they can wear a Marshall tracker with no issue), smaller birds are also flown. Of the smaller birds, conures are the most popular.

That being said, use common sense. If we shifted to where I grew up in the US, I would not fly him, even on a harness, because there are hawks everywhere. And birds of prey aren't even the worst - crows and even humans are dangers to your parrot.




Here's my little schpiel about free flight....


Don’t even think about flight outside the house, even in a batting cage until you’ve done a few things first:


Recall Training
Recall in the safety of your home is complete different from recall in a new place. Parrots get distracted by new environments. Your bird will likely be hesitant to recall in a new place. Even if you bring them out to socialise in new environments all the time, you will need to train your bird to be able to recall in new settings (many default to a freeze or flight).


Desensitisation/Bombproof Training
Now, no bird is going to be bomb proof, but you have to train for anything you can think of. A batting cage sounds like a contained area, but what if it collapses, a bird dive bombs to attack, the spacing is large enough for your bird to dive through, etc? Even if you were in a gymnasium, what if the doors opened?

Those sudden sounds can spook a bird and send him out of range. A sudden light flashing/reflecting can also trigger a bird to fly. I know our little guy is alarmed when he hears crows and other birds of prey.

What if some idiot human starts distracting your bird? (Yes, I had a child throw a water bottle at Cairo before.)

These are all examples of sounds and distractions you need to train for.


Descent Training
Your bird is probably used to the height and safety of home. That means he might not know the basics of flight navigation - wind, steep descent, etc. You have to prepare him for the heights he might have to navigate from. It’s easy to go up, but it’s another to go down. A bird who doesn’t know how to descend steeply is likely to get stuck in a tree/rafter for hours or even days (yes, I’ve seen this happen).


Stamina Training
This is contentious for some, but you have to read your bird’s body language. A domesticated bird don’t have the stamina of wild birds because they just don’t get the flight time. And if they fly in the house, it’s normally in short bursts (think a sprint versus a marathon). You need to train for a marathon. And tbh, it’s easy to tell if a bird is new - they don’t glide worth a beep. But you also need to learn how to not push your bird too hard. Cairo often flies to me, checking if he can land; I’ll wave and ask him to “keep going”; if he’s tired, he hovers like a helicopter and then I have him land immediately, but if he’s got a tiny bit of energy left, he’ll go for another loop around. Now, if you don’t establish this basic communication safely, your bird will land elsewhere.


Upkeep
You must never assume your bird is fully-trained and it’s a done deal. You must keep practicing as if your bird is untrained. People who think “oh, he’s fully-trained, we’ve done so many good flights” are also the most likely to lose their birds. You keep training the basics.


Other things to look up - boomerang, ascending, contact call, etc.


Disclaimer:
Do NOT attempt flight outside your home until you have established the basics of above. And when you step outside your home to conduct training, have your bird on a harness and start with recall that just requires your bird to HOP from training perch to your hand.

The free-flying community where I live also recommends never putting your bird on a perch other than the training perch or yourself. You do NOT want your bird to think that perching just randomly anywhere is safe - they do not have the instincts/experience of wild birds. They also recommend training your bird to recall to one person and one person ONLY. The more people your bird is trained to recall to, the higher the risk.


Outdoor Factors
Birds of prey have snatched up large birds (I know of one African Grey) before while in their backyard in urban settings before. Can you train your bird to not get taken by a hawk? No.

Crows and other predators (including humans) have chased off birds before. I have seen bng macaws getting chased off by crows and lost forever. Can you train your bird to fend off a murder of crows? No.

In fact, one of the best trainers on the forum lost his bombproof macaws to a human flailing around with a ladder - the macaw took off and was taken by another human. Can you control your bird being spooked and avoid being taken in by another human? No.

My vet doesn't even take in ff-ers. They run too high a risk of picking up diseases, and she doesn't want to put her other patients at risk of catching a disease from the ff-ers (F10 can only take care of so much). It's a known but hush-hush fact in ff-ing communities that they catch and spread diseases through silent carriers. Can you train your bird not to catch a disease? No.



Free flying and recall is pure training. That being said, all the pro free flyers will tell you:

Quote:
If you do want to attempt flight out of your home, you must accept the fact that your bird might get lost.
Full stop. Period. This is a risk you must be aware of and must be willing to take. No matter how well-trained your bird is, you cannot account for everything (Murphy’s Law to live by). And these free-flying folks who say this even attach a $2k GPS tracker on their birds and still expect to lose them.



How Cairo does it
Some context on where I'm coming from: my bird was a free-flyer with his previous family. Thoroughly trained with a professional guiding Cairo's previous owner. And Cairo lives to fly - I could never take that away from him. We do fly outdoors on a harness and a Kevlar line in a park where it is not a claimed territory by any predator, except for humans who show up later in the day. There are predators that occasionally fly through, like crows and a few sea birds, but we don't fly when they're in the vicinity and the moment I see them, Cairo calls out to me and I recall him in. I keep in touch with my local ff-ing communities, and I respect that they have the ability to risk losing their bird to a variety of factors. While Cairo doesn't cost as much as the macaws and other birds they fly, he means too much to me to let go. And the moment Cairo shows signs of not keeping up with his training, I stop all outdoor flights (even if we always use a kevlar line) until he is solid again. I am incredibly strict on him for his own safety.

My position on this is to neither discourage nor encourage you, but to let you be aware of the risks and basic yet mandatory steps to take.
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Last edited by charmedbyekkie; 02-22-2020 at 01:14 PM. Reason: Formatting
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old 02-22-2020, 12:09 PM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

Mikey et al are wonderfully positive people, somewhat refreshing actually. but they never owned a bird before, and practically self taught free flight - and not well. now, literally just a couple years later, somehow they are experts in the field that everyone looks up to. They have so many fly offs compared to a properly trained birds.

Basically, They were complete rookies who got lucky with Mikeys training. Their stripes were showing when they got Mia and tried training her. It exposed that they actually have no clue what they are doing. Whether others agree with me or not, I view them as dangerous where it comes to being paragons of free flight. (Trying to distinguish here between advocacy - which anyone can legitimately do whether you free fly or not - and role models to learn from).

People shouldn’t be taking tips from them, nor model their training after them.

They take amazing care of their birds, to be clear. Few people would do something like net in their back yards so the birds can sit freely outside, or build a new cage from scratch. Those birds are spoiled rotten. As role models for free flight, they are problematic.
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Last edited by chris-md; 02-22-2020 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 02-22-2020, 12:12 PM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

oh yeah no i agree. Mikey learned pretty easily while Mia is still on a harness and soesn't get chances to free fly often because she hasn't learned recall enough
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Old 02-22-2020, 12:12 PM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

Great advice above by charmed.
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Old 02-22-2020, 01:08 PM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

Quote: Originally Posted by Devynthecatwithsocks View Post
oh yeah no i agree. Mikey learned pretty easily while Mia is still on a harness and soesn't get chances to free fly often because she hasn't learned recall enough
I just have a thing personally: if you’ve never been through it soup to nuts (beginning to end) you are only parroting/regurgitating things you’ve heard without the experience behind it, which is dangerous because it’s incomplete information.

They’ve already proven they can’t free flight train from the beginning on their own - Mia, exhibit A. If you yourself need help with basics, or have never been through the basics, the best thing you can do is sit and learn, because you’re useless as a teacher.

Not to indict them TOO harshly. They sought mentors, and continue to learn, They aren’t operating completely in silo. And they share their mistakes, they don’t hide them. We all know what it takes to put ourselves out there like that. But their success is an illusion.

/soapbox
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Old 02-22-2020, 01:31 PM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

I have tried for a couple of years to get Syd into a harness with little joy. He really freaks. I can't imagine putting anything around his leg/foot. His legs are very fragile. Syd free flies all around my house and is very happy. I taught him flight routes and the danger of window and door glass and also where he could safely land. It took some time but he learnt pretty well and now he goes all over the house. He doesn't fly huge distances preferring to get where he wants to with frequent stops. In summer I take him outside in a cage and he is very wary of birds overhead. I can't imagine risking him flying free.
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Old 03-21-2021, 08:32 PM
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Re: Free Flight in Conures

Hi Devynthecatwithsocks, I realize your post is a year old but I just joined and thought I could contribute some relevant experience:

We have two black-capped conures that we have successfully flown outside after completing a free-flight course with very experienced bird trainers. So while it *is* possible to free-fly conures, I would not attempt it without the guidance from a professional to help you understand and minimize the risks that are specific to your circumstances. Smaller birds are at greater danger for sure.

I completely echo what others have said re: predators and wind. Our guys had a great time in 0-5 mph wind, but really struggled to fly just a few feet in stronger gusts. We also drove >9 h so we could fly them in a location that had miles of wide open space without big trees and a lower likelihood of encountering predators. Because we don't have a space like this closer to home, we don't fly them outside regularly for this reason.

With that said, IMO indoor free-flight training is always worth it. Accidents can happen, even with a clipped bird, and your chances of recovery are much better if your bird has the flight skills it needs to come back to you if they ever found themselves outside!
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