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dsb3465 10-24-2019 06:57 PM

parrot flying exercises - outdoors?
Anyone have suggestions where I can get my parrot flying exercises outdoors preferably to get him some fresh air. I make him fly inside the house daily but afraid that if I take him outdoors he'll fly away. So any recommendations for places/techniques for outdoor flying will be highly appreciated. Thanks!


18WheelsOfSteel 10-24-2019 07:21 PM

Re: parrot flying exercises - outdoors?

Originally Posted by dsb3465 (Post 835055)
Anyone have suggestions where I can get my parrot flying exercises outdoors preferably to get him some fresh air. I make him fly inside the house daily but afraid that if I take him outdoors he'll fly away. So any recommendations for places/techniques for outdoor flying will be highly appreciated. Thanks!


I saw a video from I think Birdtricks using a batting cage type setup, metal frame with bird sized netting, maybe 20 yards long and wide enough for 2 macaws to fly side by side, could easily adjust it to be appropriately sized for your bird(s)

charmedbyekkie 10-24-2019 07:30 PM

Re: parrot flying exercises - outdoors?
I don't have much time - rushing to a client meeting - but start with recall training indoors and desensitization on a harness outdoors.

I'll come back and add more later today.

charmedbyekkie 10-24-2019 10:47 PM

Re: parrot flying exercises - outdoors?
Donít even think about flight outside the house, even in a batting cage until youíve 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 streaming in 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. Itís easy to go up, but itís another to go down. A bird who doesnít know how to descend steeply is likely to get stuck in a tree/rafter for hours or even days (yes, Iíve seen this happen).

Stamina Training
This is contentious for some, but you have to read your birdís body language. A domesticated bird donít have the stamina of wild birds because they just donít get the flight time. And if they fly in the house, itís normally in short bursts (think a sprint versus a marathon). You need to train for a marathon. And tbh, itís easy to tell if a bird is new - they donít 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; Iíll wave and ask him to ďkeep goingĒ; if heís tired, he hovers like a helicopter and then I have him land immediately, but if heís got a tiny bit of energy left, heíll go for another loop around. Now, if you donít establish this basic communication safely, your bird will land elsewhere.

You must never assume your bird is fully-trained and itís a done deal. You must keep practicing as if your bird is untrained. People who think ďoh, heís fully-trained, weíve done so many good flightsĒ are also the most likely to lose their birds. You keep training the basics.

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

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:


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 (Murphyís 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.

Miarobi 10-28-2019 10:40 PM

Re: parrot flying exercises - outdoors?
It seems to me that only 2 options are possible here: either take them in a cage to the back yard, for example, or buy a harness if your parrot is large enough. The parrot, though not a stupid bird, is unlikely to find a way home like a dog.

chris-md 10-28-2019 11:04 PM

Re: parrot flying exercises - outdoors?

Originally Posted by Miarobi (Post 835626)
The parrot, though not a stupid bird, is unlikely to find a way home like a dog.

Perhaps an oversimplification, if not outright misstatement. They usually lack the SKILLS to come back.

1) downward flight: They fly up into a tree, but downward flight is an entirely different skill, one many captive birds donít learn. So when they are stuck in a tree high up, they literally donít know how to get down.

2) winds: they arenít trained to fly against winds, donít have the fitness to do so. Donít know how to navigate the winds.

Then thereís fear of flying when predators are around. They are exposed when they fly, and they know it. So they freeze up in place.

ParrotGenie 10-28-2019 11:41 PM

Re: parrot flying exercises - outdoors?
Quite a but that involve. First thing you want to make sure is your parrot is fully recall trained and will come back to you on command indoors, I whistle as can be heard from far away, before attempting to do outside training. Then you have to descent train your bird indoors on something high up and in a large area. They have to learn how to land as flying is the easy part, landing off something high not so much and they have to get over that fear. Then you have to train your bird to get use to loud noises as door slamming, use to surrounding, kids, cars and motor cycle noise and outside noises in general. If your bird gets scared easy, flying outdoor then is not recommended as they will get lost.

As far as exercises I would first get your bird to a Avian vet and have them check out as you don't want your bird to have a heart attack. You have to take it slow and let them built up organs and muscles necessary for flight. This can take months to a year and depending on your bird heart condition and muscles mainly, it may not be recommended to let your bird fly. They also have to learn how to fly against the wind and that take why more energy. As far as exercise I use two training stands and had them fly back and forth spreading the stands apart more and more as time when by. Then I had them fly around the house, or like Cooper like to do in a circle, so they can learn how to control direction and etc. It is also important to harness train your bird, so when your in public, or don't want them to fly off as my female U2 use to tend to do, but she fully free flight train, but even then in public places don't want her just flying off due to risks. So I harness train her as I did all my birds. They know directions and etc better then I do at times and very well socialized, but for liability reasons and unknown traffic I don't take a chance in public.

Then Birds of prey, yes hawks in area are known to swoop down and chase, or grab a bird. So have to know your area if it going to be safe and depending on size of bird as smaller birds are easy prey and you don't want your bird to become lunch. Even a risk when bird outside in a cage as seen hawks get into cages as well. Then you have other people that might steal your bird.

Yes free flying come with risks you may lose your bird, so be careful and not recommended for most. I dealt with plenty of rescue parrots and trained hawks and raptors over the years, so have experience way more involve then I even had time to write and yes seen a lot of people lose their birds over the years as well.

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