GCC flight training log

quackerz

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Tux - Pineapple GCC
Tux was raised at a pet shop, with his wings clipped. He was never taught how to fly. So I finally decided to gradually introduce him to the wonderful world of flying.

I searched online and got mixed results. The consensus seems to be older birds *usually* learn flying slower or not at all. Well I'm gonna give it a shot, hence this journal. The training is not complete but I'll keep updating this thread for archive and future bird owners with similar issues.

I'll start with the basic profile of Tux:

Profile:
- Species: Pineapple GCC
- Age: ~2 yrs
- Sex: Male (DNAed)
- Age since adoption: 1.5 yrs
- Heath: Good
- Starting condition: ZERO flying experience, NOT target trained, knows step up.
- Relationship with owner: very trusting

I believe a very strong bond with the owner and knowing step up are hard prerequisites for flight training.

Training Plan:
Stage 1: get Tux used to reaching treats/targets that he can't reach with his beak.
Stage 2: extend the target distance gradually so he has to flap his wings in the process. This lets him feel and understand the supporting force of flapping wings.
Stage 3: extend the target further such that some flying is actually required to reach the target.
Stage 4: apply flying to real world scenarios and basically teach Tux "I can go anywhere I want by flying"


April 28:
<Stage 1>
The first day of training. The goal is to teach him to jump up to my finger instead of stepping up. I held his favorite treats and sat him by the edge of the desk. Then I put my finger away from the edge at a distance just far enough that Tux can't reach with his beak. It took some patience and encouragements but he finally made his first jump. After that I immediately rewarded him with treats. I repeated the above a couple times and made sure he had a firm grasp of "jumping to my finger means treats".



April 29:
<Stage 1>
I extended the target distance a little bit and Tux was a bit scared. I had to alternate between closer and farther targets to get him to jump. But at the end of the training session he did flap his wings a few times. I don't think he is ready for Stage 2 yet as he still hesitates quite a bit.



April 30:
<Stage 2>
I extended the target distance further. Now he is much bolder and aggressive in reaching longer targets and can reach ~2-3x the distance we started with. The good news is flying/flapping wings is now consistently taking place. So yeah Tux officially progressed to Stage 2. That did not take near as long as I was expecting.
I also decided to start Stage 4 gradually. At the end of the training session, I tried holding his favorite toys and his treat jar while giving him no clear direction of "jump up" (without using my fingers for him to land on). Surprisingly he adapted quickly and flew to the top of the jar & his toys - admittedly with some hesitation but I'll take it.


To be continued...
 
Last edited:

chris-md

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Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
That’s amazing! It took three weeks before my adopted Ekkie made that kind of leap. Well done!

This hasn’t occurred to you I believe, but don’t push too hard. Tux still needs to build up chest muscles, having never really flown before. You’re literally putting him through a bunch of chest presses a day - he will get sore, he’ll need recovery time, and he’ll need slow progression to larger distances. Going too quickly is like upping your weights 10lbs a day, it’s too much.

Slow and steady!
 
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quackerz

quackerz

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May 2:
<Stage 2>
The progress is steady but not as explosive as the previous days. He can jump longer distances now but the problem is hesitation. He hesitates sometimes for a minute before making the jump on longer targets. I guess just have to take it step by step and get him used to it.
 

SailBoat

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Part 1

Re-Fledging an Adult Parrot
Author: EB Cravens – 2006
Provided by: Steven (SailBoat) with permission of the Author.


Re-fledging: The How’s and Why’s of Teaching Adult Parrots to Fly

For years in the World of Parrot keeping, there have been numerous unimaginative Parrot Breeders who insisted upon clipping the wings of their new Fledgling Parrots before the Parrots could develop true flight skills. Many of us own or have owned such Psittacines; and it is not difficult to observe the affects of such naïve treatment. Mentally and physically, these Parrots are forced to live under a handicap, some for the whole of their lives.

The re-fledging of adult Parrots is desirable in order that they may recoup at least a portion of the confidence, savvy, and athleticism denied them by a premature wing trim. Parrots that have satisfactory flying skill are safer, fitter, and happier than their untrained, grounded cohorts. Here then, is how we go about the challenging process of re-fledging…

An older Parrot that was never properly fledged will often be seen begging to be picked up by an Owner from a mere 12” (305 mm) away from the hand. He or she maybe terrified of taking flight because of a series of crash landing mishaps that caused bumps or bruises or other unnoticeable pains. It will most likely be overweight, under exercised, and weak of the strength in feet, legs, hips that is required to make abrupt, sure landings. In order to calm its fears, the Parrot must be taught the proper way to flap its wings and brake with all its bulk, throw-out its feet, look down to a precise spot, and touch down gently enough to avoid discomfort or hurt. Re-fledging Adult Parrots is all about Landing Training!

We begin by exercising the Parrot twice or thrice daily with a series of up and down motions while the Parrot is perched on the hand or a stick. Object here is to get the Psittacine to begin serious flapping with wings both to build-up chest muscles and to accustom it to feeling it’s own weight supported by wing flapping (uplift). Obviously a full set, or near full set of primary flight feathers is necessary for lengthy and powerful flight, but even when the Parrot is partially clipped (4 to 6 primary feathers on each wing) this flap training can begin. Make sure that the Parrot does not let go and take off in a flight that ends in a crash, as this will be a setback to confident progress.

Once a Parrot begins to recognize the moments when its wings start taking the weight of its bulk, we can move on to Landing Training. For this, we choose a very soft surface free from injury possibilities—the master bed is a good spot. The Psittacine is picked up gently and briskly from the surface of the bed with two hands on either side of its body, and dropped onto the bed from a height of about six to eight inches (150 - 205 mm). We shout ‘WHEEE’ to give the semblance of a fun game and to signal the Parrot when it is going to be released.

This procedure can be done from the finger or hand perch, but many Parrots tend to hold on tightly and will not attempt to fly the short inches (mm) to the bed. Larger Parrots or those reticent to throw-out their wings in proper landing technique will have to be Flap-Exercised on the finger even dropping the hand all the way to the bed surface to get them used to Wing Braking Form. Then pick them up and drop them from slightly higher, say 10 to 12 inches (255 – 305 mm) -- just enough to get them to throw out their wings, extend their feet and brake to a soft plop on the bed. Once they realize that there is no danger of bumps or bruises, it should become facile to get them to play the Landing Game. Proper form is the key here, not flying forward at all. Further practice leads to 24” (610 mm) drops, then three feet (1 meter), etc. When they get the hang of it, we are ready to move on to a more solid landing site.

At this point we do not try to fly to a perch or a hard object, as the Parrot is still clumsy and could miss and injure it self. A large soft blanket or towel on top of its cage, a soft couch back, or a large weighted basket with a handle, which can easily be grasped by toenails when landing are three possible choices. Baskets also have the advantage of being easily recognizable and can be placed around the room. (This is what we use with devil-may-care natural fledglings that have little fear of anything while learning to fly around!) Let the Parrot perch on them and explore them first. Then again cry ‘WHEEE’ and gently force the Parrot to fly to the new perch site.

After some weeks (or months with bulkier, out-of-shape Parrots) of experience, the Adult Psittacine should begin learning to make instantaneous airborne decisions about where it wishes to land, choosing the spot, braking and thrusting out its feet and coming to rest exactly where it wishes. Voila, we are on our way to changing the Parrot’s life forever. Full flying skill comes with the ability to change direction sharply, turn right and left, fly up from the floor, drop down from a high perch to the ground, come to the Owner’s hand on call, fly when bath wet or in the brisk wind of an outdoor aviary, and land amidst leafy branches and smaller bouncier twigs and ropes.

Owners will normally see a dramatic increase in the agility, confidence, stance and build of their Adult Parrots after six months or so of Re-fledging Training. Serious feather pickers have been known to give up the habit and regain their ‘youthful fledgling’ trust and self-assurance in their captive environments.
 

SailBoat

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Part 2

Continuation from above!


Frightful strangers and objects often lose their dread. The Parrot can now fly back to its cage or perch when the Owner sends it ‘up’ or ‘off.’ In uncountable ways, we now find ourselves keeping complete Avian Parrots, not just the willfully crippled ones, which have never known what it is to take off and land safely and securely.

We have often Fledged Psittacines with the two or three outer primary (air cutting) feathers trimmed on their wings, since they were still molting in or are species with too much speed for the indoor room that was available. Parrots can learn to soar and maneuver and land in perfect control with a few less feathers for lift; it only makes the flapping a bit more brisk and ups the level of aerobic exercise in even the short ten and twenty-foot (3 and 7 meter) flights. Progressive, gradual wing trimming may be accomplished once the bird has learned all necessary skills and is beginning to pick-up more speed. That is up to individual Owners and the way they wish to keep their Adult Parrots.

Wing trimming should always start at the front of the wing, never behind where the rounder softer primaries and secondaries are critical for landing and control. For breeding Parrots, which have been re-fledged, it is a significant gain to their all-round well being and will decrease chances of the Hen running into any dangerous egg laying crises due to inadequate physical conditioning.


Author: EB Cravens is a noted writer with several Avian books and numerous articles within highly recognized Avian Publications. There are few Aviculturists who are praised worldwide and EB Cravens is “one of the finest and highest respected American Parrot Breeders, an Avian luminary” and a true groundbreaker with in the World of Parrots both in breeding and behavior studies. His development and practice of the naturalistic method of Parrot keeping and approach to breeding, which includes Human interaction from breeding season preparation through fledging results in highly socialized, fully-fledged parrots that are highly sought after with in the community of his peers. His monthly writings presented in his ‘Bird Keeping Naturally’ is a must read for any individual who is serious about providing the very best environment for their Parrots.



Steven (SailBoat) Comments: EB has long been a contributing member to the UK (and past US) Amazon Societies. His works are well known Worldwide and is commonly found providing presentations to National and International Avian Groups!

Regarding this Article: Please assure that your Amazon has developed the ability to create lift prior to starting Landing Training. This lift should be noticeable to you as your Amazon flaps his wings while riding on your finger i.e. his flapping in fact lifts your hand!

As part of Wing Trimming, always remember to cut away from the Parrots body and never toward the body! NOTE: There are differences regarding the type of Wing Trimming. EB always, with all Parrots, cuts the outer feathers and than inward. I believe that with Heavy Body Parrots like Amazons that it is better to cut from the inside out, leaving the Secondary feathers and the outer air cutting feathers in place. This type of Wing Cut is called a Presentation (or Show) Cut.
 
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quackerz

quackerz

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Tux - Pineapple GCC
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May 5:
<Stage 2>
Well the progression slope is definitely flattening. I think we might've just hit our first plateau. He is definitely becoming more confident at flying to my hand within a certain distance threshold as in less hestitation. But the maximum distance has not progressed much. When I tried pushing through that max threshold he would hesitate indefinitely. He also doesn't wanna fly when he is not hungry or doesn't want treats as much.

^ This is when I believe target training might be VERY helpful.
 

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