Have you ever lost a free-flighted bird?

itzjbean

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Jan 27, 2017
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Hi everyone, this thread was inspired by Mark (Birdman666's) loss of Maggie, his 17 year old Greenwing Macaw last year when they were free-flying in San Antonio and she flew off, and is still missing to this day.

With the heartbreak of losing such a wonderful companion, it makes me wonder if anyone else has lost a bird to free-flight, or have experienced something similar to this situation, possibly lost a bird and then it flew back later, or was found safe. No judgment here, I really would just like your opinions on this. Others are welcome to share their opinions on free-flight! I myself have a great interest in training my future birds (Possibly macaw, or cockatoo) for free-flight, though after hearing Mark's story has made me seriously reconsider it.

For those of you that have free-flown your birds and have lost one...

Did you continue to free-fly them after the incident, or if you have multiple birds and one was lost, do you still free-fly your other birds, or did you reconsider your free-flying with them and stop entirely?

I heard of another story where this man took his beloved African Grey outside and was training it for free-flight on his patio, and he went out of sight and the bird flew off, never to be seen again. He was heartbroken and eventually had to move back to New Zealand since his bird was the only thing keeping him in the US.

To those of you that free-fly and have never had an incident, do you worry of the risks? Have you ever had an incident with your bird taking a long time to come back, or winds blew it away, or a hawk or something chased it off?

To my knowledge, Maggie was incredibly well-trained for free-flight. She would go all over town with Mark and knew the area she was flying as she had been there many times. That being said, it is clear this can happen to ANY bird, even the most well-trained of birds for free-flight.

After losing her, I wonder if Mark takes his birds out for free-flight anymore, as I know he has quite a flock, or has been pained enough by this experience to change his views. What are YOUR views on free-flight?

To me I feel as though I am taking away a special aspect of a bird's life if I don't allow it to free-fly, much like taking a dog to the dog park and letting them play and romp around. It makes them happy in ways we can never understand as humans, but I do wonder if maybe the risks of such a thing outweigh the benefits. What do you think? What are your experiences?
 

chris-md

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Feb 6, 2010
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Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
Mark actually lost multiple birds. Maggie was the first one he didn't recover:(
 

GaleriaGila

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Knowing what I know now, I essentially HAD a free-flighted bird back in New Mexico, when the Rb was young (and so was I!). He was only lightly clipped, and I was aware that he still got enough lift to fly from one person to another. I accepted the foolish line of thought that a clipped bird couldn't fly away too far. Patagonians are slim birds with strong flight capabilities. And I took him to fairs and all sorts of outdoor events (that wasn't uncommon out West). There were all kinds of noises, surprises, and wind gusts. He flew around a few times, but... nothing bad happened.
Amazing.
I stopped doing that when I let his wings grow in. Maybe he was about five.
I'm too chicken to consider free flight.
Plus he's too dense and stubborn ever to be considered well-trained about anything.
 

SilverSage

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Just to clarify in case of confusion;
"Free flight" means allowing your bird to fly outside without harness or cage, trusting/training them to come back.

"Fully flighted" is the term for birds who have all their flight feathers and are capable of flying.


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GaleriaGila

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Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd... the Rb is the latter, but not the former. :)
 

SilverSage

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I wondered; you didn't strike me as the free flight type :)

I'm all for free flight; when done correctly. I personally would not trust a single one of my birds with it, and quite honestly I don't have the time or money to get the proper training for ME in order to train my birds to the point of trusting that. I dream of having a free flighted parrot someday, but in all honesty I just don't think I'll ever make it happen.

The only personal experience I have with free flight is assisting in reuniting a free flight parrot with his owner. The bird has been free flighted (extreme free flight, since he literally leaves the window open for the bird to come and go as he pleases) for something like 15 years. The guy is a disabled veteran and the Severe Macaw is his PTSD support animal.

He lives near the same military installations as I do, and one week there was some major artillery training going on at night, and they hadn't notified the community ahead of time like they usually do. The artillery frightened the bird away, and heavy storms complicated things. The bird was lost.

A young lady found it and I ended up being tagged in the post on a local pet page. There was a lot of drama with the return because they lady had taken it to pet smart (to ask how to take care of it until she could find the owner) and had been told that the bird looked abused (it had been outside in storms for a week; I would look abused too!)

They ended up "letting the bird decide" and he very clearly chose his owner. The man absolutely let the army have it about not notifying the neighborhood in advance.

I don't agree with his choices on how to safely manage his bird, but I'm glad everything worked out in the end.


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SilleIN

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Aug 18, 2016
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I train my macaws to be free flighted, but most of the training is inside large indoor arenas.

I haven't really lost any parrots, but once a BG got scared and flew Β½ a mile home and sat waiting in the tree next to my front door.

Another time my baby scarlet got caught by a gust of wind before she had learned to fly against the wind. She tried to get down and kept circling me, but eventually tired and sat in a tree. I tried to call her down, but every time she tried to get down, she only decented a little and then a new gust took her back up. I eventually called the fire department and they came with their large ladder and I went up to get her. She was REALLY happy to see me and she never wanted to fly away.

I must admit for a long time after Mark posted the loss of Maggie, I didn't free fly with any of mine unless being indoor. I would not presume to ever be as skilled as Mark and Maggie, so who am I to risk my birds health by being foolish.

I am member of several flight clubs, where we get together in large indoor arenas, where the birds have ample room to fly and socialise with the other parrots. I do not do as much free flight as before, but that could also be that the past 6 months all free flight of parrots have been banned in Europe due to bird flu.

I am still training my birds outside, just not as much as before.
 

ParrotLover2001

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Dec 20, 2016
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My whole flock is in free-flight training. Since none of which can fly, and they are in an unfamiliar place, they tend to sit on my shoulder or (if I put them on the ground) follow me around until I allow them to step up.
Since I started with Elvis outside last week, I haven't experienced much. He just did whatever he wanted to do, and that was sit on my shoulder, he flew when I told him to (although he can't fly, he still needs to exercise). I had to make sure he landed in the yard so he wouldn't hurt himself on the pavement.
So far things have been going good with free flight training.
My other three birds are working on trust issues right now, if there is no trust, free flight training can't officially begin.


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Kiwibird

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Jul 12, 2012
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1 BFA- Kiwi. Hatch circa 98', forever home with us Dec. 08'
Since Kiwi has shown interest in flying recently, I am still working on keeping him from flying into walls etc... He just doesn't seem to grasp the concepts of turning or landing instead of flying full steam ahead until he crashes into something. Letting him fly outdoors would be a death sentence. I do not feel Kiwi will ever be a bird suited to free flight, but I do hope someday to get him flying outside on a flight line. Prior to last year, Kiwi never expressed any interest in flying and would come outside all the time without a harness or cage. Yesterday I put him in his new patio cage and locked him in. He wanted to sit on the top, and I got the eye of how can you do this to me". He was so upset, it broke my heart to see him so distressed about being imprisoned against his will, but it was for his own safety (he is a totally free range parrot indoors and was allowed supervised outdoor time for many years). I have been working with him on wearing his harness and hoping by the end of summer at least he'll be comfortable enough on it he can come outside again like he used to and not have to be locked up in a cage.

All that said, I wouldn't completely write off free flight for every bird across the board. I do think individuals suited to free flight are rare and exceptional birds and owners with the knowledge, experience and bond to train their bird for free flight are likely far and few between. And at the end of the day, any free flight parrot owner has to understand there is always a risk of loss, no matter how bonded and exceptional the bird is.
 
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Birdman666

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Sep 18, 2013
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San Antonio, TX
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Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Yes.

My sweet Maggie... still missing after more than a year.

She landed in someone's yard, and they took her.
 

Scoza

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Feb 5, 2017
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My budgie dave was often outside just around the back door and stuff on your shoulder. Often this wasn't deliberate but because she was so light my wife in particular would forget her. One time Sam my wife had her out near the road out the front and suddenly she flew and she flew up the path and inside through the front door we all thought that was pretty cool. One day Dave was on Sam's shoulder right near the back door and got spooked and flew into a tree. She then got spooked again and flew away. I wasn't there but I got told about it later. Sam could give me no real description of where etc. I ended up wondering the streets for hours just whistling. Finally I heard Dave respond to my whistle, she would do this every time I whistled it is how I used to often locate her in my two storey house. So I can here her responding but even then locating a small green budgie in a leafy area isn't simple. I have to climb across two back yards . I fall off a fence and badly injured my arm, I still have a scar to show for it. I finally see her in a tree. Standing on top of a paling fence I reach up and she steps up and we walk home. Dave is no longer with us and I now have a GCC called Jet. Both Dave and Jet have always been fully flighted and are constantly flying madly around my home really fast super impressive athletic flying. I consider the ability to do this important for their health and well being. I also can see how mych they enjoy it. When Jet takes off and cuts a few laps of the room and then seems to go from flat out to perched back on your shoulder in the blink of an eye is an incredibly cool thing to witness. Watching Dave fly up and down the stairs was just as exciting. Both Dave and Jet are very small birds. To be able to provide a larger bird like a macaw with these experiences I guess owners would have no option but train them for free fight outdoors. I cant see how a bird such as a macaw could fly around and have the aerial experience that dave and jet enjoy indoors just doesn't seem feasible. Is this correct.


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Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
The dynamic with free flying birds is that occassionally things happen where you have to go looking for them.

Sally has never really flown off on me, but she accidentally flew too close to a crows nest in NorCal and they massed and attacked her. She ended up hiding in the top of a 50 foot tree, way back in the thing where she could defend herself... and she wasn't coming out for nothing or nobody... I had to climb the stupid tree...

Another time she landed in the wrong tree. In my neighbor's yard, instead of the tree in our yard. They have dogs. The dogs went nuts. She went to the top of the tree and stayed there. Again I ended up climbing the tree...
 

Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Tusk tends to panic, and fly off. I have lost him overnight on five occasions (in about 14 years)

The first time, he was very young, and still in training, and he flew to the other side of the park. Landed on the fence, and a passer by picked him up and walked off with him. FORTUNATELY... I got flyers up right away, and all the local pet stores and bird shops knew me. THAT PERSON CAME IN LOOKING FOR A CAGE FOR A CAG THEY FOUND IN THE PARK... The manager of the store made her call me in front of her... "WE KNOW WHOSE THAT IS, GIVE IT BACK TO HIM NOW!"

He flew off a couple of times from my yard and was gone overnight, and once from the tree in the park, and I found him the next morning...

Then there was the time he was gone for about 3 weeks, that I posted on here about. Where I looked, and looked, and looked, and almost got him back a couple of times... and then he just waddled up to someone when he got hungry. Fortunately, again, they saw my flyer at the pet store...

IN LOOKING FOR TUSK I FOUND SEVERAL OTHER LOST BIRDS... and got them all home. So, it does happen, and they do "want" to be found.
 

Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Pea Pod only flew off on me once... he ended up in a tree at the school.

I had to jump in my car and chase him down.
 

Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Inca was the funny one.

Inca was Sarah's bird. And Sarah would walk into the rescue and that bird would fly across the room and hang with her...

So I went to pick Sarah up from school, and brought "her" bird with me. (Keep in mind this was when she was still in elementary school!) So, about five mintues before school lets out, Inca decides to be a brat and flies off on me, lands in a tree in the front of the school. Now, I'm freaking out because I do NOT want to be responsible for losing my daughter's bird... SO I CLIMB THE TREE, AND JUST AS I'M ABOUT TO GET THE BIRD... THE FREAKIN' BELL RINGS...

Out come about 400 kids. With me in the tree. Trying to get Inca. Hoping she doesn't get spooked...

SARAH sees this and freaks... "INCA WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THE TREE, YOU GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!" She holds up two fingers... and Inca immediately flew down to her, and went into lovey-dovey conure mode...

"DADDY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THE TREE?! YOU'RE EMBARRASSING ME IN FRONT OF MY FRIENDS. GET DOWN FROM THERE..."

Needless to say, her friends were somewhat amazed at the interaction...
 

Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Demitre, unfortunately, I was cleaning cages, and had them out in the back yard. The kids next door were playing baseball and one of them hit a ball over the fence that went whizzing by Demitre's head....

He took off like a rocket to the tree across the street. Where there was another bird... so it was obviously safe right... Stupid bird! It was a Great Horned Owl!

For the record, Great Horned Owls eat conures. Demitre learned that one the hard way.
 

Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Papaya... Flew off on my ex-wife. One of the longest nights of my life. I was working two jobs at the time. He was as sick of her **** as I was I guess, and she went outside, and he took off...

She called me in a panick, and I was stuck at the law library, and didn't even get home until 10:30 p.m. All I wanted to do was get home... the clock ticked in hours that night....

SO THIS BIRD, you have to understand how bonded he was. People told me he recognized the sound of my car. He would come out from where ever he was and sit on his playstand across from the front door... and swoop onto my shoulder the second the door opened. "Hi Papaya! How's my bird." (Only thing he really ever said.)

So I turn down the street, and I'm just devestated. AND HE HEARS MY CAR, AND STARTS SQUAWKING LIKE MAD... and he goes from tree to tree...

I opened my car door, and he swooped down onto my shoulder "Hi Papaya! How's my bird?" (My ex-wife came out, and tried to pick him up, and he nipped her. Apparently he was just hiding from her, waiting for me to come home.)

Unfortunately about six or seven years later, he was free flying in the park... flew too low coming back to me, and flew directly in the path of a car, and got hit. Nothing anyone could do.
 

Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Sally has special tree privileges. And I keep her semi-flighted.

But I WILL NEVER FREEFLY ANOTHER BIRD.

All my birds are recalled. Nobody's fully flighted anymore...

After losing Maggie, I just can't...

THEY STILL GET OUTSIDE, AND PLAY IN THE TREE IN MY FRONT YARD. TREE TIME IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY IMPORTANT, IN MY OPINION, BECAUSE, HELLO! THEY'RE BIRDS... and I notice a huge difference between when they do get out and play in a tree, and when the weather is bad, and they don't get outside...

I WISH I HAD AN OUTDOOR FLIGHT... but tree time works.
 
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Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,870
56
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
I train my macaws to be free flighted, but most of the training is inside large indoor arenas.

I haven't really lost any parrots, but once a BG got scared and flew Β½ a mile home and sat waiting in the tree next to my front door.

I must admit for a long time after Mark posted the loss of Maggie, I didn't free fly with any of mine unless being indoor. I would not presume to ever be as skilled as Mark and Maggie, so who am I to risk my birds health by being foolish.

I am member of several flight clubs, where we get together in large indoor arenas, where the birds have ample room to fly and socialise with the other parrots. I do not do as much free flight as before, but that could also be that the past 6 months all free flight of parrots have been banned in Europe due to bird flu.

I am still training my birds outside, just not as much as before.


YOU KNOW, NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS DID I EVER IMAGINE I WOULD LOSE MAGGIE... SHE WAS SO WELL TRAINED, AND LITERALLY WENT OUT WITH ME ALL THE FREAKING TIME, FULLY FLIGHTED. NEVER ONCE, IN 17 YEARS DID SHE EVER FLY OFF ON ME...

IT WAS THAT GUY AND HIS STUPID LADDER!!! SWINGING THE STUPID LADDER AROUND AND NEARLY HITTING HER TWICE CAUSED HER TO PANIC.

SHE FLEW TOO FAR AWAY FOR ME TO FOLLOW ON FOOT. SHE LANDED IN SOMEONE'S YARD, AND THEY TOOK HER...

I'm still bitter about that. That bird was my constant companion for 17 years. Losing her damn near killed me!!
 

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