pre-free flight training

DavidD

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Hi,

I'm going to be adding a new macaw to my family soon, and have an aim at free flight. I'm also a falconer, so I have several raptors, which leads to a few questions:

1. Is it a good idea to introduce the macaw to the falconry birds now to avoid any potential spooking in the future when it encounters wild birds? *there are no predator birds capable of killing a macaw here other than falconry birds, or the extremely rare goshawk or peregrine (only around certain times of the year). However, there are a lot of raptors that look impressive that might frighten or harass the bird.

2. I will be using solar-powered hacking GPS (Sim based), Marshall GPS, and a 216 hz tag on my bird (this is my SOP for all my BOP). I have some spare Marshall harnesses for eagle sized birds and tail mounts/plates that should fit. Is foot mounting or neck mounting an option (my heaviest transmitter is the marshall GPS at ~9g depending on mount method). The plan is one of three configs, but I'm worried the beak will destroy the expensive equipment and of course safety of the bird. So mounting options are:

One backpack, one tail mount, and one leg mount (using bewit or ez-twist, but I think a macaw could probably cut through the mounts like butter).
Double backpack and one tail mount.
One backpack and double tail mount.

What type of mounting equipment do you typically use? Which config do you like best?

3. Regarding mount method, with BOP, we tend to foot mount one of the transmitters, and we usually use a bewit to attach it around the leg or in an anklet grommet (not an option for a parrot). I know parrots legs are significantly weaker, is a bewit going to be okay?

4. Has anyone tried a mounting plate instead of the regular mount clip on a macaw? They are usually made of soft plastic or horn and mounted with Teflon ribbon and superglue/resin. I think I could have a custom metal plate made, but I think the thickness, even a titanium or tungsten plate couldn't survive against a macaw wanting to destroy one.

5. Finally, in falconry, we try to use dummy telemetry mounts as soon as possible (usually immediately after hard-penning or when the blood feathers have drained). Would it help to kit my bird out with dummy transmitters/mounts to avoid it from destroying the equipment?

Thank you for taking the time to read the wall of text.

David
 

charmedbyekkie

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Hi David!

Currently, there isn't a strong free-flight community on the forums as more folks tend to err on the side of caution.

That being said, in terms of GPS mounting, I'd recommend you contact Daniel at Flightmasters (they've a Facebook page) regarding that matter. I believe he does attach a Marshall GPS to the leg, but I don't know the details. I believe their gear isn't as detailed and many as a falconer's gear, so don't expect a world of comparison. Daniel has worked with a variety of birds as he used to work in the national bird park, so he should be able to answer the training and basic physiological differences.

In terms of training for encounters with wild birds, you could see if Daniel has any insights. We have different predators here, so it might not translate completely across. I know his birds have encountered falcons and other local birds of prey, and I understand that they often know how to navigate safely away or, sometimes, they get chased off before attempting to return. I am not sure how he trained them, but just keep in mind, it's not just about killing your macaw, but about potential territory disputes.
 
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DavidD

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Thanks for the lead. Yeah I'm worried about the territory disputes, we don't have falcons nesting here though, so they are mostly passing through. I'm not too worried about them, but we have a lot of big eagles that don't eat bird. There are a lot of folks that lost their birds here though from being spooked. I will definitely try to get a hold of Daniel. Greatly appreciated.
 

SailBoat

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Welcome, you really don't say from what area or region of this huge World you reside.

I understand that you have a strong back ground in raptor care and training. In our area a falconer is only allowed to keep a young native raptor for a single season at which point they are required to retrain for caught and eat what they caught. I have no problem with the concept as it works to developing a growing number of native raptors. That said, If you loose one, it's likely quickly able to eat off the environment and live though the winter.

Mac's are a big Parrots, but a Northern Winter, far less likely to survive it. This Forum has a few Parrots each year loss to the environment and one is far too many...

Was passing though an over-Wintering area and saw Eagles targeting birds of size as a food source. If memory holds, raptors are birds of opportunity and when push comes to shove, food is food...

Mac's are big and can protect themselves if attacked, but a starved raptor with a sky-high advantage will use that advantage.

We live in an area in which five Red tail Hawk families call our back yard a flight training area for their chicks. We have had Adult Red Tails up against our window considering our DYH Amazon.

Hope you get your questions addressed regarding GPS as there is a large group here that would love to learn from your experience in that regard. Please let us know what you develop.
 
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LaManuka

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Living in Brisbane there is 1000% not a snowball's chance in a supernova that I would free fly a pet bird, regardless of their size. Apart from all the predatory species, plenty of smaller species like our noisy miners, rainbow lorikeets and blue faced honeyeaters (they're big!) are highly territorial and will gang up and mercilessly chase intruders of any size out of their home range, thus a pet bird could easily end up miles away from its home with decreasing chances of being found and rescued. A very experienced free-flying member here lost a beloved macaw when a gust of wind blew down a ladder from a nearby construction site, the bird was startled by the clattering noise, took off in fright and very sadly her devastated owner never saw her again despite never giving up the search.

So it's not just purely predatory birds, but a whole host of other potentially risky and not so obvious hazards in the big wide world out there you need to be well aware of. The choice is yours if you decide to go ahead, there are plenty of known risks out there but plenty more that are unknown, unexpected and impossible to foresee or plan for.
 
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DavidD

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Thank you both for your input. Both are points are well taken and will definitely be taken into consideration. I live in Taiwan. The field I plan to fly is rather large and i perch out my raptors so usually most of the small birds are long gone before I’d fly the macaw. I am very much concerned about environment issues, do you guys suppose a macaw can be conditioned to accept these conditions similar to a goshawk? These birds are well known to spook by their own shadow but can be conditioned to be comfortable around guns, dogs, cars, etc. it really just depends how well manning went.

A major problem I did not consider is the wind. We get huge microbursts here fairly often. Guess need to be choosy about when Id fly.

The native birds here couldnt really take anything larger than an african grey and even then that would be a huge fight. Our eagles here are mostly snake or fish eaters and the accipiters are all tiny.

I will definitely update when I get good advice on mounting. Im having trouble joining a flight club here cause I dont speak chinese and a few people I have contacted are nervous about the raptors, naturally. I have a few leads so I will update. Most people here dont have access to high end radio/gps so they are using gps like what many others here have mentioned in other threads, so I think the mounts Im planning on using should be okay as long as the bird doesnt decide to mash it.
 
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DavidD

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I live and work in Taiwan now. English can be difficult here.
 

SailBoat

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Goshawks are a northern hemisphere species and then far more common in the Northern regions across all of the northern hemisphere and following some mountain ranges a bit further South, but still in the northern hemisphere.

Taiwan could be difficult for a goshawk during the Summer months as the high temperature and especially the humidity could cause heat related health problems if worked too long during early morning flights, never afternoon flights.

Air conditioned coop areas would seem strange, but without excellent air movement, your goshawks could overheat.

Clearly the Mac's can adjust to the weather in Taiwan far earlier that your goshawks. But, coops without good air movement is likewise difficult.
 
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DavidD

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Yeah I keep my goshawks in Ac year round with no wood around to prevent aspers. A lot of falconers here has issues keeping them the first few years they were imported (we arent allowed wild take). Northern goshawks that are here are very few and limited to the high mountian areas and are almost never seen. Most aren’t even sure they exist here naturally anymore. If they did, Id imagine they are much smaller than my siberians.

Anyway, my question was more if they could be manned and conditioned like a goshawk to be able to handle lots of noise and stimuli to prevent them from freaking out? I just saw a macaw that is trained for free flight today flying by a construction yard that was active and working so Im going to assume yes?
 

charmedbyekkie

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Yes, macaws can be trained to handle a lot of stimuli. I've seen successful free flying macaws in the middle of a busy downtown shopping area (cars, people, etc), inside a noisy exhibition hall, active construction sights of tall buildings, etc.

They can; however, you really have to keep up with that stimuli training and it's best you've two to flock together. If one gets distracted, the other can call him back. If you don't keep up with the training (I've seen people miss just a couple of days) then you risk your bird flying off.
 

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