Teaching an older macaw to fly?

Sunnybirb

New member
Dec 24, 2017
76
1
Parrots
Sunny the blue and gold macaw.
I've heard people say it can be done, but I was curious if anyone here has given it a try? Sunny has never flown as far as I know. She doesn't even try to glide, and given that she came with cut flight feathers, it's not like she could even if she wanted to. I've been letting them grow in, but at the rate it's going it will definitely be months, which is a good thing since I want to target train her first. I have taught her to flap her wings on command for exercise, and with the hope that it would help build up her muscles for later.

Even if she were to never learn, that would be fine. Mainly I just feel like as a bird, she should experience flight! And on top of that, it would be good for her safety if she could fly to a higher place if she needed to, like up to the top of her cage or on the bed.
 

SilverSage

New member
Sep 14, 2013
5,937
88
Columbus, GA
Parrots
Eclectus, CAG, BH Pionus, MaximilianÒ€ℒs Pionus, Quakers, Indian Ringnecks, Green Cheeked Conures, Black Capped Conures, Cockatiels, Lovebirds, Budgies, Canaries, Diamond Doves, Zebra Finches, Society F
I’ve done it with older Conures and Indian Ringnecks, and a Pionus.

It seems to be a bit harder in older birds though. Target training is the first step, then recall (teach her to come when called) and once she has that, you start bribing her to β€œhop” short distances, like from the couch to your arm; gaps she can’t climb or walk across. Then you extend the gaps. If she never flies, at least you know you did your best!


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Sarge

New member
Jul 18, 2011
33
0
Germantown Ohio
Parrots
Blue and Gold bundle of dynamite macaw
I’ve wondered that myself. I think β€œflying” would help my capt jack. It’s good excercise and I’m constantly thinking of how to get his wings flapping to burn off some of his energy. Good question
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
16,229
6,332
Western, Michigan
Parrots
DYH Amazon
I Re-Fledge our Amazons, once they pass a detailed health examination by our Certified Avian Vet (CAV). NOTE: You must tell your CAV that you are planning on beginning Re-Fledging your 'older' Adult Parrot!

The last thing you want to do is to begin the training process with a Parrot that has a Heart condition! Understand that the 'standard' Avian Examination does not place a high level of attention to the overall condition of the Heart, Air Sacks and Flight Muscles as the vast majority of Companion Parrots are not Flyers!

In the Amazon Forum is a Sticky Thread titled: I Love Amazons - ... Within that Thread is Segment #5 located on Page #4, Titled: Re-Fledging an Adult Parrot!

Please read with detail prior to your beginning, especially the last page!

Enjoy!
 

Bluesuburbanskies

New member
Jan 29, 2018
5
0
San Francisco Bay Area
Parrots
Blue and Gold Macaw - Bubbles | Greenwing Macaw - Skipper | Double Yellow Headed Amazon - Scruffy (aka Pooh Bird) | African Grey Congo - Grey Girl | Sun Conure - Zigzag
I've heard people say it can be done, but I was curious if anyone here has given it a try?

:blue1:

I fledged my B&G when she was about 7 years old. I actually regret doing it, as she startled and flew away one day when I had set her on a perch outside for a few moments. I got her back - after a week and all my cash savings as a reward, but that is neither here nor there. You want to know the nitty gritty of how some of us folks have done it.

First off, learn from my mistake, get your sweetie to come to you when you call for her. If she is on her gym or the top of her cage and you can get her to come to you on request, you are set and ready to consider giving her more freedom. Also, stop clipping her flight feathers and let her claws grow a little longer than usual. She will need both if she wants to land on anything other than you.

I started teaching Bubbles to fly by encouraging her to flap her wings. When I'd hold her and she'd start flapping (as they do) I'd lift her high above my head and say something encouraging and consistent. My queue word was simple: "Flap Flap Flap". After a few weeks of successfully teaching her that "flap flap flap" meant we were high up and it was okay to madly flap our wings, I would take her outside and do the same. (you might want to be smarter than me and try an enclosed space like a REALLY large room or a gym. Maybe even a warehouse).

Eventually, when she was calm when outside under all circumstances (dogs barking, cars moving, trucks honking, etc.) and flapping on command above my head, I moved on to running with her. It started with holding her high above my head and just walking forward saying, "Flap flap flap" (my neighbors thought I was amusing, I am sure), and gradually moved on to running with her flapping madly over my head. Once she started extending her body into that iconic straight line that flying macaws adopt when flying, I knew she was ready.

Normally I hold my birds pretty tightly with my fingers over their claws. I do this because it keeps them alive and stops them from accidentally flapping into household object and out of windows, etc. But I started holding her lighter and lighter until one day she just lifted off and we were running together. It felt AMAZING, I am not going to kid you. Once we got to the end of the long driveway outside my home, she landed on me and that was the beginning of the two of us running and flying together for a few good years.

So there you go, that is how I did it. :)

What makes me regret it, isn't so much the time she flew away into a 100ft eucalyptus tree for a week - obviously I was freaking out and horribly scared that she would fly further away and even starve to death :( . No, what is the biggest problem is her startle response to every single thing that upsets her. Even though we clip her wings, she will still straight up LAUNCH herself off her perch and fly into whatever window/screendoor/opening is in front of her. All the way through the house from the back room to smooshing into the kitchen window one time. Needless to say she's a big girl and we have ended up with broken blinds, shredded screens and lots of tchotchkes/dishes/glasses broken from being knocked off of shelves and counter tops. Also - and this is worse than loosing a few household items - she ends up scratching herself and breaking feathers and the potential for harming her delicate yet gigantic bird body is very high. It gives me anxiety just describing this to you.

Regardless, there are different ways to bird and everyone's situation is somewhat different. Your Sunny or your particular situation might be the perfect candidate for flying. Mine certainly wasn't. My B&G is very high-energy and excitable and will occasionally do something crazy if I leave the room where her gym is set up. Not all birds get all wound up when mommy leaves their side - yours might be cool with you having your own life. But it is something to think about while you are installing stronger screens on your windows and sliding glass doors ;)
 

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