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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 06:37 PM Thread Starter



 
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Free flying - thoughts and questions

Over the years I have seen more and more people free flying parrots for fun (and of course exercise). I know that many consider is reckless and most wouldn't even dream of doing it, but I think of doing it every single day

I have experience free flying raptors. I know it's a completely different thing in ways, but I still have the confidence to free fly birds nonetheless. It took me about 2 weeks to free fly Bandit from the day that I got him. I started doing flights indoors, worked on a training line outside and then decided to just take it off and see what happens. He's great! Chalkie was also very quick and I had him free flying after about 2-3 weeks, however he is fairly nervous out so he is he having some time off just living in his aviary. As many know on here too, I worked with various other birds of prey including vultures, eagles, owls etc. I also worked with a raven too. I have free flown all of these but never, ever have I tried with one of my parrots. I have watched people fly them myself, read about a billion articles, asked people who do fly them about the process and to be honest it seems very, very similar to what I already do with the birds of prey

Here's a video of Bandit on his second day of training... just to give you an idea Bandit outside day 2 - YouTube excuse the super messy garden

I intend on buying a small aviator harness soon. That size can fit Darwin, Malibu and Kona. I intend on taking Malibu out with me and perhaps Darwin if he can sit still but Kona I was intending on not only taking out, but recall training outdoors too. I have been working on recall training with Kona for quite some time now and he is fantastic at it. My main concern with the harness is that even with the training lines the birds can still manage to injure themselves. The line can become tangled around them (this happens just about every time I fly Chalkie on one!) and if they reach the end of the line while flying full pelt they are going to be yanked backwards very, very hard

As I said above, I have always been interested in free flying. I hadn't tried to pursue it yet but what has inspired me to attempt it is that Kona managed to escape, do laps around the area only to land on somebody who was out in their garden. I think with proper training I may actually have some success flying him. I do not intend on doing this yet of course. I will spend months and months and months perfecting indoor recall and once he is harness trained and used to being outside I will attempt to do some short flights in our garden using the short leash that comes with the harness. I believe that any bird can be trained to do anything if enough effort is put in and you are patient with them. Some birds may take years to just step up, but they still do. As of yet though I haven't ever seen anybody free fly an Alexandrine parakeet. Luckily, he is loud and large. His only downfall is that he is green! Once I am very happy with his recall both indoors and outdoors I will try and take him to a large open area (indoors still) where he can learn how to turn and come back, and go higher up. I'm 95% sure I can do it with him. He is very eager to please

Alongside flying Kona, I have been considering flying another bird too but starting with them as a baby. I've only ever bought 2 baby companion parrots and those are my green cheek conures, Dexter and Perry. I take in loads of rescues and rehomes, which I am always happy to do providing I have the time, space and finances to do so. I have noticed that a lot of people free flying birds tend to choose macaws (for their size, colour and voice) and rose breasted cockatoos/galahs. A macaw is definitely going to be in my life at some point, but probably not for a while just yet, a few years or more. A galah however would be far more suitable for now. I met a fantastic guy on Facebook who flies his birds here in the UK. This is pretty uncommon as avian care here is pretty far behind the US and free flight is often seen as downright crazy whereas in the US I have noticed it is a bit more acceptable. Anyway, this guy I actually came across on YouTube where I saw videos of him flying his green winged macaw and his galah cockatoo. In a recent video he put up he was flying 4 galahs, 3 of which he had bred himself for the first time and decided he was going to train before selling them. I had a chat with him about his birds and he will be having another clutch next year. He will be training those as well. Now obviously the main concern here is that the birds may be bonded to him and so wouldn't fly for me (or at least not straight away but that is to be expected anyway) but at least they would already have the experience of free flight outdoors which would make life easier for me. I think I am going to go with one of his babies. My main intention right now is to get everybody else outside in aviaries, as I find that my birds are far more happier and healthier when they have that opportunity. Most of the birds will only be going out for the summer months but if I feel some would be okay outside all year round (the Alexandrines are pretty hardy and I think Clyde would also be okay) then they will be. This is good for me and the birds though really. It will be less cramped in here and the birds get to express natural behaviours a bit more... naturally? If that makes sense! The galah cockatoos cost 850 and you can see the last clutch learning free flight here ~ Baby Galah, Free Flight - YouTube
Regarding macaws, I know a member on here who breeds Jubilee macaws and has so far raised 2 very beautiful babies. I almost took the one he bred last year but as we had just moved into the new place we couldn't fork out 2500 for a bird. I was very sad not to have him as I'd seen him grow and develop. Anyway, I am thinking of even having one of his Jubilee macaws in the future or a blue throated macaw from Barrett Watson, a very well known and thought of breeder of rarer birds here in the UK. As I said above, this won't be for some time. A minimum of about 3 years at the very least but I'd prefer longer or I'd wait until we moved from this house we're currently living in

I have been doing my research on free flying from BirdTricks, Chris Biro at Liberty Wings and Michael Simmons from A World Of Wings

I do have a question though, but I don't think anybody would be able to actually answer it. With birds of prey, we use radio telemetry (well, I personally don't with my birds but I will be in the future) and the transmitter is usually attached either to the anklet around the birds leg or to the tail on a tail mount. Would it be possibly to train parrots to wear these? I personally use tail mounts and they are small, plastic cable tie style hoops that thread over the deck feathers (the two longest middle tail feathers) tightly so it cannot move and this has a small hoop on the top. Looping a cable tie through the hoop on the transmitter and then through the tail mount hoop you can attach it nice and quickly and all you have to do is tighten it and trim the excess cable tie off. It's really quick and easy to do and they're very easy to get off with scissors and such. I was thinking that maybe having a baby bird to work with I could teach them to accept this? The transmitter would help me locate the bird should it fly away out of sight. I've only ever had to use them with falcons as they have such a long range when flying but it does seem like a good idea...

For spending so much time reading about tail mounts, here's a cute video of Chalkie getting mad at his tail mounted bell he wags his tail a lot (a Harris' hawk form of communication) and every time he does it it rings, not a happy bunny! Chalkie hates bells - YouTube
What do you think? Does anybody here have free flying experiences? I know most people probably think it's nuts, but it's what I want to do and I ain't going to get it done sitting around and doing nothing about it
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 06:58 PM


 
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I have always been interested in free flying ever since I've been owning birds. With the current flock I got now I wouldn't trust any them enough to take them outside.

My first green cheek that I had was the only bird that I trusted to take outside. She was just the right sort for free flight, she was clingy and a fearless bird. Birds that are good for free flying need to be clingy and fearless(not spooked easily) and my first green cheek was just the right sort.

Hey maybe one day we can do some free flying together if I ever get a bird that is clingy enough. I don't live that far from you and it would be good to get out and get some fresh air

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 07:04 PM Thread Starter



 
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Sounds like a plan Si Your're always welcome to come see the raptors and whatever future parrots I'm flying haha. I live a short walk away from Merry Hill now!
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 11:03 PM


 
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Free Flight!

All I can point you to is Shanlung. He posts on a few forums and has a very good understanding on flying birds free of any harness.
On another forum we have Jeremy who flys Raptors. with transmitters. He would be good to talk to.
I know with the Raptors he watches their weight and lets them lean up a bit before flying them, so that they are more inclined to come back to you after the kill.
Not that it works all the time.
In England you should not have to much trouble with dangers from other birds while flying your own, and that would be a bonus.


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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 01:44 AM


 
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I wouldn't fly anything smaller than a ringneck.
Simply due to crows and guls
We have a lot of raptors here and I watched crows mob a buzzard out of the sky.
A gcc wouldn't stand a chance.
I personally would be too scared to free fly.
Having seen the guy on you tube who lost his CAG.

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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 03:28 AM


 
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Not every bird can be used for free flying. You got to know your bird and know what you're doing or else it'd be gone. I have seen on youtube people free flight their lovebirds and they did very well, those birds looked totally very happy!

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 03:34 AM Thread Starter



 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clawnz View Post
Free Flight!

All I can point you to is Shanlung. He posts on a few forums and has a very good understanding on flying birds free of any harness.
On another forum we have Jeremy who flys Raptors. with transmitters. He would be good to talk to.
I know with the Raptors he watches their weight and lets them lean up a bit before flying them, so that they are more inclined to come back to you after the kill.
Not that it works all the time.
In England you should not have to much trouble with dangers from other birds while flying your own, and that would be a bonus.
Shanlung used to be on this forum and I very much so enjoyed seeing the photos of his CAG flying! He hasn't been here a while though

And that's exactly the norm for training birds of prey. First of all you catch them up and put their equipment on. I then let them settle on their bow/block perch for about 2 weeks. I don't handle them, I just throw food down for them (less than what they're used to). Then comes manning, the process of getting them used to you and the things around them. You also only feed them on you during this period of time. You have to become the food source so they understand that you're helping them. You have to wait until they eat off your fist otherwise you're teaching them nothing. Once they're really steady, not bating and eating straight away I tend to not feed them for a day or 2. That's when I start flight training. It's very basic. They just have a training line and are asked to jump a short distance. The distance is then gradually increased and that's about all there is to it! Depending on the species the flying style may be different. Falcons for instance you only have them jump to the fist as opposed to flying, they're very fast. They are stooped to a lure instead. There is loads of further training but if you just want to fly for fun like I do then that's the method I've used (and so have other falconers for thousands of years!)

No we have Eurasian buzzards (wouldn't be much use, they're really lazy), Eurasian kestrels (a potential threat but they usually stick to more further out places and around main roads and they tend to eat small mammals), Eurasian sparrowhawks (the sprinters of the raptor world, mindless killing machines! They don't hunt bigger birds though, they're usually found around bird feeders and tables to pick off the little guys) er..... Eurasian goshawks are pretty much never to be seen here so they're not much of a threat... We do have Peregrine falcons but they're in cities. That's not all of the UKs raptors but those are the ones found more near my way
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 03:47 AM Thread Starter



 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katew View Post
I wouldn't fly anything smaller than a ringneck.
Simply due to crows and guls
We have a lot of raptors here and I watched crows mob a buzzard out of the sky.
A gcc wouldn't stand a chance.
I personally would be too scared to free fly.
Having seen the guy on you tube who lost his CAG.
I've seen some lovebirds and budgies doing free flight! And green cheeks. They all seemed fine doing it but it depends on the birds you have around you I guess (you probably have more seagulls than we do round here, though we do have quite a few!)

A good friend of the family who has helped me loads with my Harris' hawk had a lovely male Harris' who was mobbed by a flock of gulls while he was out free flying. Needless to say the bird sadly died they're so opportunistic

I too have seen that video but I do think the guy was part to blame, even if he just blames Birdtricks. There are a fair few free fliers and not many lose their birds. The place he had been practicing was his balcony which meant that should the bird fly off he has no way of running after her or following her. He'd have to go back in the house which means he'd have no chance of spotting her after given the time it would take. Secondly, he said he had left the room to go outside or something along those lines, and she had followed him out. Basic common knowledge would tell you not to do that, even with a free flighted bird. She followed him out and as it was a windy day the wind took her. Although I do feel very, very sorry for him I can't help but think that he should have been more observant and he should have known where she was. He even admitted to not keeping an eye on her
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 03:48 AM Thread Starter



 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tippa View Post
Not every bird can be used for free flying. You got to know your bird and know what you're doing or else it'd be gone. I have seen on youtube people free flight their lovebirds and they did very well, those birds looked totally very happy!
Is it the little lutino peach faced lovebird you saw free flying? I can't believe how good he/she is!

I do think that it is down to the individual bird. Malibu is extremely sweet, loving and absolutely has to be with me but there is no chance he'd be suitable
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 04:05 AM


 
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hehe yeah that lutino and another video of some other lovebirds flown by their owner near a lake, they were having a blast, so so happy they were.

Like I said above I wouldn't free flight any one in my current flock either, they're just not free flight material. I also would never free flight a ringneck, they're just not the clingy type you can use for free flight, they're more of an aviary kind, haha

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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 05:06 AM Thread Starter



 
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That's what I love so much about the Alexandrine parakeet. They are just so different in their personalities compared to the Indian ringneck. They're way more mellow, they're independent but they do love to hang out with you too so they're not needy, they can entertain themselves, they can be loud but they're not remotely frequent and rarely scream, they're really big birds but they're also really gentle. I have never been bitten by Kona, but he does mouth me if I give him my finger (not hard but he likes to lick you)
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 10:34 AM


 
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I tell you what Daisy. I will soon condition one of my fids to get used to the outdoors by taking him out in a travel cage and look at the surroundings; because I live in a flat and so that is the only way I can condition the bird(no garden). When he's ready we can go to the Netherton park and do some free flying together or go to one of the football grounds near Netherton. I only live a walking distance from Netherton so it's not too bad, we can help each other to look for our missing birds if poop hits the fan


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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 10:53 AM


 
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You don't have to say anything, just bear that in mind . Have a good think about it, only do it if it's very safe

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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-06-2013, 05:49 PM Thread Starter



 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tippa View Post
I tell you what Daisy. I will soon condition one of my fids to get used to the outdoors by taking him out in a travel cage and look at the surroundings; because I live in a flat and so that is the only way I can condition the bird(no garden). When he's ready we can go to the Netherton park and do some free flying together or go to one of the football grounds near Netherton. I only live a walking distance from Netherton so it's not too bad, we can help each other to look for our missing birds if poop hits the fan
Sounds good to me I doubt any of mine would be ready to do it any time soon though
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-07-2013, 05:18 AM


 
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People that read this must be thinking are they kidding or are they for real


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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-07-2013, 06:16 AM Thread Starter



 
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Well... I'm for real but I thought you were joking
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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-07-2013, 09:35 AM


 
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I'm all flesh and bones, totally real.


I just have a small brain that is all

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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-07-2013, 11:31 AM


 
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I was thinking of letting Charlie have a blast. The bird room isn't big enough for him and he is full of energy. Charlie is very well bonded to Mr. Quaker, he will follow mr. quaker and me everywhere. I know Mr. Quaker is safe outside because he has disability and can't fly well. If I take them both out, Charlie will just follow me and mr. quaker everywhere we go and won't venture far.... So now whenever you're ready we will all go and have a blast


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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-08-2013, 04:08 PM Thread Starter



 
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Sounds good to me better hurry up then hadn't I haha!
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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-09-2013, 04:44 AM
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As I said when you showed me the video, it's really cool but I'd be too terrified!

Using a trasmitter sounds like a good idea but Galah's are right destructive little beasts so not sure how sucessful you'd be. I think you can probably get them used to it from a young age the same as you would with a leg band but left alone with it too long if it got in the way of preening I reckon they'd start nipping it

I'd also make sure it's banded...maybe even get an additional split ring with your phone number or something on it!?, possibly microchipped and definately registered with the bird reigister before flying the first time

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