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My Reasons for Seeking a Flighted Baby Parrot

Discuss indoor freeflight and managing freeflighted birds around the house. How to live with a flighted parrot.

My Reasons for Seeking a Flighted Baby Parrot

Postby Michael » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:16 pm

As some of you may know I'm very frustrated trying to find a good breeder to raise a baby for me and not clip it. In the process I've gotten into an argument with one about clipping so I figured I'd share some of what I wrote with you because I think they are good reasons. Just bear in mind I do not feel the need to preach or demand other people to stop clipping their birds. I just believe that if I can demonstrate to them how I do it, share my experiences, failures, and success, that it may encourage others to try this for themselves as well. By making the information freely available, it equips others to make good decisions. So here are some bits from my emails:


My household is probably as bird safe as possible for a free flying parrot. The walls and ceiling are flat, without any sudden turns, fans, etc. Windows all have shades on them, although I intend to slowly get my bird more used to flying with the shades open (although I normally keep them closed anyway, big city). I have no mirrors, bathroom door is always closed (but parrot doesn't seem to wander there anyhow), takes 2 doors to get outside with a stairway in between, don't have any plants or toxic stuff, everything that could be remotely toxic or valuable is put away cause this curious little parrot thinks anything that isn't nailed down is hers, it's all one big open room 18x60ft without dividing walls so it makes for nice indoor flights without obstacles.

My parrot used to crash and get hurt when she was clipped or partially clipped than when she became flighted. She bites less since she flies too. She never bites me but used to bite other people. Now she normally just flies away if she feels bothered. When I have visitors over, instead of locking bird away in cage, I let her out on purpose. She feels less cornered out in the open with the ability to fly somewhere else than having 5 people huddle around her cage. This way she can fly away but then slowly sneak up or fly by and check things out at her own rate, rather than have everyone at her all at once.


Yes. I do think a flighted bird would be a better pet. I know it is harder to "control" a flighted pet. But that's not what it's about. A flighted pet doesn't lie. If a flighted pet likes you and wants to be with you, it flies to you. A clipped bird doesn't have the opportunity to fly away so it either bites or eventually just gives up and puts up with it.

If an owner is nice to a flighted bird and gives it reason to want to be with him, then the bird in turn is nice and wants to be with him without being forced to be. This is true love. A bird that is clipped and has to put up cannot be truly happy. Imagine having your legs broken and having to lay in a hospital bed. You'd have to put up with doctors and folks around you, might even get used to it, but it doesn't mean you can choose who you hang out with.

Now I do know that a flighted parrot can just choose to avoid you but I think if it is raised to like to be around humans (which is much easier when it is young cause they learn what the world is like and if you teach them the world revolves around humans, that's what they think) then it gives the new owner the opportunity to show the bird what a wonderful relationship they can have. If the bird chooses to be with the owner (and from the very beginning) then it will develop a real relationship. I suppose it could overcome being clipped initially and forced into a relationship but it is not as pure.

Now of course there is no guarantee that the bird will just "like" someone. That's why we cheat a little. We just make sure that stuff they want is coming from us. This is why you hand feed the babies. This is why I give treats to my parrot from my hand, this is why I scratch and cuddle my parrot. She can't get these things elsewhere so she has to come to me for them. However, as I am the source of things she likes, she gets more opportunity to be around me and experience the love.

Also I just love flight. Everything about it. I admired airplanes and birds since I could remember. I like photographing birds. I fly airplanes (as a hobby), got 3 pilot ratings. I've flown a sailplane right past 3 bald eagles (2 parents and juvenile) not more than 50 feet from my wing. I love watching my parrot fly. I have been doing extensive recall training with my parrot. I call her name and she flies to me. I just get thrill about everything related to flight. That is why I want flight. I previously explained why I think parrot wants flight. Hey it's a bird, it has wings, I couldn't imagine any reason it wouldn't want flight.

As for crashing, things like that. All I know is that when my parrot was clipped, she would crash and get hurt far more than when she started flying. She was overclipped as a baby and whenever she'd try to fly, she'd fall straight down. Flapping helped cushion the freefall at best. When she has some feathers come in her first molt, she didn't even try to fly. She only flew if startled and then would crash. She had not been fledged properly but also she just didn't know where/how to fly because she didn't experience flight in my home. By the time she had enough feathers to fly she didn't even want to try. I had to create artificial situations to encourage her to try her wings. I built two perch stands specially for this. I targeted her to walk back and forth between them. I spread the stands further and further apart but as soon as they were beyond stepping distance she would no longer try. She would just give up. I brought them back together and the exercise would go on. Eventually she'd be making the biggest steps possible. One time she tripped and just naturally flapped her wings to catch her balance. She began to realize what those flappy things were for and we progressively increased the distance. First 8 inches, then 9. Within a few days she was making flights of several feet between the stands. By the end of the month I had her recall trained to the point that I could stand around a corner and call her name and she would fly and find me. I've been living with a flighted bird. And it's great. I don't need a bird to be clipped to be able to develop a relationship with it. So why should it be clipped then? I'm not worried about it crashing into things. My apartment layout is really easy. I have perches strategically placed throughout so there is always a place to land. I've seen my Senegal bounce off the walls a few times without any injury. There's nothing I could have done to prevent that. She was clipped, didn't know how to fly, and got spooked. After a mere few days of flight training, she stopped crashing into things and became more and more confident in her abilities. There came a point where she started to think she can be independent and just fly away and do whatever she wants. We worked through this and restored a good relationship fairly quickly. Just took a bit of adjusting. I did have to realize that she is flighted and can do what she wants. So instead of controlling her, I've been putting more effort into controlling the environment.

I think my relationship with my parrot has been the best ever since she could fly. Yes I could force her to do pretty much anything when she was clipped. But I am so impressed how much she still wants to be around me when she can fly and do whatever she wants. This means I'm not forcing her to do anything. She's doing it of her own free will, I'm just lucky that I could shape the environmental factors and teach her to want to do things that coincide with my own interests.

The reasons I am now completely against clipping (for me, I'm not trying to stop others) are because:

A) I don't think I need to clip a bird to be able to teach it and have a relationship with it (if properly hand raised)
B) In my experience and people I have spoken to, clipping resulted in more flight crashes then not
C) The bird cannot be as happy clipped as flighted
D) Flight is the best exercise and exercise is good for health, and health is critical for happiness
E) It's just fun to watch them fly and see what they want to do
F) Flight doesn't lie. They go where they want, you can really learn to understand and appreciate them this way
G) Clipping results in broken feathers (that were growing in) without protection of surrounding feathers
H) Flight lets them escape danger and things they fear
I) If they can fly away, they are less likely to bite
J) If you don't want something that flies, don't buy a bird. There are many other pet options available that don't fly. If you cannot appreciate a parrot for the complete package, then I don't think it's right. I'd rather alter my mindset and my environment than physically handicap the bird to make it more convenient for my lifestyle. If it were purely about convenience, I wouldn't be getting a bird or letting them fly.

While I may be flexible to alternate diet strategies, I will not change my mind about clipping. They are born with wings and I intend to keep it that way. Instead of hiding the problem (that it doesn't want to be with you) by clipping its wings, I would rather change the environment and myself to make it want to be with me. If it is too much work for you to raise a flighted bird, I completely understand and can look elsewhere.
User avatar
Michael
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 6051
Location: New York
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal Parrot, Cape Parrot, Green-Winged Macaw
Flight: Yes

Re: My Reasons for Seeking a Flighted Baby Parrot

Postby Mona » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:22 pm

Hi Michael:

Those are all good reasons. I agree with you, but I know that the idea of keeping parrots flighted is still in some sort of an evolutionary stage. It was interesting reading a breeder's take on this issue. I knew that breeders could be resistant but didn't completely understand the reasons. I'm still not 100% sure I understand the reasons.

Of course, I have had a lot of experience with companion parrots and 0% (ZIP or NO) experience breeding so I just don't know.

I really think that breeding birds is probably very difficult due to some of the things that we have done to them in captivity and also because it is a fairly new "science". Species are all different. I also think that breeder birds can be completely different from our companion parrots. Breeder birds usually do need to be somewhat "wild" so breeders can foster breeding instincts. Keeping companion birds, I tend to reinforce the opposite because I don't want baby birds.

Also, people tend to stick with what works. If a breeder has success with a method, they are going to be resistant to changing it. We are all like that in all most areas of our lives. It's one of the laws of behavior: A behavior is reinforced has the highest probability of reoccurring....

but I do applaud you for making a good case and at least making a stand. Sometimes change happens gradually....so, you may have at least given that breeder something to think about and that's a step in the right direction.

THANKS!
Mona in Seattle
Phinneous Fowl (aka Phinney) TAG
Babylon Sengal
Doug (spousal unit)
Jack and Bailey (Gremlins)
Kiri (CAG)
http://www.flyingparrotsinside.com

youtube: Avian Flyers
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Mona
Poicephalus
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 271
Number of Birds Owned: 5
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal Parrots, Congo African Grey, Timneh African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: My Reasons for Seeking a Flighted Baby Parrot

Postby Mona » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:31 pm

Oh, also not to defend the breeder (she did sound a little nuts) but breeders do tend to be a little secretive and defensive because they have a history of being under attack from people like the "American Humane Society" and from people in the avian community. There has been a very vocal, very strident ANTI-BREEDING lobby which creates fear and concern for aviaries.

That's been around for probably 20 years or so....seems like things have quieted down lately..you just never know.
Mona in Seattle
Phinneous Fowl (aka Phinney) TAG
Babylon Sengal
Doug (spousal unit)
Jack and Bailey (Gremlins)
Kiri (CAG)
http://www.flyingparrotsinside.com

youtube: Avian Flyers
User avatar
Mona
Poicephalus
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 271
Number of Birds Owned: 5
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal Parrots, Congo African Grey, Timneh African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: My Reasons for Seeking a Flighted Baby Parrot

Postby Michael » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:47 pm

I have nothing against breeders and I completely understand that most breeders are not expert enough to handle the challenge of raising flighted birds. Furthermore, they wouldn't be able to "mass produce" birds that fly the way they can a bunch that sit in a tank and never get out. I completely understand the business aspect of it and that they can make a much better turn around by clipping the heck out of them.

So I understand that many breeders are just in it for the money and couldn't care less about taking the time to raise the bird properly. However, when someone toots their own horn like this, you'd expect a little bit more care:

"Before you decide that you know what's better than I do I would suggest you, tame birds out of quaranteen, review books for Dr. Branson Richie, University of Georgia, be ask the experts for bird talk and be a contributing editor for many bird magazines over the past 40 years plus have had a very successful bird store where students from Cornell came to learn and have literally raised thousands of parrots in the last 40 years and know more than you will ever know. I don't object to being questioned but be direct, I don't have to sell you a bird unless I feel your a good bird owner and so far I'm not sure about several things that you've said. I've devoted my life to taking care of birds and I'm not in it for the money."

At the time I had NO clue what she was unsure about several things I said but later it emerged that it all had to do with wanting a flighted parrot. She went on to say:

"There are lots of breeders out in the world that will do and say anything you like to make a sale but its not me. I am the best at what I do and perhaps you can find someone equally as good but no one better."

This is funny because she is letting her own laziness, ego, and inexperience get in the way of doing what is best for the bird. Yes, I am calling her with her 40 years of bird breeding, etc, inexperienced. She didn't outright say it, but I can tell that she never fledges her birds and coming from a bird store background I'm not surprised. But she had better NOT dare tell me that she is not selling to me because I am not a "good bird owner!" Just because she is a bad breeder and does not feel like letting her birds fly, does NOT give her the right to call me a bad parrot owner for taking the time and effort to make my home suitable for a flighted parrot (unlike her).

Out of curiosity I started a topic to see if I'm not the only one who believes the quality of life for flighted parrots is better?

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=557
User avatar
Michael
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 6051
Location: New York
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal Parrot, Cape Parrot, Green-Winged Macaw
Flight: Yes


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