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The Aviator Mini

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

The Aviator Mini

Postby Happy Birds » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:51 pm

I've searched through the forums and could only find discussions of the aviator harnesses and budgies from the days before they sold the Mini (xxx small).

I've read 5 arguments generally against harnesses for American parakeets:
1) The stitching/materials cannot be made small enough to be safe. Does this mean Parrot University is selling a non-usable/unethical product?
2) It is too hard to handle the small birds and get them into the harness with our big hands. The makers, however, say they have been doing this for years. Also I've seen videos.
3) It is traumatic to the bird. But as we all know some birds can be trained to be very comfortable with handling.
4) Budgies will not sit on a shoulder, they are too flock oriented. Again, I think this comes down to training/bonding, doesn't it?

Eh... I forget what the 5th one is. Anyway here is what Parrot University had to say about my doubts:
Until about 3 years ago we did not make a harness for budgies and parrolets. There are a couple of reasons, however it is not because they are too fragile. We have personally been harnessing the smaller birds at Hartman Aviary for 15 years.
First, harnesses for parrots is a relatively new idea that very few bird owners have experience with. Until we started supplying the Aviator Harness it was very rare to find a flighted pet bird anywhere in the world. We all have grown up seeing and using harnesses on dogs and horses, but most have never seen a harnesses bird.

Even with all the information we supply it has been difficult to teach bird owners how to properly raise/train their birds how to use the Aviator on easy species like cockatoos. It is even more difficult to train the human.

At this time we have more than 400,000 Aviator Harnesses used around the world. Most owners at least consider not clipping, and many are now convinced to never clip their bird. We have bird flight clubs, thousands of videos and post on chat lines, and now at least the idea is out there.

With a better understanding of the harness idea we decided it was time to start allowing owners to harness the smallest parrots. Because of the small size of the birds compared to our fingers it takes more human training and discipline to use a Mini harness. We still have owners that are sure they do not need to read the instructions and put the harness on minutes after it arrives.

Second, it is more difficult to make a light enough harness that is safe, and able to be put on and off. The Mini is only 6 grams so it is tolerable for the smallest birds. We do need to caution owners that their tiny bird is probably not in very good shape and they need to take a lot to improve the condition of their bird to carry the weight before they start to encourage flight.

Bottom line is we can make the Aviator for the smallest birds, and the community has enough accumulated awareness that we are starting to encourage its safe use.

Best regards,
Steve Hartman see less


Note they are still not clear about budgies as English budgies vs American parakeets.
Happy Birds
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Re: The Aviator Mini

Postby Happy Birds » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:59 pm

Their website does say "small parakeets" and "budgies" which makes me think not American Parakeets. Oh and their listed weight is "Under 75 grams." Well, an American parakeet is half that! How can you say "under" and not have a minimum?? I'm guessing based on the birds in pictures that it is too small for a standard budgie/American parakeet, only suitable for English budgies.

I put in another question with them on Amazon.
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Re: The Aviator Mini

Postby Michael » Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:28 pm

I don't really understand what your question is but I never thought it was a great idea to put this kind of harness on a budgie and frankly the manufacturer doesn't either. I don't think either of us recommend it but we both sell them because some people will not listen to our advice and will demand one either way. Those kind of people used to dangerously stick the oversized petite aviator on those birds. This way with the mini at least it's a bit smaller.

Most of the reasons you gave aren't the real reason why it's not a great idea to harness a budgie.

I would say the biggest reason is just that there is no harness available that is properly scaled. The mini aviator is actually just an XS aviator with less length in different places. The actual material used isn't any thinner or lighter. A genuine harness for such small birds would barely be thicker than a bit of twine to properly scale to their size.

The second biggest reason most people shouldn't harness budgies and tiny parrots is because they don't respect the birds at all. The same would hold true with bigger ones as well but they demand respect with their bite! Otherwise, I'm sure people would love to abuse them just the same. However, it is just too easy to mishandle and traumatize the smaller ones. I think if someone genuinely cared and spent the same time/effort that people who follow my courses spend on the big parrots (sometimes an entire year of daily effort), I think behaviorally it would be acceptable. It would be challenging nonetheless because of the small size and high speed but I think the bird could learn to cooperate. However, because of the unsuitable size scaling, you're asking the smaller bird to wear a much greater amount of weight/material than the larger ones.

The third reason is that if anything goes wrong with the harness, that budgie will be gone in a heart beat and never to be found again. Too small, too quiet, too exposed to predators, and let's face it when the harness costs more than the bird, who would even seriously look for it? With bigger parrots, especially that are well trained and bonded, there is actually a greater chance that even with a broken harness the parrot would still stick around.

A harness for the tiny parrots is much less of a benefit anyway. It's possibly to take them out in a small cage and they can still jump and fly in it. Not really possible with a bigger parrot. I still think it's a great idea to take them out in this way for sun light.

So that is why I don't recommend an aviator harness for anything smaller than a cockatiel/gcc. But, since some people really want one despite my warnings and will probably just use too big a one in any case, that is why I offer them for sale on me site.
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Re: The Aviator Mini

Postby Pajarita » Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:08 am

Michael gave you a VERY comprehensive reply so I just have a couple of things to add. One is that there is no such thing as an American Parakeet. The correct name for the species is Budgerigar which is shortened to budgie. People in America call them 'parakeets' but this word is just a physical description of a number of species that have a pointed tail as long or longer than their body. The ONLY American Parakeet is the extinct Carolina Parakeet.

Two is that just because a budgie is as much a parrot as a macaw, it does not mean you can expect the same behavior from both of them. Budgies are the ultimate flock-oriented aviary birds while macaws are mate-oriented companion birds and they are VERY different from one another in what they can and cannot offer to a human owner. Yes, you can train them both to do certain things but a macaw that receives a proper training can be a very happy, well-adjusted bird while a budgie that gets training would be a stressed out, anxious and unhappy bird.
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