Parrots are birds and birds fly. Allowing parrots to fly free in our homes is exhilarating but also poses some challenges. Without going into too much detail about other important things about flight safety (these are covered in my book), I want to focus on the training element.
Teaching a parrot to fly to you actually covers two different dilemmas. The first is teaching a parrot to fly controlled within our home at all in the first place and the second is actually about coming to you. What you must realize is that the bird has to actually learn how to fly to you as much as teaching it to want to.
The two best tools for teaching this controlled form of flight are a pair of Training Perches and a target stick. Luckily the Parrot Training Perch Kit I offer includes a clicker and target stick in addition to two perches so you'd be ready to begin the flight training out of the box!
If you haven't already done basic clicker and target training with a walking parrot on a perch, go back and do that first. Flying is harder so without understanding what you are asking and a high level of motivation, there is no way the parrot will break ground for just a stick. Begin the flight training process with a reminder of the walking target training. Set up the two training perches in parallel but so close together that the parrot can step and target from one perch to the other.
Continue to practice targeting the parrots between the two training perches until you start to build up a rhythm. The parrot will begin to foresee that you will target one way and the other and maybe even jump the gun a little and go before targeted. This isn't really what we are after but it will show good motivation to continue. Begin to spread the gap between the two training perches ever so slightly. Continue targeting the parrot between the perches without letting it realize that the gap grows after subsequent targeting attempts.
Eventually the gap will be big enough that the bird will have to jump or fly to get across. Hopefully the bird is a capable enough of a flyer to be able to realize to do this on its own. If it does not, you may need to trick the timid bird that won't fly into walking across but then spreading the gap enroute to cause the first flight to happen. A way to do this is to set the two training perches just slightly too far apart to walk. Then tip the remote perch toward the bird and target for it to walk. Just as the bird reaches the gap, return the distant perch to its original position. This will cause the bird to flap reflexively to catch its balance and make it across the gap. With sufficient rewards and motivation, after a few such attempts, the bird will begin to make the effort to fly across.
Progress will be slow at first but then pick up. At first the bird does not know what you want but also doesn't know how to control itself to make such a flight. Furthermore, the flight muscles may be atrophied or inadequately exercised. It will take time for the bird to regain the strength and motor skills before progress can be made. Continue spreading the gap between the two training perches and target the bird to fly bigger distances. The bird will develop skills and strength after a few days of these exercises. Adjust the height of the training perches to teach the parrot to fly up and down as well. Eventually replace the second training perch with your hand or arm. Phase out the target stick but continue giving treats for successful flight recalls. Instead of targeting, you can call your bird's name as a command to fly to you. Keep increasing the distance and challenging your bird and you will develop an excellent and reliable flight recall.
Keep in mind that very high levels of training motivation are required for flight training. You can use a combination of food management, trick training, and other techniques to achieve it. This is covered in great detail in my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots.
Now get a Parrot Training Perch Kit and follow these steps and you will be on your way to flight recall training your parrot. More videos and information about this flight training method are available on the Training Perch site.
Do you ever feel like things just aren't going right with your part? Having a bad day? Parrot won't step up? Just took a nasty bite? Or can't get your spouse to accept your bird? Well Kili Swift is here to give you a lesson how to shake it off!
Getting down over your parrot troubles won't get you anywhere. You gotta just bite you lip, shake it off, and try again. Now there's a difference between solving problems and banging into a brick wall over and over again. If what you are doing repeatedly isn't working, it may be time to change strategies. But whatever you do, don't give up.
The only sure shot way at failure when it comes to parrots, is to just give up. This is how parrots end up cage bound for years or locked up in basements. I'm sure at some point those people thought they could have a relationship with this pet but as things would get worse and worse, they would eventually just give up on trying. Well don't give up!
Shake it off and try to find an approach that works. Instead of going for all or nothing, try to make small progress. Try to go back to something you already had. Accept baby steps in the right direction. After all, success is just the culmination of a lot of little baby steps.
In my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots, I break down parrot ownership into logical chapters and give you an approach that you can follow through to success. It's a way to build trust and success over time without the biting and problems that many people encounter.
So just don't give up. Take a little time off, get your head set straight, and get back up on that horse (or parrot or whatever). Figure out what you're doing wrong, how to make it better, set realistic goals, and keep on trying. Here's Kili Swift with the music video parroty Shake it Off:
I hope Santina can serve as an example and a role model in the adoption of rescue parrots. On one hand, may she show that even “second hand” birds are worthy of care and love. But on the other hand, she serves to show what a training minded approach can achieve. Without teaching her a single “trick,” I have been able to tame Santina and build a relationship as well as the cooperation that is necessary to be able to keep this pet.
Kili came from a store, Truman from a breeder, and Santina from a rescue. Not only do I frequently speak to owners of parrots from these differing sources but even my own birds come from each. So I know what these are all like. Ultimately what I have found is that it doesn't matter where you get your parrot, what matters is what you do with it.
The myth that you have to get a parrot as a baby so that it would like you is downright untrue. All you have to do is visit a rescue to see all the adolescent parrots that were relinquished because the owner couldn't get along with it. This has nothing to do with the bird and all to do with the owner not taking the time to teach, train, and take proper care. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who have adopted parrots from rescues and had tremendous success with parrots that even as babies couldn't develop a relationship with their owner. What this goes to show is that it is not about age or source but what you can do with the bird.
The best reason to adopt a parrot from a rescue is not out of sympathy. Many rescues and people will try to convince you that you should adopt/rescue because you feel bad for the bird. The problem with this approach is that it is very shortsighted. At first, there certainly is the temptation to save a living creature from a bad situation. But in the long term this will wear off and there will be infinitely more parrots that need rescuing. So while compassion should play a role, it is not a good reason to adopt.
In reality, the best reason to adopt a parrot is because you and the bird will have the freedom of choice. Unlike the arranged marriage of “buying a baby” - where the grown adult personality is not yet known – when you visit and mutually choose an adult parrot, what you see is what you get. Adoption allows you to see the adult parrot as it is and likely will remain (at least in general, a lot of behavior can be shaped with training but personality won't change). If you like the parrot and the parrot likes you, you've really got a good shot with this bird. On the other hand, a baby's allegiance may drift with time as it matures.
Having one of each, a parrot from a store, breeder, and rescue, I have come to realize that it makes far less difference where you get the bird from and that it all comes down to the training and relationship you develop. Thus I encourage anyone looking for their first or another parrot to consider adopting. Check out my book to learn about my complete parrot owning approach that has worked on all three of my parrots regardless of their source.
To promote rescue and awareness of how wonderful rescue birds can be, I made this video. I hope you enjoy and share it with everyone you know. It is not only important that people know that there are rescue birds that need help/adoption but also that they can become absolutely wonderful pets and deserve a chance.
Here is your chance to help a rescue parrot find its roar. To help the rescue cause and get the word out there, I am running a contest along with this video. Simply nominate your favorite rescues in the video comments (on youtube). When the video exceeds one million views, I will be holding a random drawing to select a rescue from the comments to receive $1,000.00. There will also be a second and third prize of wizard merchandise for rescues as well. Second prize is 3x 25lb bags Roudybush pellets (small, medium, and large). Third prize is a Parrot Wizard Gift Set.
I also have some prizes for participants as well! Another set of drawings will take place along with the rescue drawing. Viewers who nominate rescues will be eligible for a first prize of a Parrot Training Perch Kit, second prize Parrot Wizard Gift Set, third prize a signed copy of the Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots.
Briefly, here are the contest conditions. Viewers can nominate as many parrot rescues as they would like in the video comments, one comment per rescue. First put the name of the rescue and then below you are welcome to talk a little about the rescue. What you say about the rescue won't affect its chances of winning but may help encourage other readers to donate or rescue from there. Please no spamming. Genuine nomination of many rescues is encouraged but if you post the same rescue over and over again, youtube will automatically block it as spam. Only US based Parrot rescues are eligible for the contest. For the cash prize, only a 501c3 non-profit rescue is eligible. For the other prizes, they only need to be a verifiable parrot rescue that accepts donations and adopts out parrots (even if unofficially). Random drawings will be held consecutively until an eligible winner is drawn. For the participant prizes, the participant simply needs to nominate an eligible rescue for their comment to count as a raffle ticket toward the random prize drawings. Free-shipping to US based participants only. Participants from outside the US are welcome to receive their prize if they pay the international shipping costs. When Santina's video roars for the millionth view, the drawings will be held to celebrate so much exposure for parrot rescue.
Nominated rescues will be added to a list at the back of the video and on this page to help viewers learn about all the local adoption options and where to donate! Help rescues win, and I'm not talking just about prizes but about awareness and donations, by sharing and spreading the word.
Watch Santina's Roar video and then help another rescue parrot find its roar by:
1) Comment, Like, and Share Santina's Roar Video 2) Donate to a parrot rescue 3) Adopt a rescue parrot
Kili the 5 year old trick trained Senegal Parrot stars in this Wrecking Ball Parroty of Miley Cyrus. Kili's got all the moves and shows off her abilities to wow an audience without resorting to taking her feathers off! Check out Kili's new hit single Wrecking Parrot, a Parroty of Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball!
Believe it or not, this video was pretty easy to make. That's because Kili is a professional diva! When the camera comes out, she just starts putting the moves on. She does everything I want and more. She adds her own touch. She doesn't even care about the treats, she just loves showing off. You really can't imagine how much fun it is to work with her. Most of the time and expense was on me, Kili nailed her part in a single shoot!
Please share around with all your parrot loving friends and family so they can see how it's done with class. There's a chance the video won't work on mobile devices (sorry, copyright issue when using the music) so be sure to check back on your PC so you don't miss it!
Why doesn't Santina bite me? Is it because I'm fearless of that giant beak? Cause she's afraid of getting sent back to the rescue? Or cause I possess magical powers of telecommunication with animals? No. It's because of my approach to parrot training! Simply put, I don't do anything that will cause the bird to bite and then I start teaching it what appropriate behavior is from the very simplest of things. I don't take anything for granted. I act like I am dealing with a clueless animal that is nothing more than an attack machine. And I begin from square one, how to be near me. Then I work on taking treats from me, stepping up, touch, grab, etc. I don't do anything the bird doesn't want and then I make it such so that the parrot wants to do what I do want. Then it's just a matter of time until that bird blossoms into the pet I expect it to be. The only variables are how much effort and time it will take. The rest... is just the Wizard's approach.
But enough of the status update, here's what I'm sure you've been waiting for... Santina's first music video, Green-Winged Macaw Dancing to Barbie Girl. The folks at the rescue told me she goes nuts for this song so here she is, Santina the Barbie Macaw!