Flying Mission Bay

Posted by Raz on Feb 10th, 2014
Feb 10

Our move to within walking distance of Mission Bay has been a windfall for the beasts: it’s turning out to be an awesome flying spot. Lots of open space along the park and out over the bay. They have covered a huge amount of territory, and it’s gorgeous at sunset.
MB panorama

Other exciting developments:

  • Piper and Carly are flying together! It used to be an invitation to distraction to let them go together, and they’d inevitably end up going in different directions, or just go off exploring for awhile. They are a tight flying duo now, screaming and diving over beachgoers.
  • We have an inflight contact call. I used to use my refs whistle as a “call back” signal, but it’s now morphed into an inflight update. I tweet — they let out a loud chirp — or vice versa, every few seconds. It is quite handy since there are buildings, trees, and hills they fly behind where I can’t keep them in view. I credit the idea to Carly, who often did this in flight before, and finally I took her cue and chirped back! They have been tiny specks on the horizon and I can still hear the callback. Really nice.
  • Emergency descents are awesome. There are very rarely any type of raptor here, but occasionally a Red-tail or Red-shouldered hawk. They have had plenty of experience flying with these types, but I still like them to get out of the air ASAP. Carly has always been ridiculously responsive to my “urgent recall”: GET DOWN HERE NOW! I don’t really know why as it’s not something we specifically trained. Piper, on the other hand, had the more natural instinct to keep flying fast and try to lose the pursuer. Which sometimes meant losing me for a while after he landed safely, until he relaxed enough (I guess) to call or make his way back. But we had a hawk show up at the bay last week right after they started flying, when they are their most rambunctious, and he zoomed down right after he saw Carly respond to my GDHN! Nice.
  • Recall training drills still work wonders. When we started flying here they were both quite “adventurous” — i.e., lots of exploring, horrible responding. It had been so long since we’d had a real flying routine, I’d gotten out of my habits too. So I paid more attention to the timing of their food (smaller breakfast on flying days), and started doing indoor recalls before dinner, and bingo — total turnaround. So much so that I wondered if it was just coincidence and perhaps they’d just had enough exploring and knew the territory to their satisfaction. (Since the training is supposed to have this effect, I guess I’ll go with that. I don’t know much about parrot exploratory habits… but an interesting question.)
  • It’s official: Carly is a Porker. My scale has had dead batteries for at least 2 years, and through 2 moves. I decided it was time to do a weight check. Piper weighed in just slightly above his previous normal weight, at 511 g. Carly when young was a reliable 440 g. When we got into the flying routine several years ago, she settled at a very stable 465. (I attributed that to just “filling in” as she became an adult, though I’m not sure what the normal pattern is.) Now she is 495! I don’t feel fat on either of them, and wonder if maybe this is increased muscle…? They really are putting in some mileage.
  • Regarding mileage… Here’s a map of some of their longer routes (approximately). They did the yellow one yesterday, with a few more loop-de-loops. I estimate the distance as about 6-7 km (about 4 miles). They were up for quite awhile!

As the Bird Flies

And a sampling of this winter’s incredible sunsets, plus iPhone video of the beasts in action.

Do Not Feed the Beasts

Discriminatory Signage

sunset november

More pics here.


Recommended Articles on Freeflight Training

Posted by Raz on Jul 19th, 2009
Jul 19

As a follow up to my post on freeflight training for companion parrots, I would like to share links to a couple of articles that describe the process NEI uses for their birds. The first is an article by Deb Stambul, who attended the second level NEI workshop where they learn hands-on with new NEI birds. It should be stressed that although they are new freeflyers, they have been in the program working with professional trainers for a long time before this one-week workshop, have excellent flight skills in huge aviaries, and have already worked on recall training in those protected environments. This is the part where they make the transition to the open outdoors.

Learning How Professionals at NEI Train Birds to Fly Outdoors Safely

The second is an article that appeared in World Parrot Trust’s Psittascene magazine a few years ago, in which Steve Martin of NEI describes how involved the process is and what he expects from trainers.

To Fly or Not to Fly?

Fanny Schutte training a Scarlet Macaw at NEI’s 2009 workshop.

Chris Shank also does freeflight workshops at Cockatoo Downs every year or so, demonstrating recall training and also featuring guest speakers like Susan Friedman. I’ll try to write about that in an future post.


UPDATED UPDATE: Freeflight for Companion Parrots

Posted by Raz on Jul 11th, 2009
Jul 11

This is officially a Pout Free Zone. I write about positive influences on my training. As in my professional life, personalities are not the topic. We don’t omit referencing important publications based on our personal feelings about the authors, and I have the same standards here.

The “Freeflight for Companion Parrots” post is a warning, not a publicity campaign.

Jul 9

I’d like to address the topic of freeflight training for pet birds in a bit broader context than “how to.” After thinking about this for some time, I want to elaborate on a stance that seems contradictory to this blog, even hypocritical. And that is that I don’t advocate it except under very rare circumstances. I have been saying since the beginning of this blog that I feel it’s necessary to have a professional mentor one on one, in person, before attempting outdoor training, even though I didn’t have that kind of mentoring before I started flying Carly outside. But I think I need to clarify why that is my position.

In brief, what it boils down to is that it is much, much more complicated than it first appears, and it is almost impossible for someone to evaluate a trainer’s level of skill, or the bird’s level of skill, without being there in person and having a lot of interaction with both.

As well as the challenges of starting out (making the indoor-outdoor transition is a BIG one), there are continuing challenges when freeflying, especially when dealing with a very uncontrolled environment where the bird is not doing strictly cued A-B type flying. My goal has always been to let Carly fly as long as I can do it without excessive risk. That means having an excellent recall, so she can be called back if she gets too far away or if I see a predator or other danger before she does. (Yes, sometimes I do see it first, and she can be called back.)

These challenges have required using different training concepts, many of which I was completely unaware when I started out. Freeflight requires taking the training mindset into every single daily behavior, not just during recall practice. Flying to you – instead of sitting in a tree, flying somewhere else, exploring, etc. – is one of the most basic trust-requiring behaviors. Without that background of trust and self-empowerment in all daily interactions, it’s much more likely you will have a bird literally avoiding you when outdoors, either by taking “unapproved” excursions, sitting in trees and refusing to come down, or having actual flyoffs. You have to be THE most positive thing in their environment, every time you go outside, no matter what you encounter. Building this trust involves everything from seemingly tiny things (not compelling a bird to step up in your home) to much more obvious ones (not tossing the bird or refusing to let it land when outdoors.)

Here are some of the things I think were critical in allowing me to begin and continue to freefly, so far. And I say “so far” because there are always new challenges that can present themselves, or unexpected dangers that occur. And they will be different for every single bird.

This is long, and I’m not going to try to pare it down, because the point is, this is not simple!

  • Time I was fortunate to have a bird that was not already fledged. This may seem counterintuitive, but in my case it gave me time to get my training and behavior skills up to speed. I spent 9 months training Carly before her flight feathers had grown in enough for outdoor flight to be safe. (Note: her lack of fledging was more than compensated for by an eagerness to learn new skills, something that may not be true for all birds.)
  • Repetition During those 9 months we practiced recall twice daily, every day, for about 10-20 minutes per session. Talk about repetition! By the time we went outside she was a recall machine.
  • Confidence The repetitions from 9 months of training gave us a lot of mutual confidence, so much that Carly has really never done a panic flight from being startled. At most, it is just up a short distance and back to me. The same applies to when she has been involved in bad chases, such as the one with a huge flock of ravens. She did not fly away, she flew fast and evasively, and got back to me as soon as she possibly could.
  • Food management, not food deprivation All Carly’s indoor training was done with scheduled meals, with no weight reduction. When we transitioned outdoors I brought her weight down very slightly (2-3%) for a short time. I usually now fly within a small range of her at-lib weight (455-462 g). There are those who advocate no food or weight management, and those who advocate overly extreme food/weight management. I was fortunate to find information about how to use it intelligently and appropriately.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis Dr. Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with Parrots class and other writings have been incredibly valuable, even more so than I could have imagined when I started. I didn’t take LLP until the summer when I was first training Carly outdoors, and frankly much of it didn’t seem “new” or all that important to that training at first. But with each passing month, and the more I learned about ABA, the more I have used it. I credit that knowledge with single-handedly enabling me to continue to free fly Carly despite some very tough training challenges.
  • Behavior is Science! See above. There is a right and wrong way to train and interact with our birds, if our goal is well-adjusted, confident animals.
  • Input from mentors & experts I did not have the luxury of a local professional for advice and evaluation, but I made use of every contact I could, every group, blog, seminar, workshop, or even just the chance to observe expert trainers in action (as I’ve been taking ample advantage of with NEI at the San Diego Zoo recently). It’s not just at the beginning, but continuously, and not just reading or watching, but thinking and asking “how does this apply to situations I’ve encountered?” These are worth mentioning by name:
    • Dr Susan Friedman, Utah State University. Always asks the hard questions and teaches that what we do with our birds every minute of every day is training. It is important to understand behavior and work with it on that level for our relationship with our birds, and with outdoor flight it’s critical. Web site:
    • Barbara Heidenreich, of Good Bird Inc. Seeing her work with birds at a seminar concurrent with taking Susan’s LLP class was like seeing a live demonstration of ABA in action. A pivotal moment for me. Her Good Bird Magazine is a storehouse of good training info.
    • Sid Price, of Avian Ambassadors. Sid has become a good friend and his input and observations on training questions has been insightful. He has also taken an interest in the companion parrot world, which he advises through his Bird Behavior Blog with thoughtful posts on a variety of topics.
    • Steve Martin & Natural Encounters Inc. I have not had much direct interaction with Steve, but his talks and articles, and those of the other NEI trainers, have been an invaluable resource. Articles are posted on the NEI web site that are must-reads for understanding parrot-human interaction, as well as training techniques. What’s in It For Me is something we should all be asking ourselves (on behalf of our parrots) all the time. Watching training for their current show is also like a live ABA demo.
    • Various friends who freefly well: Hillary Hankey, Wendy Craig, and Ellen Aparacio were all influences for the better, just by watching how sensitively they interact with their birds and how they think through behavioral issues.
  • The right bird for the job Although Carly was clipped as a baby, she has always been assertive and calm, which are two wonderful qualities in an outdoor freeflyer. I always think of the word “unflappable” which seems odd to use with a bird. I don’t know if it is an innate personality trait, or if her early upbringing played a role too. I made sure to keep her well socialized and always used to encountering new things, well before we flew outdoors.
  • Keeping records It’s important not to rely just on memory for details like daily weights, training outcomes and other things that might be influencing behavior each day. Sometimes it’s only by writing things down that you can see patterns evolve. –> sample logs
  • Harness training I believe part of her calm outdoors is from being taken outside daily from the age of 4 months onward. By the time we started freeflying, she had been exposed to just about everything she ever would be: traffic, people, noise, crowds, construction, blimps, planes, helicopters, paragliders, kids, dogs. The one exception was other birds (seagulls, ravens, falcons) and she reacted calmly thanks to lots of practice with new things, and lots of repetition of our training. –> harness training
  • Tree practice I trained her to target by crawling through and down trees. This was a very useful skill when she first started learning to fly down from large trees because she could use a combination of crawling, swinging, dropping and flying if she got up too high, and it allowed her to learn flying down at her own pace. Many birds who are lost during the indoor/outdoor transition are lost because they can’t fly down and panic.
  • Emergency recall Training a super reliable and fast recall for situations where there is danger or the bird is flying fast and getting too far away. It employs “super bonus” treats, which makes it more strongly motivated than a normal recall in the face of distractions, and to be effective it can’t be overused.–>emergency recall
  • Luck When we first encountered our biggest training challenge, her tendency to go visit other people while flying, we were extremely lucky that the people she chose were honest and made an effort to find her owner. When she flew behind some trees and was attacked by a hawk we were very lucky that it was only a shallow talon wound.
  • Not relying on luck Any time we had a challenge with freeflying I tried to think through it using the tools I’d learned in ABA. Just a sampling of what some of the solutions involved:
    • recognizing very subtle “forcing” of behavior and applying positive reinforcement in more of our daily interactions
    • stopping freeflying to develop and implement a new training routine when her behavior regressed (more difficult than you might think to stop these outings)
    • watching her body language more carefully for signs of potential problem behavior outdoors
    • using bonuses strategically
    • using a “heirarchy” of treats
    • recognizing when food or weight is not the problem
    • “changing the antecedent” by not flying if I saw any warning sign that it was not a good day (also harder than you can imagine)
    • generalizing behavior so it is maintained in the face of distractions
    • “super-generalizing” behavior so it is maintained in the face of competing external reinforcers. –>generalizing
    • using small approximations to train flying in the dark
    • recognizing the “study of one” principle and taking much smaller approximations in outdoor acclimation with new flyer Piper –>acclimation
    • recognizing that every time I make a mistake outdoors (usually by setting up antecedents wrong) I am training Carly to do the wrong thing, and there are no “do-overs”.

. . .

I’m sure I’ve missed a lot here, but you get the idea. It isn’t just a matter of teaching recall in isolation of other behavior and the daily life of the bird.

I never like to discourage someone from a challenge, but I feel that some people who freefly minimize the work involved, and/or have lower standards for recall or safe flying. And on the other extreme some rely on weight control almost to the exclusion of other strategies. It’s always up to the individual how they want to proceed: how much latency is acceptable (sitting in trees), how much of a flyoff is acceptable, whether or not staying out overnight is acceptable, or if witholding food for one or more meals is acceptable. For me, any of those is a sign that we need to revisit and reevaluate our training routine.

I have had problems with sitting in trees during Carly’s first year flying. I have had times when Carly flew out of sight and landed on a stranger who took her home. Twice she has been out overnight (once when a huge truck pulled up its rear elevator as we were passing by right after dark and she spent the night in a tree outside my office – with me underneath it – and once when she was attacked by a hawk at sunset and hunkered down in a tree until morning. Both times she flew right down to me at the crack of dawn.) All of these were problems that could be dealt with through additional training for her (generalizing recall in the presence of competing reinforcers) or by training me (knowing when it’s not a good time to fly, and being aware of the environment). None of these has occurred this year, and I like to think I’m growing as a trainer. But I’m always ready for that next unexpected challenge because I haven’t been doing this for years and years. And from what I’ve seen, even the best, most experienced trainers are continually learning and open to input from others.

To close, here are some of my favorite pieces of writing about freeflight or training in general that I think are applicable to this discussion.
. . .

What’s in It For Me by Steve Martin of Natural Encounters Inc. Looking at things from your bird’s point of view.

Straight Talk About Behavior by Susan Friedman.

Food and Weight Management and follow-up article in Sid Price’s Bird Training Blog

The Mouse Went Down the Hole: Psychological Appetite, Nature’s Training Tool by Cassie Malina of NEI.

Strong Foundations & Adjustments: Keys to Training Success by Sid Price.

Don’t Shoot the Dog , by Karen Pryor. A bible of training and behavior for all species that can be read over and over.

Good Bird Magazine, edited by Barbara Heidenreich. A must-have subscription., Dr Susan Friedman’s website, has links to all of her articles. Her Parrot Behavior Analysis Solutions group ( offers free one-on-one behavior problem solving and lessons on Applied Behavior Analysis with trained tutors, and her internet or workshop course Living and Learning with Parrots (LLP) is the gold standard for parrot behavioral science., the web site of Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. The Behavior Analysis Glossary alone is worth browsing and rebrowsing.

Where to learn one-on-one about free flight training for parrots?
The Art and Science of Training Companion Parrots, level 2, at Natural Encounters. This is only an introduction to their methods so people get some experience with what is involved. (Part of the purpose of this workshop is to show people how easy it isn’t.)

Chris Shank’s Cockatoo Downs. Chris is a very experienced trainer with many different animals, and has a flock of free-flighted cockatoos in Oregon. There are annual workshops on a variety of topics, and Chris is also available for individual consulation.

There are many very qualified professional trainers, but none of them offer anything similar, generally because it is such a high-risk endeavor, and not one that can be taught in a short workshop. Some others offer freeflight instruction that I do not recommend for a variety of reasons. I do not support anything that’s offered by internet or video.

. . .

My non-professional* training models. These guys have that magic touch, and also the thirst for continued learning. (*At the time. Hillary is now an NEI trainer. Wendy has completed both levels of the NEI workshops.)

Hillary Hankey & Juice

Ellen Aparacio & Inca

Wendy Craig with Samantha, Fifer and Rubidew

UPDATE: I have been asked about people who may have been influences on my training that I do not mention here. All I will say is those I have mentioned are those whose training methods and philosophy are in keeping with the “most positive, least intrusive” principle that I believe in. I’ve been exposed to other trainers, but they use methods or strategies that I prefer not to follow, and they are aware of those differences.

Links to some other articles on freeflight training:
Recommended Articles on Freeflight Training


Flying with Pigeons & Seals

Posted by Raz on Dec 5th, 2008
Dec 5

OK, the seals weren’t flying.

Carly and I visited Children’s Cove, the sheltered beach along the rocky shoreline south of La Jolla where the harbor seals hang out. I let her fly there for a bit, and it was quite an experience. She loved diving down the small cliffs of the cove, and was joined by a large flock of pigeons. Much harder to spot the African Grey in a flock of 50 pigeons than in a group of seagulls!

The brown lumps on the beach are seals.


More photos….


Autumn in San Diego

Posted by Raz on Nov 22nd, 2008
Nov 22

OK, so it’s always beach weather here, but we do have an apple season too!

Some recent pics.

Fall means… the beaches are ours again!


Carly and Piper meet the skinniest apples ever.


And, doing their part to help the economy, Carly and Piper work hard to remedy slumping numbers in new home construction.

joe the builder

more in galleries…


Crow Migration, or What Not to Do on Day 2

Posted by Raz on Nov 22nd, 2008
Nov 22

There have always been a few crows in the park. One or two would often sit in the sycamore tree and watch while I was training Carly under the canopy. She was briefly chased by one once during one of her first big outdoor flights, but she didn’t pay much attention to it. Otis and Gizmo were chased by a couple on their first outing to the park here too. They did their usual divide and confuse routine, and the crows gave up.

So Monday morning was Piper’s second outdoor recall training session. (Put on your shades — you might be blinded by the glaring errors!) Carly went with us again, and before I let Piper out of his carrier I unclipped her leash so she could go on a few big flights. After that she’s usually content to just hang out with me. She didn’t want to go however, so we did a few short recalls from the wall like we did yesterday with Piper. Then I got Piper out to join in. We normally alternate back and forth when we practice indoors, and that’s what we did today for 5 or 10 minutes. Then Carly was ready for a big flight. She took off on a big circle around the park, and of course Piper followed her. (He always wants to take off with her if he’s on a harness.) They did a couple very large loops above the treeline, then Carly landed in a eucalyptus. Piper landed in another tree behind it, but I didn’t see which one.

piper map

Carly and I did a full circuit of the park and surrounding townhomes calling, but not a peep out of him. Then a guy came running and said he’d seen Piper get chased quite aggressively by 4 crows out of a tree. We went off to search in that direction, but still nothing. Once I heard Piper do some of his calls, but it was a courtyard or two over and I could not find him. Once I thought I saw a grey-like body fly behind some trees. But mostly nothing. Just walking and calling and whistling our contact tune. One thing I did find: crows. Lots and lots of crows. Not in big flocks, but 2-4 in almost every tree. Then later in the day larger groups flying overhead. Another person told me they’d seen him being chased also. Just as it was almost dark I saw the silhouette of a bird landing in the top of a eucalyptus in the distance. It was landing in the same silly way a grey parrot does. I ran and called and it was indeed Piper. He flew to a tree near me, and did the stair-step descent approach, going to lower and lower trees, finally landing on a scrawny twig about 15 feet high. One final call and he was back!

This was not the ideal 2nd day out for sure. I have never seen so many crows in the area. I have since seen flocks of them near the beach also, where there are usually only ravens. Unfortunately I didn’t personally see any of the chases with Piper, so I don’t know how aggressively they were behaving. But I do know it was very hard to find a landing place without crows already in possession. Piper has not been outside nearly as much as Carly when she first started either, so he has far less exposure to seeing large birds. It must have been pretty frightening for him.

In the picture above, our training spot is just to the right of where it says “found.” Pretty amazing after so many hours he was literally back within about 100 ft of where he started.

When we came in he ate a huge dinner, then went to his bedtime perch and fell asleep at 6:30 (about 5 hours earlier than normal!)

But back to the errors:

Carly went with us again, and before I let Piper out of his carrier I unclipped her leash so she could go on a few big flights. . . . She didn’t want to go however, so we did a few short recalls from the wall like we did yesterday with Piper. Then I got Piper out to join in. We normally alternate back and forth when we practice indoors, and that’s what we did today for 5 or 10 minutes. Then Carly was ready for a big flight. She took off on a big circle around the park, and of course Piper followed her. . . . They did a couple very large loops above the treeline, then Carly landed in a eucalyptus.

Totally preventable, dumb errors. Carly is just coming out of some re-training, so I should not have trusted her to stay focused on short recalls before she had done some longer flights. Dumb. This was Piper’s second day out, and I should not have been training him alongside her unless I was totally confident she would not fly off. I knew how he’d react. It worked the day before when she had already flown some, but even then it was more of a risk than I should have taken on his first day. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal without the crows, but even so, not smart. I assume it was also distracting for Carly, still under intense observation and re-training, to have Piper flying with her for the first time.

What did go well:

  1. I had my stack of 50 “Lost Parrot” flyers with pictures on them right at my home, so I got those out very soon. I also have business cards with Carly’s picture, my cell phone number, and web site address, normally for giving to people so they can access the training resources web page or photos. They are also perfect for handing out when searching for a bird.
  2. Piper stayed very close, in the immediate vicinity of the park (even though I couldn’t spot him!) He must have really been hunkering down inside the trees most of the time. Since he is brand new at this I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m very happy his instinct was not to bolt in a straight line and fly off.
  3. Once he felt safe retrieval was easy.
  4. I could take the entire day off to search if I need to. I never fly outdoors when I have anything within the next 24 hrs that can’t be rescheduled.
  5. This is a very animal-friendly and helpful neighborhood. Wonderful people, eager to help. (Two neighbor girls were so excited when I got Piper back home they even volunteered to go take down flyers. Wow!)

Piper is much more watchful of the sky when outside now, so I’m going to do spend some more time on the harness just walking around and doing recalls without big sis. He is a fearless flyer physically, but he also startles so much more easily than Carly ever did. It’s an odd combination. But it could also be that I notice it more with Piper because, being fledged properly, his instinct is to fly; Carly, unfledged and clipped, would usually just hunker down onto my chest. It’s easy to forget how much a baby hasn’t experienced yet.

One final note: I think this kind of experience highlights the risks inherent in freeflight training, especially as practiced with companion parrots, by non-professionals, in a relatively uncontrolled environment. I don’t consider myself an impatient trainer (quite the opposite usually) and I could have prevented this event with the knowledge I had. But it’s very easy to “go with the flow” even when you know what you’re doing is increasing the risk. In addition to the importance of learning and gaining experience, one of the lessons for me with this is that a very important aspect of experience is to always remember why the rules you have established are so critical.

Carly’s card:

carly card
(Photo by Hugh Choi)


Virgin Air: Piper Earns His Wings

Posted by Raz on Nov 15th, 2008
Nov 15

Piper did his first outdoor flights this afternoon. In the park, from the same bench where Carly learned, with big sis right next to him showing him how it’s done. (I actually thought she’d want to go sit up in a tree and goof off while we did this, but she wanted to join in. We’ve been practicing indoors a lot that way, alternating birds.) He’s 7 months old now, and we’ve been doing regular indoor practice sessions twice daily, before meals, for about 3-4 weeks, and also started taking walks in the park and other places on a harness several times per week. Indoors he’s been recalling all over the house, into different rooms. I’m feeding him as much as he wants, but in scheduled meals (he usually gets 3, one more than Carly).

He did great today, nice and relaxed and very attentive. We stuck with short recalls, probably 6-8 ft. I have not been able to do targeting with him in trees (to learn to crawl down from them, just in case) because he spends all his time chewing on the harness if he’s on a perch! We do have a high ceiling at home now and a high hanging gym at work, and we do target training swinging around the get-a-grip net or hanging gym. Before we do longer flights I’m going to let him do some crawling recalls in our pine tree off the harness now. I’m not all that worried about him being afraid to fly down. He’s a kamakazi in the house, totally fearless, and his recall is very strong — as is his desire to be wherever Carly and I are.

I’m really proud of Carly too — she was a champ in doing little bitty recalls with him outside; she usually finds that very boring.

People have asked me how I decided when was the right time to do the first outdoor flight. Besides all the standard criteria for recall and flight agility — which are the fundamental requirements — I must say I decided much the same way I decided to let Carly fly at the beach. I knew they were ready for a week or two, and was monitoring things very closely. On the day of however, it was really just a gut instinct. Probably because I felt relaxed, the bird was relaxed, we had time, good weather, etc. Everything felt in place.


September Beach Flying

Posted by Raz on Sep 7th, 2008
Sep 7

The beaches are getting less crowded, though the weather is still lovely.    Carly and the macaws haven’t been out to the beach in almost 2 weeks because we’ve been busy moving, so it was nice to let them get some sea breeze in their wings.

Piper came along and strolled on my shoulder, and Carly was far less attentive to other men. She even let several red-headed guys get away! Piper is already wanting to take off and fly with her when she goes, but we haven’t done very much training yet. But clearly he’s going to be an enthusiastic beach flyer! Carly did some big flights at the very beginning and end of the outing, but in between she stayed on my shoulder or did short flights most of the time. Protective of “her” baby I think.

I realized how tolerant she is of him she really is today when she made the ultimate sacrifice: she moved over and gave up the highly coveted left shoulder position when we were walking. Sometimes they both sat on the left shoulder and sometimes she let him have the whole thing. Now that’s love.

Unfortunately there may not be many photos of greys in flight at the beach for awhile — certainly not as good as the ones you’ve been seeing! Hugh and the boys are moving back to Philadelphia. So look for some new Redfront scenery in your inbox if you’re on one of the flight photos lists.

Here are a couple from today. This one reminds me of an eagle soaring.


And here she is going into a diving flip…

carly diving flip

Photos by Hugh Choi.
Subscribe to Yahoo Group Celebrate Parrots or contact Hugh if you want to receive photos by email.


Fledge Day Anniversary

Posted by Raz on Jul 26th, 2008
Jul 26

Today we are celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of Carly’s first official fledging. Since she was clipped as a young baby, she only really did startle flights until we started to train for recall. We started recall with walking, but the first part of flight training involved learning to take off — by jumping off a countertop onto my arm. It took almost 2 weeks from the time we started for her to work up the courage to voluntarily jump through the air that short 12 inches or so. Lots of strrreetching and plotting to find, other ways around it to get to me. But she always tried. And when we didn’t get the jump, we’d end with some long stretching step-ups to keep things positive. But on July 26, 2006, at 18 months and 6 days old, she finally made the big breakthrough! After that there was no stopping her and she became a jumping and flapping fool — even with only a few flight feathers grown in. She clearly liked the activity, and would even leave her dinner after training to come do some more jumps.

The process we followed and resources we used are described in the Indoor Recall Training article on the Recall Training page.

Here are some shots from today, at age 3 yrs 6 months & 6 days. Lots of diving and screaming. But her enthusiasm was just as great on those first hops.

With Gizmo….
CarlySassy, Fledge Day Anniversary
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