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.