Freeflight as Enrichment

Posted by Raz on May 23rd, 2008
May 23

In response to a comment by Gay Noeth, I agree and do not think people should undertake outdoor flight training just because they want a better life for their bird. Even a bird who is free-flighted spends most of its time indoors, and that life also needs to be enriching, filled with exercise opportunities, and choice. The friends I know who do freefly do it with an interest that borders on obsession. It takes over our weekends, our vacations, and our social life. It’s not something that’s just a casual pastime, like walking a dog. It’s also no guarantee of a better life, if it’s not done safely or if their life indoors is too restrictive. I have seen some home setups and aviaries that I would move into myself if I could!

Anyone who tries to guilt trip pet owners into feeling they must freefly their bird, such as the widely circulated “press release” by which is headlined, “Thousands Inflict Animal Cruelty On Their Parrot“, is at best morally indifferent. Considering the advertisement goes on to say that their intent is to teach pet owners how to freefly their parrot with a series of videos which demonstrate poor, rushed, and inconsistent training technique from a total novice in bird training, it is outright reckless. I can think of no reason to publicize this kind of thing with an “animal cruelty” press release, other than to drum up business at the expense of pet parrots.

My primary interest is seeing companion birds’ lives as enriched and “natural” as possible, so they can be birds, not toys. I think keeping birds flighted is a very large part of that, and freeflight is wonderful. But to this day one of the most exciting training events Carly and I have had together was when she did that first voluntary jump-flap off the counter, when she had barely any flight feathers. If I could see more people experience this kind of interaction with their birds, I would be a very happy camper indeed!