ULOG #9: Training a Bird to Free Flying
Seven days have passed since my last post. I didn’t realize it was that long already. I swore to post about what I have on my list daily but something came our way and I got too caught up with it.
Our love for animals started with our Pug named Monchi who has gone to rainbow bridge some years ago. Then came another that was close to his breed, Chase – a French Bulldog. After which, we got into tarantulas, and then bearded dragons. My daily routine has feeding and taking care of them included. Just imagine having 1 dog, 15 tarantulas, and 4 bearded dragons – all of which have different needs and ways of being taken care of. Yes, that’s a handful. These pets are lucky I work from home, other wise they would have been dead by now.
So, where have I been for the last week. Yep, another pet. This time it’s a little challenging because there’s some training involved.
We live in a coastal area and the climate in this county has made it ideal for migratory birds to fly in seasonally. I remember mornings when I get home from work and flocks of birds perched on trees, or some with feet sunk under water making the ponds look like sea of birds. I also remember how amazed I was when one time, I saw this group of people with birds on their shoulders and they just started to throw them in the air, just like that. And not a minute after, these people shout names and the birds just flew back to them. Amazing!
That was long ago. Last week, John showed me a video of a bird that was taught to free fly. Free fly is the term hobbyists use to describe birds that practiced flying around and knowing where (and when) to come back. It looked easy. He thought he wanted to try. I thought he was just joking. The next day, I said hello to the newest member of the family, Kiki – an albino African Love Bird.
It doesn’t look cute, yet. It just hatched barely two weeks ago. From what we have researched so far, it is best you have them really young. That way, they get used to socialize with people. You start with them being so young, they rely on you for everything they need, most especially food. So, you hand feed them. That is the first step for training and it’s pretty much where were at now. You practically don’t need a lot. Just some baby food and a dropper or syringe with soft tip. Continue hand feeding until they start walking.
John hand feeding Kiki and trying to make it come near him by name calling and whistling.
Next step is Walking Recall. Once the bird knows how to walk, start calling them by their name. Slowly distancing yourself by 1 – 2 feet to 5-10 every time she succeeds to recall her name. The video we have of Kiki shows 2 feet of walking recall but we are now at 5 feet.
Once, it’s feet are stable enough to stand and walk, you may start with the next step which is stepping up. This is when you teach them how to land on your hand. Perch them up on something they can stand on to while your hand is an inch away from where they are, call their name, whistle and entice them with their food. Repeat until she gets used to it.
After the last step, it is almost ready to fly but, you have to teach them how to jump first. Pretty much the same as the last step except this time, your hand should be a little far from where they are perched at.
Flying is just one step away at this point. It should learn how to ascend and descend. Just like when you are teaching them how to step and jump up, this time, they have to be perched somewhere really high or laid down on the floor.
By the time she knows how to fly, she should be familiar with her name or basically how you call them – without enticing them with food. This step is called blind recall, wherein you throw them up in the air, walk far from them and just call or whistle until they find and fly to you.
Once it’s mastered everything, you should be ready to let it fly out confident that it will come back by your command.
Here's one Youtube video we've been watching as a reference to what we're doing with Kiki. Credits to owner.
Looks pretty easy huh? I sure hope we succeed at this project. Who knows we just might be able to teach birds like Blue from Rio movie to fly too! Better yet, owning a mini zoo someday! Sounds like fun!
Thanks for reading!