Having a parrot as your pet can be very entertaining. They’re one of the most common house pets after all. These birds always amaze us with their ability to learn to repeat human words and not so rarely we make use of this skill and teach them nasty words so that we can mock people. Unfortunately, many parrots end up being locked in their cages for life. This is how to train a parrot to fly and come back which will provide them with much-needed freedom.
Building a trusting relationship
This applies to almost all pets. If you want their training to go without a hiccup, you have to make them believe you and feel secure in your presence. Baby parrots can lie on your chest where you should put a towel. This way you two will create a beautiful bond resembling the one between a parent and a kid from the early stage.
Why is this important? In their natural habitat, fledgling parrots are trained by their parents in the fields of hunting, telling the friends and enemies apart, looking for a shelter etc. Therefore, if your little friend sees you as his ‘’mom/dad”, it is very likely it’ll be more obedient when you start training it.
Additional ways of bonding include having your parrot eating from your hand. Petting is also a nice way to tell your parrot to trust you. Some of these birds don’t really like being touched. In such occasions, start clicker training. Touch the leg first, use the clicker and then a treat.
This will gradually make it relate accepting the touch with rewards and will feel more comfortable. Progress up to the head until your bird is totally OK with physical contact between you two.
When to start the training
Closely observe the development of the feathers on your bird. As it is more and more covered with feathers it’ll become more vigorous and curious about its surroundings.
When it’s half-covered, there are usually going to be some outbursts of activity which will tire the bird quickly and it’ll fall back to sleep. At this point, it still might be frightful especially if you put its cage into a new environment. Put some card-box with an opening of an appropriate size in its crate so it has a ‘’shelter-place’’ once it feels scared. It will eventually get out on its own in order to further investigate the ambiance.
This will fill it with the feeling of control that is crucial for its confidence. While getting older by the day it will start its own flights, usually towards you in order to get a treat or some attention. However, it still isn’t ready to be trained now.
You should keep socializing and be playing with it with its toys on the floor and give it time to mature both physically and mentally. When the shaft of the flight feather loses the dark fluid, the feather is mature. At this moment, they fly around the room on their own with no clear destination but always end up where they started. This is an indication that they have enough self-confidence and you can start training sessions.
Once your parrot has enough confidence and strength, you can start him on the target training. Put 2 perches parallel to each other. You can use a stick as a target. Begin from having it to simply touch the stick. Then go on to making your parrot move its head to reach for the stick. Move the target farther and farther away so that your pet has to move along the perch in order to touch the target. Each time the parrot does this successfully, click and reward the bird with a treat.
The goal is to teach the bird to hop across the gap between the perches to reach the target. You can also make the gap between the perches bigger so that the bird has to use its wings to do the task. Alternatively, you can use your own arm as the other perch and teach it to fly to your arm.
Flying from the owner to the perch
At this stage of training your bird, you two should try to establish a cue that will show your bird that it should come to you. It could be just calling for it or raising your hand. Offer some treats to the bird once it is with you and then have it go back to the perch where it can actually eat them. This way, not only will your bird have a purpose in flying to you but will also have a reason to fly back to the perch.
During this phase, your bird will sometimes come to you even without a cue. However, at the beginning, this should be reinforced too as you want your parrot to make a connection between being treated and flying to you. You could even make little experiments by hiding behind a wall and calling for the bird so you see its reaction.
This is very important when your parrot happens to fly off somewhere besides its room. In these situations, you’ll want it to be able to find the way back to you upon hearing your voice.
Specifying the cues
This means that not every recall response should be reinforced. This is what you usually do with parrot’s slow reactions or non-cued responses. This is a step forward from rewarding your bird for every flight. This way it will know that only specific cues and responsiveness of an accurate speed will get it the treats.
Imagining yourself outside with your parrot flying back and forth to you must seem very alluring. However, this is a much different situation compared to the closed space your parrot is accustomed to. The dangers lurking in the outside world are numerous.
First of all, the likelihood of your parrot flying away and never coming back is very high. Strangely enough, this is not due to the fact that it doesn’t want to come back. It just doesn’t know how. Sometimes it happens that they fly too far away, get exhausted and land somewhere unsafe. At such moments they are not threatened only by other predator birds but also dogs, cats, and neighbors.
Yes, people can sometimes be very hostile towards your parrot, especially if they’re irritated by their sound which is why there are many cases of parrot poisoning and shooting. A drive for nesting can also be a great hindrance, especially when it comes to female birds.
All in all, prior to going outside with your parrot, hire a professional to teach you about how to train your parrot to fly and come back. Operant conditioning, i.e. the rewarding trick is sometimes not enough.
You have to enforce strong cues and connection with your bird before letting it fly outside and this is not possible by simply following the Internet recommendations.
Most accidents during outdoor flying actually do happen because of the owner being ill prepared by merely seeing videos on YouTube that give him/her the false impression that it’s an easy task.