Recently, and when I was navigating online, engaging with parrot lovers and owners, and helping with common problems that they complain about.
I found out that the Free Flight subject, or how to train your parrot not to fly away, was popping up more often online.
Owners were asking and wondering how those parrots displayed in YouTube videos can fly freely and come back to their owners.
So I opened google again and searched for a video or an article that teaches how owners can train their parrots to fly and come back, or to come whenever they’re called.
All I found were services websites offering that they can train your parrot with no provided details about the conditions and skills that your parrot should have.
They’re like make the payment first and we will tell you if your parrot going to be able to fly and come back or not. So, I decided to write this article to help all parrot owners to conduct this training with a minimal chance of losing their birds.
And before you dive into the training process, here’s why the free flight skill is very important for your parrot.
Table of Contents
Why You Should Train Your Parrot Free Flight
Free flight is a skill that every exotic pet bird should gain, exotic pet means that they still have their wild and natural instincts, not like dogs and cats, that were domesticated thousands of years ago.
And as you know in the wild parrots fly freely with no limitations, but with humans catching and raising these birds, the chance for them to fly freely started to decrease more and more.
Most pet parrots now come to stores from breeders who produce hundreds and thousands of birds each year for the purpose of making money.
These pet parrots found in stores didn’t and won’t get any chance to learn how to fly, causing them to lose this ability forever. Unless the breeder is using big aviary spaces instead of cages.
And as the exotic birds still possess their wild instincts and yet to be domesticated, helping these parrots to emulate and have to exercise some of their natural behaviors and feelings in the wild is very important, and free flight is the best method to do so.
Thus your parrot will stay happy and healthy(1), having a chance to do what he does best.
Before You Start The Training
You should know that not every parrot can fly and come back to you, even if you trained him as much as you could, the absence of requirements and conditions will limit the achievable stages.
To make it simple and to achieve free flight outdoors, you and your parrot must succeed with these following stages:
- Gain the ability to fly
- Your parrot should be 100% tamed and well-socialized
- Forming a strong bond with your parrot
What is free flight training with a parrot that can’t fly, losing this ability might happen, especially with parrots that spent the first year or two in their cages, not getting the chance they deserve to learn how to fly.
Some old lucky parrots can fly after 10 months of training (2) at the hands of patient experts, who will provide everything to the parrot to teach him flying at a later time of his life.
This is a hard process, and it’s not like getting a young parrot, 1-year-old and younger, who will learn how to fly in a single session.
If you got an old parrot, it’s going to be very hard to tame, not to mention forming a bond with him.
So, I always recommend getting the parrot as young as possible, as these stages will be easier if you were around the parrot from his early times in life.
Recommended Further Reading:
How High, How Far, and How Fast Can Parrots Fly?
The Training Process
The idea behind getting a young parrot is that you will able to hand feed him, hand feeding is the first step of training, and with this, the parrot will see you as the source of food and security.
Yes, it’s all about playing around the hunger element, and starting at a very young age will let your parrot develop a high level of loyalty to you, and he will come to you when you call for him.
To hand feed your baby parrot, you will need a feeding syringe, and the food powder, this powder when mixed with water will form a rich and thick liquid, pull the food into the syringe, and then it’s ready to inject into the parrot beak.
This is the start on how to train your parrot not to fly away, and with this, you are building loyalty between you and your chick, so it’s better to use these early times to practice and train your bird.
The training at this stage is very simple, when you feed your parrot you shouldn’t go to him and inject the food directly inside his beak, you should stand at the other side of the table or the cage and call the baby to come, give him the chance to see the syringe, as he knows it’s a source of food.
Give him a shot of food and go to the other side, let him come to you again, repeat this process every time you feed the chick.
It’s also the best time to pick a name for him and using it when you call him to come to you and eat from the syringe, this way your parrot will link between you calling his name and the food.
it’s recommended to feed your parrot every 6-8 hours, and the quantity depends on the breed and the size of the chick.
Most parrot’s chicks will make a noise when they are hungry, this sound will look like he is urging you to feed him, you should remember this voice and recognize it when weaning time comes.
The first flying class
After you wean your parrot, sometimes before that, the chick will grow a complete set of feathers, which will allow him to fly. In the wild, it’s easy for them to learn how to fly by watching their parents. But in captivity, they’ll need the help of the owner.
The first step to teach your parrot how to fly is to take him while he is in his cage, into a room with no dangerous objects in it. And while he still inside the cage, start calling his name, call him until he gets excited to come to you.
And when you notice your parrot is getting excited and moving inside the cage, it’s time for the next step.
Flying for the first time is very intimidating for young parrots. So, take your chick outside the cage and put him in the ground, don’t put him in a high spot or at the edge of the door. This can prevent your bird from taking off, the ground is the best choice for first-timers.
After you get the parrot excited and put him on the ground, start calling his name repeatedly, this will encourage him to start flapping his wings and fly to you.
And when he flies and lands on your hand, immediately treat him with a small slice of fruit or vegetables. If he is not weaned yet, give him a shot from the syringe, and repeat.
In the beginning, It’s better to do this step by the time your bird is hungry, so he keeps linking between you calling him and the food. With the daily training, he will respond to your calls even if he is full. Use treats every time he comes to you.
Remember, your parrot is flying for the first time, and it’s very possible for him to hit a wall or a door, so you have to focus on where your parrot is heading and protract your hand for him to land, time after time, he will master the flying ability.
When your parrot learns how to fly perfectly, it’s time to level up the training, and by that I mean it’s the time to call your parrot when he is in another place, and you are not visible to him.
Begin with the normal calling while you are in front of him and retreat a little farther, repeat this until you go invisible. And start calling him. He will get confused a little, but keep calling him until he flies and finds you. Let the bird land on your hand and immediately treat him with something he loves.
Keep doing this daily, don’t give him big quantities of treats, just small pieces, petting and praising are recommended as well.
Day by day, you’ll notice that the bird will follow you where ever you go, and this a good sign that your bird is ready to fly freely outdoors.
Outdoors Free Flight Training
After finishing the previous stages, your bird can fly perfectly indoors, coming to you whenever you call him, Your bird is 100% tamed, and a strong bond successfully established between the both of you.
It’s also the best time to socialize your parrot during these stages and let him interact with friends and family members. Without these, your parrot might still not ready to train outdoors.
This the last step to train your parrot not to fly away, chose a place where there are no dangerous things in it, like cars, buildings, trees, and other birds like crows or any other bird predator, find an open, empty, and wide place, as much as possible.
The place is really crucial to success in training your parrot not to fly away or the free flight. So, do your best to find a suitable place.
So, when you find a good place, take the cage and the parrot is inside it and put him on the ground, give your parrot the chance to sense the breeze and recognize the place, after 10-15 minutes start calling your parrot just like the first time, get him focused and excited to come to you.
After that, open the cage door and take the bird and put him above the cage, retreat for 10-15 meters, and start calling your bird. Call him to boost his courage to come to you, at this moment your parrot is still new to the outdoors environment, so it’s possible that your bird won’t fly to you and will prefer to stay in his place.
If that happened, take your parrot and put him on the ground, a little farther from his security sources, which are you and the cage. And start calling him. This time he will fly for sure, because of the feeling that the ground is not safe enough for him.
Don’t panic about losing your bird at that moment, just keep calling him until he comes to you, and he will for sure, when land on your hand treat him immediately, you can repeat if you wanted, but if the bird made once, you know you got yourself a free flight trained parrot that won’t fly away and will come to you when you call him.
If you are afraid of losing the bird, it’s ok to train your parrot outdoors with his wings clipped.
How to Train The Older Parrots
I always recommend that you get the parrot when he is a little chick because it’s going to be very easy for him to learn how to fly and to perceive and understand the training.
With a baby parrot, the entire training process could get started and accomplished in a period of 3 months, more or less. With older parrots, this can take a very long time, up to 1 year just to fly. Larger breeds of parrots can take even longer to learn how to fly.
If your older parrot is able to fly, then taming, socializing, and bonding with him is a start.
Later, you can train him to come to you indoors, of course, hunger is the key element to succeed, and you should play on this chord.
When you find your parrot is collaborating and responding to you properly, then you can start the outdoors training after clipping his wings.
If your old parrot not able to fly, then I suggest finding a professional trainer to help your bird to regain his confidence, vet service is also important to know what is the wing’s muscles condition, and determining how much of a chance your parrot has.
Training your parrot not to fly away and come to when you call him, is basically the same process, and it’s better to start at an early time of the parrot age (1 year and younger) to have the best chance to succeed.
This training process depends mainly on understanding the body language of your parrot. For inexperienced owners, this might be very tricky and confusing, especially if your first parrot is an old one.
But, having the parrot at their early stages of life will help to develop a sense and an understanding of your parrot’s body language.
And this the hard part, this is your role in this training, any misjudging or misunderstanding about what your parrot needs or telling, can cause unwanted loss to you, to your parrot, and to the entire training process.
Can a Pet Bird Be Trained to Live Without a Cage And Not Fly Away?
Yes, but after you form a strong bond with your bird and give him proper training. You can gradually introduce him to his new stand. Don’t deprive the parrot of his cage right away, give him the chance to wander around between the cage and the new place, until you see the parrot is sleeping in the stand, then you know it’s time to remove the cage.
How do I stop my parrot from flying away?
If you know the reason behind this behavior, you might be able to stop him from flying away. Possible reasons may include: the parrot is not tamed or trained, not bonded to you, maybe he is afraid of you or any other pet you have, maybe he is locked inside the cage all the time, insufficient diet system, or the suffer from anxiety and depression.
Do parrots come back if they fly away?
Yes, if the parrot is trained for free flight, and didn’t get lost, it’s more likely he will come back looking for food and rest in his cage, so it’s a good idea to put the cage outside the house and fill it with his favorite treats.
What do I do if my bird flies away?
If your bird flew and you lost track, the best thing to do is to make a printed announcement around the neighborhood with instructions on how people can catch the bird. Your bird is likely to land somewhere looking for food, and hopefully, he lands near someone who saw your announcement. Also, put the cage and treats outside your house so he recognizes he is home and comes back, eventually.