Photo by Dave Location: Centralia, WA Flying: Blue throated macaw "Jinx"
It can be a huge challenge to encourage an older bird to fly. Depending on the situation, of course. But if you have an older bird and it refuses to fly, it’s likely because it has never flown in the past and it literally does not have the muscles to do so. When they start to fly they can become sore, using muscles they’ve never used before. Just like when people work out for the first time in a long time, you become super sore the day after and even more so the day after that... birds will be the same, and be less likely to want to keep flying as it will be causing the pain. Some birds may find it fun, some may find it scary and others just plain painful. If your bird is not flying out of fear, you merely need to build its confidence first (step ups to large steps to jumps and so on). If it’s because it’s painful, you need to take it easy and not do so many repetitions. You literally may start with one flight per day and move up to two. Ways to encourage your bird to fly on its own is putting in a big open space such as an outside aviary where wind can do the encouraging, to placing food and water as far away as possible where it’s easier to fly to get to them rather than climb. I have a 200 sq ft room where I can let my birds out in it and not worry, this really encourages them to fly around some top of cage to another top of another cage! I’ve known of people to devote bedrooms to their birds and leave them cageless, or just keep them on a playstand tree where they can fly from one to another to another. Encouraging your bird to fly is all about setting up his/her environment right to make flight more efficient than walking or climbing. I’ve worked with older birds that began flying on their own in outdoor aviaries, whether it had something to do with merely being outside, seeing other birds do it (mine or wild) or what it was, I’ve found the outdoors definitely help in the encouragement. If you're interested in one on one training from parrot trainer Dave Womach on freeflight training you can enroll immediately by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on pricing and course details. You don't have to take your bird outside, but your learn everything you need to to be able to do so if you would like. This course is available to everyone - even international customers.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.