In the last couple of weeks Stewie has had a few flight feathers grow back in. He was clipped when I got him last summer and he’s been to the vet for a follow-up trim because one was growing in really uneven.
But this time around I’ve been wrestling with the decision whether to keep him clipped or try to let him fly. So far he has two full flights on each side and that’s enough to get him pretty mobile. He’s not an expert flier, but he can fly enough to get into trouble 😉
I started recall training with Stewie this weekend and our first session went really well.
First I asked him for regular step ups. I kept increasing the distance a fraction of an inch until he could barely reach me with his beak if he stretched as far as he could. (He had to reach real far, put his beak on me and then lunge to pull the rest of himself onto my
When I was just out of reach I brought out the big guns: a Nutriberry – his very favorite treat in the whole world. That got his attention. Using the Nutriberry as a lure, I coaxed him to get up on my arm.
It took a little while of him running up and down his cage trying to figure out how to reach me and then after much hesitation, he hopped over. That got him lots of praise and a whole Nutriberry! He dropped half of it, which I retrieved and used to get him to do it again.
That first 2 hops were the most difficult. After that he just got his regular safflower seeds as a reward. Going from a short hop, to a
short hop with a little wing flapping, to a flight of a couple of feet went very smoothly.
Stewie did all that in just one session. Now need to keep reinforcing it and trying lots of distances, changing the heights, etc.
He’s still not doing it all the time, and today he won’t attempt longer distances even if it’s a distance he’s comfortable flying; but if he got every single trick down cold in just one session, I’d be at my wits end trying find new ways to keep him challenged.
Flighted recall is probably one of the most important tricks to teach a parrot who can fly, so I’m going to try to be more vigilant about training and reinforcement for this one than I’ve been with some of his others.
Related Post: Teaching Parrot to Fly