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Need recommendations for wing physical therapy exercise

Tazlima

Jogging around the block
Avenue Veteran
Joined
3/7/19
Messages
624
Finally have an update here.

Two months ago, I put Boo's food dish on a separate surface from her cage (used two plastic storage bins, side-by-side) so she had to step across a gap to reach it, then slowly started widening the gap. When we started, she was afraid to even step across a 1/2 inch opening, so it's been a long road.

As of a few days ago, with the most recent incremental increase, she FINALLY overcame her fear and mastered the "jump and flap" method of crossing. I waited to post here until I was sure it wasn't a fluke, but she's done it two or three times a day since then, so she's definitely worked it out.

SHE ACTUALLY TRUSTS HER WINGS A TEENY TINY BIT!

It's the first time I've seen her voluntarily use her wings for transportation in any form (as opposed to the terrified breaking of a fall). There's none of the anxiety-ranging-to-panic associated with previous flapping either. It's intentional and controlled.

I just wanted to let people know, partly as a general update, and partly because it's one thing to hear "working with birds can take a long time" and another thing to witness the time scale playing out.
 

Tazlima

Jogging around the block
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Joined
3/7/19
Messages
624
Hi all. It's been a long, slow road, but we hit a major milestone today. Boo flew all the way across the room and stuck the landing!

Over the past year and change, I slowly moved her food stand further from her cage.

Eventually she stalled out at about 2.5 feet of distance and didn't seem to be progressing further, so I raised the food stand. That way she would have to either ascend or descend, or take off from a vertical surface rather than a horizontal one.

She chose to go the straight line, but had to use her wings at another angle and become comfortable with a different landing position, so it was still good therapy.

Her flights slowly became less panicky and more controlled. At one point, I added a dangling rope blocking her path. She handled this obstacle by climbing down the rope, then flapping to swing herself over to the stand. A year ago, she would never have done that.

Recently, she again reached a point where she had clearly mastered the current setup, so I decided it was time to push her limits on the distance front and rearranged things again.

That brings us to tonight. The other birds had a little spook about who knows what, and Boo took flight as well. Previously, on the rare occasions she spooked, she would flutter to the floor and flap-slide until she bumped into an obstacle.

This time, she maintained her height and landed on the back of the couch!

She still has a long way to go. She hasn't worked out how to ascend or (intentionally) descend, and she doesn't know how to turn. However, she's come SO FAR, and it's delightful to see. She uses her wings much more freely now for things like balancing, and she recently started to do "test flaps" before taking flight.

I can't wait to see what she does next!
 
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Tazlima

Jogging around the block
Avenue Veteran
Joined
3/7/19
Messages
624
I have a new milestone to report!

Since my last update, Boo has continued to slowly expand the distance she can fly. In fact, we hit a bit of a block. You know the old joke?

How far can a dog run into the woods?
Halfway. After that they're running out of the woods.

Well, there are only so many places to put the food stand in my house, and we reached a point where she was flying the maximum possible distance available in the space, since it could only be so far from other furniture. However, we continued to move things around and encouraged her to experiment with starting from other spots. She has very, VERY slowly developed more control and confidence. She used to fly with her feet out in a landing position, and all landings were marked by a loud thump. Now she's started to tuck her feet in the air, and her landings have gotten way more controlled and gentle.

A big part of this challenge is that she can't turn. Once she's in the air, it's a straight line until she stops, so she has to carefully plot her route before she takes off.

Well, last week, I was given these plastic pillar things. They're quite tall, and I decided to use one to slightly encroach block Boo's preferred path to the current standard location. She would have to either curve her route a bit to get around it, or pick a different starting point.

So dinner time comes and she looks at this challenge. Tries it, and goes in a straight line right past the stand and lands on the floor across the room.

Then she ACTUALLY TRIES AGAIN. This has been one of the biggest challenges with her. If she fails at a flight, especially with a rough landing, she has been very quick to give up and refuse to try again. This time, she curved her flight ever-so-slightly. But it wasn't enough, and she hit the floor again (in a different spot this time).

On the 3rd attempt, BOO TURNED! Dodged the pillar and stuck the landing perfectly! She got us clapping and cheering, and a stick of spray millet as a reward for being awesome, and was visibly pleased with herself.

It wasn't a sharp turn, more just curving her flight path a bit, but for her, it was everything. She was determined, and not afraid of failure, and she just accomplished something she never knew she could do.

This is the start of a whole new phase in her training. Once she's had a few days to build confidence with the current setup, I'll block the other side of the path to start her turning the other direction. Slowly increase how much the path is blocked so she has to make wider and sharper turns.

I'm beyond thrilled for her.

I'll keep adding updates as she hits major milestones. It's been wild reading back over this thread and seeing how far she's come. It's also interesting to see how long this process has taken, since we started from zero with an older bird (she's 15 now).

She's so much more confident and fit than when we first got her, and there's still so much to do.
 

orphansparrow

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This is so awesome! You are an amazing parront!!
 

Xoetix

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This is really heartening to read. I have a 16-year-old cockatoo who doesn’t fly unless she startled, and then will fly the way you described - feet out first, hard landing.

I'm working on clearing an area for her to get some distance and hopefully increase her confidence
 
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