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New bird: 22yo clipped eclectus

Elizabeth

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This week I adopted the most amazing eclectus, Cosmo.

I’m a believer in flighted parrots and my other two birds (GCC and tiel) are flighted. Both came to me as clipped babies and had to learn to fly after their baby molts.

However Cosmo is 22 and I think he’s always been clipped. He doesn’t attempt to take even short flights and I think he’s used to having people take him where he wants to go. I wonder if he’s able to learn to fly this late in life?

Also I’ve never had a large parrot. Are they as acrobatic as the little guys, or do they require more room and a bigger turning radius?

Really hoping he can learn to fly safely and enjoy it. Vets are always surprised at how muscled my birds are. It’s because they fly all the time and in benders case forage for most of their food.
 

Xoetix

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when I adopted my cockatoo, she was clipped and had been clipped for only a short period of time per her previous owners. Unfortunately, she seems to have lost a lot of her confidence in flight and I can’t seem to get her to attempt it at all anymore unless something spooks her. I have noticed though that when she has been spooked and flown, she does need a lot more room than my Cockatiels do. Her wingspan doesn’t fit through the door - Which probably doesn't help her confidence in it. But like Cosmo, she doesn't even hop. She'll climb and walk or yell at me for a ride.

A friend of mine told me a lot of batting cages will allow people to bring in their birds for flight exercise. Maybe as he grows his wings out, try that? I'll be calling around myself to see if I can find one.
 

Mizzely

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My Jardine's wasn't clipped but he was confined to a small cage where he could not fully extend his wings. He will fly if spooked but otherwise he climbs everywhere. I would not call him acrobatic... Last time he landed on a very confused dog.
 

Toy

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My previous B&G Macaw could turn on a dime when flying thru the house. She chose to walk around the house tho. In summer I clipped her so I could take her outside on the porch, to events, etc. She refused to wear a harness. I'd toss her in the back yard & she'd fly a good 10-20 feet before landing. In winter I'd fly her thru the house once her flights grew back in.

I'd suggest trying to do wing flapping exercises. It will help build up the wing muscles they not only use for flight & landing, but balance as well. Hold your bird on your hand, grip his feet with your thumb, & move slowly up/down to make him flap. Walk thru your house while holding him up so he flaps & then carefully land/place him on a perch, his cage, or the back of a chair. That way he learns to not only fly, but land as well. Landing is the hardest part for them to learn. Keep sessions to a few minutes daily.
 

Sarahmoluccan

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My rehomed Umbrella cockatoo also only ever flys when he's spook. I've heard of rescued or rehomed birds learning to fly again but only handful of stories. So its possible but I think its really rare.

Personally I'd tried to get him to use his wings even if he doesn't fly. Echo likes to be swung around in big circles and flap his wings when I doing. It's a bit tricky to figure if they like this kind of thing. I can't fully remember how I figured out Echo liked it. But I'd start with smaller movements of your arm and see how he reacts. And gradually increase your movements he's having a good time. Some birds like to bounce on arms too.

That said I would work on really creating a bond and trust with before you start any of that. Ultimately it will come down to whether or not he'll enjoy that kind of thing. I think it's good to push your bird a little out of their comfort zone but not so much that break trust. And also if they are truly not enjoying something not to push it any further.
 

Pixiebeak

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My old quaker had been clipped all her life, and was an old lady , had wing restrictions. It took a few years but she became a pretty decent flier , would choose to fly from place to place . But she couldn't really change directions much while on the wing . I was so very proud of her!
My vet had me do very mild physical therapy with her wings in the beginning to help with structure, but never thought Penny would be able to fly so well, we were just hoping for flutters so would not fall like a rock
 

MommyBird

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My BFA male came to me in his 20s from exile in a garage and small cage.
He never had flown but wasn't clipped. He didn't even understand the concept of a perch because he only had 1. Never stepped onto another.
His first flight I thought he was going to have a heart attack from the exertion.
It got better -and watching his graceful, controlled flights and his powerful takeoffs from the floor are some of my best memories.
 

Tazlima

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It's doable, but it won't be a fast process.

Think, for a moment, about how and when humans learn to speak.

As kids, our bodies and brains are optimized to learn language. We pick up vocabulary at an amazing rate, and instinctively grasp not only words, but how they fit together, and how to produce the sounds and rhythm and intonation of the local dialect.

Learning a language as an adult is a whole other experience. We have to learn not only the new language, but how to learn a new language, because we've lost the neuroplasticity that made it so easy and natural. We don't pick up words nearly as quickly, and no matter how fluent you get, you may always have an accent. In rare cases where someone never learned a first language in that important window, the challenges are even greater.

There's a similar developmental period in which we learn to walk, and birds learn to fly. If, for some reason, that window is missed, just like language, it can still be learned, but it will be much more difficult, and they may never achieve fluency.

They'll fly with an accent.

A bird learning to fly is learning more than just the mechanics of getting from point A to point B. They need extra strength to ascend and extra control to descend. They train their vision to see the world at high speed, and train their minds to react to what they're seeing. Flight is also an all-or-nothing sort of deal. Yes, they can hold a perch and flap to build muscle, but when they're in the air, there are no training wheels. They have to launch themselves, and a bird who has learned that launch = painful crash, isn't going to want to take that risk.

The biggest challenge, then, isn't one of mechanical ability, but of confidence and being willing to attempt flight, even when they know they might fail.

My TAG, Boo, came to me at 11 years old. She has full wings, but had never learned to fly and refused to try.

On the advice of someone from this forum, I set up her space so that her food was on a stand separate from the cage. (in our case, the stand sat on a plastic bin, with a 2nd plastic bin in between the food stand and the cage. To reach the food, she had to wall across both bins, including stepping across the dip where the two bins touched.

Once she was comfortable with this setup, I started to very slowly separate the bins. First just a centimeter, so she could still step across easily, but could see the floor below. Then a bit more, and a bit more. Each change, we left it as-is until she was confident and comfortable before moving on. I think it took about 4-6 months for her to do her first flapping jump to cross the space.

It's been a few years now. She's come a long way, and is now fairly comfortable with flying to and from the bins (we've done a variety of configurations as we've slowly increased the difficulty level - sometimes finding a new configuration that is the right balance of challenging but doable is tricky).

Her most recent achievement is managing to turn for the first time. Not a sharp turn, but even curving her flight path a little is something she never worked out before. The other thing I'm seeing for the first time, just recently, is the willingness to try, fail, and then try again. She has learned how to land without crashing, which makes all the difference, especially for a heavy-bodied bird like a grey, where crashes are more likely to result in pain and injury.

(Some people have success training their birds by gently tossing them onto a bed or other soft surface, so they can practice without risk of injury. I tried to get Boo to do that sort of thing, but she wasn't having it, and pushing would have destroyed her trust in me, so it wasn't an option in our particular case).

She still has so far to go, but the changes we've seen in her as she's learned to fly have been mental as much as physical. She's more confident and more playful and more mischievous, and we love it.
 
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Emma&pico

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