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Some Outdoor Dangers for Birds

Holiday

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Some Outdoor Dangers for Birds

Many of us wish our birds could spend some or more time outdoors with the sun shining on their feathers and the wind blowing on their faces. In many ways, there's nothing more beautiful. After all, it is part of their birthright as birds. Often our companion birds are in an environment that is not entirely friendly to them as non-native species, and taking them out into that environment may pose more or less of a risk to their safety, depending on the approach we employ (whether they are harnessed, for example, or properly and effectively recall-trained) and local and individual factors (whether we live in a rural or urban area, for instance, or what sorts and numbers of predators are around). I have a great deal of respect for those professionals who do recall training under the proper controlled conditions, but many owners are not aware of how much actually goes into this or what the risks could be. Whether or not we choose to take our companion birds outside with or without a harness, or inside a carrier, with clipped wings or without, is a personal choice, and no amount of browbeating is likely to change our views on the topic. However, as a responsible and experienced bird community, we should make safety and danger information available, and since sometimes the people who take the most risks are the people who are relatively new to parrot ownership and have not had the benefit of the years of watching tragedies occur that others of us have had, I am posting this information, so that they will have all the data to make an informed decision.

Here are a few cautionary examples that come to mind for me, and might be useful for others. Of course, our members are welcome to ignore or take this information to heart, just as they feel it is relevant or not for their situations. My intent is not to target or preach to those who have done differently from myself, but merely to provide some informative examples (among the many that could be provided) FWIW:

Birds Flying Away from Owners:

While I've seen and heard of dozens of examples of this, one of the most heartbreaking examples, for me, was the example of African Grey Tui, who flew away from a well-known, dedicated owner who was attempting to recall train her outdoors, because of some irresponsible so-called "expert" free-flight training information he had been studying and emulating. Tui's owner was a shining example of a loving and wonderful bird owner, who posted delightful, informative videos about his life with his parrot, and many of us shed tears with him when we realized that Tui was gone forever. He bravely keeps this video online for others to see so that they may learn from his mistake:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKlxjZQUueQ

Hawk Attacks:

Hawks are beautiful, effective predators, and as someone who has lived in a midwestern farming community for much of my life, I have an excellent sense of just how effective they can be if they should identify a bird or other pet or livestock animal as a prey item (something that they might not immediately do if it is a non-native species with which they are not familiar). Hawks hunt from above and strike by burying their talons in the vulnerable backs or sides of the prey species. This means that there is usually no time or opportunity for the targeted species to defend themselves with their beaks. Large hawks routinely take larger prey birds in nature, like pheasants or young turkeys. They can even take sizeable mammals like young deer:

*Warning: Graphic Video Content*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p59sPy9dpFE
Prey too large to be carried off is ripped apart on site or carried off in smaller pieces. I have personally witnessed a hawk attacking a full-grown rooster with spurs on an Ohio farm, but they will attack a variety of species of birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Please note that the presence of a human guardian may not dissuade the hawk from attacking the parrot if the hawk does indeed see the parrot as a suitable target. Here is footage from a popular animal network that features a hawk attacking a Moluccan Cockatoo. Luckily, the trainer takes the brunt:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikDpYwDKQ_A
This is not a freak example. A couple of years ago, an analysis of the droppings of peregrine falcons in London, UK, found that an African Grey had recently been on the menu (Chris Packham: Born to be wild - Nature - Environment - The Independent).

My goal in providing this information is merely to make our members aware that such things can and do occur, not to promote fearmongering or to cast aspersions on individuals. If the information is not available, how are we to make informed decisions? And, if, after seeing this information, members decide it is not applicable to their situations, that is up to them. This is merely about providing information about which some of our members may not be aware.
 

sodakat

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I lost a CAG outdoors about 10 years ago because I was ignorant. Maui paid a terrible price for my foolishness. Her wings were clipped but of course she could still fly. I hated putting on her harness because she would bite me so badly each time. I waited by the tall tree urging her down for 3 days. Finally she followed me home, flying above me. This was a bird who had not flown in a couple years and probably had 2 intact primaries at that time. She was more than capable of gaining height and flying quite a distance. She landed in a tree on the edge of my yard and I ran to get a ladder. I couldn't reach her and she wouldn't come down. Then the wind came up and she was off again. This time I lost her completely. I walked the trails for 2 weeks calling her. I'm sure she was eventually taken by a hawk because they are thick around here. I didn't even think of them when I took her outside with me unprotected. Now I think of them and notice them all the time. In fact, some days I'll see one of my birds looking up through the glass on the ceiling of the sunroom for a few minutes and if I follow their gaze I can see a hawk circling high, high above us.

Now my birds are all flighted because I know the fallacy of clipping for "safety". When I built my outside aviary this summer I planned for all predators, above and below ground.
 

marian

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Thanks for posting this Holiday.I think your wording on this is so very true.
and since sometimes the people who take the most risks are the people who are relatively new to parrot ownership and have not had the benefit of the years of watching tragedies occur that others of us have had, I am posting this information, so that they will have all the data to make an informed decision.
So much can go wrong so quickly.I don't know how many times over the years, I have heard,"I never thought it would happen to me." Being in rescue for many years my heart broke for a few people. It is the bird that pays the price for this.

Anyway thanks for posting this. Just maybe one person will heed your advice.

That youtube video broke my heart.
 
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Ribbit21

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That first you tubevideo was heart breaking. I cringe every time I hear about birds being outside without a harness or in a cage. It's not a risk I would ever be willing to take. To me it's the same as putting yourself or your kids in the car without a seat belt. Sure, you might be fine with it for years, but it's that one time that can mean life or death.
 

ThatDarnBird

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The hawks really scare me. I stopped taking my birds out for walks in their pak o bird carriers because we have so many hawks. I knew that if a hawk decided to go after the budgies I would not see it coming and the nylon mesh would not protect them.
 

penny'smom

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I feel like I've gained some of the benefit of others' many years simply by reading the forum. There are certain types of stories that come up frequently enough that I cannot dismiss them as a "freak" occurrence, but rather a true danger. I've also read about enough accidents to know that anything can happen, even in ideal circumstances. I am grateful to all those who post their stories so that others can learn from what has happened.
 

SandraK

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Birds of prey are my biggest nightmare where I live. While I admire them (hard not to) I've seen a Cooper hawk on our back deck as well as watched a pair of redtail hawks raise their young in their nest 2 houses down from ours. I've also seen what looked like a nighthawk zipping around our house. My birds wouldn't stand a chance if they got out.

The video of the hawk attacking the cockatoo hit close to home as a friend, Pat, has a couple of toos. Whenever I've run into her with a too on her arm she spends most of the time looking up at the sky; she's always said that she does that because hawks are known for snatching toos and your video proved how quickly it could come about. Not having the presence of mind to shield your bird with your body would mean instant injury and death to the too. :(

I also know for a fact that the hawks are around even if I haven't heard or seen them - every now and then on an oh-so-peaceful morning or afternoon everyone in the bird room freaks out and they all jump/fly as if there are demons after them. And when I've looked I'll catch the shadow of a large bird flying over or through our back garden. The other dead give-away is when the bird feeder/sue plug stations are all of a sudden empty and the squirrels are hiding under the barbecue.

I've done the stupid things like taking some of my birds outside without a harness and have had to retrieve 1 three times and another 1 once (what can I say, I'm a slow learner?). Though I've been lucky and didn't lose anyone those times I don't take anyone outside anymore unless they're in a carrier or a locked down cage.
 
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lupe

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I am so grateful for this information. Since I am new to birds with a young U2 to boot..I
have taken this to heart & NO LONGER take him outside (even clipped) anymore. I am waiting
for the harness to arrive. And even in the city I live in there are (just saw one on Sunday)
chicken hawks. But thanks to AA & I"ve learned & now know better..I LUV MY ELVIS>>:omg:
 

merlinsmom13

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When I first got Merlin, I took him outside w/o a harness that 1st spring :eek: You know he was clipped & couldnt fly :rolleyes: Something spooked him & away he went, I was able to get him back, but it could have turned out very differently :'-(. A great reminder :)
 

DQTimnehs

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Good reminders, Holiday! Both of those videos made me cry.

I also lost a bird outside, a TAG (Pogo). I didn't take him out but carelessly opened the door while he was out of his cage thinking he wouldn't fly out because he never had before. He was clipped but had a couple flight feathers growing in. He flew right over me, probably trying to fly to me, but kept going as I was bent over putting a bag in the compost bin. He was at roof height when I looked up to see him flying away. I looked for him for 2 days and nights and never caught a glimpse of him nor heard him make any noise. I found him dead 2 days later on a roof 13 houses down where I passed by many many times in those 2 days looking and calling for him. He was probably too afraid to make any noise.
It's been almost 2 years but the pain has not gone away. :( I would not wish that experience on anyone.
 

marian

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That first you tubevideo was heart breaking. I cringe every time I hear about birds being outside without a harness or in a cage. It's not a risk I would ever be willing to take. To me it's the same as putting yourself or your kids in the car without a seat belt. Sure, you might be fine with it for years, but it's that one time that can mean life or death.
exactly keri
 

sodakat

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Birds of prey are my biggest nightmare where I live. While I admire them (hard not to) I've seen a Cooper hawk on our back deck as well as watched a pair of redtail hawks raise their young in their nest 2 houses down from ours. I've also seen what looked like a nighthawk zipping around our house. My birds wouldn't stand a chance if they got out.

The video of the hawk attacking the cockatoo hit close to home as a friend, Pat, has a couple of toos. Whenever I've run into her with a too on her arm she spends most of the time looking up at the sky; she's always said that she does that because hawks are known for snatching toos and your video proved how quickly it could come about. Not having the presence of mind to shield your bird with your body would mean instant injury and death to the too. :(
I *think* the guys who free fly their large birds in Utah do it there because of the lack of predators as well as the lack of trees. Easier to get a bird back if there is nothing tall for it to land on. I would love to free fly my birds but would never do it where I live. A gymnasium seems about right! :D
 

lupe

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I cant explain the joy and love I feel for Elvis..already!! It would totally break my heart
to loose him in anyway...Never imagined how we can bond to birds so deeply..but it
happend to me~~:heart:
 

Bridgette

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Hawks are very scary.

Last summer, I took Kiwi outside for a walk. A big bird (not a hawk) flew overhead. As always, Kiwi was on his harness. But seeing the shadow of the *much* larger bird scared him and he panicked. He took off, reached the end of his harness, and fell to the concrete. Thank goodness he was okay.

The purpose for this story is to show that, even if your parrot isn't actually attacked by a larger bird, they can easily be spooked and take off. Kiwi has been going out on a harness since I got him but he still gets spooked once in a while. If he wasn't on his harness that day (which he ALWAYS is outside), he would have been gone for sure.
 

marian

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[QUOTEI cant explain the joy and love I feel for Elvis..already!! It would totally break my heart
to loose him in anyway...Never imagined how we can bond to birds so deeply..but it
happend to me~~:heart:
  • ][/QUOTE]

    Lupe,
    I have alot of respect how you are with Elvis. You don't take those risks with him. :)
 

Deejo

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http://forums.avianavenue.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=1482496&noquote=1http://forums.avianavenue.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=1482496http://forums.avianavenue.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=1482496



[h=2] This is long (sorry!) and very sad.

One of the worst parrot related things I've experienced was with Chic, a Blue Front amazon that an elderly friend of ours had purchased.
[/h] The bird was sold as "fully weaned". That proved to be a lie, the BFA was slowly starving to death, as the old man had no idea what to do.

He called me...I took Chico and started the hand-feeding and weaning process. Chico was a stunning amazon and a joy to hand-feed.
Once fully weaned, Chico went back to his loving owner.

2 years later, the old fellow called me, frantic. Chico had escaped out his front door. It was winter.
Chico was 30' up a tree.

The old fellow called a professional tree climbing service, against my advice.
I KNEW that a stranger approaching would terrify Chico, I knew that bird so well and just knew this was going to end badly. Chico knew me, his owner and a very small number of other people.

No matter how much I begged the old fellow not to proceed, he was frantic about his parrot, it was cold, and it had been 2 days.

Of course, the inevitable happened.
Tree climber went up...Chico panicked....the very second that Chico took flight, an eagle swooped down and snatched Chico in mid-air.

No one had seen the eagle, but we know the eagle must have been waiting close by, biding his time, and took Chico as soon as opportunity arose. The eagle would not have plucked Chico out of the tree, too many branches in the way.

The lesson from this?
Even if you don't see a predator bird...they see your parrot!!!!
And then, it's all over in the blink of eye and there would have been nothing you could have done to prevent it.

Regarding free flying (just my opinion) To free fly your birds, you must accept that there will be losses. May not happen for years, but it will and does. Even the "pro's" in Utah, have losses. Even if it was 1 or 2 losses, I personally can't accept that.
Look at the UK's extensive bird-keeping history. Many UK breeders kept their exotic birds 'at liberty' and they understood and accepted losses.
I have never understood how anyone could risk it, as wonderful as it must be for the bird!!

There's a group in WA state that uses an empty hanger, and flies their birds inside the hanger. I think that's a great way to fly birds!
 

Macawnutz

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There are so many awful stories that we do not have not make these mistakes. We can learn from others without harm to our birds. I too had my military fly quite a distance clipped and she landed in a hayfield. Gave me such a scare that is was the last time she went outdoors uncaged even walking out to her enclosure.

I would also like to add that I have a U2 that broke her wing as a youngster and she could never fly. I take her outside without a harness and have no fear her flying off. (predators yes but not flying off) Nobody knows this because I don't talk or post pictures about it. Why? Because I would never want it to seem like this is a common practice with birds. I would feel awful for a new member to see my pictures and think that they could do it with their bird. We can learn from others, that is the point of AA.

:hehe: On a funny note... ever seen my bird Maui?

IMG_1757.jpg

Even this IMO wears a harness :hehe:

IMG_1862.jpg IMG_1854.jpg
 

waterfaller1

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I almost lost my blue naped mousebird Gryphon to a hawk, many of you remember. He flew to the back of a big loose shirt I had on, and I did not feel him there. I went right out the door to the carport from the birdroom right next to it, to throw away the trash bag I had. I lifted the trashcan lid, it startled him and away he flew around to the back of the house. He was 'playing' in a huge live oak in my backyard. I called my DH to help, and he came home from work. But Gryphon just went higher up to the canopy of this tree.

I spent hours outside with food calling him. He never really left, but would not come down. Then I saw a bird being chased through the trees towards the street out front. It was Gryphon being chased by a hawk!:eek: I ran screaming and the hawk took off. But there was no Gryphon to be found. When I had looked away to run, I thought he must have flown away with him in his talons. I looked and looked at my neighbor's across the street. I went back several times. Judy{greycloud} was on and off the phone with me several times through this whole ordeal. AA's members were praying for his safe return.
Then when I was sure the hawk must have flown off with him, Judy encouraged me to look again. There he was, silent and hiding under a bush. I snatched him up and ran home with him close to my chest and cried my eyes out! I NEVER want to go through something like that again, and have taken a lot more precautions to ensure it never does. My birdroom now has a screen door on it, and I always check and double check where everyone is when the door is opened.
 

lupe

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Gracias...Thanks!~~he IS one of my babies...:heart::o:
 
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