Archive for the Recall Category

The Imaginarium

Posted in African Grey, Birds, Cage set up, Chloe, Chop, Cleaning, Education, Enrichment, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Nutrition, Patricia Sund, Recall, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Simba, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2010 by angelsofflight

When I set out on this little adventure of building The Imaginarium I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking.  My father is an old man and really doesn’t use the downstairs of his house.  In fact he doesn’t even like to bend or climb stairs so it’s undeniably ridiculous that he built a 2-story house.  However, it benefited me and my flock.  While still in the beginning stages, I have cleaned up the cement slab and all that was “stuck” to it.  Some green slimy stuff and threw all the old decrepit furniture that he was saving (for god knows what) to the curb side for pick-up.  Now I have begun setting the stage for The Imaginarium.

The Imaginarium - After clean up

I chose the name, The Imaginarium, instead of simply saying “My Aviary” for the simple reason that not only do my birds need an Aviary, but I need some peace as well.  Here I will be able to relax, reflect, be alone or with friends, dream, escape and simply imagine.  I’ve added a few little friends to the landscaping.  There is “Diva: The Pink Gecko” for some character and of course the faithful “St. Francis” to watch over the birds and I while we are in The Imaginarium.  I imagined the most beautiful sanctuary complete with music, wind chimes, lush green trees, beautiful colorful flowers, and a small vegetable garden with herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and a few others I have yet to pick out.  It is a work in progress for sure.

St. Francis: To watch over my flock

Diva: The Pink Gecko

So needless to say, my 2 non-flyers are enjoying the scenery for the moment until the fencing is put up.  I’ve already started sitting out there with Chloe and Simba and imagining the day away.  Simba and Chloe have become really good friends.  They dance and sing together to the playlist I made for Angels Of Flight Productions.  It has all the music from all of our videos on it and a few Jimmy Buffet songs as well as Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” which has quickly adapted as the motto for hanging out at The Imaginarium.  There’s a big wooden sign going up on the wall with that motto on it.

Chloe & Simba: Enjoying the late afternoon

Chloe & Simba: Hanging out after a bath

I am anxiously awaiting the actual fence to go up.  The materials should be here sometime this week.  My contractor assures me that it will be finished by next weekend.  I can’t wait to let Kacey and Zazu out in it.  I love watching them hang upside down on their perches and do all the comical Macaw stuff.  I can only imagine what there going to do with a 20′ x 12′ x 11.5′ Imaginarium.  The possibilities are totally endless.  I’ll be blogging most of the construction and doing some video too.  But for now…relax, pour yourself a “Green Parrot” cocktail, kick off your flip flops and imagine…

Advertisements

A Year In The Making

Posted in Birds, Chloe, Education, Enrichment, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Nutrition, Recall, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu at 16 weeks old

The  day my life was blessed by a little Blue and Gold Macaw was June 13, 2009.  She was 16 weeks old and for some reason I was drawn to this little one with 3 of her toes missing instead of the cosmetically perfect other young Macaws that  happened to be at Sue’s aviary.  I always wanted a baby of my own.  I had seen all the bonding and fun people around me had with their baby birds that I never got to experience.  Not that I am complaining about being the permanent rescue home for Kacey and Chloe but, I just wanted a baby to call my own and that would have the same home for the rest of my natural life…and one I could train properly with no hangups.  I guess you could say I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about.  I realized, there is no difference except in patience.

Kacey: The Mistress Of Mayhem

Kacey was by far my biggest challenge.  It took 9 months of training and getting to know her before she trusted me and I trusted her.  She was my first big bird and she will remain with me until I no longer exist.  She tests my patience on a daily basis to see if I will still respond.  Every now and then she will snap at me through the bars of her cage…I suppose it’s sort of a game to her to see if I still love her.  The snap comes and then the scratching of her head to say “YooHoo…I Love You…”  she’s very comical in her testing, I think that’s one of things I love about her so much.  She’s a content bird now and I adore her as my first child.  She’s a very independent bird…unlike the others.  She has adapted well to my fascination with different species and has excepted her other 2 sisters and her brother.  After all she was the only one in my life for a year until Chloe entered the scene.

"Lady Chloe"

Chloe was a sweetheart of a bird…she was  a barber of her wing feathers and every now and then would hit a blood feather that scared the wits out of me.  Back to the computer for more research.  This time I was searching for remedies on feather picking and barbering.  I quickly realized, there’s nothing much I could do except love this sweet beautiful bird who would eventually most likely start picking at other areas as well.  She has now started picking at her chest instead of her wings and I am once again beside myself.  I haven’t changed anything so my wits are strung out again.  I try everyday on a daily basis to help and correct it but this habit is stemmed from something much deeper than before I had her…I will never know Chloe’s whole true story.  All I know now is that she is loved by me and I will take the best care of her I can.

Now…a year after enters the famous Zazu

My friends have enthusiastically watched Zazu grow up on Facebook.  From the awkward, wing clipped, clumsy little Macaw with only 5 toes collectively to the magnificent Blue and Gold Angel she has become over the past year.  This past Wednesday (March 17, 2010…St. Patrick’s Day) was her 1 year birthday…we call it a hatch day.  I look back over the last year to see all that has gone on…  The controversy of me recalling a wing clipped bird at the beach, the fact that she was a baby and not a “real” rescue, the decision to harness train her or not, how to feed her, what to feed her…everyone has their opinion and I took all of those opinions and made my own opinion out of it.  With the help of  few trust worthy friends and a strong heart and mind, Zazu has turned into a dream come true.

Targeting started at the onset of my time with Zazu.  The first night I got her home, I was mixing formula and BOOM…I had a 16 week old Macaw recalling to me…yes it was because she was hungry…and no that is not how I trained her in the months that followed.  I was fortunate enough to know that she had fledged before her wing feathers were hacked so I did have a bit of an advantage.  The following months, once again, brought alot of online research, opinions, and training.  I started inside the confines of my home for the first 3-4 months and then ventured outside.  This was the scary part…although I had all the confidence in the world with Zazu’s and my relationship, accidents can happen.  I was getting the guidance I needed by a well-known trainer and without his help I would have never even thought about doing this.  Her first recalls were in the backyard…a place her and I were familiar with and where I knew if an accident should occur, I would be able to retrieve her.  These training, targeting (on ground and in flight) and recall sessions in the backyard went on for about 2-3 more months with the same sessions going on inside as well.

Let’s jump to the 6 month mark…the first outdoor experience in recall and target training away from the house.

Zazu recalling at the beach

Zazu had become confident as well as I had on the recall and targeting so I decided to take her to the beach one early morning.  Packed up with water, treats and a few birdie friends with their birds, we headed to Port Royal Beach in Naples, Florida on a Sunday morning.  I started out slow with some ground targeting work in the sand for about 20-30 minutes then we graduated to a few recalls ascending off the ground.  As the morning went on, we were recalling off the pilings on the edge of the shore and just had a grand old time.  Zazu was confident and bold and never skipped a beat or a perfect landing.  As the next 6 months went on, friendships were diminished, relationships were severed, and jobs were lost but the one thing that stayed constant was my relationship with Zazu.  She has always been there for me and has never disappointed me.  During the recall training process people kept telling me…be careful, are you worried she’ll fly off and never come back…so forth and so on.  Yes, of course that weighs in the back of my mind. But, with proper training and all the elements that come with proper training such as: Positive Reinforcement, Operant Conditioning, Food Management, etc. the scenario of Zazu flying off and never coming back under normal circumstances are highly unlikely.

Enter…the spook flight…

About a month ago Zazu  and I were having our normal training session in the backyard.  This consists of a few obstacles that I make her overcome on a daily basis such as flying down off the second story deck of the house while I stand in the backyard and recall her…as well as flying into and out of our favorite oak tree that I climb with her as well and have her target to the different branches downward for a safe recall land.  I live behind a middle school and take into account the different times that the kids are changing classes because they can be a distraction sometimes…I learned that this distraction needs to be dealt with.  This one particular day I did not time the distraction correctly and the physical education teacher decided to hold his class in the back of the school near my training session with Zazu.  A flood of children came running across the field and spooked Zazu into our training oak tree in the lot next door.  This wouldn’t have unnerved me as much as the fact that the spook flight occurred off the second story deck.  As I was frantically making sure I knew exactly where she landed I was thankful she targeted to her second obstacle.  Although watching her fly across the field was beautiful I do believe my heart skipped a beat as I walked calmly across the field.  Equipped with a referee whistle and a whole almond (her jackpot emergency recall treat) I could see exactly in the tree where she landed and, gave a quick chirp of the whistle, and a reinforcing “Come here Zazu”, she flew down out of the tree effortlessly, instantly on cue and directly into my hand.  Upon her landing I was greeted with an enthusiastic Macaw “Hi!!”  and a beak snuggle into my neck.  This particular recall could not have been achieved without proper training…and the circumstances could have been alot worse.  This has not stopped our training outside and now after a few sessions of training during the class change at the school, her distraction has turned around to a concentrated effort.  Zazu is by far the smartest Macaw I ever met…I may have that opinion because she is mine but she is very attentive and her concentration and willingness to work to get the job done is far more than I ever expected.

With only 3 more wing feathers on each side to grow out since that first and only hacking…and a year of training under our belt, she just celebrated her 1st birthday.  She gets stronger and more skills everyday.  Turns and banks on a dime like a Cessna and soars like an Eagle…The making of the past year has been one hell of an experience with Zazu…I am enthusiastically looking forward to the next as well as I think Zazu is too…

Zazu and Me: Best Friends Forever

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcloa1_angels-of-flight-the-ambassadors_animals

Harness That Bird!!!!

Posted in Birds, Education, Enrichment, Recall, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu...Unharnessed at the beach.

When it comes to harness training I have mixed feelings.  Some birds need it and some birds don’t.  If you are going to keep your birds fully flighted and train them for recall and free flight then the proper skills  need to be obtained, therefore removing the need for a harness.  However, there are those people that don’t train for such things but want to give their birds the opportunity to fly and that’s ok too.  Within the confines of a large aviary or in a well planned and thought out home catered towards your birds, training for flight can be very rewarding.  As far as the harness goes, some people use it for extra precaution when going to town or on vacation with their bird even though the bird is highly trained and a motivated flyer…this is acceptable as well.  However, if a harness is not used properly it is detrimental.  It can damage a birds crop, back, wings and possibly have fatal effects on your feathered companion.  For instance, it is heartbreaking and I cringe when I see a flighted bird on a harness, it is allowed to take off at full speed just to be pulled back by the person holding the other end and then hits the ground with an amazing “THUMP”.  Talk about damage!!!  Now you’ve #1…Ruined his self confidence about flying, #2…Choked the hell out of his crop and possibly damaged something and #3…possibly cracked his keel bone!!  Yeah!!  That’s Positive Reinforcement!!  For the seasoned harness users this could make you want to smack the person upside the head and wrap a dog collar around their neck attached to a leash and send them off the Empire State Building…but in a perfect society we can’t do that!

"Daphne" (Barb Saunders' D2) recalls on a harness

My friend Barb Saunders, author of BarbsBirdsandAviary, uses a harness on her birds when traveling on vacation and talk about a seasoned harness user…the woman knows EVERYTHING about using a harness (she taught me a few tricks when I used to use one with Zazu).  Her birds are trained for recall.  She is very cautious where she recalls her birds eliminating the startle flight as much as possible and just having fun.  In this case a harness is, in my opinion, a grand little accessory.  She is able to set her bird down and recall it in short flights off a railing, a rock, etc.  She doesn’t send her birds flying into the air just to retract them back.  The harness in this case is used properly without any damage to the bird and training has been obtained to make sure both Barb and her birds are safe. “Daphne”, Barbs’ Ducorps Cockatoo was trained at the early age of 3 months old to wear a harness.  This is an important factor.  While Barb has eliminated the use of harnessing, Daphne is a seasoned veteran when it comes to a harness and if need be will wear one without any fuss.  You can’t just slap on a harness and expect your feathered baby to enjoy wearing one!!  It is a patient process and one that needs to be introduced slowly.

Zazu wore a harness in the early stages of her training.

When I was initially training Zazu on her jump flights I admit I used a harness a couple of times.  This was in the early stages of her outdoor training away from her comfort zone and I didn’t want my young (baby) bird to get startled and fly off into a parking lot and get hit by a car…I’m sure you could understand that.  As the months went on, her confidence built as well as mine with different outings and socialization such as the beach, work, and outdoor restaurants.  Therefore I removed the harness after training her to fly down 25 feet out of an oak tree and off the roof of the house…just in case these issues ever came up.  Mind you, those were scary training sessions and SHOULD NOT be done without the help and guidance of a professional.  When going to work she would take off when I called her and fly from the register area to the aquatics department landing safely and securely in the palm of my hand…this is now a properly trained bird at 10 months old.  I have all the confidence in the world with her and I do not use a harness on her at all anymore…it’s my preference.  Her wing feathers are growing out nicely as well and training continues on a daily basis.  As she acquires more wing feathers, she acquires more height and more distance therefore increasing the training for recall.

Zazu...in flight during recall training at the beach.

In one of my seminars I did “Advanced Avian Education” I touched on the recall method and use of a harness.  Obviously there is always that one bad apple in the bushel so trying to convince this man that keeping his Ducorps Cockatoo fully flighted when she was just used as an accessory in his home to make it look more tropical was a bad idea…he found an invitation for an argument…and so my point began.  If you randomly let your bird fly with no recall training, food management, enrichment, positive reinforcement, and so on…you are headed for no where except disaster.  Trying to explain that to this man was a losing battle for me so I finished our argument by giving him my phone number and telling him to give me a call when his bird was up in a 25 foot tree and wouldn’t come down.  Funny thing is, I got a call from his wife 2 weeks later frantically telling me their bird was on the roof of their house and they couldn’t get her down.  They opted for me to teach them about harness training…hummm.

Barb harnesses her birds while on vacation.

So when it comes to wearing a harness…I am all for them providing they are used correctly, maintained in condition, used for the proper purpose, and the bird is trained to wear them (Yes…you need to train your bird to wear them or they think it’s another “scud missile” coming at them from afar!!!).  There are a variety of harnesses to choose from however, Barb and I choose the aviator harness which is available online or through your local pet supply store.  This is a fantastic little tool…use it wisely…PLEASE!!!!

The Fundamentals Of Being A Baby

Posted in Birds, Education, Enrichment, Macaw, Recall, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu

Although I have no human children of my own, I do know what it is like to be a mom and hear those first words spoken by my baby blue and gold macaw…Zazu.  The first time I heard her say “Hi” in the sweetest little baby macaw voice I got tears in my eyes.  Then came “Hi Mom” and now she promptly tells the dogs “Outside!”. and may I say it’s a very forceful tone.  Her constant chatter of mumbling and a “Hi” in every other mumble leads me to believe she is going to be an avid talker.

While most of you know that I have been recall training Zazu since the day I brought her home at 16 weeks old…you also know that I never say “Step Up” to her…it’s always “Come Here”.  Well, now she tells me to “Come Here”.  This is her little signal to me to say “I am ready for a training session”.  While we train she usually does her funny quirky things like roll over on her back, play dead and all the good things in a training session.  However there is one hysterical thing she does that just gets me everytime…she takes a 50 foot flight to me from the top of her cage, lands ever so gracefully in the palm of my hand and says with a big bold baby macaw voice “Hi!!!”  It’s the funniest thing I have ever encountered and to tell you the truth with her quirky little attitude, it’s just that much more funny (I have yet to be able to catch it on tape).

Favorite things to do...PLAY!!!

Another favorite...EAT!!!

While yes, birds do mimic what people say…they also seem to know and understand what the words mean.  More or less how to get a reaction out of you that they want.  For instance, when Zazu wants to come out of her cage, she’ll say “Come Here”…instead of a constant screaming and screeching.  She knows she gets more attention with a kind “Hi” instead of a 3000 decibel anxious scream.  Thank goodness cause that’s enough to knock you off your rocker when you got three of them going all at once!

I think the most fun of owning and raising a baby bird would have to be watching the development and enrichment that they totally get off on!  When Zazu finally gets a trick like dunking the basketball, the excitement she displays is amazing!!  She is so proud of herself and she knows her jackpot treat is waiting for her…she flaps those wings and then comes the “Hi!!!…Hi!!!…Hi!!!”  I am thoroughly impressed with her and she knows it…maybe sometimes I get overly enthusiastic with her but for the most part, it is definitely a bond that cannot be broken!

Zazu and I having a pep talk at the beach

I would have to say that my journey with Zazu as my first baby has been extraordinary.  It is filled on a daily basis of learning, teaching, excitement and fun but most of all love.  My love for my birds is an undieing one…a love that NO ONE can take away from me and an unbelievable learning experience of patience, kindness and heartfelt emotions.  They amaze me everyday…especially Zazu.  Her flicking of her wing to get my attention, her little gestures and sounds, trying to figure out what she is mumbling to see what her next word will be are just a few of the wonderful things life has to offer when we are together.  She helps me wash the dinner dishes by taking the clean pots and pans and throwing them to the tile floor…I think this is her way of putting them in the so called “floor cabinet”.  When drying the dinner dishes she seems to think that the drying towel is a peek-a-boo toy that she sticks her head under and yells “Hi!!” in a classic macaw voice.  The faucet of spraying water is a whole other world for her…she jumps in the sink and begins the ever popular macaw water dance as only they can do…SHAKE YOUR TAIL FEATHER SISTER!!!  The comical acts of a baby macaw are a fascinating thing…especially the wall paper of flung food like a scud missill…when you can actually hear the “thud” of food hitting the wall you know they are enjoying what you’ve given them for dinner.

She NEVER disappoints me!!

I’ve learned in the past that if you love something…set it free…if it comes back to you it was meant to be.  As much freedom and flight as I give Zazu…she has never disappointed me and she has always come back on recall.  She is an amazing friend, confidant and companion.  Life is a journey…especially when you own a baby Macaw!!! For your viewing pleasure…here’s a little video dedicated to my “Superstar”…enjoy!!