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Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Discuss indoor freeflight and managing freeflighted birds around the house. How to live with a flighted parrot.

Is it better for the parrot to not be clipped and fly?

Yes
34
85%
No
6
15%
 
Total votes : 40

Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby alight15 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:59 am

Michael wrote:It really depends on the species as well. Some parrots are bulky and bad fliers with even full wings while others are sleek and well flighted. A clipped cockatiel or budgie can still fly pretty well. My Senegal parrot was over clipped and she'd fall practically straight down. The flapping only helped reduce the impact but nothing more.


That depends on how they're clipped too...one of our budgies only runs and flaps to get down because of being clipped
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby skthurley » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:48 pm

I believe it is better for a bird to not be clipped, but I understand that not all home are able to provide a bird safe environment.

I will never clip either of my bird's wings, especially my parrotlet's, as the joy and benefits of flight far outweigh the risks. Mr. Ripper is much happier with the ability to fly. He has become a much more vocal and confident bird. He used to be very timid and has now formed opinions about everything lol!
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:31 pm

Well I suppose it depends on what you mean by "better".

I guess I'm going to be the nay-sayer here and I'm NOT very experienced, so take this for what it is worth. The reading I have done suggests that household accidents are the number one killer of pet parrots, and I believe it is MUCH harder to keep a flighted bird safe inside the house. While they are "meant" to fly (as we are "meant" to be naked, barefoot and forage for our own food) nature didn't particularly have houses in mind. If I had the resources to set up a dedicated bird room with enough size to it I might consider letting Scooter grow out his flights, but as it is, he has a clip that limits his range but allows graceful descent -- he has his 3 outer flights on either side so he doesn't particularly look clipped.

I don't have the impression that my bird feels deprived because he is trimmed. He's plenty bold and cheeky as it is! I think he's a lot more likely to live a long, happy life this way, especially given that we have cats in the house as well. I can't imagine trying to cook, work in my studio or anything else with a free-flighted bird in the house. I'd be sure to drown, crush or step on him...

... and I suspect it would also be the case that far fewer birds would have homes, if clipping were to come to be considered cruel. Because very few people, I think, would have the desire and ability to birdproof their entire home and monitor everyone else in the home or visiting it appropriately.

We as a society are on a bit of an extreme "if it is natural, it must be better" kick, and I feel this is likely a situation where that bias comes in to play. It's IMO an over-reaction to technology and chemistry not having solved everything and having made things worse in some cases. It's IMO also throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Nature is red in tooth and claw and rather dangerous besides. SOME things we do that aren't natural actually ARE better. Some are not. It's good to raise the question, but I worry that sometimes we don't really consider the answer but jump to a conclusion based on an arbitrary assumption that nature is kind.
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby Michael » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:55 pm

entrancedbymyGCC wrote:While they are "meant" to fly (as we are "meant" to be naked, barefoot and forage for our own food) nature didn't particularly have houses in mind.
...SOME things we do that aren't natural actually ARE better. Some are not. It's good to raise the question, but I worry that sometimes we don't really consider the answer but jump to a conclusion based on an arbitrary assumption that nature is kind.


While I understand some of the reasons you brought to mind, I definitely disagree with your analogy of comparing to humans. I strongly disagree. You have to understand a bit about bird anatomy to understand this. I'd say that 3/4 of flighted bird anatomy is built around flight. The oxygen exchange systems, the breast muscles, the body temperature, the brain, these are all optimized for flight performance through natural selection. Wearing clothes does not hurt but rather enhances our existence as human beings. Denying a parrot flight I would liken more to denying a person to use their legs until they atrophy or denying the use of arms. Imagine someone having their arms tied behind their back for their entire life. This is a more accurate comparison.

I perfectly well understand why many people would consider it inconvenient to have a flying bird in the house, however, it brings me to question (no offense to you, honestly... just a matter of discussion and philosophy) why people would want a bird at all then? I feel like a dog running around the house is a similar fact of life as a parrot flying about. Yes, we have invented wing clipping and similarly we have invented kennels. Would you advocate keeping a cat/dog in a kennel for 23 hours in a day? Our parrots have much less time to "roam" the house like terrestrial pets tend to have. Then on top of that, people clip their wings. So not only do they spend very little time out of cage, they can't move around very much when they are out. This is a major denial of exercise for an animal that is anatomically built for many hours of physical exertion per day. It's no wonder that they go crazy, develop phobias, feather plucking, aggression, etc.

I will admit that when I bought my parrot I didn't know what I was doing, hadn't really considered the flight options, and didn't plan to have her flighted or not either way. However, as I learned more about parrots and birds in general, I realized that flight is the only way. Keeping them caged for many hours at a time is bad enough but a fact of life for most of us who cannot afford a room or aviary for our parrots. However, not clipping and keeping an eye on them when they are out is the least I think we can do for them as parrot owners. And it's not that big of a sacrifice, believe me. I was worried that when Kili would fly that she would be all over the place and that I would no longer be able to interact with her. This couldn't be further from the truth. She uses her flight to get where she wants to go but then she spends a lot of time just doing her thing and it doesn't hurt our interaction. Heck, she uses her flight to come to me or follow me around most of the time. To get her more exercise I do a lot of recall flight training. Yesterday we did 40 recalls. At an average flight distance of 80 feet (40 feet there and 40 back), that's over half a mile of indoor flight I was able to give her. She's still missing some feathers so that gives her a heck of a work out.

Flight really stimulates their brain. There are so many split second decisions they have to make about steering and navigating around objects. And above all it's fun. Not just for the bird but for us. You can't imagine how much of a thrill it is to "fly your parrot" until you've done it.

While I will agree with you about a lot of natural things being less applicable in an unnatural environment, this is not one I can agree with. Pellets, cages, human interaction, and trick training are all unnatural but I believe they are necessary and provide significant value over trying to keep things natural for parrots in our home. It is my goal to discover everything I can about having a flighted parrot and share with you in order to make it as affordable, realistic, safe, and enjoyable as possible. I've overcome many obstacles for indoor freeflight and I understand that for other folks there could be many more. I hope that by working them out one at a time and having the information freely available that we can change owners minds and give parrots this chance.

The original question was "Regardless of your situation, preference, or capability, ideally do you think it is better for the parrot to not be clipped and be allowed to fly indoors?" This was not meant to be a debate about individual situations but if in theory parrots are better off flying indoors. Are you sure you don't think that (given ideal indoor circumstances) parrots are better off being indoor flighted? For their sake that is, not for ours. Our convenience and ability to handle them really needs to be a different discussion.
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby PRD » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:02 pm

Michael wrote:

Not just for the bird but for us. You can't imagine how much of a thrill it is to "fly your parrot" until you've done it.


I totally agree with this.

The question 'what is better' is interesting. Better for who? For the bird? If the bird is in a non bird safe house its better to clip the bird maybe. But it would be even better if instead of changing the bird changing the environment. The best thing for the bird, in my opinion, is a full flighted bird, in a bird safe environment who has been properly trained.
If i was to believe the people on dutch forums, my vet who is specialised in birds, parrotfoundations who gives courses about holding them as pets, i would have to clip my birds. They all say its better for the bird. That people do it, thats their choise. But to tell people its safer and healtier thats wrong. There is a site where they suggest that a flighted parrot, who flies indoor from a to b, wont get as many excersize as a clipped bird who has to flap its wings more to do the same and gets in a physical better shape then the non clipped bird. What they dont quote is that the full flighted bird can do steep climbs which requires far more effort, steep banks which requires far more effort, tight manoeuvres which requires far more effort. My sun conure flies at least 5 to 10 times more in 1 day then my brown throat conure, who is partially clipped(wingflapper, flies almost always in straight lines) and hasnt mastered the art of flying as well as my sun conure(my sunny is 1 week younger then my browny)
I also emailed the university for animal health in Holland where they run an animalpractise. I asked them if they could tell if there was a significant difference in amounts of people comming in with injured parrots clipped and non clipped? Guess what? No. Its not safer. I wont say it's safer to have a full flight bird, but its kind of unrespectfull for the bird to think its healtier and safer. It took them millions of years to become what they are today, physically, instinctively, mentally. We all know how intelligent these creatures are, ain't it a bit naive to even think it's safer/healtier?
Even though they use their wings to escape in the wild, and they have no enemies in our homes, that doesnt mean they cant feel threatened. If 1 of my birds gives an alarmcall in the kitchen, all the other birds will flee no matter where they are.
Thats how i think about it :D
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:39 pm

Michael wrote:The original question was "Regardless of your situation, preference, or capability, ideally do you think it is better for the parrot to not be clipped and be allowed to fly indoors?" This was not meant to be a debate about individual situations but if in theory parrots are better off flying indoors. Are you sure you don't think that (given ideal indoor circumstances) parrots are better off being indoor flighted? For their sake that is, not for ours. Our convenience and ability to handle them really needs to be a different discussion.


Well, it depends upon what you mean by "in theory". The fact that this topic is in the Freeflight section of the forum suggests that the audience is strongly selected to favor it, so I AM aware I'm being devil's advocate here. And if I'm annoying folks, I'll cease and desist, but there did seem to be a call for some degree of debate on the topic.

Sure, if you have the resources, lifestyle, home space, etc. to make your home totally freeflight safe and friendly I suppose it would be enjoyable and probably healthier for the parrot. But very few people essentially live in an aviary, which is what it seems to me it would take. So I think for most parrot owners, the odds of the bird having a good long healthy and happy life are greater if flight is restricted -- assuming other exercise and mental stimulation are available and that the clip is one which does allow a soft landing and some maneuverability. In a sense, I'm saying that I don't think think the concept of "theoretically better" has much applicability to real world decision making. At some level it's such a slam dunk it is meaningful. (And there ARE people who would claim that wearing clothes and especially running shoes has done us more harm than good, FWIW. Check out the recent book "Born to Run").

Seems to me it's a bit like the barefoot horse arguments. Sure, if your horse has good feet and you live where the horse can have free turnout on the right kind of footing (rocky and dry) and that the horse is ridden on the right kind of footing, it can be better for foot and leg health. With a great deal of effort, it may be possible to make it work in other settings, by finding a way to put the horse on pea gravel 24/7 and using protective lash-on boots working in abrasive sand. On the other hand, there are tons of people with horses living on nice soft shavings in stalls in urban L.A. and working in abrasive sand arenas who have chronically lame horses because they insist that it is "better" for the horse to be barefoot, despite the obvious evidence that there horse is suffering discomfort as a result of their efforts. The judgment of what is "better" has to take into account what is reasonably achievable in terms of environment and what support the human can reasonably provide. And sometimes "better" IMO is something different from "striving for ideal and not quite making it".

But hey, I'm a newbie bird owner, so take it for what it is worth.
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby Michael » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:24 pm

entrancedbymyGCC wrote:
Michael wrote:Well, it depends upon what you mean by "in theory". The fact that this topic is in the Freeflight section of the forum suggests that the audience is strongly selected to favor it, so I AM aware I'm being devil's advocate here. And if I'm annoying folks, I'll cease and desist, but there did seem to be a call for some degree of debate on the topic.


I have not the slightest problem with some friendly debate. This helps ideas form and brings out justification and explanations for perceived concepts. This is totally fine. Although I'm really trying to start by establishing whether or not people see value (to the parrot) from indoor freeflight regardless of their convenience/situation. Then the follow up discussion would be based on their circumstances. If we can establish that yes freeflight is good and it is difficult in their circumstances, we can try to see if there is any advice or compromises we can offer to help the parrot owner achieve a flighted parrot. However, if we can honestly establish that freeflight provides NO value or even harm, then there would not be a need for follow up.

Personally I believe the value of freeflight is less debatable than other "unnatural things." There is certainly debate and supporting evidence that an all pellet diet could possibly be better than fresh veggies, etc. There is a lot of room for debate whether or not natural is better. This isn't a debate about food but I think there is more room for a two sided debate than here. Of course I FULLY understand that if the household environment would pose a life threat to the parrot, the value of freeflight would be negated. However, I am trying to establish with this discussion if in general freeflight is beneficial to the parrot. Then we can look at circumstances that could affect it.

entrancedbymyGCC wrote:Sure, if you have the resources, lifestyle, home space, etc. to make your home totally freeflight safe and friendly I suppose it would be enjoyable and probably healthier for the parrot.


Thank you, this is the point I am trying to establish. The other things we can certainly debate. I am just trying to find out if someone genuinely thinks that flight is not better than clipped for a parrot. As I said, if we all accept freeflight as healthier, then we can analyze the environmental factors and how they would affect freeflight. Perhaps in the home you live in there is absolutely NO chance of freeflight but at least if we have these discussions you could be open minded toward the concept and keep it in mind if you ever move. I think this is also good for people who have not bought a parrot yet to help them evaluate their situation and if a flighted companion is best for them. Finally, I think that by having these discussions, and if we can mutually conclude that freeflight is generally a better/healthier way of life for the parrot, then we can give people the knowledge to safely pursue it.

entrancedbymyGCC wrote:But very few people essentially live in an aviary, which is what it seems to me it would take. So I think for most parrot owners, the odds of the bird having a good long healthy and happy life are greater if flight is restricted -- assuming other exercise and mental stimulation are available and that the clip is one which does allow a soft landing and some maneuverability.


Well what does this mean? In order to evaluate what makes a suitable home for a flighted parrot we should get the scope on the homes people live in. That will be another topic in itself. I think you over estimate the constraints of a flighted parrot home. I think the worst enemy (aside from some toxic items which really shouldn't be left out whether you have pets or not) are actually other people. I think having flighted pets in a home with many (or few but irresponsible) people because drastically more difficult. Even if the parrot owner does everything right, there is a much greater likelihood that someone else will forget a door open or something like that. I think it's much easier (with some special exceptions) to manipulate the home environment than other people in the household to make it safe for parrots.

I know nothing about horses so I won't comment on the horse analogy. I'm not saying that I disagree that in unnatural circumstances we often need to take unnatural measures. I mean that what is best in nature is necessarily best in the home. However, I quite strongly believe that flight is NOT the thing that should be sacrificed in the home. That's what makes a parrot a bird and different from other kinds of pets. The sad fact is that many people buy parrots for their vocalizing abilities rather than flight and that is the dreadful mistake that leads to so many parrot health problems we come to learn about. Selling clipped birds at pet stores I think is false advertising and really misleading. It gives people the impression that birds are just another terrestrial pet that they can choose from between a hamster and a cat. I think they should really be sold for, appreciate for, and bought for what they are: birds.

If we can establish a consensus that freeflight is healthier, then we can talk in other discussions about what kind of environmental factors affect it. If there are people who genuinely believe that it is better for the parrot to be clipped no matter what, then this discussion really cannot go further with them.
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:37 pm

Michael wrote:If we can establish a consensus that freeflight is healthier, then we can talk in other discussions about what kind of environmental factors affect it. If there are people who genuinely believe that it is better for the parrot to be clipped no matter what, then this discussion really cannot go further with them.


I have posted to the home environment discussion, but I just want to state that on general principles, I think it is not really a black and white, better or worse, kind of thing. I don't think the environment is secondary, really, I think it is part and parcel of what it means for something to be "better". I also think that the human's desires and lifestyles do matter and that it is not simply selfish to consider the human part of the relationship nor is it unfair to the bird to consider the needs of any other pets who might be present. In all relationships one needs to consider oneself as well as the other(s) in order for it to be healthy; in this case considering all who dwell together as having valuable needs and desires (including some "private time") is part of the whole household being a happy place for all those who live there.
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby Michael » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:39 pm

I understand and I do agree that in practice environment matters. I'm just trying to establish several independent questions to help people make choices:

A) In theory, is freeflight better for the parrot
-If no, just keep clipping
-If yes, continue

B) Is your house environment suited for indoor freeflight
-If yes, then it is completely a choice on the part of the owner
-If no, continue

C) Is it possible to safely and reasonably (cost, time, effort, etc) alter the house environment to make it suitable for flight
-If no, then perhaps give up on freeflight but consider this question when selecting a new home if ever moving
-If yes, let's discuss what can be done

Another question that comes to mind is why do people buy birds if they don't want a flighted pet? And not to single you out or make you appear bad, I really would like to know what made you choose to get a bird if flight was not on that list?

Here are some reasons I could think of in general:

-Flight (only birds can do it except bats but don't know of them as pets)
-Talking - I absolutely hate this reason because there is no guarantee so it is a bad reason
-Plumage - As a primary reason, visual aesthetics of the bird are a terrible reason, poster is better
-Training - While generally not as intelligent as parrots, cats, dogs, mice, etc can still learn many tricks so this is not unique to parrots.

Let me admit that at the time I bought my parrot I really had no clue what I was doing and didn't adequately consider the flight aspect. However, I always had an affinity for birds and flight so when I found out that I can let my parrot fly, I happily accepted the challenges that come with it. I think the problem starts from the pet store. The parrots are clipped and offered in the same array as dogs, iguanas, and hamsters in the line of terrestrial animals. The simple fact is that it is false advertising and they are naturally arboreal and flighted. This initial misrepresentation that is made by pet stores often ends up throwing them into a grounded lifestyle. I'm willing to bet people who don't want a flighted pet wouldn't bother buying them in the first place if they first came across them as a flying creature.

The clipped parrot is much easier to tame using poor training (flooding/negative reinforcement) so a clipped parrot appears much more manageable. However, with positive reinforcement training this is all possible. So I wonder if access to good information about training and living with a flying animal would encourage more existing parrot owners to let their parrots fly and for more potential parrot owners to let flight be a top consideration when thinking about getting a bird.
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Re: Is it better for parrot to fly inside?

Postby PRD » Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:48 am

I have always been fascinated by flight, and i know quite a bit of the theory involving flying, and i have also some airplane knowledge. I noticed that i look at my birds at a different point of view then most parrotwoners.
I cant help but noticed how many times we refer our pets to as airplanes, aircrafts, masters of flying. Birds and airplanes have more in common then we realise and can see. Man has copied the concept from birds to solve the problem of flying. Now we can use our knowledge of airplanes to solve problems with birds.
1 thing about clipping birds is that u cant 'clip' an airplane without having negative consequentes.
As birds flap their wings their wings are under a high stress due to this mechanical movement. This wing is designed by mother nature to meet his specifications, and has some reserve. This reserve he needs for when he is wet, or has eggs, changing feathers...If u would clip an airplane by reducing lets say 50% of its wingarea, the remaining 50% will have to carry its weight. Its not desinged for this purpose so it would cause extra stress on the wings during flight.
Another factor is the mechanical movement of the wings. By clipping the bird it will flap more, the times he flaps his wings in 1 second increases, and with that the stress due to this extra mechanical movement. If the bird is designed for 5 flaps a second, 10 flaps a second cant be good for the bird's structure which is designed for 5 flaps a second.
Modifying an airplane is forbidden by law, clipping the bird is modifying the bird. Unless we know what consequentes it has on his structure we shouldnt do it is my opinion.
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