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Congo African Grey Free Flight Part 1

**Attention** The information on these free flight pages are purely our experiences we’ve had with free flight and in no way instructional.  Please do not attempt to free fly your bird unless you are with a trained professional.  Doing so can result in the loss of your bird!

Cressi – The African Grey and The

Adventure Of Free Flight!

Part One – The Beginning – January 30, 2008

I purchased Cressi (born on October 31, 2007), on January 30, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was there attending a convention, and searching for the perfect parrot to start my journey of outdoor free flight with. I wanted to find a parrot who was still hand feeding, had never flown before, and didn’t have her wings clipped. As you may know this isn’t always an easy task. To my great surprise, Cressi fit all of these requirements, and she was only two months old, the perfect age to start training for outdoor free flight.

Most responsible parrot breeders will not allow the bird to leave the shop if it is still hand feeding, let alone fully flighted.

I explained to the breeder that I have a lot of experience hand feeding parrots, as well as flight training them (indoors only). She had me sign a release and away I went. My brother, Chet, and I went back to the Mandalay Bay, where we had to sneak her into the room.

I set her down on the bed for a while and got to know her. I gently pet her and allowed her to explore the room a bit. Shortly after hand feeding her, she got all excited and made her first “desperation” flight back to her cage. I could see that she wasn’t going to make it, so I stuck my hand out to assist her. She made a very awkward landing on my hand, but it was her first flight, so I can’t be too picky.

African GreyI flew back home to Orlando, where I continued to train her daily. She was still being hand fed two to three times per day and wasn’t on a full pellet, fruit, vegetable diet yet, so I slowly started to introduce sunflower seeds to her throughout the day.

Within the first week of having her back she started to eat sunflower seeds. This plays a vital part in the training process for me, as it will soon become a reinforcement/treat for her.

In addition, I introduced her to the great outdoors by keeping her cage outside throughout the day to start getting her used to outside.

Part Two – The Early Flights

The next stage was to begin flying her in short distances. Once I realized that she liked sunflower seeds, and she knew that I was the only source to get them, the flights began. At first she’d only fly to me from a distance of about one to two feet.

I pushed a little harder until soon she was flying to me from about four feet.

I continued to reinforce this so she learned that I was the only place she’d get sunflower seeds, and that every time she flew to me, she’d get one, and occasionally she’d get a random jackpot of several seeds.

At first, her landings were very sloppy, but as time went on they became more and more controlled. The first several days of flights were indoors, and from the T-Stand, in my dining room. As a couple days of this started to become boring, I’d switch up the starting positions for her so that she could fly from the kitchen facet, the couch, chair, top of her cage, floor, railing, other people and anything else that I could think of.

When she had all of these locations down, I switched to having her fly from person to person. It’s very important with a young African grey parrot to socialize them a lot with many different people, as well as other birds.

Since she was still undergoing vet checks, and a 30 day in-home quarantine in a completely separate air space from the rest of the birds, it was impossible for me to socialize her with the other birds, so I really focused on exposing her to multiple people. I’d invite the neighbors over and fly her to them, then I’d invite other friends to come over, and so on.

Part Three – Ascending

After mastering the skill of flying from anyone and anything, two anyone on cue, I moved on to the first basic flight skill; the ascent.

First thing in the morning before she had breakfast (still hand feeding), I’d open up her cage, and run up to the first flight of stairs in my house, and cue her to fly.

The first railing is eight feet off the ground. Our stairs continue to wind around to go up to the second floor, but this railing was a good starting point. I did this for about a week; open the cage, fly her up.

Put her back on the cage, open it again, then fly her up to the railing; over and over.

Pretty soon she became curious about flight, and decided to fly up to the top level, 13 feet high. Once I realized she was comfortable with that, I moved on to flying her up to the top. Again, opening the cage in the morning and cueing her to fly up to me at the top level.

The following 9 second video shows a quick clip of Cressi ascending indoors.


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