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Free flying parrots – a veterinary perspective

Spreads for web Parrots 278 4

By Tom Dutton BVM&S CertAVP(ZooMed) DipECZM(avian) MRCVS RCVS Recognised Specialist in Zoo & Wildlife Medicine

Over the last 10 years there has been an explosion of interest in free flying captive parrots. Free flight involves training birds to fly outdoors without restraint. Those familiar with falconry will not find this concept unusual, however, for parrot keepers it is still relatively uncommon. Many species are involved with Amazons and macaws being the most frequently used species in the UK. From a veterinary perspective there are definite health and welfare benefits to free flight although these need to be weighed against risks of disease exposure and potential injury.

While this article has not been written to provide a guide to free flight training, I must emphasise anyone considering entering the free flight community to seek advice and training from an experience mentor. Training a bird to fly free safely outdoors takes much time and commitment. It is irresponsible and dangerous to take an untrained and unrestrained bird outdoors to fly.

There are a number of medical benefits to free flying parrots. Captive parrots have traditionally lived a sedentary and inactive lifestyle compared to their wild counterparts. This has predisposed them to obesity, heart disease, liver problems and arthritis.

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