The demands of the new show season have consumed the time it takes to prepare blog entries and it has been a couple of weeks since my last article. However this morning I became aware of a very sad and significant video posted to YouTube. It touched a tender spot for me because I have said many times in discussion groups that in my opinion they were not the location or the medium for the average companion parrot owner to be learning how to free-fly their bird. My contention has been that it is not those who are active in the groups that concerned me but the silent majority of group members who never become active participants. I believe the person who posted this video was probably one of that silent majority who took what they read and saw at face value, with tragic consequences.
I would warn anyone thinking of watching the video of two things; first it is a heart-wrenching thing to watch a caring, sensitive parrot owner take full responsibility for the loss of their bird. Secondly the owner does use language in his self-admonition that may offend some folks, so viewers beware.
It took great courage on the part of the owner to make and post this video and out of respect for that owner I do not propose to comment directly on the observations I made of the early part of the video where the bird is being flown outdoors.
I truly hope that many people will view this video, not because of any voyeuristic intent on my part or theirs, but in the hope that they will realize that free flying a bird is a huge responsibility. It requires a dedication of time, certainly in the early training, that I believe few companion parrot owners have if they are being honest with themselves. It is certainly not something that anyone should undertake lightly and without a solid understanding of the behavioral principles involved in the required training. To believe that one can fly a bird free safely with only the bond to its owner as the control is self-delusional, disrespectful to the bird, and irresponsible in the extreme. These comments are not directed at the owner who suffered this loss, but at those who would encourage such actions by their own careless, ill-conceived internet writings and videos.
What makes this event even more poignant for me is that this week I had the great pleasure of meeting a small group of people with whom I had previously only exchanged email. These folks regularly free fly their parrots on the beach in Southern California. They do so in my opinion in a way that demonstrates how it should be done and that is with care and attention to the training process. Well done “Raz” Rasmussen, Hugh Choi, and Hillary “Tex” Hankey I applaud your dedication to your birds.