Tinkerbell shanlung's Tinkerbell photoset
From: shan lung 
Date: Tue Aug 26, 2003 10:41 pm
Subject: Re: Teaching a bird to fly indoors


While I try to cover both Toni and Frank, this is
going to be general for others who may have interest
in allowing their fids to fly at home too.

I assume that your house provide a safe environment
for flighted fids, that you have nothing dangerous
like open pots of boiling water or poisonous plants
begging for a chew.

And if there are nothing dangerous, you have to be
prepared that your flighted fids will go to places
that you do not want them to go to. Anything not
under lock and key will be fair game to their claws
and jaws.

If your fids have not flown before, flying for them at
the beginning is stressful for them and likely to be
even more stressful for you. While I ran charging
around the house holding pillow in my outstretched
arms trying to rescue poor Tinkerbell as she crashed
on the walls slidding to the ground, her future as a
flighted CAG so nearly ended. That was a very painful
3-4 days I experienced before she caught on. BUT, I
am now rewarded by amazing aerial acrobatics as she
zoomed around the apartment and as she weaved into
corridors at speed and into figure of eight to back
out again. She does fast fly-by at me just brushing
my hair to tease me.

This phase is unavoidable but you can minimise it by
having ample perches along the walls. Thick drapes
allowing them claw holds or thick ropes along the
walls will do fine.

Make sure that your fids know the glass windows by
taking them there and let them beak or knock on the
glass. Be prepared also that they may yet crash a
couple of times at the windows. Take comfort that at
this stage, their flights are likely to be slow.

If they are not or just barely flighted, do be patient
with them. It will not be a good idea to toss them
even onto beds if you like to retain their trusts.
Bear in mind that later when they are fully flighted,
it is also the trust and bond (and a bit of training
too) that they come back to you on recall. Let them
take their time in their take off. It may be difficult
for them as it is without your nudging them.

In the mean time, do be diligent in your clicker
training with them. This is a two way process, they
get to understand you and you get to understand them.

At this point, I assume that your fids are fairly
comfortable in flight and your clicker training is
well underway and targeting is well established.

Your fid is on the perch and your arm is maybe a foot
or slightly more away. When you make eye contact, cue
your fid to "come here", perhaps with the target in
open sight or some tasty treat. When she hop/flap
over to you, click and treat. You should have known
your fid to the point that you can tell she is about
to come over to you and at that point, you give your

You slowly increase the distance as required.

You can see how I did it by going to my webpage and
seeing the photos and reading how I did the recall
training under the 'Introduction'.

By going to my wife's web pages (she got the time to
take even more pictures than me), you can see the
perches and swings and weighted baskets I have all
over the house for Tinkerbell to fly to.

When Tink is finally ready for training (after 30
minutes or so of exuberant flying and flight teasing
of me), I cue her to fly to various places and to fly
back to me. If my arm is up she will fly to the wrist
or to my shoulders if the arm is down. You will agree
this is more convenient then to try to get on chair to
retrieve her from a couple of hight perches I rigged
up for her.

It is a matter of will as I try to restrict her to
certain places and she try to expand the places she is
allowed to go to. I think she is winning, or I got
resigned to losing to my little princess.

With warmest regards

Joy - wife, Tinkerbell - CAG & surrogate daughter

earlier emails and photo links on Tink -