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What a Little Flight Can Do

March 16, 2013 12 comments

Rico on my head looking out into the aviary.

Rico on my head looking out into the aviary.

I’m sure many people are ready for this winter to be over. I’m a big lover of the snow and cold but this winter has been long enough and I’m ready for some warmer temperatures. The birds are also. I love the summer for them because they get the fresh air, the sun, and all of the benefits of their aviary. I’m a big advocate of aviaries for our birds because of all of the health benefits, mental stimulation, and physical stimulation it offers them. I like helping people visualize how they can incorporate aviaries for their birds whether they live on 20 acres, in a condominium, an apartment, or in a town house. Where there is an idea, there is an aviary!

Anyway, back to winter and being cooped up because of the temperatures. Each day I try to get each bird out for interaction with me, interaction with other things in their environment and just for a change in scenery.The other day I was working at my desk that overlooks the aviary and Rico was perched on his favorite perch, which happens to be my head. Whatever it was that I was working on, I noticed Rico began to bob up and down on my head. I opened my phone and flipped the view backwards so I could see where Rico was looking. He was bobbing up and down, holding his wings out, and looking out the window at the aviary. So much body language here and these signs all together gave me a hint that he may want to go out into the aviary. I put down what I was doing and out into the aviary we walked.

I sat Rico down on the banister in the aviary and ran to the other side. I called him to my hand and after a few struts on

Rico flying across the aviary. The windows are open letting in fresh air and natural sounds from the outdoors.

Rico flying across the aviary. The windows are open letting in fresh air and natural sounds from the outdoors.

the banister he was off in flight. Right to my hand he flew. All of that fresh air going into his air sacs, being distributed to his bones and organs. How healthy this is for him, how fun it is for him and for me to be a part of it.

Not all of my birds fly. One hasn’t flown in his life, which is my greenwing macaw, Murray who is about to turn 9 years old. Then I have one that is a beautiful flyer but doesn’t know how to land. This would be Rocky, my moluccan cockatoo who is a little over 13 years old. Let me correct myself…Rocky is still working on perfecting his landing. Myself and the volunteers here at the center are helping him work on his landings. When Rocky flies, he doesn’t know how to land and when he lands he has to crash into something to stop. I no longer encourage him to fly until we have his landing gear perfected. We have not clipped his wings, we just don’t encourage him to fly yet. He loves to run so we are encouraging him to run while we work on training him to land and use his wings, tail feathers and feet to stop. He’s getting pretty good at this. We hope to be posting photos and videos soon of Rocky’s flights through the aviary this summer.

So Rocky runs and in the meantime we are focusing on hanging vines in the aviary to give Murray more means of locomotion and choices in transportation through the aviary. When birds have more control in their environment, how to navigate it and choices in navigation, I see it having a huge impact on decreasing behavior issues such as screaming, feather destructive behaviors, and issues related to stress, aggression and anxiety.

Before I took Rico out of his cage and before he was on my head, I could tell he was up for a change in his environment, which was his cage. Keeping animals in the same space without changing that space or having different areas to move to, creates a stagnant environment. Objects and interactions in that environment become predictable and studies show that with predictability comes boredom. I could see Rico was getting bored and was in need for a change. If I didn’t provide change I could tell undesirable behaviors were about to happen such as screaming, hunkering down and flapping wings in anticipation which brings along signs of anxiety, and probably grabbing a toy and banging it on the side of the cage. I don’t like seeing any of these signs in my birds because of the stress I see that it brings out in them.

Rico flying over the 4 1/2' pit in the center of the aviary. His concentration increases while learning depth perception.

Rico flying over the 4 1/2′ pit in the center of the aviary. His concentration increases while learning depth perception.

After one flight across the aviary I could tell Rico was still interested in flying. Down into the pit I went and I called him to my hand from there. Rico has been showing signs of not understanding how to fly to my hand when I am down in the pit. I’m not sure what it is but he’s not used to flying to me when I call him from different elevations. We’ve slowly been working on this at his comfort level while slowly increasing the complexity in elevation when calling him. Sometimes I’ll go one or two steps down into the pit and call him. The pit is about 4 1/2′ below regular ground level. Then I bring out the ladder, walk up a few rungs and call him up to my hand. Each time I step down a step or up a rung allowing him the slow change and adaptability in depth or elevation. This is a process called shaping; reinforcing small approximations toward the target behavior, and in this instance the target behavior was him still flying to my hand and gradual changes in elevation. In working on this several times in the past, this time I ran into the pit and called him to my hand. He flew over the banister and down into the pit and on my hand like he’s done it a million times before. He yelled “Yahoo!” as soon as he landed on my hand and you bet I yelled it back to him. I love having this interaction with birds and especially with the ones under my care. His learning something new (depth perception) in his new flying environment is not only physically stimulating for him, it is also mentally stimulating. He is learning from changes in his environment. When I slowly integrate change at their pace, I see the birds in my care dealing with unforeseen changes very readily. I want this for them, for their health, and for their future.

Not everyone has room like this to fly their birds. I understand that. A few months ago I didn’t either. I lived in a small house with five parrots and a crow with a Barred Owl in a mew in my backyard. I know what small living quarters are like with birds. This didn’t stop me from getting birds out and flying them all over the house, increasing complexity by having learn to fly through doorways and up the stairs. Rocky played fetch by running all over the first floor. Murray would swing from a vine in the aviary. Molly would soak up the sun for hours in the aviary, obviously with the option to move into the shade. I noticed that if I were to get them out of their cages and get them running, flying, and/or flapping their wings, energy was being burnt off, behavior issues would decrease, and the more they seemed content with perching, sleeping, preening, and foraging for the next several hours.

My point in this post is to share how a few minutes of burning off energy in large amounts can greatly impact behavior

Five minutes of flight provides several hours of rest, relaxation, preening, foraging, and a decrease in behavior issues.

Five minutes of flight provides several hours of rest, relaxation, preening, foraging, and a decrease in behavior issues.

or the potential for undesired behavior issues not to happen. Less than five minutes of flying in the aviary for Rico in the photos above, and we went back into the Birdroom and Rico flew straight for one of the perches and rest and relaxation were in his near future and mine. Parrots are intelligent creatures that have a lot of energy to burn and they want to put that mind and body to use. This is why I train them. I like putting their minds to use. I like providing environments where they can continue to learn and manipulate that environment. When I provide environments like this and interactions like this, I see our relationships skyrocketing.

For more information or ideas on how to build aviaries or extended exercise areas in your house for your birds, take a look at the Enrichment and Aviary section on my website at LaraJoseph.com. I will be building more aviaries this summer and plan on sharing my plans on my website. For everyday quick tips and ideas on behavior change, training tips, and enrichment ideas, sign up to my Behavior, Training, & Enrichment page on Facebook. I hope to see you there. I’d love to see photos and videos of your enclosures and how you exercise your birds.

All Good Things Must Come To An End…..

February 26, 2011 9 comments

Building an aviary was one of the best things I could have ever provided to my birds and those birds that I have brought home to train. Four years ago that was just an image in my mind. A few months later it was a reality.

I thought about different ideas in how to build it and I had to keep my neighbors in mind while designing it. I had to make it as least obstructive to them. If

View of the aviary from the neighbor's yard

they didn’t like it, I’m sure I would have had to take it down. Metal fencing was out. I don’t think that would be too appealing to the eye so I decided on a black netting. I still don’t regret this choice. It wasn’t intrusive to the eye from the neighbor’s point of view, and actually many of my neighbors enjoyed watching the birds fly, run, and interact in the aviary.

As you can see from the photo on the right, the birds could fly out the back door or window and right into the back yard which was their aviary. My husband and I, friends, and family could all sit outside in the aviary with the birds also and interact, relax, and have cook outs, which we did often.

As you can see in the video below, the aviary allowed the birds so much freedom and decision-making opportunities. You can also see how much the birds really enjoyed it. In the summer, in the aviary is where all the birds took their showers. In this video you will see Rocky, my Moluccan Cockatoo on the ground begging for a shower, Murray my Greenwing Macaw wanting in on the action, and Rico taking the opportunity to dive-bomb Murray.

I think back about the birds that have experienced this aviary. With each experience and interaction with each bird, they gave the aviary the personality that it

Rico enjoying his awesome ability of flight and showing it off, as he should!

has. In this aviary is where Rico learned to maneuver his flight skills and oh did he do that well. He learned how to dive bomb the other birds. He learned to fly to the opening above the gate to see what the neighbors were doing next door, hence one of his many nick names “Rico Kravits”, after Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched. Then he would fly to the other side and watch the neighbors having a cook out in their back yard. Here he also flew and interacted with the grackles. Oh what a learning awesome, observational learning experience that was, but for another post. Watching Rico fly and maneuver around the aviary often brought butterflies to my stomach. I would sit and stare in awe as he passed by yelling “Wooo hooo!” as he would look to make sure I was watching. Oh I was.

Then there is Rocky, the Moluccan Cockatoo. Rocky loved the aviary. He loved running through the aviary, and through the grass. He loved playing fetch, eating all of the flowers I brought home, hanging out on the backs of the patio chairs, and serenading the neighbors. I remember one time when a door to door sales woman chose to intrude into our aviary because we wouldn’t answer the front door. I was shocked and very upset by this. Coming into our aviary means just as much if not more to us than entering our house and here this uninvited intruder was now rudely occupying our time and upsetting our birds. Rocky was on the ground running and yelling “Doo Doo Doo Doo”, hence his nick name “Rocky Doo Doo”. He kept trying to run toward the sales woman and I was preventing him from doing this by continually standing in front of him. The more I did this, the more determined Rocky was in getting around me. She wouldn’t leave at my continually requesting her to do so. Finally

Bye Bye petunias!

she asked me if “that bird” was playing and I responded “He’s not playing at all”. She laughed and said “Its so cute, what is he trying to do.” I responded with “He’s trying to get to you.” “Oh” she said. “He wants to play.” My disturbance was now turning into anger and I told her Rocky would definitely attack her. She ignored me once again when I asked her to leave. With my building frustration I stepped aside and away Rocky went running full force, crest up, screaming “Doo Doo Doo” and away went running the sales woman. I completely positively punished the behavior of the sales woman standing in my back yard. After she went running out of the aviary yelling not so nice things at me, I turned and looked at my husband with a look on my face like “Was I wrong?”. He looked at me with just as much amazement at the whole situation that had just happened and we both starting laughing uncontrollably.

More than anything, Rocky loves his showers. Enjoying a shower is a behavior Rocky had to learn and I had to train. We did a lot of this in the aviary and at Rocky’s pace. Watching Rocky take a shower is now a hilarious experience.

Murray, my Greenwing Macaw, loves the natural sunlight the aviary offers. He’s a bird that is so content with

Murray preening in the sunshine offered by the aviary

visual enrichment and the aviary was full of visual enrichment. He enjoyed his showers in the aviary, as seen in the video above. He then loves to dry in the sun.

I often lay down in the grass in the aviary and Murray will climb down any stand he is on and waddle over to where I am. He loves to climb all over me and say “Hello” because I laugh so hard. He then tries sticking his tongue in my ear which causes me to laugh even harder. He’s my dog of birds and a very loyal companion. Murray is not a good flier at all. This is a behavior I wish he knew because his lack of ability in making quick transportation choices shows in his over reaction to novel sounds. Otherwise, when Murray hears a sound he’s never heard before, his fear responses grow with time because he doesn’t have the option of flight to escape. I often encourage Murray to flap his wings while hanging from objects. The more he does this, the more I see him using his wings to gain momentum in rocking a swing to get from one place to another. If I could give Murray anything, I would give him flight. This is a behavior he and I can work on building.

Then there’s Einstein, Nature’s Nursery’s program screech-owl. The aviary provided so much room for him to exercise, interact, hunt, play, and it provided a vast environment from which to learn. In the summers I used to sit outside in the aviary with Einstein at night and just watch him fly. We would do a little recall training, but he really enjoyed checking out everything in the aviary.

My sister, Dena getting the chance to observe the massive, nocturnal hunter.....Einstein.

The evenings would begin with Einstein hanging out on the boings or in the support beams of the patio umbrella. As night would fall, Einstein would start exploring. I would turn on the lights in the aviary to attract the bugs. Large bugs attracted Einstein and it was so absolutely cool to watch him hunt.

If Einstein wanted your attention, he would fly by and buzz your head with his wings. You couldn’t hear him fly but if you looked around your immediate environment, it was almost a guarantee he would be sitting within reach. This usually meant it was time for another training goodie. 😉

Einstein flying from the patio umbrella beginning the evening's hunt.

Pete overlooking the aviary

And then there’s Pete. Pete is also a program bird of Nature’s Nursery’s. Pete taught me so much in learning from a bird and in turn I tried my hardest to enrich his environment. There was several hours of training that needed to be done before introducing him to the aviary, but it was done and what a pay off that was for Pete. Pete loved sunbathing so that is where we began. I had to slowly introduce him to the aviary as you see in the photo to the right. I would open the window so he could start familiarizing himself with the sounds the aviary had to offer. It wasn’t long before I could open the screen and go outside and ask him to hop to my hand. Soon after that I would pull up a chair, take out a book and Pete would be sunbathing on my shoulder, my hand or my lap. He

Pete relaxing on the parrots swing between recall training sessions in the aviary

started hopping around my feet, flying to perches in close proximity, and that is where I saw him ant for the first time. Wow, what a learning experience he provided to me. I had Pete recall trained in the house, so it didn’t take much to ask that behavior from a different environment.

There is nothing I can offer to Pete that would be better than what his natural and intended life in the wild could give him. Pete is with us because he has a deformed foot. I trained him many behaviors to get him ready to be an avian ambassador, (teaching the public the importance of his species in nature) for a local wildlife rehabilitation center called Nature’s Nursery.

I only had one video of a very special owl. It was a young Great Horned Owl’s first small flights. It was a great video watching Sidney experimenting with her wings and making short hops lofting around the aviary. I wish I had kept that video but it is a memory to be cherished. I did manage to find a few photos I had taken the same day. To read more about the story of Sidney, you can find it here on my blog under, “Sidney, The Great Horned Teacher.”

Often, when Sidney was in the aviary, she was hard to spot. She was a huge owl but one that blended in well

Sidney's first experience in the aviary

with the natural surroundings. When watching an owl observe its environment, one can get lost in how they gaze. You can take the owl out of the woods, but you can’t take the woods out of the owl was a line similar to what I had read in Bernd Heidrich’s “One Man’s Owl”. “How absolutely true”, I thought as I have seen the look in the owl, especially the Great Horn’s that Bernd was describing. There is so much more to them than human capacity can even begin to understand. Watch one and you’ll understand this also.

Sidney on one of the perches in the aviary

So why all of this talk about the aviary and why all the talk in past tense? I write this with a pit in my stomach and it was a bit tough to go back and review through videos and bird experiences in the aviary. Less than a week ago, our part of Ohio was struck with a heavy ice storm. The ice was beautiful and very dangerous. Our area was hit pretty hard and trees came crashing down for days due to the weight of the ice. As you may begin to see where this post is going, our aviary also crashed to the ground. I will say though, that the aviary came crashing down long after the majority of the 100′ tall trees. The aviary was a real trooper and hung in through three brutal winters and several ice storms. This ice storm was the worst we had seen in years.

I love the snow and always welcome it. Well, along with the snow comes

The aviary drooping under the weight of the ice

the chance of the other white stuff. Every time I heard ice in the forecast, I would cringe. This time I had every right to cringe. It was a doozie. With every ice storm that passes through here, I keep my fingers crossed for the aviary.

The ice started at 10:30 pm the evening of February 20th, 2011. At one point I had to go open the blinds because it sounded like someone was tapping on our front window. That’s how hard the ice was coming down. The next morning, these photos were some of the images I was able to capture. The netting is black, which is hard to see under all of the ice.

Icicle hanging from a zip tie

Icicles every 1"

The aviary stood strong the whole next day. I took photo after photo, because even as dangerous as ice can be, it is beautiful. The trees clinked with the slightest of wind, though the aviary didn’t budge. I went out that evening and scraped off the icicles that I could reach. After about fifteen minutes of doing so, I realized this was out of my hands. I put down the shovel and wished it well as I turned and stared at it glistening in the evening night. That night at midnight I heard a eerie and most horrible noise. It was one that made you want to duck by sheer reflex. It sounded as though our roof was sliding right off of our house. After that first reflex, I jumped out of my chair and went running to that back window that Pete used to perch in and stare out over the aviary. I didn’t even want to open the blinds. I did and was still shocked to see what I saw. I saw a completely different view of the aviary. It had caved in under the weight of the ice. The support cables busted and the world came crashing in. It was hard to see that night but it was clear that I had an obstacle free view of the midnight sky, a view I hadn’t seen in almost four years.

View of the collapsed aviary from the 2nd floor

Support cables pulling from the house

I snapped the two photos below the next morning. It looks as though two of the main support cables busted under the weight of the ice. You can see in the photo on the left that the netting was torn in the center in at least two different spots. These tears are not along the seams either. The netting is rested on all of the perches in the aviary. Above each perch, the netting sliced open there also.

The iced netting is so heavy we can’t move it. Until the ice melts, we can’t get into our back yard to see how bad the damage really is. Since the aviary has fallen, we have received 6.5″ more of snow and more on the way. There were plans in place to bring home yet another bird of prey to start training in the aviary to make the most of the remaining winter months. It seems the harder I’ve tried in bringing this bird home, the more obstacles have gotten in my way. This obstacle is a big one. I can look at it as an obstacle or the opportunity to improve the aviary. I can look back at the photos and videos over the last four years and let it weigh heavy on my heart or take this opportunity to make improvements for future memories. I chose the latter.

So really, all good things must come to an end? Hmmm, I think I’m going to challenge this one.

If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it work!

June 21, 2009 10 comments

Rico on a swing in the aviary

I remember asking my mother when I was in high school, “Mom, do you think I have what it takes to be a biologist?” Her response to me was “If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it work.” Well, I never became a biologist but am following the same path now that I knew I had deep in my heart 20 years ago and I wish I would have stayed on that path. I am very grateful to have found it again which leads me to this entry.

Maybe I’m my own worst enemy, but I’ll tell you what, my birds definitely benefit from it. I can never find an area or enclosure big enough for my birds. My friends have made fun of me over the past several years due to the amount of bird cages I have breezed through. Each time I think I’m buying a huge bird cage, it is only a matter of months before I envision something larger. Well, last year I just couldn’t imagine an area large enough for my birds. I wanted them to be able to fly if they wanted. I wanted Rocky, my Moluccan Cockatoo to be able to run as fast as he could if he wanted to. I wanted Rico, my Umbrella Cockatoo to be able to stretch his wings and fly as hard and as fast as he wanted. I wanted to be able to view him enjoying flight while looking around to make sure I was watching him show off. I wanted Murray, my Greenwing Macaw to be able to soar. We’re still working on that one. I wanted an area for my Little Miss Molly Jo to be able to pick her perch and perch for as long as her heart desired while she soaked up the rays.
I envisioned something. This is usually where my husband starts getting a little nervous and wondering what path we are heading next. A friend of mine told me years ago, if you want your birds to fly, you’ll find a way to make it work. You know who you are. I’ve hung on those words for years before I finally started seeing ways to make it work. This post is not about flight though, it’s about wanting something bad enough for our birds and making that vision a reality. It’s about wanting something bad enough in the bird’s best interest and realizing the sky is the limit.
I envisioned an enclosure as large as I could possibly imagine for the small city lot in which we live. I woke my husband up in the middle of the night and told him “We need to enclose the backyard!” He said “Ok” and rolled back over and went to sleep. When he woke up the next morning, there I sat in bed next to him all bright eyed and bushy tailed and said “Do you remember what you agreed to last night?”
So there our venture began and oh what a ride it has been. I e-mailed Steve Martin of Natural Encounters (http://www.naturalencounters.com/) because I remembered seeing and noting the netting he had in one of his flights. I asked him where he purchased the netting and he directed me to a company that makes different types of netting. http://www.jacissel.net/ I contacted J A Cissel and ordered samples. I ended up purchasing the right size and strength for my size birds and for my climate. I have large birds and in the winter here in Ohio, we can get a lot of snow and ice. I ended up on the phone numerous times and asked for durability and samples. We ended up settling on what we thought was best for our area of the U.S. We ordered a roll that was 25′ x 100′. Our backyard is 35′ wide by 44′ long. We decided we would splice it together somehow. We ordered a spool of their poly-wire in which to secure and hang the netting (See video below).We ordered poly-wire through the same company. The polywire is strung around the perimeter of the backyard. We have an almost square backyard so one side in which we strung the poly-wire was against the house. The second wall is our 6′ tall wooden fence. The third wall is our garage and the fourth wall, was open yard in which we shared with the neighbors. We secured in the ground 4 4″x4″x10′ wooden beams which made up our fourth wall. In order to string the poly-wire, we had to screw in numerous eye screws around the perimeter. Within those eye hooks is what we threaded in the cable, or poly-wire. To that cable is what we attached the netting with plastic, electrical zip ties.

Heavily iced netting

Over the past year we have had the opportunity to see the aviary exist in the changing of the four seasons. One thing I would like to make very clear is the location of the polywire through the center and the open edge of the aviary for support. There are two areas through the center of the aviary that stretch from the garage, through the center support beams, and attach to the house. This was major support for the netting during heavy thunderstorms, wet leaves, and ice! Without proper placement of these support cables, the aviary would have crashed under the ice for sure.

So, now to see the aviary in motion and duration of the seasons. We were told it probably would not last through our first winter. I’m smiling from ear to ear right now because we made it. This past winter was our first and wouldn’t you know it…..we got slammed with ice and snow more so than in years past. I woke up the morning after an ice storm and the sight was beautiful. Our aviary was absolutely caked in ice. It was absolutely beautiful and the sound of ice clinking in the aviary It was pretty, but my heart was teetering on the future outdoor enrichment vision of my birds in the aviary. I remember staring out my kitchen window just waiting for it to slam to the ground. I envisioned eye hooks popping out one by one around the perimeter of the aviary.I walked out back and took our shovel and slammed it as hard as I could into the netting assuming it would all come crashing down. Quite

Aviary sagging under heavy ice

the contrary. I hit it with the shovel and the netting barely moved. It moved in the slightest bit of a wave like jumping into the middle of the ocean. I thought “Oh dear, this isn’t good.” I hit it again. Same slight wave so I put the shovel away and waited for rising temps. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t think about going out there with a blow drier. If you take a look at the netting closest to the camera in the previous photo you will see the thickness of the icicles hanging. Notice how the netting is severely bowing down toward the ground in weight.

Rico in flight

So, we went through numerous ice storms in the winter of 2008. Whew! On we moved anticipating the spring of 2009. At times we, the birds and I, could not wait. If they showed the interest, I gave them the opportunity to interact with their environment. What a ride, joy, and learning experience that was.

In an aviary built from the netting in which mine is, the birds should not be left outside unsupervised. Last year I found something had chewed through the netting at ground level. I believe it was a raccoon. I have also seen a feral cat caught up in the netting. He found his way in but

Ah! Summertime preening in the aviary again

could not figure how to get out. I’ve seen animals get trapped in the aviary, including birds and when they realize they are enclosed they tend to get extremely nervous and scared.

I’ve seen hawks come too close for comfort, especially when I have a bird hanging from the top of the aviary. When the birds are out in the aviary, so am I. We are out and we are loud and we can be very active. I also love to sit at the patio table and work on projects on my computer while my birds run, fly, perch, and play around me. It really is my favorite place to be. Nothing like having a cup of coffee in the morning while reading a book and watching a beautiful Green-winged Macaw preening in the warmth of the morning sunshine and knowing it can be done safely. Murray, my Green-winged Macaw is my bird that does not fly…at least not yet, but the added comfort and security in the aviary netting provides is indescribable.
I’ve been asked many times if the birds will chew their way out. What is so exciting about aviary netting, I thought. My response is if the enrichment contained inside the netting exceeds that of the netting itself, it shouldn’t be a problem. Rico flies to the netting all the time and never chews on it. He flies to the side of the netting in which are closest to the neighbors grilling out and he hangs on the side and watches. He flies to the netting above the door to the fence. There he hangs on the side and watches the neighbors having their cookouts or watches the cars coming down the street. Never have I had an issue with the birds trying to chew their way though. Rocky my Moluccan Cockatoo likes chewing on the netting so I provide small pieces of netting that hang throughout the aviary and on the backs of the chairs so he knows where to go to chew while I make the areas in which the netting hangs very convenient for him to perch and chew.
With the space the aviary provides I encourage many natural behaviors such as foraging, flying, and training. Watching these behaviors in a large area like this is really fascinating to watch. It also allows the birds the opportunity to interact and respond to the environment outside of the netting. In this particular video, I edited out the 5 minutes prior that Rico, my Umbrella Cockatoo spent manipulating the acrylic treasure chest in order to retrieve the almond that you will see him extract in the video. After he extracts the almond he looks for a place to perch in order to eat the almond. You’ll see the extended flight he takes in order to find a comfortable place to perch which ends up being on me. I love this video because I can see how intent Rico is on getting this almond and how hard he works for it. The almond is a reward large enough to encourage and maintain the length of foraging in order to retrieve it.

View of the aviary from the neighbor's yard

If you wonder what the neighbors think, I have never received a complaint from the sight of the aviary. Most people say they don’t even realize it is there. It also give a really neat feeling sitting inside the aviary and I don’t know how to describe it. It feels like your are outside but almost feels like a huge atrium. In order to help you, the viewer be able to visualize what this may look like from a neighbors point of view, I went to the neighbor’s back yard and took these photos. My neighbors enjoy sitting in their back yards and watching the birds fly and run around on the ground.

Rocky, my Moluccan Cockatoo knows how to fly but prefers to run. I remember telling my husband once “If would love to have an area in which Rocky could run to his hearts content.” He absolutely loves to run. If you want it bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it work, and that we did and you’ll see it in the video. I also sit in the back yard at the patio table and toss a ball to the middle of the yard while my husband sit and laugh watching Rocky chasing and retrieving it. Rocky has a lot of energy and needs a way to burn it off. I couldn’t ask for a more area to provide him.

video

Rocky is my bird that likes to chew on the netting. Did you see what he did in the video above? He stopped to chew on it but then found the enrichment provided inside the netting more enriching than the netting itself.

Two goofballs in the aviary

I will continue to add my ventures and changes I’ve made to the aviary here. I will always come back and add the different opportunities I provide to the birds. Those of you that know me know that my camera is always attached to me somewhere and that is because I love to share my experiences and ideas with other bird lovers. My husband and I are already working on a new idea for the birds. This one will blow the aviary out of the water. Enjoy and feel free to contact me with questions.

Do you see the two cockatoos in the photo to the left?

Categories: Aviary, Enrichment
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