Photo by Dave Womach Location: Hidaglo, TX Smothered with love: Galah "Bandit"
I kind of love how unplanned my life can be sometimes. I like going by the seat of my pants, and I love offering that lifestyle to my parrots. It's probably the best thing I can offer them.
Everyone knows about my baby boy Bandit, and what an all-star he is when it comes to... well, life, but ALSO... freeflight. He's our best, I'd say. And if you know me at all you know I'm the risk-taker and my husband (luckily) is the safety net.
So this particular day I said, "What if we freefly Bandit? He can handle this little wind, and we're in a great spot. I think he'd love it. Wanna?" Dave was nervous and reserved about it, stating how we hadn't free flown the birds in a long time now due to winter and this and that, and we hadn't warmed him up... so I took Bandit in the trailer and showed him some treats and cued some behavior to see if I could get his focus. His warm up was very quick and I decided he would be fine. I brought him out while Dave told me to wait, slow down, let him get the camera, I know he was just stalling...
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Hidaglo, TX Shown: Galahs, "Bondi", "Bandit" & "Ace"
We flew Bandit for a little while, when I said, "Bondi could handle this." I saw his heart sink. Bondi has always been our baby and Dave is always more reserved about flying her and I will admit I flew her once in wind she couldn't handle and she had a really hard time getting back to us on this long flight and ever since Dave hasn't been so trusting of my judgement...
Long story short, I took Bondi out and she had a blast flying along with Bandit! In fact the cutest part of the day was Bandit sitting on Dave's shoulder while Bondi flew back and Bandit saying, "Hey Wondi!" (a nickname we have for Bondi) it was to die for, so freaking cute!
Once Bondi and Bandit were both out I felt like Ace probably felt left out, you know, being the third galah and everything...
"What about Ace?" I said. Dave just shook his head at me. We'd done tons of arena flying with him for a year and a half now, but hadn't put too much thought to taking him outside and if we did we sort of wanted his old owner to be there for safety since his first attachment to a human was with him. Dave fought with me on it but luckily he had his hands full with Bandit and Bondi anyway so unlocking the aviary and pulling Ace out was no problem for me. A good thing to keep in mind (elements of weather aside) is however your bird acts indoors is pretty much how it is going to act outdoors, then it's the things that can happen outdoors that the bird then reacts to.
Photo by Dave Womach Location: Hidalgo, TX Pictured: Galahs "Ace" & "Bondi"
Inside the arena Ace always followed the other birds' lead and did what they did. He has gone back and forth between Dave and I and who he prefers or likes. Over the summer it was me, over the winter it was Dave, and for this day it was me. I cued basic tricks and showed Ace I had treats. I set him down on the grass with Bandit to forage since somehow the aviaries didn't get set up on the grass this week for them. When the others flew, he flew, and when the others landed, he would land. I'd ask him to "step up" because he likes being told or asked, and then I'd tell him how good he was for doing so and give him a treat followed by a "Hey Ace! Tickadoo!" which he would do his version of the "rock out" too.
Ace's skills are still very beginner as far as how much wind he can navigate in and so forth, but I was very excited to have taken him out and trusted my gut (once again, not that it's always right but whatever...)
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.