Excuses people make up for why their bird doesn't fly or get enough exercise bug the heck out of me! It's a real pet peeve. So I decided I'd make a post on some ideas that should help most of you exercise your bird as often as you can manage. Because we're traveling to large arenas that seat thousands of people every week, our birds get lots of play time and exercise via flight. And I get a lot of comments from people saying they wish they had a place like that to fly their own birds. So here are some ideas that I've used in the past to get my birds into some large areas to fly around and have fun, and just be birds. Places you can fly your bird that offer lots of space:
- School gyms
- Spare bedrooms
- Covered indoor/outdoor lanais
- Batting cages indoor/outdoor
- Ballrooms in hotels
- Your local arena
- Convention centers
- Local art/theater centers/churches with wide open rooms (most have rooms not in use)
- Large dressing rooms
- Open warehouse space (we have a warehouse for training products that we use in Idaho)
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, FL Shown: Military Macaw "Crash"
There are also dangers to be aware of. Ceiling fans should always be turned off, AC/heat should be at a comfortable temperature and shouldn't be in places where your bird could land on it and get burned or blown on. Watch for open windows, long or wide mirrors that your bird might mistake for a wider room and fragile art pieces on walls that could be broken or landed on by your bird.
With batting cages be aware that if you have smaller birds the netting may not be adequate, you don't want them slipping out and you will need to keep the netting closed in sections otherwise with some wind it can easily open and let your bird outside freely. We use our travel cages to keep the netting down, as well as keychains for the weight.
I've found that most school grounds and churches with schools have batting cages that you can use publicly as long as you use them after hours of school/church.
Also, most buildings like arenas, theaters, local art centers, convention centers, hotels, etc... have rooms they don't use that often or rooms like ballrooms that you can go into and use to fly your bird for a little while for fun. Just be respectful and you shouldn't have any problems using public places. We used the ballrooms of hotels when we hosted seminars, or were there for photoshoots. There's nothing to really worry about in ballrooms and they're wide open and make for easy flight access for your bird, as well as easy recovery for you!
Photo by Dave Location: Orlando, FL Shown: Camelot Macaw "Comet"
The picture above is early on when we got Comet, and he was molting and looked like a complete mess. Not to mention he would push his tail feathers up against the doors of the aviary and break them constantly. Getting him out in wide open space was the best thing for him and his plumage.
Can you devote a spare bedroom to flight and play for your bird? Can you go in to your local elementary, middle or high school and fly your bird in their gym when no one else is using it? Maybe get kids involved and arrange to do it after every basketball practice so that you are not only exercising your bird, but socializing him too. If you have kids that play sports it makes it easier to get a handle on your school's gym time. And summers work best since they won't be used.
I've found that churches are very sweet in letting us exercise our birds there when they're not in use, and most people love to watch and enjoy seeing a bird do what it's meant to do.
You may not have access to all 10 possibilities, but you should have access to at least one of them. Also, don't be afraid to talk to people and tell them you're looking for a big room to let your bird fly, word of mouth is extremely powerful.
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.