Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, Florida Pictured: Military Macaw "Cash"
Almost every night around 5-6pm, Dave and I have been taking our military macaw, Cash, on walks. There is a gas station about a half mile or more down the road and a sidewalk leading all the way to it. We walk to the gas station and back; stopping in between to just take a break and sit with Cash as he examines his surroundings. We do this using a harness and leash and Cash stays on Dave's hand or mine the entire time. He's become aggressive since leaving Saipan as he isn't handled by tons of different people every night anymore which I think he came to like. Also, the boarding facility we use has personnel that are pretty afraid of him so I have a feeling he doesn't get as good of treatment as say, Bondi, our rosie who loves everyone and is super easy to manage.
The walks have been stimulating his senses and his eyes practically pin the entire time. He becomes more talkative (unless a stranger stops to say hello, then of course he is silent!) and happier. We perform short flights every time we stop which he does on his own will. He loves flying from me to Dave. In fact, in some cases (or most I should say) he wants me to just put my hand there so he can jump off of it to Dave because that is how we first flight trained him - it was from me to Dave, always. If Dave is out of town, Cash is likely to fly to me but if he has a choice between us - Dave is always the winner! And that's okay, I really don't mind. We play different roles with the birds and there are times when they prefer to be with one of us over the other and I get my share of cuddles! The point of taking Cash on walks so much recently is that it is making him more social slowly. He sees people riding bikes or jogging by. He isn't spooked by joggers with their dogs or people across the stress, or cars going by. He is doing really well getting used to the outside environment (the only thing he needs to get over is the fear of squirrels!) and he is becoming more and more relaxed around people. I've been bringing peanuts with us on our walks and he hasn't been willing to take them from strangers yet but I think he will soon and I am so excited to see his progress with becoming more and more social. Of course, there is a serious danger in taking your birds on walks. Especially if you have a shoulder bird. Predators tend to go after prey that are easier to catch meaning they need to be on the ground or just stationary which is perching shoulder bird is. It's much easier to snatch than a healthy, flying bird is. So be careful, cautious and always be checking the skies and listening for the calls of predators.
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.