Should You Train Your Bird for Freeflight?

August 7, 2014

If you’re asking the Internet “How can I train my bird for freeflight?” the better question is really “Should I try to train my bird for freeflight?”

(Free flight, to be clear, means flying your bird outdoors without physical restriction.)


I’ve shared my personal, amateur opinions about freeflight before, but today I wanted to share a professional’s opinion.

A few months back, we had the pleasure of meeting Hillary Hankey and since then we’ve really enjoyed the work she does and her perspective on loving and living birds (all kinds, not just parrots).

Hillary just published this great article about freeflight training that I wanted to share:

So you want to train your pet parrot for freeflight….

There are no simple tricks to make free flying your birds easy and risk-free. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a charlatan. Buying an unweaned baby to increase your bond won’t bring back a poorly trained bird. Training  your bird via “weight management” so it recalls better won’t prevent fly-offs. And no DVD training kit will give your pet bird the experience it needs to outrun a predator in the wild.

Can it be done successfully? Of course there are examples of people who do it. But even professionals have lost birds. And the amount of work it takes to free fly a parrot is, in my opinion, more than a casual bird owner is going to take on.

Take a read through Hillary’s excellent overview of what freeflight involves, and if you’re still not convinced, please, please, please spend a lot of time doing research and talking to reputable trainers (not people who will try to teach you how to train your parrot over the internet or over a weekend workshop).

p.s. The other day we learned about something called Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, which states “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” Now, the reason that the answer is “no” according to Betteridge doesn’t really apply here — read the Wikipedia article  to see what the trick is — but I admit I did want you to open this post up so you could read why the answer is no.

 image credit: Wisely,  used via Creative Commons license.


  1. Hillary Hankey does a great job explaining the difficulties that come with freeflight. I really adore her hard work and beautiful photos she shares. I hope I can be as lucky as you to get to know her some day!

  2. Love the blog! There are such intricacies when it comes to training birds for freeflight. I was hoping you’d review a bird food that we could send you… We could also do a sweepstakes for your audience if you’d be into it!

    • I only feed brands that my vet recommends, so I’m probably not the right blogger to be doing a review for you.

  3. Hello – Are you still blogging? I’m the person that was watching Mika the last few months before you adopted her. I enjoyed reading about how she was doing. Hope all is well.

    • Hi LR – I haven’t blogged in a while, but we’re all doing great. She’s happy and healthy. Still really sweet, but with a little bit of an impish side. Thank you so much for checking in!

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