By Diane Burroughs
Americans have been slow to train their parrots to use a bird harness. Across the divide of the Atlantic, there has been a topic that creates heated debate, and it goes something like this.
A pet bird is a very fragile animal, and, apart from the possibility of it getting sick from common household contaminants, the risk of your bird flying away and getting injured, or worse, attacked by another animal, is a very real one.AmericaA
In Europe, the general belief is that birds should be trained when they are young so that they will only fly on command, and will also return to their owner when called.
In the US, the predominant form of keeping a pet bird safe has been to clip it's flight feathers, and so render it unable to fly.
This method, while generally effective, comes with potential attendant problems, especially if done to young birds. Avian behaviorists are learning that young birds that never learn to fly may experience emotional maladjustment and anxiety.
Also, 'home jobs' where the owner clips their birds wings has it's own problems if it's not done right with the bird also losing the ability to glide, and potentially injuring itself if it gets startled, further increasing anxiety.
Not clipping however, and just training your bird to fly and return on command also has it's own problems, which are centered around a lack of control if the bird panics or is attacked.
Australia and New Zealand fall firmly into the bird harness training or European side of the great divide as there are 'semi-legal' guidelines that state that a pet bird should be able to fly, and that wing clipping is not really allowed, except under certain circumstances. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, just that it's not meant to.
One way to keep your bird safe, and remove many of the problems associated with feather clipping, and the risk associated with free flight training, is to use an Aviator Harness. These consist of a light but sturdy one piece harness with a long elastic leash, that your bird can easily get into, and allows him or her to fly in a controlled environment.
Apart from being a great source of exercise for your bird, it can also be a great way to bond with your pet. Before you run out and get one though, there are some things you should note, as it can be quite a bit of work to get your bird used to the harness. And, don't worry. The Aviator Harness comes with a free training DVD.
There's no rush, and as well as bonding more with your little bird, this will also give you a little bit of security in crowded areas that he or she isn't going to panic.
And that's our primer on introducing your bird to a harness!
Do me a favor though, and let me know if you've had any issues with using a harness? It can take a while to get your bird used to a harness, and I'd love to hear about any tips and tricks that you have that have sped up the process, and also about any disasters that both I and other readers can avoid. :)
What are your thoughts of using a bird harness?
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