I took Kili & Truman on an outing to a glider club picnic. This isn't the first time I've taken them to this annual event so it wasn't surprising that they were at complete ease. I'd even go so far to say that they even enjoyed it.
The parrot duo got to ride around on my shoulders and earn bits of unusual food. They took turns stepping up for people, getting pet, or showing tricks. The birds especially enjoyed eating freshly picked NJ sweet corn off the cob. Funny thing is that Truman is a dodo and can't manage corn off the cob. Truman goes bonkers for corn off the cob but can't figure out how to get it off. Kili just digs right in. I can't take a bite of my corn without Kili ripping off the other end.
The place where the club hosts the picnic has a small lake and boats. I took the parrots on their first ever open boat ride. I put them both down on the side but Kili flew right up to my shoulder. Meanwhile Truman sat on the edge and watched the water and wildlife. By exposing the birds to every possible imaginable experience, I can best prepare them for complex unforeseen situations or performances in the future.
At these picnics, the club always ends things with a balsa wood glide throwing contest to see who can toss their flimsy little plane to land closest to a pole. The host's mantra has always been that "there are no rules and cheating is encouraged" so my brother and I usually bring our own higher performance gliders. But this year I decided to go all the way and have the bird do the flying. Before the competition I worked on training Truman to harness fly and land atop the PVC canopy of the target stake. Using my "go to perch" command, I had Truman fly to the point from further and further back until I could do it from the launch point. I had to have a running start and send Truman flying in order to keep running to grant him slack in his flying line. Since Truman's string is only 25ft but the required distance was over 75, I had to run with him to be able to fly. I paid the $2 entry fee twice. I entered Truman as his own competitor.
When the competition came, it was already well after sunset. I didn't realize just how badly birds see in twilight until I tried to have Truman fly to the point during the competition. The first two tries, he flew the wrong way and only the harness kept him from going who knows where. But on the third and final attempt, things went a little different. Truman again took off and headed in the wrong direction. He reached the end of the line and began an arching turn to follow the radius. I took his continued flying to advantage and started running toward the stake calling his name to recall to me instead. He turned and headed for the sound of my voice. He was so winded by this point that he did not make it to the top of the stake but did land just 12 inches short of the pole which was the closest any flying object had made it to in this competition. Truman was cheered on by the onlookers as he made it to the landing zone. I didn't do nearly as well when I tossed my balsa glider.
The birds were satisfied, satiated, and exhausted from all the flying, thrills, and experiences. They did not make a peep the entire ride back. These kinds of outings are a fantastic socialization experience for the birds and I think for them a lot of fun. It also gives me a chance to educate people about parrots in the process. For more information about building trust, hand taming, harness training, taking parrots outdoors, and teaching them to wear a harness, check out my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots.
This was Kili's second year going to the street carnival (they skipped a year and the one prior to that Truman was injured and couldn't go). Even though she hadn't seen this sort of activity in two years, it was like she was there just yesterday. For Truman it was the first time going to such an event but it was not a big deal to him either. After all the socialization at the park, shows, and other opportunities, there is little that can phase Truman (even bells ringing, balloons popping, hands touching, and all the other mayhem you can expect at a street fair).
So for the extent of the week the carnival lasted, I tried to bring my two parrots there every evening to get them as many interactions with other people as possible. In the span of this week they had been petted, held, and put smiles on the faces of hundreds of people. Kili greeted people with "hellos" and Truman got fluffy for head scratches. While I would not recommend just taking your parrot straight out to something like this on the first try, once socialized, it's an excellent challenge for them. It is a lot of fun for everyone! Onlookers enjoy seeing parrots, the parrots enjoy seeing onlookers, and it's a way for you to get out with your parrots and spend one on one time with them. It's a wonderful bonding experience because the parrots cling to you for safety and entrust their lives to you. Sit back and enjoy Kili and Truman's experiences at the street carnival this year:
Kili & Truman visited the street fair nearly every evening
They love eating carnival foods and do tricks for a bite of corn
Everyone enjoys handling the birds because they are so friendly and cute
Truman absolutely goes bonkers for funnel cake and will do any trick or flight perfectly for a piece
I am spend a lot of effort socializing Truman to new people and environments. I try to take him with me everywhere I can, especially when driving. He can still get noisy in the car but with every drive, he's definitely becoming better behaved. This time I took him with me to the airport I fly gliders from.
Even when I do bring the travel cage along, I still try to have Truman spend at least a few hours in the carrier to be more used to it. So I let Truman spend the ride out in his carrier. We waited a long time for him to get quiet in his carrier and rewarded him with a little bit of out of carrier time. Kathleen held him while I drove and let him look out the window.
At the airport, Truman got to go in his travel cage which to him is a big reward. Not only is it more roomy than the carrier, it also has some of his favorite toys. Truman spent most of the day out on top of his travel cage or inside of it playing. I recalled him a few times and had Truman show his tricks to everyone.
Both the car and office of the gliderport have many windows but Truman did not once try to fly through any of them. I usually go around and show him all the windows to get him better acquainted to them. But between the fact that he was too busy playing and not interested in flying anywhere, he stayed well away from any potentially dangerous glass.
It has been getting dark pretty early so Truman fell asleep in the car while I was picking up some supplies at a store. Check out Truman's day out in this short video: