Kili and Rachel have been enjoying the fall weather flying in my backyard flight area. They have been building strong flight muscles, breathing fresh air, and getting natural sunlight all at the same time.
I'll share details about the enclosure at a different time but simply put it's a netting enclosed area that is safe for supervised time but not for leaving the birds unattended.
Truman has been left out of the flight activities lately because of his own issues. He hasn't been too eager to flight recall and on the other hand, he's been randomly flying into stuff. He will need some separate one on one attention to get him on the right track. But since Kili and Rachel are already doing the right stuff, I've been focused on getting them flying.
Kili, the trained Senegal Parrot that used to freefly outdoors, had no trouble adjusting to flying in the enclosed yard at all. She immediately knew what to do and did not try to fly away. Kili recalls with great reliability and is definitely my go-to bird.
The way I got Rachel to start flight training outside was to bring her out every day to watch Kili reliably flight training. On one hand, Rachel got to see Kili earning treats and showing what to do. But on the other, Rachel was getting accustomed to the sights and sounds of being out in the yard. It took some time for this to all sink in because Rachel was cautiously reluctant to leave the safety of her Training Perch.
Eventually Rachel started to make sure flights, then slightly longer ones. With time and practice, reliability started to improve. It was a combination of building confidence, security, practice, and exercise to improve muscle strength. Now, Rachel makes 10-20ft flight recalls with ease. As the autumn temperatures continue to drop, our chances for further training are quickly diminishing. Over the winter we will continue training other skills indoors and pick up where we left off with the outdoor training in the spring.
Here is a 360 degree video of Kili and Rachel flight training in the yard. You can move the image 360 degrees by dragging with your mouse or tilting your phone to get a feeling of what it's like having these parrots flying around you.
In August, 2015 I traveled to Australia on honeymoon. We got to see many parrots and other animals around that beautiful country. This article is about the wild Cockatiels and Galahs we saw in the vicinity of Pine Creek in the Northern Territory.
We made two sightings of wild Cockatiels. The first was during lunch by the lake at Copper Dam. The distinct call of Nymphicus hollandicus came through the air as a handful of Cockatiels flew by. I followed them with my eyes as they landed in a dead tree across the lake.
Some more Cockatiels arrived and they congregated in the tree. There were around a dozen Cockatiels in total. They spent a few minutes in the tree alternating circling flights with rest. Cautiously, several Cockatiels flew down to the shoreline. A few quick steps and they were wading at the waters edge. More came down to join them. They didn't spend a whole five seconds on the ground before they took flight back to the safety of their tree. The same Cockatiels repeated this drinking endeavor at least three more times.
Most of the cocktail party departed but a few Cockatiels stayed for a nap in the tree. The Cockatiels were too far and too quick when flying for water, so I was not able to get any video of the process. But here's a video of them in the tree and a photo of them getting a drink.
The second encounter with Cockatiels came on the morning of the following day. Driving from Pine Creek back to Darwin, we spotted Cockatiels foraging on the ground by the road side. I approached them slowly but it was disturbing their feast. I couldn't get close enough to get footage and a few steps closer and they flew off into a nearby tree. Much like the Cockatiels at Copper Dam, these birds were very cautious on the ground.
The birds spooked and went into the tree. I took this as an opportunity to get closer and station my gear hoping they would come back. They watched from their high vantage point for the danger to subside. A few brave birds came down first and then the rest followed. I would discover that I wasn't the only reason they'd take off to the tree. Every few minutes, the whole flock would fly back to the tree for a bit before coming back.
What was even more interesting than watching Cockatiels feeding on the ground was to discover that Galahs were amongst them! The two different species of Cockatoos would remain in their own distinct factions, but in very closer proximity to each other. In fact, when the flock would launch, they would both fly back to the same tree together.
There were about two dozen Cockatiels for the half dozen Galahs. The large flock was visibly subdivided into smaller group units. We could hear Red Tailed Black Cockatoos in the distance but they did not mingle with the Galahs and Tiels.
The Cockatiels scurry around the ground on quick legs. Some birds look up while others have their heads down eating. But here's a fascinating thing. They are absolutely quiet while eating on the ground. It makes perfect sense, but it is the polar opposite of the endless Cockatiel chatter you hear when they are flying or perching.
It was an amazing experience to get to see these birds in the wild and what they do. It makes me appreciate them even more as pets and I hope that we can learn a bit from their wild habits and apply that knowledge toward making our homes an even better place for them.
Oh no! The Parrot Got Out! This is the newest video posted by Parrot Wizard, a short Horror Film about what might happen if the psitta-beast got out of its enclosure. The short film features Marianna Samushiya and the well-known trained Senegal Parrot, Kili. Marianna comes home but soon realizes that she's being followed.
It took several days of filming and even more of editing but I am pleased with the results. I used a mix of techniques to bring you the story and action. From classic pan shots to steadicam tracking, you will enjoy the heart pumping action and terror.
Here are a few behind the scenes looks at the making of The Parrot Got Out:
So dim your lights, set youtube to fullscreen, change the play quality to 4K or HD, and get ready to witness the horror of The Parrot Got Out:
Recently I had the pleasure of being visited by Professor Andy McIntosh to talk about birds and flight. Andy is a retired professor of thermodynamics and combustion theory from the University of Leeds in the UK and on the board of directors of Truth In Science (an organization promoting teaching intelligent design in the classroom in the UK).
I got in touch with Andy because I found his talks about birds on youtube and found them quite interesting. I give a similar presentation at NYU every year about the Evolution of Flight (a comparison between flying machines and flying organisms) and found it quite surprising that Andy can look at the same facts but come to different conclusions. In either case, we both share a fascination with the mechanisms of flight and the astounding complexity of birds. Regardless of which interpretive conclusion prevails, the presentation of the facts, mechanisms, operations, fossils, and stories is a marvel to learn.
So without getting any further into background, let me present to you an interview - straight from my bird room and with the help of Kili, Truman, and Santina - with professor Andy McIntosh:
In this video and with the help of Kili, Truman, and Santina, Andy McIntosh discusses many topics related to birds and how they fly. A few of the topics include how feathers work, how the flight muscles are special in birds, how the avian breathing apparatus is like no other, archeopteryx fossils, and about his conclusions on how birds are too complicated to have evolved through natural processes and are instead the products of design. Dr. McIntosh concludes that:
"They want to be in the air and obviously they are designed to be in the air. Everything is telling me as an engineer, stroke mathematician, somebody who is used to asking the question 'why are things the way they are?' All these features tell me that there is a brilliant mind behind these creatures."
So after watching both presentations, do you think Kili is an evolved dinosaur or one of God's created creatures?