Parrots enjoy spending time in the sun and watching the world go by. However, there are dangers to consider when taking a parrot outside. Parrots have wings and can fly away from you at any moment, never to return.
It’s OK to take a parrot outside on a harness, place its cage outside temporarily, or build an aviary. Even if your parrot’s wings have been clipped, your parrot can easily fly away, especially if there’s a strong wind.
It just takes is a sudden noise for your parrot to become afraid and fly away. A parrot may also be curious and fly off to investigate any activity. It’s unwise to think that your parrot loves you so much that it won’t just fly off.
Can You Let a Pet Parrot Outside?
Parrots can be let outside but shouldn’t be given total freedom. Even if you clip your parrot’s wings, it may take to the air and be carried off. This is especially true for larger parrots with longer wings, such as African greys and macaws.
Even if it lacks the coordination to fly properly, it can still get lost. Worse still, it may land in a dangerous place and be unable to escape. Many parrots go missing every year because they make a break for freedom when they’re outside with their owners. Even if it isn’t intent on abandoning you, it may take to the air and never return.
With that said, parrots live in the wild and will enjoy the outdoors. As long as you provide a safe, secure environment for them and don’t give them a chance to fly away, they’ll enjoy:
- Sitting in the sun
- Going around the neighborhood on your shoulder
- Flying from one place to another on a harness
Will a Bonded Parrot Fly Away?
A parrot’s life revolves around its flock. If it considers you a part of its family, it won’t like being separated from you for too long. However, just because the parrot loves you and its home doesn’t mean it won’t fly away while outside.
How To Train A Parrot To Not Fly Away
If you have an obedient parrot, the chances are that you think you can train it to do anything. Unfortunately, parrots can’t be trained not to fly away due to:
Parrots are intelligent creatures that need to be kept busy to avoid getting bored. As such, if your parrot notices an interesting color, sound, or smell, it may go off to investigate. No matter how well-trained it is, a good distraction can prevent it from noticing your calls until it’s too far away to return.
Smaller parrots may be carried away by the wind the moment they open their wings. If you want to ensure your parrot doesn’t go missing, never assume that it won’t fly off because it’s obedient. It may not have a choice.
There is no guarantee that a parrot will stay put once it’s scared. Parrots are prey animals. In the wild, they have many different enemies they need to watch out for.
This means that parrots tend to be cautious when facing certain situations, such as being in a new environment. If they perceive danger, they’re likely to fly off without hesitation to avoid getting hurt.
A domestic parrot that’s taken outside for the first time will be easy to startle. There are many new sounds, sights, and smells. It can be a bit too much for a parrot to take in and keep track of.
Even the most innocuous of noises can seem like a threat to an anxious parrot. Once startled, even by a false alarm, it will fly off. It will not land until it feels safe. This could be miles away from you if it catches a current in the air.
Can I Let My Parrot Fly Outside?
Some people allow their parrots to come in and out of the home as they please. You may hear them say that their parrots always return. However, a parrot that manages to return a few times isn’t guaranteed to return every time. Unfortunately, parrots:
Parrots don’t have a homing ability that allows them to know where home is. That’s because they evolved to rely on their flock. Wild parrots seldom spend time by themselves. Everything they do, they do as a group, so there is never any need to develop instincts that let them know where home is. After all, they never leave home.
If your parrot flies off, it may intend on coming home. Once it gets far enough away, it may stop recognizing the area around it. It will be unable to tell which way home is and keep flying, getting even more lost in the process.
Hurt or Injured
Parrots that fly outside run the risk of getting lost and never returning. Domestic parrots almost always die when they find themselves outdoors. Pet parrots aren’t equipped with the necessary survival tools to live out of their owner’s house, even for a few hours.
Likewise, pet parrots get tired more easily than wild parrots. Some of them run out of energy after flying around for a while and become vulnerable to predators.
Domestic parrots depend on their owners for sustenance. They cannot identify which foods are good for them and which aren’t, so their instinct tells them not to eat at all. The longer this goes on, the less energy the parrot has to fly back home.
If it gets to a point where the parrot tries to eat, it may pick out something toxic. There’s also a chance that the parrot can get a disease from interacting with things outside, be it other birds or garbage.
If other people find your parrot in their yard, trees, or on their balcony, they may capture it. Even if this is done out of goodwill, with the hope of protecting the bird or returning it to its owner, the parrot still won’t be able to fly back to you. If you cannot be located by the person or the finder decides to keep the parrot, you’ll have lost your pet.
Aside from that, the finder may donate your parrot to a rescue organization. According to the Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, parrot rescues are growing in number because many people are giving up their parrots. It’s natural for someone to assume that a parrot that’s gotten lost may have been set free intentionally.
How To Safely Take Your Parrot Outdoors
Here are ways you can safely let your parrot outdoors:
A harness can be fastened securely around your parrot’s body. It will latch at the parrot’s chest, legs, and under its wings. The leash will extend out from the parrot’s back, so its wings aren’t inhibited. You can hold the tether in your hand or place it around your wrist.
If the parrot is startled or curious and attempts to fly off, you can prevent it from getting out of reach. If you want the parrot to have extra freedom, you can get a longer leash so that it can fly several feet at a time.
With that said, it can be a bit difficult to train a parrot to use a harness. You’ll need to help it adjust to the gear over several weeks. If you want a more immediate solution, consider using a small or portable cage.
Depending on the size of your parrot’s cage, you can place it outside in the sunlight. This allows it to absorb vitamin D, get fresh air, and enjoy new sounds. However, it will also be safe, since it:
- Will be unable to fly away
- Cannot be surprised by predators, such as cats or hawks
- Will feel safer within its familiar environment
Never leave the cage in direct sunlight. A shaded area should be provided on one side of the cage so that it can avoid overheating. If you want to take the parrot for walks, you can get a portable cage with a handle. You can carry this at your side like a bag so that your parrot can explore the neighborhood with you.
If you want your parrot to fly free but without getting lost, you can build an aviary. This will be a large enclosure with four walls and a roof. It can be wrapped with chicken wire so that fresh air can pass through easily. It’s recommended that you include a two-door entryway for safety reasons.
As such, the parrot can’t fly out while you’re getting inside. Aviaries come in all shapes and sizes. You can get an enclosure online and assemble the parts in your backyard. Alternatively, you can build one from scratch. This will allow your parrot to fly around as it would in nature, without the added dangers.
Why Doesn’t My Parrot Like Being Outside?
While most parrots enjoy the exercise and sunlight, others will find the experience overwhelming. All the external stimuli can trigger anxious behavior the moment they are taken outside of the house. This is most common in parrots that have always lived indoors. This includes parrots that were:
- Not kept near windows or doors that gave them a view outside
- Born to domestic parents and have had no exposure to the wild
- Only transported from a breeder to your home and nowhere else
An aversion to the outdoors can also happen in parrots that have trauma. Since their hyper-awareness of danger is so strong, they can be easily startled by new sights or sounds.
Training Your Parrot To Go Outdoors
If your parrot has never been outside before, don’t thrust them into this new environment without precautions. Even if your parrot has no issues sitting on your shoulder at home, it may not behave the same way when outside.
If it’s on a walk with you and gets scared, it may bite you due to fear. If the parrot gets anxious, it may start biting the bars of its cage or excessively screaming. In this case, you need to get your parrot accustomed to being out of the house. Here are ways you can help your parrot adjust:
Take It Outside in A Cage
To introduce your bird to the great outdoors, start by placing its cage outside. Do the following:
- Don’t place the cage far away from your home. Take it to the backyard or the front steps. That way, if it gets agitated, you can step back inside quickly.
- Use a small towel to cover 3 sides of the cage. This ensures the parrot cannot see too much at once. The less it can see, the less likely it is to become overstimulated.
- Keep these sessions to 10 minutes apiece. If your parrot wants to spend more or less time outside, it will let you know through vocalization and body language.
- Do this daily and be consistent: Parrots thrive on routine and will become comfortable going outside faster if you make it a part of their daily lives.
As your parrot grows more comfortable in the cage, take it for a walk around the block. Keep the cage locked, and never open the door until you are safely inside.
Once your parrot is more comfortable, you can begin harness training. Keep in mind that most parrots hate wearing harnesses, so it can be difficult to train them to wear one. Because of this, many owners get frustrated and strong-arm their parrots into the gear. This can cause them to hate the process and become aggressive.
Harness Training A Parrot
If done slowly and with patience, your parrot will come to accept and tolerate the harness. Here’s how:
- Choose a training area your parrot will be comfortable in
- Slowly present the harness to the parrot while it’s in your hand
- If your parrot becomes curious and tries to touch or get close to it, reward it with a snack.
- Place the harness near the parrot, but not too close, as it may be alarmed by it
- Let the parrot get closer to the harness by itself
- Each time the parrot shows some interest in the harness, reward it
For the next few days, do this consistently at a scheduled time. Once you’re sure the parrot is comfortable around the harness, you can place it on the bird.
Harness Training A Parrot
Because wearing a harness can make a parrot feel odd, most birds will refuse to wear one. Moving to the next step too quickly will only make the parrot uncomfortable, so manage the process gradually.
- Undo the clips of the harness repeatedly, so your parrot gets accustomed to the sound
- Slowly place the harness over the parrot’s head
- Retreat if the parrot becomes agitated
- Keep these sessions short, and reward your parrot
Harness Training A Parrot
When your parrot allows you to secure the harness, note how long it’s willing to keep it on. Increase the length of time the parrot wears the harness each day by a minute or two.
- Once your parrot is comfortable wearing a harness for longer, allow it to wander around the house with it on
- Carry the parrot with you to different rooms, praising it as you go
- Never leave your parrot unsupervised while it’s wearing the harness. It may become uncomfortable and hurt itself while trying to get it off
Outdoor Training A Parrot
Once your parrot accepts a harness, it’s ready for outdoor training. You can also do this while the parrot’s in its cage, should it struggle to accept the harness.
Outdoor training will require you to experiment with your parrot’s tolerance levels. You have to be observant, as this training period will enable you to establish a healthy outdoor routine in the future.
- Take snacks with you, as well as a clicker, if your parrot is clicker trained
- Take a walk around your yard
- Pay attention to your parrot so that you know when it wants to go back inside
- Increase the time spent outside every few days until you understand the parrot’s limits
- Never walk with your parrot outside for more than 2 hours. It’s still a tiring activity that can stress the parrot
Beware of Dangers
If you live in an area with eagles or hawks, a predator could get your parrot in an instant, especially if it’s small. Outdoor cages are a better option than a harness if you live in an area with predators.
Some parrots can acclimate to cold weather, but most are more comfortable in warmer climates. With that said, if the temperature is too hot, you need to keep the outdoor time short. If your parrot keeps opening its wings and panting, it is overheating, so take it back inside to cool off.
Check the Parrot Afterward
Check for bugs or dirt your parrot may have picked up. Inspect the feathers and bathe your parrot if it’s dirty.
Parrots love going outside. You have to make sure that you introduce them to the great outdoors safely. A harness is usually a good option unless you live in an area with avian predators. If so, build your parrot an aviary.