Researchers apply free flight training to protect parrots

Biro training a macaw on a free flight. Credit: Constance Woodman

The training techniques that parrot owners have practiced for decades are now being applied by researchers at the University of Texas A & M to establish new wild bird herds.

A lot of people Aleph The owner cuts off the wings of the bird to reduce its ability to fly. In free flight, you train an intact parrot, come when called, follow basic commands, recognize the dangers of nature, and otherwise safely fly through open areas.

In a recently published treatise DiversityConstance Woodman, a doctoral graduate student at the Texas A & M College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS), and Donald Brightsmith, an associate professor at CVMBS, and Chris Biro, a world-renowned free flight trainer for project results. I shared it. This included step-by-step documentation of Viro’s training process so that conservationists could apply his method when releasing birds to the wild.

One of the most experienced free flight trainers, Biro has trained more than 400 students from more than 30 countries on bird free flight methods, but his process was previously only captured on video. did not.

“There are colleagues above and below the Americas who raise and release birds, but their main purpose is protection and they don’t have the opportunity to write a lot of science,” Brightsmith said. “The role of A & M in this project is to put this information in the right place and format so that people around the world can read, criticize, use and improve it. The information does not become scientific. In case literature, it does not improve the future of the science of protection of Macau and Aum, but only helps one or two groups. “

Backed by the National Science Foundation’s fellowship, Woodman and Biro have been using Biro’s technology to train three different herds of multiple parrot species for several years to thoroughly document every step in the process. Spent.

After a total of 500 months of free flight, these 37 birds were hand-raised from chicks and formed a strong bond with their trainers. After that, he was gradually taught new commands and introduced them into increasingly complex environments, learning the skills needed to fly safely, open and open. , Unmanaged area.

“As scientists, one of the most important things we can do for conservation is to provide ready-to-use solutions for field practitioners trying to save animals and ecosystems,” said CVMBS. Woodman, Program Manager, said. ‘Conservation Innovation Grant Program. “By learning from the target species, in this case the community that already works with parrot owners and trainers, we can incorporate their knowledge and turn it into a conservation tool.”

Birds have learned to recognize, avoid, and even intimidate predators. Look for food and recognize safe and unsafe options. Fly in swarms; navigate the environment and map mentally. Avoid dangerous situations such as dogs and cars.

Throughout the training process, Biro’s method proved successful due to the fact that the trainer did not lose a bird to a predator or leave the bird out of the training area.

Texas A & amp; M researchers apply free flight training to protect parrots

Macaw in flight. Credit: Chris Biro

I get on an airplane

As the next step in this process, the team will work on adapting training to help protect parrots.

Bird Recovery International, a non-profit organization of Texas A & M and Viro, will be the first to test free flight as a protection tool through a joint project in Brazil and Honduras.

Traditionally, trying to release a hand-reared parrot produces a bird that has little fear of humans and is more likely to be caught by poachers or killed by humans.

Using the “kernel” Flock“—Free-flight-trained human socialized birds—to teach other parrots survival behavior, conservationists should be able to release wild birds without the need to train themselves.

“The idea of ​​using a herd of kernels is a way to reduce the difference in wild birds when human socialization is undesirable,” says Woodman.

After the herd of grains trains an unsocialized bird, the herd of grains is recalled and moved to another location, leaving an established colony of wild parrots.

“This is a really, really important project,” said Biro. “For example, Spix’s macaws are extinct in the wild and only about 150 remain in captivity. One of the problems with returning Spix’s macaws to Brazil is the limited options available. bird In an environment where there are no herds. This project creates a flock where there is no flock. “

Woodman said there are many groups of specialized animal zookeepers, enthusiasts and breeders. “But they may not be part of the conservation community.”

“It’s a move that we’ve done, spending years working with groups to learn what they’re doing and transforming it into something useful to scientists and practitioners. Very important to. Maintenance “Forward.”

For parrot owners interested in learning free flight, Woodman recommends finding a local free flight community to learn more.

“Free flight is very technical and, as with falconry, the apprenticeship learning system needs to work,” says Woodman. “To fly a parrot safely and freely, you need to be part of the free-flying community, because there is always a risk of losing animals, and without proper training, that risk increases.”

New system for tracking macaws emphasizes the need for species protection

For more information:
Constance Woodman et al, Parrot Free Flight as a Protective Tool, Diversity (2021). DOI: 10.3390 / d13060254

Quote: Researchers are free to protect parrots (September 3, 2021) obtained from https: // on September 3, 2021. Apply flight training

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